Latest Technology, Yesterday’s Price
If you’ve been keeping up with mouse technology, then you probably know that laser mice are the next big thing in the world of pointing and clicking. Laser technology operates in a fashion very similar to infrared, but a laser mouse is significantly more sensitive. As a result, it is more responsive to the user’s movements. This technology has been around for awhile now, but has mostly been reserved for the high-end gaming mouse market. The MX400 is no gamer’s mouse, however; in fact, it is an incredibly basic piece of kit. So, is it a worthwhile upgrade over an older, infrared workhorse?
Comfort And Aesthetics (2 out of 5)
Being a basic laser mouse, the MX400 isn’t much to look at, and for the most part, this isn’t a bad thing. Unless you’re a gamer (and absolutely demand that everyone knows it), you probably don’t want your mouse to be the centerpiece of your office. The contoured gray and black plastic of the Logitech MX400 give the impression of a quality product, although the visible lack of buttons also makes it clear that this is not luxury hardware. Personally, I like this basic, no-frills look far better than the strange patterns that seem to cover Logitech’s gamer-oriented laser products.
Touch the MX400, however, and you’ll wish you hadn’t. The MX400 may look solid, but it feels flimsy. Largely because it is incredibly light. Bundle up a sheet of construction paper, hold it in the palm of your hand, and you’ll have a good idea of how light the MX400 is. I found this to be a downer. The total lack of weight made the MX400 easy to knock about accidentally, as the slightest fidget will translate into on-screen movement.
I also had problems with the size of the MX400. Although not as gigantic as Microsoft’s pudgy “Natural Mouse” series, the MX400 is no little squirt. It easily dwarfs any of the older mice in my stable. Although the contours of the MX400 give the impression of a mouse designed to work with the natural pose of the human hand, I found that my own digits were not comfortable. My main problem is that the mid-section of the mouse is tall, causing my index finger to curve significantly. This resulted in cramping after an hour of use. The MX400 is fairly comfortable to look at, but to use? Let’s just say I wouldn’t wish it upon a friend.
Features (2 out of 5)
The most important feature on the MX400 is the laser. This is obvious, because the MX400 doesn’t have many other features. How much you’ll notice the laser’s improvement likely depends on how good your last optical mouse was. Logitech does not advertise any specific DPI rating anywhere on the box of the MX400, nor could I find any claims on the company’s website. This leads me to suspect that the rating is not worth talking about. The MX400 does feel more responsive than any infrared optical mouse I’ve recently used, and the laser allows the MX400 to operate on rougher surfaces than infrared mice can handle. This said, the improvement hardly feels revolutionary.
What else does the MX400 have? Well, it has two buttons on the side, which will probably serve simply as forward and back buttons while using your web browser, and a scroll wheel. The side buttons are well located, unless you have small hands (I do not). But the scroll wheel is a travesty. Not because of its scrolling functionality, but because attempting to depress it requires the strength of a superhero. Use it more than twice, and you’ll be feeling the need to stick your index finger into a bottle of Icy Hot.
As features go, there is little else to say. This is a wired mouse, and although the drivers do allow you to decide what each button on the mouse does, there aren’t any spare buttons to program.
Value And Verdict (2 out of 5)
The MX400 costs around $40 dollars at most retailers, and can be found for as little as $30 online. That makes it a firmly mid-range product, and as far as I know, this is the cheapest laser mouse currently on the market. That said, the laser’s advantage over a good infrared mouse - one that would cost, say, $30 to $40 dollars - is slim. The real sin, however, is the lack of functionality. Mice with several more buttons and a far easier to handle scroll wheel can be found in the same price range, and many of them are wireless.
As a result, the MX400 trips and falls. While it may be the cheapest laser mouse, there is more to a good mouse than having the latest optical technology. Combine a lack of features with a design that is slightly uncomfortable and a very poorly executed scroll button, and what you end up with is a product that falls short of expectations. In fact, that only reason I can see for buying the MX400 is the fact that it is wired. A wired mouse is surprisingly hard to find in the mid-range bracket these days; low-end mice use wires to save cost, and high-end mice use wires to increase responsiveness, but most mid-range mice are wireless.
But if wired is what you’re looking for, I’d spend the extra $20 dollars for a true gaming mouse. Even if you’re not a gamer, the extra buttons and better feel is worthwhile.