Friday, July 01, 2005

Logitech Mediaplay Mouse

(Credit: Logitech)

Why a mouse review on an audio blog? When it has transport controls of course :-) The Logitech Mediaplay Cordless mouse is, as it's nomenclature suggests, a wireless mouse designed for media playback.

The mouse is shaped like a sleek running shoe and is symmetrical in shape. It has the usual left/right mouse buttons as well as the forward/back buttons found in many aftermarket mice, but it also has a play/pause button, a ffwd/rwd button, and a volume button. There's also a button to start the media browser of your choice. The placing of the additional control buttons are very good, as they don't get in the way of regular mousing duties and are difficult to press by accident. The media buttons are backlit, so when you press any of the media buttons (not the regular mouse buttons) they light up with a blue glow.

Installation is simple. Install the drivers and software first, then connect the wireless receiver. The receiver is of the USB stick type, so it can be plugged straight into a laptop, but a desktop extender is also supplied. The software includes Logitech's take on a '10 foot' software (i.e. a media playback software which you can control/see from 10 feet away). It's usable and looks nice enough but I didn't really get into it much.

Getting the mouse to work was totally painless, as was configuring the buttons. However the configuration of the mouse is not totally freeform as the buttons all have a fairly narrow range of selectable roles. The media player you can start up by using the button is also limited to the players that the Logitech player recognises. On the test laptop it picked up Winamp, iTunes, PowerDVD, RealOne and Windows Media Player as controllable applications, but it did not pick up Foobar, Mediasource, Sonicstage, Rio Music Manager, Media Center and numerous others. I stuck to iTunes.

It's always the little things that makes a difference in life. The handiness of being able to move through my playlist and seek through long podcasts, then pause playback to take calls... all without my hand leaving the mouse gave me an oddly fulfilling sense of control. I know it's just a glorified basic remote, but it just made me happy. Yeah, I'm a sad, sad geek.

There's just one fly in the ointment for those of you using separate DACs via a coaxial or optical out from your PC. The mouse software only affects the master volume, which means that in some such set-ups the volume control will not work (the wave volume needs to change).

Apart from the transport controls, The mousey bits are also quite good. The mouse uses invisible light for sensing movement, so no bright lights will flash up under the mouse. Tracking is decent, scroll wheel response is good and the scroll wheel is the latest tilting type, which works well when wading through the mammoth Excel spreadsheets that I have to do on a regular basis. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the pivotless left/right mouse buttons which I think are stiffer than they need to be, but it's a minor gripe. No idea how long batteries last yet, but from my usual experience Logitech mice don't have spectacular life compared to many of Microsoft's recent efforts. So it's rather thoughtful of them to provide an on/off button on the bottom for when you're not using it for a while.

If you are an audio nut and you listen on your PC a lot, the Mediaplay mouse is very simple in execution yet surprisingly usable. I like it and while it's not one of those 'must have' things, I'd recommend you take a look the next time you're hunting for an aftermarket mouse.

Link: Logitech US Site

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