MX 310 Optical Mouse, by Logitech
Posted: 27-Mar-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Logitech Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The Logitech MX 310 Optical mouse is a multi-button scroll wheel USB mouse that supports both PCs and Macs. The engine for this mouse includes a high-resolution sensor that measures the smallest motion to give you instant response to even your fastest movements. The mouse sports an ultra-smooth, precise tracking optical sensor, a sleek silver and black design, and a comfortable sculpted shape that fits both left and right hands. It includes advanced features that will streamline frequent tasks like scrolling through long documents, switching between applications, and navigating the web.

Features

  • Smooth, trouble-free operation using an advanced optical sensor
  • Zip back and forth between open documents with the handy Quick Switch button
  • Use two convenient side buttons to navigate forward and back in your web browser
  • Easily scroll through long documents, without having to move your mouse an inch
  • Ergonomically comfortable sculpted shape that fits your right or left hand

Requirements

  • Any Mac or PC
  • USB Port

Price
$29.95 suggested retail.

Setup
The MX 310 mouse is easy to hook up - just plug the USB cable into an available USB port on your Mac (you can plug it into your built-in port, a USB hub, or your USB keyboard). Movement and single button action works by default, but to program the buttons and scroll wheel and to set the sensitivity settings, you need to install the mouse driver. In OS 9, this gives you the Mouseware control panel, and in OS X, you'll get the Logitech Control Center. Installation and setup of the software was painless.

The Hardware
The MX310 is definitely a cool mouse to look at, and it has all kinds of neat features, but what I like best about this device is the ergonomic design. It's designed with a ridge along the left and right sides that make lifting the mouse so much easier than other mice I've used. As screens get larger and larger, you just cannot avoid the need to lift the mouse and reposition on the mousepad as it nears the edge of the pad. With just a slight ridge above the fingers that grip the mouse, the MX310 makes it a whole lot easier to keep a good grip as you lift the mouse.

The overall look of the mouse is very nice, with a black base, and a silver oval top. The mouse sports several buttons and a scroll wheel. The primary left and right mouse buttons are silver and placed right on top (where you would expect them). Between these two buttons are a black scroll wheel and an application switcher button. The application switcher button is a very small round button centered on top of the mouse, and by default is set to change to the next application (basically a Cmd-Tab function). This is a nice touch, and much easier than using the keyboard. The scroll wheel also serves as an additional button that can be programmed. Last but not least are the two side buttons. These are thin elongated buttons subtly placed on the top edge of the ridges, which make perfect sense. Other mouse side buttons that I've tried were usually placed in inconvenient places or where I would mistakenly press them when I didn't mean to. That always lead me to disable the side buttons. However, the Logitech MX310 side buttons are just right, and I really enjoy using them to go forward or backward on my web browser, or view my next or previous email in my email application.

The stability and optical sensing of the MX310 mouse are wonderful. After hours and hours of use, the mouse worked flawlessly and with just the right sensitivity.

The only thing I missed on this mouse was that there isn't a cool LED light on the top part of the mouse. This is a feature on mice such as the Microsoft Intellimouse, and it's useful for finding the mouse in a dark room (not to mention it looks cool). That's not a big deal, especially considering the cool functionality that is included with this mouse. In fact, in terms of physical design and functionality, this is the best mouse I've ever used.

The Software
After my initial excitement over the design of the hardware, my appreciation of the MX310 became a bit more subdued after working with the software. In terms of intuitive ease-of-use, both the OS 9 and OS X versions of the software are right on par with other Mac-savvy applications. It provides lots of cool features, such as being able to program every single button, and adjusting the sensitivity of the scroll wheel. However, when I got down to the nitty gritty details of programming the mouse to do exactly what I wanted it to do, I ran into a couple of barriers.

The first barrier is related only to the OS 9 version of the software. In the OS X version (as well as in all other mice drivers I've used on both OS 9 or OS X), you can program a button to open an application. This is a good thing to support, because the button presets can only support so much, and there's always going to be unique needs that require being able to open an application that the presets do not cover. To my dismay, this simple function is not supported in OS 9. Since my machine (a G4 Quicksilver) is a duel boot machine, I really wanted to have the mouse function the same under both OS 9 and OS X. Unfortunately, due to this drawback, I could not achieve that goal without sacrificing the function I use for the scroll button in OS X. I program the scroll wheel button to eject my primary CD-ROM drive, and in OS X, the software not only supports choosing an application to open, it even provides a preset for ejecting the CD. On OS 9, there is no function to open an application, and there is no preset for ejecting the CD.

The second problem I ran into in configuring the device is that it does not support multi-application programming. The lack of this feature left me flabbergasted. Being able to program the mouse to behave differently in one application over another is a crucial function; all the moreso when you have this many buttons that you can program. For instance, the default behavior for the side buttons (Cmd-Left and Cmd-Right) may work great in my email client and web browsers, but in some other applications, these keys do not perform any action. Without the ability to program them to do something else, the buttons are basically useless in these other applications. Another reason this feature is important is for game support. I like to play Halo, and when you are playing over the internet, the more action you can perform with the mouse, the better your chance (real players are much sharper than the game AI, requiring you to have total control at your fingertips). With my Intellimouse, I had the side buttons and wheel buttons all perform special keystrokes which equated to specific actions within the game. Because the MX310 does not support different configurations for different applications, and since Halo does not recognize these special buttons, I had to use the keyboard to perform these actions, decreasing my chances of survival during internet gameplay. In this situation, being able to configure for different applications is virtually a matter of life and death.

Support
I contacted support to ask about the ability to program the Eject function in OS 9, and the ability to program the mouse differently for different applications in either OS. Their first response to me provided instructions on how to download the latest driver. I read my initial question over and over again trying to determine how my question led to their response - I never did make the connection. I've dealt with other support chains that also provided inappropriate responses to support questions (Netflix and eBay come to mind), but I had hoped that Logitech would not have fallen into that category. I sent some follow-up emails, and after finally getting them on the same page, I was told that there are no work arounds, and no current plans to support these features. All in all, my dealings with support was dissatisfying.

Summary
The Logitech MX310 optical mouse is a magnificent USB mouse in terms of hardware design and functionality. It provides the much needed two-button scroll wheel functionality that I find necessary for being productive on my Mac. In addition, it includes some well-placed side buttons and an application switcher button, and sports one of the best ergonomic designs I've come across yet. The software is easy and adequate for most common uses, but does not allow programming the buttons to open an application in OS 9, and does not support different configurations for different applications in either OS 9 or OS X. If it weren't for the drawbacks in the software, the MX310 would have earned a rare 5-mice Mac Guild rating, but the drawbacks are significant enough to drop it a full rating. All in all, it's a great ergonomical USB mouse sporting optical technology and multi-button functionality; I highly recommend it.

Pros

  • Awesome ergonomical design
  • Well-placed side buttons
  • Total of six programmable buttons plus scroll wheel
  • Superb optical technology

Cons

  • OS 9 driver does not support opening applications with a button
  • Software does not support programming different functions for different applications
  • Poor technical support


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice