Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 3200 Laser Review

By Eric Grevstad | Posted February 02, 2007

Cordless keyboard and mouse bundles are nothing new. By our count, arch-rivals Logitech and Microsoft offer more than 20 of them, differentiated mostly by details such as LED- versus laser-based optical mice or radio-frequency versus Bluetooth wireless technology.

But the advent of Windows Vista gives manufacturers an excuse to polish their product lines, hinting that getting a snazzy new PC or OS upgrade is a good excuse for shoppers to treat themselves to a snazzy new desk set.

Logitech's candidate is the $100 Cordless Desktop MX 3200 Laser. Compared to last spring's Cordless Desktop MX 5000, the MX 3200 costs $50 less and uses a less exotic but trouble-free 27MHz radio receiver instead of Bluetooth.


It also has features that we like a lot better, even if one of them proved so zealous about boosting our productivity that we got annoyed and turned it off.

Keep the Lysol in the Cupboard
The Cordless Desktop components are finished in a handsome black hue, although ours didn't stay perfectly handsome (we never realized how much of the dust in our office seems to consist of tiny white specks). If you're paranoid about mouse and keyboard pollution, or keep an even messier desk than ours, Logitech says that AgION Technologies' anti-microbial coating — a compound that resists bacteria, mold, and mildew — protects both input devices.

About half the size of a stick of gum, the radio receiver plugs painlessly into one of your desktop's or laptop's USB 2.0 ports. If you want to be sure the receiver is far enough away from the PC that interference won't be an issue, you can plug it into a supplied miniature stand with a USB cable of its own, but we experienced no problems even taking the keyboard to the far corner of our technology-crowded office.

Shaped for right-handed people only, the mouse portion of the bundle is officially named the MX 600 Laser Cordless Mouse, though Logitech doesn't seem to sell it separately. Pity, because it's an excellent one, with a tilt wheel for sideways as well as vertical scrolling and a laser sensor that works equally smoothly on a mouse pad, bare desk, pants leg, glossy photo paper and other surfaces in our tests.

Though not as ergonomically curved as Logitech's flagship MX Revolution mouse, the MX 600's contoured top and textured side grip felt virtually as comfortable.

Like that mouse, its side-mounted Forward and Back buttons (which you can reassign to non-browser functions via the SetPoint software driver) are in just the right position — not interfering with a resting thumb, but easy to click with just a twitch of your thumb. Atop the mouse just above is a smaller, stiffer rocker switch that by default magnifies or shrinks text and images, zooming in and out for a broad or detailed view.

Next to the switch is another clever idea borrowed from the MX Revolution, a one-touch search button: Highlight a word or phrase on screen and give a click, and the mouse opens a browser window with matching results from a selected search engine. As with the Revolution, the feature is slightly hampered by the software — your only search engine choices are Google, Yahoo and Yahoo HotWords, and we occasionally got two Firefox tabs or Internet Explorer windows instead of one — but it's a definitely handy shortcut.

The mouse takes two AA batteries to the keyboard's four (your first set is included). A glowing LED warns when power is running low, but we never saw it in our tests — Logitech estimates the mouse and keyboard batteries will function for six and 15 months, respectively.

Two swiveling feet let you prop the keyboard at a slight angle if you insist, but with the feet retracted you get the anti-carpal-tunnel benefit of a sleek, low profile. The keyboard's typing feel struck us as a bit mushy during our first day, but by day two we'd adjusted and had no complaints.

As with the mouse buttons, you can reassign several keyboard keys — toggling the function keys F1 through F8, for instance, between their usual purpose and launching an application or opening a Web page, folder, or file of your choice. As with many notebooks, the extra functions are accessed by pressing a Fn key along with the function key. You may need to teach yourself that the Fn key is to the right of the spacebar, however, not the left as in most laptops.

Other special keys at the top of the keyboard handle multimedia tasks such as launching a media player, changing or muting audio volume, shuffling or jumping to the next or previous track in a play list, or loading a favorite play list or Internet radio station. At the bottom left are buttons that let VoIP, AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo Messenger users make and reject or hang up on Internet phone calls.

These and other functions are helped by a small LCD display at top center. Normally this mini-screen shows the time and date, but the Fn plus F9 through F12 keys set and activate an alarm clock or countdown timer. Both normally serve as beeping reminders, but you can also use the alarm to launch a program at a specified time.


 Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 3200 Laser
The Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 3200 Laser earns our reviewer's elusive perfect score.

Other special keys at the top of the keyboard handle multimedia tasks such as launching a media player, changing or muting audio volume, shuffling or jumping to the next or previous track in a play list, or loading a favorite play list or Internet radio station. At the bottom left are buttons that let VoIP, AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo Messenger users make and reject or hang up on Internet phone calls.

These and other functions are helped by a small LCD display at top center. Normally this mini-screen shows the time and date, but the Fn plus F9 through F12 keys set and activate an alarm clock or countdown timer. Both normally serve as beeping reminders, but you can also use the alarm to launch a program at a specified time.

A Hair-Trigger Telescope
About that eagerly helpful feature we mentioned: At the left edge of the keyboard are what Logitech calls dynamic search and zoom controls, designed to shine with Windows Vista but also functional with Win XP.

Three buttons bear magnifying-glass icons; they serve to launch a Web search engine, hunt for files on your PC, and search your image collection or My Pictures folder, respectively. The Search PC or middle button can open a folder, launch Windows' search tool, or use Google Desktop, Yahoo Desktop Search or MSN and Windows Desktop Search to help retrieve document needles from hard-disk haystacks. The Search Pics button opens the My Pictures folder under Windows XP or taps the more powerful image-organizing tools of Vista's Windows Photo Gallery.

Similarly, another left-side button — like the SetPoint default function of clicking the mouse wheel — shows what Logitech calls a document-flip menu of active applications. Win XP users will find it an amiable but pokey alternative to Alt-Tab, but for Vista fans it'll bring the show-off rotating screen display of Flip 3D.

Finally, there's a touch-sensitive strip which zooms view of documents and images in or out as you slide your finger up or down; moving your finger across a small button below returns to a normal-size or 100-percent size perspective. It's handy enough, though it takes a few swipes to achieve the same purpose as pressing the rocker switch on the mouse's top left.

But it's also ultra-sensitive. We lost count of the times when, performing Alt-Tab or reaching for a piece of paper or can of soda on our desk, the slightest brush of a sleeve or shirt cuff suddenly shrank our full-width word processing page to microscopic size, or blew up Web-browser text until three words filled the screen. Scouring the hardware's help file revealed that a Fn-key combination switches off the strip; we've never been so grateful to discover a feature in our life.

Otherwise, the Cordless Desktop MX 3200 Laser's combination of convenient extras with above-average keyboard and first-class mouse performance left us decidedly impressed. At $100 (before most retailers' usual discounts), it's priced between more generic and ritzier wireless combos, but it stands up to the latter just fine.

Adapted from hardwarecentral.com.

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