updated 05:30 pm EDT, Mon September 24, 2007
Logitech V470 Review
Logitech pitches the V470 ($50) as a simple alternative to the trackpad for heavy-duty notebook users who cannot guarantee an ideal mousing surface: courtesy of laser tracking, the mouse is unlikely to freeze up on overly uniform surface as with many optical mice, which are still standard in the notebook realm. However, it remains to be seen whether Logitech has remedied the interference issues that sometimes plague Bluetooth mice -- and whether the market is ready for a basic Bluetooth laser mouse.
Setup and bundled equipment
The initial experience of the V470 is positive: Logitech is clearly set on eliminating some of the hang-ups commonly associated with notebook mice. One of the simplest touches is a unique, perforated blister-seal pack. While this is only a small part of the experience, the package is very easy to open and makes both Logitech and buyers happy. This extends to the contents themselves. Aside from the mouse itself, the company is thoughtful enough to include a carrying pouch and the necessary pair of AA batteries. Not every company takes these extra steps, but they can matter for users who need to get started quickly.
The included software is largely redundant, however, and especially so for Mac users. Both SetPoint (for Windows) and the Logitech Control Center (for Mac) are written to control the sensitivity and programmability of the mouse. But with just three buttons and a scroll wheel, modern versions of Mac OS X and Windows automatically recognize all the functions out of the box. There is little incentive to install the software for everyday use, and I suspect many users will choose to walk through the standard OS Bluetooth pairing process and use the mouse right away.
Ergonomics and Bluetooth interference
For a small, notebook-sized mouse, the V470 is surprisingly comfortable with an average hand and lasts for hours without significantly wearing down the user. At least some users could safely use the mouse all day. The wheel is also well-made with a smooth surface but very obvious (if coarse) detent points. While not perfect, the precision is such that AV editors could likely depend on the scrolling for more detailed work.
Nonetheless, actual mouse movement falls considerably short of the promise of the design itself. Like many Bluetooth mice, the V470 continues to exhibit the occasional skipping that occurs when its 2.4GHz signal clashes with a Wi-Fi connection, which uses the same frequency. This appears to have been reduced significantly from past mice, which often bordered on the unusable, but is enough to thwart users who need very fine-grained mouse movement. In testing, the jumps were not so frequent as to prevent regular use but never went away even with Wi-Fi interference robustness enabled to avoid conflicts. It would be reasonable to assume that most notebook users regularly use Wi-Fi in 2007; why would it be acceptable to switch that off to use a mouse properly?
The characteristic laser tracking of the mouse becomes a double-edged sword as a result. While it adds an appreciated dose of speed, so much so that many will want to dial back sensitivity in the OS, the sensor only seems to amplify skipping and makes those instances harder to control. In that sense, the laser sensor only adds to the cost of the V470 rather than its effectiveness.
There are also few other features to note on the device. Side scrolling is the extent of the added features beyond the main three buttons. It works well but is not especially quick without a change in mouse settings.
A note on battery life and conclusions
Expectedly, battery life is difficult to test; the company does not provide an official rating, and the useful lifespan of most Bluetooth mice is longer than the scope of a review would allow. That said, the mouse includes a proper power switch and an always visible low battery life indicator. Both are minor but appreciated touches.
All the same, the fact remains that the V470 falls short in the critical area of tracking and does not offer much else that would be enough to sway users who can accept either using a trackpad or using a mouse that requires a USB cable or a dongle. It works well enough for casual use, but casual users are more likely to use a corded or basic RF mouse. Serious users, in turn, would be better off with more advanced RF mice. Logitech itself makes a far more reliable and feature-rich portable mouse in the form of the VX Nano for just $20 more. It may occupy a USB port, but the frustration it saves is worth the inconvenience.