The Logitech MX Master wireless mouse is ergonomic, packed with features to help you get work done, and it’s the latest in a long line of great mice. Logitech’s MX Revolution and Performance MX mice are two of the most popular, well-loved mice of the past decade, including by most of us here at Lifehacker. The Logitech MX Master is the newest successor to this series of mice, and it’s even more awesome.
The MX Master, released just a few months ago, is comfortable, has just the right number of buttons and features, works beautifully in Windows and OS X, and just feels good to use. Still, the Performance MX has been out for years and is well loved. The MX Revolution was introduced in 2006, and was replaced by the Performance MX in 2009. While you can still buy them easily, technically they have been retired. Logitech introduced the MX Master at the beginning of this year to carry on the name — and there’s a lot under the hood to love.
Why the MX Master Is Special
The MX Master builds on all of the things we know and love about the Performance MX. You still get the ergonomic body that’s comfortable to use, just the right number of buttons and features, and a long-lasting battery. The MX Master adds a little modern styling to it to bring it in line with Logitech’s newer mice, and then brings back some of the features that were taken away from the MX Revolution. Then, on top of all of that, there are a few new surprises that make it worth a look. Here are some of our favourite big features:
- Bluetooth and RF support: The MX Master is the first Logitech mouse in a long time that supports pairing via Logitech’s own Unifying Receiver or Bluetooth, whichever you prefer. In our tests, the mouse worked seamlessly using both methods.
- The ability to be paired with multiple computers at once: This is a feature unique to the MX Master, and it’s more than welcome. The mouse can be paired with up to three computers at once, and switching among them is as easy as pressing a button on the bottom of the mouse. Best of all, this feature works with Bluetooth or a Unifying Receiver. It’s nice to be able to pair your mouse with a laptop at home and a PC at the office, and have it seamlessly switch.
- The return of the thumbwheel: Owners of the MX Revolution may remember a helpful thumbwheel on the side of their mice — one that vanished when it was replaced by the Performance MX. That thumbwheel is back in the MX Master, just smaller and easier to use or ignore now. It scrolls vertically, so you move your thumb up or down naturally to use it, but it works beautifully to scroll side to side in spreadsheets, or even go back and forward in documents and on web pages.
- The “gesture button” under the thumb, and everything it can do: The thumb button, on the “wing” of the mouse under the thumb-rest, is back, and it can do much more. Clicking it opens Mission Control in OS X or your app drawer in Windows, but paired with gestures (as in, moving the mouse forward, back, left, or right), you can do even more. Click it and move left or right in Windows to snap your window to either side of the screen. Do the same thing in OS X to switch between virtual desktops. There’s more too — and best of all, all of those gestures are programmable.
- An auto-adjusting scroll wheel: The adaptive scroll wheel takes a little getting used to, but if you had a Performance MX you’ll remember it. It’s click-to-scroll when you’re scrolling slowly, but if you really spin it, the click toggle disengages and the wheel spins freely. That also means you have fine control over scrolling speed, and can scroll line-by-line if you want, or really breeze through documents or down long web pages when you choose.
- A raised, more ergonomic design that feels better in-hand: The design of the MX Master is higher and more rounded than the Performance MX. It may look strange to the eye, but under your hand it feels much more natural. The almost angular design of the edges and the buttons don’t make it uncomfortable to use, and the “hump” at the top more closely follows the natural curve of your palm. That same angular styling comes to the thumb button and thumb-rest, where the texture is more than welcome. It’s a huge improvement over the Performance MX’s rubber sides. That matte black-on-bronze colour scheme looks pretty sharp, too.
- The return of the darkfield sensor: Logitech’s Darkfield tracking technology means you can use the MX Master (and most of their other mice) on just about any surface. That means whether your desk is pressboard, solid wood, glass, glossy plastic, or flat metal, you’ll have no problems.
All of these combined with great battery life, the ability to recharge while in use (and the ability to charge in minutes), and with the programmable and customisable buttons make it a joy to use.
Where It Excels
The MX Master really dials it in when you’re getting work done. The gestures for the thumb button take a little getting used to, but once you’re familiar with them, you’ll use them all the time. In fact, I was never really a big Expose user in OS X until the MX Master made it easy. In Windows, the same is true — I missed some of the Windows 7 “snap” features when I upgraded to Windows 8, and the thumb button brings some of them back, and makes the ones that survived the upgrade even easier to use.
The ability to have your mouse connected to multiple devices is also really useful. It works smoothly and seamlessly, and a button-press will take you from working on your Windows PC to your Mac to your HTPC, whether they’re all in the same room or you’re bringing that mouse home from the office with you (which you might want to, given its price.)
Finally, battery life on the MX Master is impressive. I’ve been using mine for months, and I’ve only had to recharge it perhaps two or three times. Part of that is because Logitech’s mice are generally smart enough to turn themselves off when idle, but the rechargeable battery in the MX Master regularly beat the life of the Performance MX that it replaced, and the G602 Wireless mouse that I generally use with my gaming PC. Plus, it recharges surprisingly quickly. I can get a whole day’s charge off of just a few minutes connected via USB. I don’t think there’s quick charging at play here, but it’s nice regardless.
Where It Falls Short
The MX Master doesn’t fall down in many places, but where it does, it’s pretty clear. First, it’s expensive, coming in at $149.95 in Australia. Not everyone can (or should) drop that much on a mouse, no matter how awesome and feature-packed it might be. Of course, it’s just a matter of time before we see sales on this, and the price inevitably drops. After all, you can still get the Performance M950T for $129.95, so shoppers on a budget may want one of those instead. Still, the delta here is pretty big, and while there’s a lot to love, we couldn’t blame you if you wanted to spend that hundred bucks elsewhere.
The only other gripe we have with the MX Master is that the battery isn’t user-replaceable, unlike just about every other Logitech rechargeable mouse. The Performance MX had a rechargable-but-still-replaceable battery, and even Logitech’s rechargeable gaming mice let you pull out the embedded Eneloop or other lithium-ion battery and pop in your own. Still, the battery is rated to last years, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that you’ll be making that investment again in a couple of years when the battery stops holding its charge.
Bottom Line: The MX Master Is More than Worthy of Inheriting the Performance MX Crown
The MX Master, while expensive, is an amazing mouse. It’s obviously intended for productivity and office use. The thumb scrollwheel works natively in office applications and web browsers. The back and forward buttons work just about everywhere, and in most cases you don’t need to set up the buttons to make the mouse work exactly the way you’d think it should. It’s precise enough for casual gaming, although you may be put off by that adaptive scroll wheel, depending on the games you play. The fact that you can have the mouse paired to multiple computers via Bluetooth or RF means this one device can replace others, which helps justify the price.
At the end of the day, it’s a multi-purpose mouse that just works, tries hard to justify its premium, and is more than up to the job of inheriting the Performance MX’s crown. It’s not perfect, but the MX Master is an evolutionary improvement, which is exactly what we needed. When the price starts to come down and you see this mouse on sale in the coming months, we’re willing to bet more than a few of you — and us here at Lifehacker — will have one on our respective desks.