Let’s be honest, it’s hard to make a mouse that will appeal to everybody. We all have different sized hands, like different kinds of features and put our mice through varying amounts of torture. So although Apple’s wireless Mighty Mouse does an admirable job, at one point or another most Mac users have probably thought of straying to another vendor for a better electronic rodent.
If you’re a notebook user, you’re probably aware that all modern Mac notebooks support Bluetooth – and that’s a good thing since Apple has never been known to supply a plethora of ports to connect peripherals. Unfortunately, the Bluetooth mouse market tends to be small, with most mice being tiny and short of features. Enter the Logitech m555b, Logitech’s newest entry into the emerging Bluetooth mouse market. The m555b boasts a a fairly robust set of features, including a laser-driven optical sensor for 1000dpi resolution, efficient power management with an on/off switch, and Logitech’s wonderful multifunction, frictionless scroll wheel (referred to on the product packaging as “Hyper-fast scrolling”).
Up until I purchased the m555b, I was using a Logitech V270, which was an excellent, if basic Bluetooth mouse. The V270 was a perfect fit for my big hands, despite the fact that it was roughly 3/4 the size of a standard mouse. Although I liked the V270, it started to show its age when the power switch stopped working reliably (many times it was turned on even though the switch was in the off position). Even though Logitech has long offered RF notebook mice, I really wanted to keep my USB ports open since I only have 2 on my 15″ MacBook Pro. Up until the m555b, Logitech’s only offering in this space was the V470, which I found to be cheesy in its construction and uncomfortable in my hands. I had also purchased a Kensington Slimblade Presenter and while sleek and tiny, it just wasn’t as comfortable as my trusty old V270 and didn’t track nearly as well.
I ordered the m555b directly from Logitech for $59 + $6.15 shipping. It arrived just a few days later. Included in the package was the mouse itself, a fresh set of Duracell batteries, quick setup guide and a disc with Logitech’s Control Center v2.7 for Mac OS X. Set up was simple – install the batteries, press the “Connect” button on the bottom of the mouse (this makes it discoverable via Bluetooth) and set up a new device in Bluetooth Preferences. Although I normally use Steermouse, a third-party mouse driver, I did give Logitech’s own driver a test drive.
As I’ve come to expect from Logitech software on Windows, it is just as clunky on the Mac. Although you can adjust the button assignments, scroll wheel behavior and tracking speed, I found the latter to be lacking. Even turning it up to the highest speed, yielded very slow tracking – not nearly fast enough to get around a 1440×900 screen. Fortunately, removal was painless and only required running an Uninstall script which was conveniently placed in the Utilities folder. Fortunately, Steermouse picked right back up again and the tracking was much improved.
The mouse itself is a good looking design, with varying shades of gray and black, complimented by a chrome Logitech logo and ring on the wheel. Aside from the standard left and right buttons, the mouse features a multifunction scroll wheel and a middle button just below it. That middle button works in place of the typical clickable scroll wheel. This is needed because clicking the scroll wheel varies between frictionless scrolling and the typical notched scrolling found on most mice. That frictionless scrolling is a really neat feature, especially if you work with big spreadsheets and need to scroll through many pages of data. And of course, if you don’t like it, you can simply press the wheel in once again to toggle it off. In addition to scrolling vertically, the wheel also tilts left and right to scroll horizontally.
I use the middle button to do auto-scroll, although it can be set to activate Expose or any number of other functions. Aside from that, there are no other buttons on the top of the mouse. On the bottom, there is an on-off switch and a connect button. At the rear is a release for the battery compartment. The surface of the mouse is entirely plastic, glossy materials are used on top and matte finish around the sides and bottom. Comfort-wise, the design is pretty good for a notebook mouse. It’s just slightly smaller than the V270, but falls more naturally in hand than the Slimblade Presenter that I mentioned previously. There is ample space to grip the mouse at the sides, even for my large hands.
One of the nice features of this mouse is the power management. Of course, you can turn the mouse off when it’s not in use, but it also goes to sleep on its own to conserve power. Additionally, there is an indicator on top of the mouse that flashes when the mouse is in discover mode. This same indicator will flash red when the batteries are ready to be changed, so there are no surprises.
In summary, this is a solid offering from Logitech, particularly when paired with Steermouse. Although power users may long for a larger formfactor with more buttons, it is well sized for casual use and travel.