Clicks ?EUR(TM)n?EUR(TM) Keys

Published Date
01 - Feb - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2006
 
Clicks ’n’ Keys
Whether it's processor speeds, hard drive capacities or sleek displays, almost every computer component has evolved and broken new ground, thanks to constant technological innovations. In contrast, input devices have remained unchanged for nearly two decades-they've seen a few minor cosmetic changes, but no real technological innovations.

It's only in the past couple of years that new technologies have made their way into input devices. With industry bigwigs such as Intel and Microsoft making headway into our living rooms, the need for better human interface devices arises. Recent product line-ups from major input device manufacturers stand testimony to this shift, and reflect their desire to capture new markets.

While Logitech and Microsoft have traditionally been the major players, many small brands have emerged over the years. These smaller brands offer devices at throwaway prices, and make buying decisions difficult. Also, vendors have taken up a solution-centric approach, thereby bundling keyboards and mice as desktop kits. This cuts packaging costs, delivers more value to the customer, and also makes it simple for the customer to choose. Of course, standalone keyboards and mice are still available.

In this comparison test, we tested around fifteen combo kits, fifteen standalone keyboards and 23 mice, from all the major brands available in Indian market. Based on the technology used, the "combo kits" category was classified into Wired and Cordless. The Mice category shows a clear distinction in terms of their usage-for desktops or laptops-whereas the standalone keyboards we received were all wired.

You might ask at this point, "What's the big deal about keyboards and mice?" Well, there's a lot to it! When buying a PC, we tend to pay a lot of attention to the hardware configuration-processor, hard drive, graphics card, etc. Keyboards and mice are generally picked up like potatoes and tomatoes-we settle for just anything. What people forget is that we interface with our systems using these devices, and these components are therefore the most utilised. Another thing to remember is that apart from being good-looking, input devices have to be comfortable to use, or you're going to end up with aching joints.

Logitech and Microsoft have traditionally been the major players, but many small brands have emerged, which offer input devices at throwaway prices

You also need to bear in mind that keyboards and mice are rarely ever "upgraded"-they are only changed if they stop working. Here's where we come in-read this test thoroughly and use it to make a good buying decision. Keep in mind, however, that one person's passion can be another's poison, so actually getting a feel for what you're buying is of utmost importance!

Keyboards
The standalone keyboards category covered products ranging from a paltry Rs 260 for the entry-level Genius keyboard to Rs 4,995 for the Logitech Gaming keyboard. Almost all the products in this category were wired.

Features
iBall's Power Key designer keyboard had the most number of features. The keyboard is cramped with extra buttons that give it a "busy" kind of look. The black colour, with the red "i" key, gives it the special iBall treatment. Apart from the standard keys, you get about 32 extra keys for various functions. The keyboard features all the regular multimedia and Internet hotkeys for one-touch operation.

To stand apart from the crowd, iBall decided to integrate keys for controlling MS Office applications-Word, Excel, Power Point, and Calendar. Other standard Windows functions such as Cut, Copy and Paste can also be achieved via dedicated keys. Except for the Office hotkeys, all others work without installing any drivers. The keyboard also has a USB port that you can use to connect other devices, as well as a scroll wheel that blinks different colours while you work.

Similar to the iBall was the Tech-com SSD-KB-990 keyboard. This keyboard is cramped with hotkeys for functions that you might never use-the SSD-KB-990 has 49 extra hotkeys! Apart from the standard, multimedia and Internet hotkeys, the keyboard comes with one touch-keys for Windows Office XP. Tech-com has gone a step forward, integrating a scroll-pad-quite handy in Excel and during Internet browsing.

Most of the hotkeys work without installing the software, but if you buy this keyboard, we'd recommend that you install the bundled software.
Logitech was represented by two keyboards, the standard entry-level keyboard and the top-of-the-line gaming keyboard, the G5. While there is hardly anything to write home about regarding the standard classic keyboard, it happens to be the best vanilla keyboard out there.


The display screen of the Logitech G15 gaming keyboard

The G5 gaming keyboard, on the other hand, is the best standalone keyboard we have come across thus far! It has fantastic build quality, a plush feel, and a host of features to rock your games. There are 18 programmable keys in three modes that give 54 combinations to play around with. The keyboard is backlit and features a button to switch it off. The most interesting aspect of this keyboard is the programmable LCD display-a first-ever for a keyboard! You also get two USB ports on the keyboard so you can attach other devices. The software bundled with the G5 for programming macros is fantastic-simple and very useful.

Microsoft's Comfort curve 2000 was the only keyboard in the whole test from the software giant. This was the probably the best looking standalone keyboard, not counting the Logitech G5. Apart from good looks and a unique, comfortable design, the Comfort curve keyboard has standard one-touch hotkeys for multimedia and Internet applications.

Zebronics' ZEB-K500L was the odd one out in this, the standalone keyboard category. It is designed to be a slim keyboard, and hence is small and cramped. However, the translucent casing gives it a chic look. It also features a blue backlight, but the white-on-black letters are hard to read in poor lighting conditions, even with the backlight on. Thankfully, there's also a switch using which you can  turn off the backlight when it becomes unbearable.

The same design is also available as the ZEB-K500, which has a white translucent body and no backlight.

The Genius SlimStar, as the name suggests, is a slim keyboard that's flat and sleek. Overall, it looks great. It features 12 hotkeys for controlling multimedia applications and Internet functions.

The strong point, however, of this keyboard is its designer looks; sadly, the same cannot be said about its features. Genius' other entry, the LuxeMate Scroll keyboard, is great as far as looks and product quality are concerned. There is hardly any space between the keys, and it looks like a laptop keypad.

BenQ's A110 is another stylish keyboard that could win an award for design. This keyboard is milky white, and has the looks to entice any buyer, but in terms of features, it's just a vanilla keyboard, and is devoid of any frills.


How We Tested 
Keyboards
Features
Number of keys: This count reflects the number of hotkeys provided with the keyboard, apart from the standard keys it had. These hotkeys included the multimedia keys, Internet keys, etc.
Batteries required: Cordless keyboards require alkaline batteries to run, and we logged the type and number of batteries required. If a keyboard uses AA batteries, the running costs are cheaper compared to keyboards that use AAA batteries. Also, fewer batteries result in lower running costs.
Miscellaneous features: Unique features that deserve attention were logged under this field. Features such as a scroll wheel, direction pad, backlight on/off switch, slots on the bottom of the keyboard for proper wire management, buttons for zoom, etc., were logged here.

Ergonomics
Keys: With respect to the keys, we logged the spacing between the keys, key layout, size of specific keys such as [Enter], [Insert] etc., and, most importantly, the tactile feel they provided. Too soft and too mushy a feel was rated low.
Miscellaneous: Parameters such as the comfort of the palm rest, elevation of the keyboard before and after using the foot pegs, etc., were logged on a scale of five.

Performance
We typed, 10 times, the standard "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," changing the case to UPPER, lower and Sentence. Then we typed all the numbers and special characters. We used the [Home], [End] and [Delete] keys, and tried the [Page up] and [Page down] keys as well.
Finally, to get a proper feel of the keyboard, we typed a paragraph of around 250 words using each keyboard.

Mice
Mice were evaluated on the following parameters.

Design: An ambidextrous design allows the mouse to be used by left-handed people.

Wired/Cordless: Cordless mice are great for the degree of freedom they allow when working. For daily use, we recommend cordless mice; however, if you are a gamer, the lag associated with cordless mice might not work in your favour-you should choose something like the Logitech G7 gaming mouse instead.

Sensor used: Here we logged the tracking engine used, which includes ball technology, standard LED optics or high-precision laser. The sensitivity and accuracy of the mice decrease in the order of Laser-LED optics-Ball.

Miscellaneous features: Features such as horizontal scrolling, a power switch, a portable USB receiver in the case of notebook mice, and the mouse interface were also logged.

Physical characteristics: Grip, placement of buttons, scroll wheel placement, weight of the mouse, gliding efficiency, etc. indicate the comfort level a user will experience.

Action feedback: Parameters such as the tactile feel the buttons provide, the feel associated with the scroll wheel, etc., were logged.

Performance: For evaluating the performance of the mouse, we used it for two successive rounds of Quake III's DM17 map. The first round was played at 1204 x 768, and the second round was played at 1280 x 1024, to check the difference in sensitivity and the subsequent effect on accuracy.

Ergonomics

No other keyboard comes close to the ergonomics of Logitech's keyboards. Both the Standard Classic keyboard and the G5 gaming keyboard set the standards for others to emulate. The G5 offers better comfort and uses better materials, and while the entry-level standard keyboard may be devoid of plush feel materials, it still offers the same true tactile feedback necessary for touch-typing. Logitech's Internet keyboard somehow doesn't feel the same; the keys are too soft and often miss keystrokes.

The iBall Power Key Designer comes out good on our ergonomic scale due to its excellent key feedback-it's just a shade behind the Logitech standard keyboard. Also, the placement of the buttons with respect to the home keys is excellent, and reaching them requires minimal stretching of the fingers.

The Tech-Com SSD-KB-990 and SSD-KB-880 have just one drawback-the keys feel a bit mushy, and you tend to miss a keystroke or two. Also, the SSD-KB-880 has poor build quality, with rubber buttons for hotkeys without proper legends-easily avoidable.

On the ergonomics front, the Genius KB-12e has much better design than the competition. Though the keys have a soft feel, they offer good tactile feedback, something completely lacking in the other Genius keyboards. The Genius Luxemate scroll has a laptop-type keyboard, not enough spacing between keys, ia cramped, and there's a general lack of tactile feedback. The Genius KB-06X, despite being an entry-level keyboard, offers better ergonomics compared to its older sibling, the KB-12e.

Microsoft's Comfort Curve 2000 quite doesn't feel like a Microsoft keyboard. The keys are nicely arranged on a curve for stress-free typing, but are simply too soft and offer no resistance to keystrokes, thus affecting feedback. Apart from this, this keyboard is a wonderful device.

The Zebronics ZEB-K500L has a weird key layout: the [Home], [Page Up], etc., key group is lined up with [Backspace], [Enter], etc., and this leads to mistakes. Very often, when trying to hit [Backspace], you might hit [Home], which can get quite frustrating. Similarly, the [Delete] and [Insert] keys are placed on the bottom row near the Windows key-not easy to reach. Also, since the keyboard has a laptop keyboard feel, tactile feed back is hampered.

Our Verdict
Ideally speaking, Logitech's G5 shouldn't have been featured in this category, but our categorisation criteria dictated that it should. The G5 has fantastic build quality that's seldom seen on a keyboard, and has many features.

Though Logitech has priced the G5 ambitiously, we think the price is a little too high, but not atrociously so-considering the features it offers. The keyboard is a must-have for those who play a lot of RTS games; if you don't, you can afford to look at other keyboards!


TECH-COM SSD-KB-990

Now, out of the rest of the keyboards, iBall's Power Key Designer comes out tops due to its truckload of features and decent ergonomics. Logitech's Standard keyboard and Tech-Com's SSD-KB-990 tie for second place. If you are on a shoestring budget and want a no-frills keyboard, Logitech's Standard keyboard is the way to go. If loads of one-touch hotkeys is what you want, Tech-Com's SSD-KB-990 is the keyboard to opt for-remember, however, that it's a shade below Logitech's Standard keyboard in terms of ergonomics.

Combos
A combo kit is essentially a keyboard and a mouse bundled  into a single package. This trend started about a year and a half ago, and the apparent success has motivated every vendor to have a combo kit in their product line-up.

The entry-level kits, due to price constraints, are wired models, whereas the top-end combos are wireless. Of the 15 combo sets we reviewed, five were wired and the rest were cordless. Let's take a closer look at what they offer.

Download Keyboard PDF File

Wired desktop combos

Features
Most of the wired combos are targeted at entry-level buyers, and hence are anaemic on features. One good thing, though, was the inclusion of optical mice in all the combos-this does away with the routine maintenance problems that plague ball mice.

The first advantage of buying a combo is that you get an aesthetically matched set that looks nice on your desk. As far as looks go, Gigabyte's GKM-10 and Genius EasyTouch Optical II look great in their dual-tone White and Blue combination. Logitech has gone for an all-black combo, and should complement a black monitor and cabinet system. Zebronics' 911 combo is targeted at gamers; however, the golden black camouflage design with a printed Counter Strike theme makes it look gaudy. 

Except for Gigabyte's GK-6PB, all the keyboards offered some extra keys. Logitech's Internet Pro Desktop, Zebronics' 911 combo and Genius' Easy Touch Optical II offered multimedia keys that can launch the default media player, play songs, and perform other functions.

Except for Gigabyte's GK-6PB-a standard keyboard-all the others had one-touch keys for launching Internet Explorer, the default e-mail client such as Outlook Express, and buttons for going back and forth while navigating the Web.

Genius' Easy Touch Optical II has gone a step forward and also offered one-touch keys for accessing My Computer, Calculator, and for putting the machine to sleep.

A palm-rest on a keyboard relieves a lot of wrist stress, and our advice is to buy a keyboard with one. While it is not the only thing to look for in terms of ergonomics, it does help.


Genius EasyTouch Optical II

Except for the Zebronics 911, all the other keyboards came with a palm rest. Gigabyte's GKM-10 featured a non-detachable palm rest, which is both good and bad-good because it will stay firm and won't move about like the detachable ones do, and bad because if you have a cramped desktop, this will hurt more than help.


Gigabyte GKM-10

The mice that came bundled with these combo sets were standard three-button optical devices. Logitech's offering delighted us with its ambidextrous design and precise tracking. The mouse bundled with Gigabyte's GKM-10 and Zebronics 911 combo set offer the same feel as the Logitech.

From a statistical point of view, the Genius EasyTouch Optical II takes the top spot as far as just features are concerned. The Logitech's Internet Pro Desktop Black takes second place.
Ergonomics
The most important ergonomics testing parameter for a keyboard is the tactile feedback it offers while typing. Touch-typists use tactile feedback to tell whether they pressed a key or not.

Apart from the Genius Easy Touch Optical II and Zebronics' 911 combo, all other keyboards provided decent feedback-neither too hard, nor too mushy. Almost all the keyboards had the standard key layout, with enough spacing between the keys. This makes for typing comfort. Also, all the keyboards had perfectly angled palm rests-this helps reduce the stress on your wrists.

Coming to the mice, as we've mentioned earlier, Logitech's mice have the best ergonomics of them all, which is something we expected. The Zebronics mouse has a wide base and hence fits snugly into one's palm-this works great when playing games. Also, since it's light, making 180-degree turns to take pot-shots in a game is easily achieved.

Gigabyte's GK-6PB mouse is poor on ergonomics; the scroll wheel is so small, you might have trouble finding it! The clicking action, too, makes an irritating noise.

As a combo, Gigabyte's GKM-10 has the best ergonomics of them all. The bundled mouse is as good as the one from Logitech or Zebronics, and this makes it a great gaming device. Overall, Gigabyte's GKM-10 takes the top honours in the ergonomics department.

Our Verdict
Minimalistic on features, these sets are for people on shoestring budgets, and offer more than what is expected of them. Taking price into the equation, two wired desktop combos are a hairsbreadth away from taking the top honours: the Genius EasyTouch Optical II and Gigabyte's GKM-10 both make it to the top spot.

We do think the Genius EasyTouch Optical II has an edge when it comes to features; however, if you value ergonomics, you should opt for the Gigabyte GKM-10 combo set. The Logitech Internet Pro Desktop black is expensive and this affects it final score, however if you can stretch your budget, this set makes for a great black desktop combo.

Cordless Desktop Combos

Features
The cordless desktop combo category consisted of some of the best devices we received for this test. This category was largely dominated by Logitech, with six products of the ten we reviewed. Genius, iBall and BenQ were the other brands that had cordless desktop combos.

We were bowled over by Logitech's products-they have some of the best finishing we have seen thus far. Their new range of products is sleek, aesthetically appealing, and sets new standards in the design department.

The Cordless Desktop S510 Media Remote features a thin, flat, sleek looking keyboard designed specially to go with an LCD monitor, an optical mouse with horizontal scroll, and a media centre remote control. The set comes bundled with a Media Center application called MediaLife, which allows easy access to media files on the computer-photos, music and videos. Other notable features include, a Zoom button to zoom in and out of pictures, Excel files, etc. Also, the little USB receiver makes it possible to very easily connect to a notebook. If you can do without the media centre remote, Logitech has the Cordless Desktop S510.

The diNovo Media Desktop Laser is another innovative product from Logitech that caught our fancy. It has a keyboard, a separate numeric pad with an LCD display, and the MX-1000 mouse. It uses Bluetooth for wireless communication between these devices. The keyboard features the standard layout minus the number pad. The number pad is a separate unit so that it can be taken along with a laptop, since laptops don't have number pads. The same number pad unit doubles up as a Calculator, media centre remote via the MediaLife application, and shows the time and date in the normal mode. Logitech also has a non-laser version of the same product, called the diNovo Media Desktop.


There's a host of multimedia keys on the MX-3000


The scroll pad and zoom buttons on the Logitech MX-3000 keyboard/mouse combo

Apart from these esoteric combos, the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX-3000 laser kit comprises the latest feature-rich keyboard and the MX-600 laser mouse. The keyboard has 32 extra keys that enable one-touch controlling of multimedia functions such as launching the default media player, eject, play/pause, stop, volume control, mute, shuffle, etc.

Apart from these standard features, it also has buttons for recording and burning. On the Internet front, it has buttons for messenger status and Web cam. Furthermore, it also incorporates a scroll wheel with horizontal as well as vertical scrolling-a boon if you frequent Web pages that require scrolling, or work with large Excel Worksheets. If image editing is your thing, the Zoom and one-touch 100 per cent zoom buttons will come in handy.

The BenQ X-Touch 850 sports a radical design, with the keys laid out on a convex base, helping the hands to easily rest on the keys without creating any stress on the wrists. The mouse, however, isn't the best of the lot, and doesn't go well with the futuristic-looking keyboard.

The combo has been awarded the iF (International Forum Design) design award. Apart from the standard multimedia and Internet keys, the X-touch doesn't come with too many other features. The keyboard doesn't have indication for Caps, Num or Scroll locks-instead, a small on-screen display menu pops up in the system tray, which is rather useless, and irritating as well.

The iBall i-UFO completely stands out in the bunch and will definitely attract mass attention. It features a UFO-shaped wireless receiver with a blue light-very cool. Apart from the standard hotkeys such as those for multimedia and the Internet, the i-UFO comes with keys for launching MS Word and Excel. Bundled with the combo is a strange-looking mouse. The wide scroll wheel provides good comfort though.

The Genius LuxeMate Pro has a low-profile design giving it a sleek look, and a notebook-type, cramped keyboard. However, Genius has taken care not to mess up in terms of quality. The palm rest features a soft rubbery feel that makes it comfortable to use for long hours. Unlike other keyboards that either use alkaline batteries or Lithium-ion rechargeable cells, the LuxeMate pro keyboard comes with rechargeable NiMH cells. Genius has gone a step forward, incorporating a battery charger in the wireless USB receiver, and the batteries can be charged via the USB ports.

No other keyboard is cramped with features as much as the Logitech MX-3000 laser set is, and there's no wonder it comes out tops as far as just features are concerned. The diNovo Media Desktop Laser set takes second place.

On the software front, Logitech is miles ahead of the other vendors in terms of the quality of software bundled with their products. The SetPoint application is intuitive, simple to configure, and has the best graphical user interface with proper comments and help. Genius, iBall and BenQ do bundle some software, but they will require a thorough overhaul to match up to the simplicity offered by Logitech's SetPoint application.
Ergonomics
On the ergonomics front, the Logitech S510 Media Remote fares well. The keyboard has good tactile feel, but due to the short key travel (the depth to which a key can be pressed), getting used to it will take some time.

The remote is a piece of art and fits in your palm perfectly; all the keys are within easy reach. The only gripe we had with the remote was that the clickable scroll wheel was a little stiff. Coming to the bundled mouse, it is simply fantastic, and will fit perfectly in your palm. The weight bias is near-perfect, and doesn't feel heavy-despite the fact that it uses two AA batteries.

The Logitech diNovo Media desktop laser combo, despite its ambitious design, falls short of delivering the goods. Though the concept is unique, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. The keyboard is similar in design to the ones seen on any laptop. The short key travel and close spacing between keys often makes typing cumbersome. Also, the left [Shift] is reduced in size, which often results in one's hitting the wrong key. The separate number pad has no issues, but its real-life value is questionable. The MX-1000 laser mouse has no such issues; in fact this Bluetooth version feels lighter than the RF MX-1000 mouse.


Logitech MX-3000

The Logitech Cordless desktop MX-3000 is ergonomically the best desktop combo of them all. The thoughtfully-sculpted keyboard as well as the MX-600 mouse gives this combo an edge over its competitors. The keyboard does appear a little cluttered, due to the large number of buttons on it.

One of the biggest strengths of this keyboard is its key feel and true tactile response-this keyboard is a touch-typist's dream come true. The placement of the scroll wheel makes it possible to lazily browse through documents without extending a finger. The MX-600 mouse has a right-handed orientation, and that will, of course, put off left-handers. This laser mouse tracks true and offers excellent comfort.

As far as the BenQ X-Touch 805 is concerned, the keyboard offers good typing comfort. Due to the curved design of the keyboard, accessing the hotkeys requires some extending of the fingers, otherwise all other keys fall within easy reach. The accompanying mouse has a low-profile design, and hence is quite comfortable; however, it is quite heavy, and requires effort to move around-it's not good for gaming.

The iBall i-UFO comes with a standard keyboard and it's hard to go wrong with such a keyboard. The keys are well laid out and have a good tactile feedback. The elevation of the board is perfect, thus offering a comfortable typing stance. The strange-looking mouse has a low profile, making it quite comfortable, but its bulky nature makes it heavy and difficult to manoeuvre.

Similar to the diNovo Media laser keyboard, the LuxeMate pro keyboard from Genius also has a notebook-style keyboard and hence has nearly all the drawbacks of that particular design. Also, since the key travel is shortened, the adaptive curve is steep. The accompanying mouse, however, is pretty comfortable.

Overall, Logitech's Cordless Desktop MX-3000 is flawless on the ergonomics front, and rightly deserves to be at the top of the list.

Our Verdict
Before we give our verdict, it would be wise to look at the prices of some of the keyboards. Logitech's diNovo Media Desktop laser turns out to be the most expensive set and retails at Rs 14,495, followed by its non-laser version, which retails at Rs 9,250. The S510 Media Remote and Cordless desktop MX-3000 desktop set retails at Rs 6,995. The Genius LuxeMate Pro and BenQ X-Touch 805 all fall in the Rs 2,500 price bracket. Products from Genius and BenQ have the price advantage against Logitech; giving a clear verdict is therefore not quite possible.


The excellent battery charger provided with Genius LuxeMate pro can charge both AA & AAA size batteries

If you want a reasonably-priced cordless desktop kit, then Genius' Twin Touch SE optical Desktop kit would be it. If you can stretch your budget a little, BenQ's X-Touch 805 will definitely make your desktop stand apart.

If you appreciate quality and don't mind the high but justifiable price tag, Logitech's Cordless Desktop MX-3000 is the best buy you will ever make-take our word for it!
 
Mice

Desktop Mice
Logitech, Microsoft, Genius, Gigabyte, TECH-COM and Zebronics had at least one mouse representing them in this category. While most of them were based on LED optical technology, some high-end stuff from Logitech and Genius used Laser technology for optical tracking. A few mice used RF for wireless communication with the PC, thus providing complete freedom from the boring cord. Let's see what's on offer.

Features
When it comes to features, two mice stand comfortably apart from the crowd. Logitech has again set the standard for others to follow; both its MX-1000 and G7 gaming laser mice are packed with features.

While the MX-1000 had been around for quite some time now and was the first laser mouse to hit the scene, the G7 raises the stakes higher. Talking of features, the MX-1000 has an inbuilt rechargeable battery that lasts at least two weeks on a full charge, and this can be extended further by using the on/off switch. It has eight programmable buttons, and a perfectly sculpted body for great comfort-albeit not for southpaws. Other features include horizontal scrolling, battery level indicator and the application switch ([Alt] [Tab]).

The G7 has all these features and many more. First, it has dedicated buttons for changing the mouse sensitivity on the fly-very handy for gamers. For example, if you want to snipe a faraway enemy, you can lower the sensitivity so that the crosshair stays steady, and then increase the sensitivity for quick reflex action.

The accompanying software makes it simple to use and configure the mouse. It also comes with two rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries-when one is operating within the mouse, the other can be charged in the USB receiver.


Logitech G7 Laser Mouse

While the first two were cordless, which made them slightly heavy for gaming, Logitech introduced the G5 gaming mouse. This wired version is similar to the successful MX-518 optical mouse that Logitech released a year ago. Instead of relying on an LED optical sensor, Logitech has opted for laser light, which tremendously boosts its tracking speed and quality. It, too, has the sensitivity changing buttons, but more importantly, you can now customise the mouse for weight as well. The mouse comes with tiny weights that can be arranged in a cartridge which slots into the mouse, thus making it possible to get a perfectly weighted mouse.

Taking cues from Logitech, Genius introduced the Ergo 525 featuring laser technology. The design cues are straight off the MX-1000 and provide the same comfort; Genius has done a good job by offering top drawer quality on the Ergo 525.

This mouse has eight buttons; however, the software application kept crashing our system, and we weren't able to see all it has to offer.     
With the RF 1000 Cordless mouse, Zebronics tried hard to emulate the MX-1000, however it falls short of its goal. Based around optical technology and offering rechargeable batteries, it features nothing unique.

Microsoft's Wireless Optical 5000 has excellent product finish, spot-on ergonomics and good enough features, but seems ordinary in front of the new products from Logitech.

Unfortunately, we couldn't get their new product line, so we'd like to reserve our thoughts on this product, as it wouldn't be a fair comparison.

Gigabyte's GM-AC is a standard three-button LED optical mouse. It's extremely light, and we found it to be good for gaming- except for the sticky scroll wheel. Genius' Netscroll Superior is another comfortable mouse with a host of buttons. Unfortunately, though, it features a right-hand biased design.

TECH-COM sported appealing designs, but they all were standard three-button LED optical mice with a touch of style.
Ergonomics
As far as ergonomics is concerned, Logitech's mice are definitely the best. The MX-1000 has a good sculpted body for great comfort, but the weight doesn't help it much when working for long hours. The same hold true for the G7 laser mouse; however, the low-profile design does give it a edge over the MX-1000. The G5, on the other hand, is light, has a low profile design, and is comfortable for extended working works.

The Genius Ergo 525 comes out the second-best in ergonomics. It blends the comfortable design of MX-1000 and the lightness of G5 gaming mouse.

Microsoft's Wireless Optical mouse 5000, too, has a good design that allows the mouse to fit snugly into one's palm. Furthermore, it runs on only one battery, thus reducing the weight. The buttons are also perfectly placed within easy reach of the thumb. The Genius Netscroll Superior also offers good comfort for extended use. The buttons are placed perfectly, but can do with slightly better quality. The TECH-COM mice had mediocre ergonomics; however, looking at their modest pricing, they can be forgiven.

Gigabyte GM-AC is a shade better than the TECH-COM products; however, the erratic wheel doesn't inspire confidence while gaming. The Zebronics Optical wheel mouse offers great ergonomics due to its simple ambidextrous shape and standard button placement.

Performance
Logitech's G5 gaming mouse is the best when it comes to performance-whether it is gaming, daily applications or image editing, it's fantastic on all counts. The laser tracing elevates the performance tremendously and the on-the-fly sensitivity changing works great in games-you do need a little practice. The G7 isn't far behind, it has the same characteristics as the G5, but we somehow preferred the G5. The MX-1000 delivers what's expected of it, however it can't match up to the new gaming mice series.     

The Genius Ergo 525 also makes an impact in the performance test we put it through. The laser technology definitely works in favour of this mouse. The Zebronics Optical wheel mouse did well in the gaming and other tests, and looking at the rock-bottom price, we say, buy it!

Our Verdict
Declaring a clear winner in this category wasn't quite easy, especially when one takes price into the equation. If you want a good standalone mouse at rock-bottom prices, it's surely got to be the Zebronics Optical Wheel mouse. If you're looking for the best mouse out there, it's the G7 mouse from Logitech.

Factoring in price brings us to the conclusion that the G5 is what you should buy. If you want a good laser mouse, you should opt for the Genius Ergo 525-it has the best characteristics of the G5 and the MX-1000 from Logitech.

Notebook Mice
In this category, we had some of the latest mice from Microsoft's stables. BenQ, Genius, Gigabyte and Logitech were the other brands.


Zebronics Wheel Optical mouse

Two mice-one from Microsoft and the other from iBall-were based on laser technology. All the others featured LED optical technology.

Features
Except for Microsoft's mice which had four buttons, the rest were a standard three-button affair. Microsoft's Notebook optical 6000 was based on laser technology, and had an innovative design as well. The mouse fits snugly in one's palm, requires just one AA battery, and doesn't weigh much. Moreover, the design is ambidextrous.

The USB receiver snaps on the bottom of the mouse, thus losing it isn't a problem. A fourth button placed near the thumb offers a slick magnifying square, which is useful during image editing for spot correction. The rubberised surface makes for very comfortable grip.


Microsoft Notebook Optical 4000

The same characteristics are seen on the other two Microsoft mice as well. The Notebook Optical mouse 3000 is wired, whereas the 4000 offers cordless freedom. An optical tracking engine powers these two mice, as against the laser in the 6000 model. The Intellipoint software works with all the mice, and is simple to use and configure.

Logitech's V200 is the latest from the firm, and sports some of the best finish seen in the category. This mouse uses invisible optics-a point to note, since one might confuse it with laser; there is no red light emanating from the bottom of the mouse. The USB receiver snaps at the base of the mouse-it won't be lost so easily.

Gigabyte's GM-W9C comes with a leather finish and gives a pleasant touch feel. It also has rechargeable batteries that can be charged via the USB receiver or select Nokia chargers. This ambidextrous mouse uses an optical tracking engine, but is quite precise.

The iBall Laser Precise Cordless mini was the second laser mouse in this category, and sports a unique design. It uses rechargeable batteries that can be charged via the USB receiver.

The Genius Ergo 300 is the best-finished Genius mouse thus far in the entire test. The product quality matches with the likes of Logitech and Microsoft. Pretty much like the Ergo 525 in the desktop category, this younger sibling offers the same performance.

The BenQ M310 is an interesting mouse that could win an award for design. While in other mice, the USB receiver either snaps on to the bottom or doesn't, the USB receiver in the M310 slots inside the mouse and fits flush with the body.


Gigabyte GM-W9C

Performance
Microsoft's Notebook optical 4000 and 6000 mice topped our performance test. The 6000, with its brilliant laser tracking engine, is precise to a pixel and can be used for image editing as well. The 4000, despite its optical engine, is quite precise, and its great ergonomics makes it a perfect mouse for most work.

The Genius Ergo 300 and Microsoft Notebook Optical mouse 3000 are on par as far as precision and accuracy is concerned. Both these are great on ergonomics, and offer excellent tracking response. iBall's Laser Precise cordless mini offers excellent accuracy due to its laser tracking engine, but has some ergonomics flaws.

The Logitech V200 is a shade below Microsoft's notebook optical mouse 4000. The tracking engine is good, and this mouse presents itself as a good gaming option due to its slightly large size-only if you can put up with the weight.

Our Verdict
The winner in this category is clear: Microsoft's Notebook Optical 4000 Mouse emerges the winner. Looking at its good features, excellent ergonomics, top-notch performance and reasonable price, we declare it the notebook mouse to buy.

If you're on a limited budget, Gigabyte's GM-W9C offers the best compromise. And finally, if you can put up with a wired device, Genius' Ergo 300 and BenQ's M101 are pretty good buys too.



Team DigitTeam Digit  teamdigit@digit.in

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