(Pocket-lint) - Think back to the early-to-mid 90s, when PCs were taking the world by storm and becoming commonplace. Most of them looked the same: big beige boxes with clunky keyboards and wired mice. There were very few PCs or peripherals that really stood out, especially not something as seemingly insignificant as a mouse. Except one: the Logitech trackball mouse.
This mouse stood out for one main reason: instead of having the trackball underneath the mouse rolling around on the mouse mat, it was moved to the top, controlled directly with your thumb. It was an unconventional look, but one that had real ergonomic benefits. Sadly, the trackball mouse seemed to die a death after the last one was released around nine years ago.
Now it's back, with a new name to boot. Welcome the Logitech MX Ergo.
What's it like to use a trackball mouse like the MX Ergo?
- 132.5 x 51.4 x 99.8mm
- Detachable metal plate
This isn't the 90s anymore (although current fashion trends might disagree), so a sensible office-friendly mouse can't have a big, bright red ball on the side and can't be made from a beige plastic. Instead, Logitech has gone with a 'Lego Batman' black/dark grey approach.
The Ergo has an almost entirely matte finish, apart from the actual trackball, which has a glittery shimmer that we suspect isn't just there for aesthetic purposes. Unlike the olden days, the movement of the ball is measured using precision optical sensors inside, necessitating some kind of visual texture, hence the glittery shimmery-ness.
This trackball lives on the left side of the mouse, meaning it's only really usable with your right thumb. Any left-handers out there will be disappointed by this, unless they have a very dextrous left pinky finger. Joining it on the left side is the precision control button.
You can perform the broad strokes of editing in regular mode, then switch to precision controller when you need to make much smaller adjustments. For media professionals, the precision control function is a godsend. By default, this is the button next to the trackball. When pressed, the cursor on the screen moves much, much slower, giving you fine-tuned control. If you're editing video, or adjusting various aspects of a photograph or image, it's ideal.
Saying that, the precision control button doesn't have to be the precision control button. Using the Logitech Options software on desktop you can customise the mouse, and choose new functions for every single one of the buttons.
As is normal, all the other buttons live on the top surface. There's the usual right and left click, as well as the centre scroll wheel in-between them. Like Logitech's MX Master mouse, this is covered in a grippy rubber and has the slightest flashes of chrome on the edges.
The scroll wheel has a subtle click and good frictional resistance to it, although sadly it doesn't have the more loose fast-scroll mode like the Master does. With that said, it can be pushed left or right for scrolling sideways, which is particularly useful for scrolling through a video timeline.
Beneath the scroll wheel is a button for switching between two devices. Since you can pair the Ergo with two computers using Logitech Flow, you can quickly switch between them with a single press of a button, making it easy to, say, drag files in between the two (providing they're on the same network).
There are two more buttons that sit right on the left edge of the Ergo, immediately to the left of the left click. These are for quickly going backwards and forwards within, say, a browser. Again, these aren't buttons you'd use constantly, but they are useful as they're programmable on an app-by-app basis.
So, if you want the back and forward buttons to skip to the previous or next track in Spotify, you can choose to add a custom setup for Spotify and reprogram those back and forward buttons. You can do this for any app you want, and choose from a long list of fairly generic controls. You can also choose to have the right and left click buttons reversed, or have the scroll wheel be inverted.
Apart from the big trackball, the best design feature is undoubtedly the ability to switch between using it flat, or raising the angle by 20 degrees. The detachable, flat metal base pivots between the two points using two strong magnets, with a pivot "groove" adding an element of ergonomic bliss that wouldn't be there otherwise.
Perhaps the only issue with design is that - after spending years using regular mice - moving to a trackball takes some time to get used to. For the first few days, the default for us was to try and move the mouse which, of course, doesn't do anything thanks to that grippy base. It almost feels like trying to write with your weaker hand, for the first few days at least.
Is the Logitch MX Ergo more comfortable than a regular mouse?
- 0 or 20 degrees angle of adjustment
- Static, non-motion position
For those who might struggle with sore wrists or hands when using a regular flat mouse, the MX Ergo is fantastic. Obviously, a big part of this is that the mouse doesn't move. Thus your whole hand doesn't move as much, ensuring less stress on your muscles/tendons in your wrist and forearm.
A second major part is the aforementioned 20 degree angle. It means that when moved into this position, your hand sits at a more natural angle, and ensures you're not putting any pressure at all on the base of your wrist.
With office chair arms set into the right position, and the 20 degree angle on the mouse set, it's the ideal positioning to ensure any cramping or pain is kept to a minimum, especially if you're someone who struggles with carpal tunnel.
How does the MX Ergo's connect to a PC?
- Unifying receiver or Bluetooth
- Windows 10 or later (Windows 8 for Bluetooth)
- Mac OS X 10.12 or later
As with most recent wireless Logitech computer peripherals, you can choose to use either Bluetooth or the included Unifying Receiver to connect mouse to PC. The joy of the receiver is that you can just plug it to a spare port, wait a few seconds for the drivers to be installed, and you're away.
If you have no USB ports free, Bluetooth works fine, but can be a tiny bit less responsive than the dedicated receiver. It's not completely unreliable, rather it sometimes causes a minute delay in response time.
Overall performance is great. We had no dropped connections whatsoever when using the Logitech Unifying Receiver, and after around a month of full-time use, the battery still wasn't completely depleted. The desktop software indicated it was getting low, but it wasn't empty.
If you're looking for an ergonomic and feature rich mouse, the MX Ergo by Logitech is a great option. It costs more than budget-friendly vertical mice, but is still comfortably cheaper than some of the high-end models. What's more, the Ergo doesn't have to be used in this more upright position, making it more versatile.
While moving to a trackball takes some serious adjustment to begin with - unless you've been using one for the last decade - it brings benefits that make it wholly worthwhile. Primarily, we experienced far less cramping or tension at the end of a work day. So much so, that we disposed of the gel-padded wrist rest completely.
The MX Ergo is not just a nostalgic tip of the hat to the old Logitech trackball, it's a feature rich, reliable, and comfortable-to-use modern update that's perfect for long working days at your desk.