Review: Logitech Cube

Logitech tries a very different approach to travel mice. (January 28th, 2012)

The world of mice could often be described charitably as stagnant: it's an endless sea of ergonomic shapes that assume you're sitting at a desk and have lots of room in your bag. Logitech's Cube is about as different as you can get, with a small, brick-like design that relies on touch and orientation to make it an ultraportable mouse and presenter. We'll gauge in our Logitech Cube review whether it's a welcome break or a novelty.

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Logitech

Price: $70

The Good

  • Extremely portable.
  • Lithium-ion pack lasts a week, charges over USB.
  • Handy for some presentations.
  • Smartphone-like scrolling on Windows.
  • Good power indicator and switch.
  • Simple setup.

The Bad

  • Grip wears you down after a few hours.
  • Slightly awkward right-clicks.
  • Mac scrolling isn't very smooth right now.
  • Battery isn't removable; will need to replace the whole mouse.
  • Receiver occupies a USB port.

The world of mice could often be described charitably as stagnant: it's an endless sea of ergonomic shapes that assume you're sitting at a desk and have lots of room in your bag. Logitech's Cube is about as different as you can get, with a small, brick-like design that relies on touch and orientation to make it an ultraportable mouse and presenter. We'll gauge in our Logitech Cube review whether it's a welcome break or a novelty.

Design and ergonomics

Normally, mice are designed to cradle the hand as naturally as possible; not so with the Cube. It's deliberately boxy and and small with the intent of being held in mid-air in addition as well as just very portable. Aesthetically, it's at least very interesting. The best impression is of mousing with an eraser, and the size even affords for a (very convenient) carrying pouch.

In terms of grip, though, it's very mixed. We liked that it was very nimble, to the point where an Apple Magic Mouse feels fat and heavy after you've tried the Cube for some time. Because of the size, though, it's not the most comfortable for long periods. We developed mild pain after using it for a few hours, so we suspect Logitech intends this for short stints at the coffee shop or the hotel rather than all-day use.

Left- and right-clicking is unusual, too. Since the size precludes having traditional left or right buttons, Logitech moves the right-click action to the center. It prevents accidental right-clicks, but also requires a more conscious effort to trigger. We found ourselves having to put a bit more effort into right-clicks than we're used to, even after getting familiar with the Cube.



Scrolling is better, and uses a Magic Mouse-like touchable top surface. It's only for vertical scrolling, but it doesn't trigger any accidental clicks. Your experience will vary widely depending on the software, which we touch on below.

As a presentation tool, it's effective but uses a slightly odd system to advance slides. To advance slides, you click the main mouse button in normal mode. To skip back, you don't right-click but instead flip the Cube upside-down and perform the same left-click, just with the button on the underside. It works well in this mode; however, there's no way to move the cursor, so don't expect a full air pointer replacement.

What may please some is the choice of battery. Rather than opt for AA or AAA batteries, which guarantees either buying rechargeables or frequent replacements, Logitech goes with a lithium-ion pack. It does mean that the (non-removable) battery will eventually peter out completely and require replacing the mouse, but it also means having the option to recharge from any computer or power adapter with a USB port. Logitech just uses a microUSB port on the Cube and will let you use your smartphone cable to power it up. It's just as well: the included USB cable in the box is too short to let you keep using the mouse while your'e charging.

The rectangular shape makes for an unusually good communication of power levels. Logitech expects the Cube to last for a week on a full charge, which bore out in our days of testing, and it uses an easily seen color-coded light system that you can easily see to tell you when it's getting close to needing a recharge. There's a hardware power switch that both helps save power and makes it difficult to accidentally turn the mouse on while it's sitting in your bag or pocket.



Software and responsiveness

With only two practical buttons and no especially exotic tricks, software isn't absolutely necessary on the Mac or a Windows PC; you'll find no disc or USB stick in the box. The hardware uses the same tiny Unifying Receiver adapter that most every RF-based Logitech mouse or keyboard uses, so if you already have one of those, you don't even need to plug anything more in to get started, although this still means one more USB port lost than what Bluetooth has.

Logitech does provide one piece of software for download, a Flow Scroll app that improves the response to provide "smooth-as-smartphone" scrolling. Unfortunately, it's only for Windows at present, and it's clearly needed for the Mac. While the scrolling is usable on the Mac, it tends to exhibit all-or-nothing behavior: either you move in very slight steps or broad strokes. You won't confuse it with your iPhone on that platform, at least not without any upcoming drivers.

Although it's small, the stock sensitivity is high and makes it fairly to flick around even a large screen. Because it uses RF wireless, there's no real lag between switching on and use when it starts up or possible periodic hitches, either of which can creep up with Bluetooth.

Wrapping up

We see the Cube as making the most sense for those using a MacBook Air , an ultrabook, or anything else that can qualify as an ultraportable. While it takes up a precious USB port, it's probably the only mouse small enough to not be a conspicuous burden in a small bag while not also looking slightly ridiculous. We can see it being useful on a small desk or, if your notebook is small enough, even an airliner's passenger seat tray.



At the same time, it's not what we'd use on the desktop or for some kinds of notebook use. We've mentioned the comfort issues, but it's really a matter of features. Without even a third button or horizontal scrolling, it's not what you want to use for video editing, most action gaming, or heavy multitasking. There's also the matter of newer notebooks with particularly advanced trackpads like that on a MacBook Air or HP Envy. If you need a presenter, we'd be inclined to get an iOS or Android app instead.

The Cube still a very likeable mouse -- it effuses charm. But it's most analogous to a scalpel where most other mice are Swiss Army knives. It's considerably smaller and does its particular job better than many others. Even so, for day to day use you might want to get something bulkier that you're inclined to use more often.

by Jon Fingas


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