A Two-Wheeled Mouse That Roars

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Logitech is a lithe innovator. Take, for instance, its Wireless DJ music system, which I recently reviewed. Rather than accept Apple's control over home audio as a fait accompli, Logitech built a system that freely streams iTunes-purchased tracks around the house. Logitech's latest mouse proves that the company never stops looking forward.

Two years ago, Logitech introduced laser technology as the standard for reliable cordless mice, and its competitors scrambled to follow suit. The MX Revolution reveals three impressive new features which will no doubt be copied in years to come.

The central scroll wheel has a "free spin" mode, so that you can blaze through hundred-page Excel spreadsheets or Word documents, accelerating and decelerating until you get where you want to be. The scroll wheel actually engages and disengages the free spin depending on what application you're in, and what you're doing. If you are inching through a news story, you get the familiar bump-by-bump ratchet action, but if you land on your friend's mile-long blog and start scrolling, the ratchet bumps go away and the wheel's spin becomes Lance Armstrong smooth.

The mouse also has a one-tap search button. Highlight a word or phrase then touch the button marked by a magnifying glass, and a page of Google search results appears out of nowhere. You can actually select your favorite search engine, and the results appear in your computer's default browser. (Keep in mind that the browser you use everyday may not be the default. If you click the search feature and a different browser launches, check your browser's settings.) In all fairness, most web browsers already have quick-search functions. You highlight something, right-click, then select the option labeled "Search for ..." That's at least a couple of clicks by my count, though — certainly not one touch.

The third innovation is a thumb wheel on the side which acts as a window selector. In Windows XP, you can Alt-Tab your way through all of your open windows, but you can only see the name of one window at a time. If you have 30 windows open — which happens in my house — it might take a while to find the one you want. Logitech's flipper lists all open windows with their titles, and the list appears at the twitch of your thumb.

There isn't much of a downside to the MX Revolution. It has a rechargeable battery, which some people don't like. I don't mind, especially since it's a long-lasting lithium-ion battery, and the mouse has a four-level battery meter on its side. You can assign buttons to do different things in different applications; generally, this is very easy, although in rare cases, if you don't pay attention, it may not work properly. The mouse is Mac compatible, but you must be sure to have the latest edition of Logitech's Mac software. The biggest setback is probably the $100 sticker price — now that worthwhile PCs sell for $500 including monitors — but it's worth it for a mouse that's tails ahead of the competition.