The Logitech Mice That Weren't

logitech_1.jpg

Logitech is getting a bit nostalgic, but they deserve it: they've just shipped their billionth mouse. As part of their look back over the last 20 years of the company, they have provided this fantastic slideshow showing many of the prototype mice they developed yet wisely chose not to produce.

Logitech is one of my favorite peripheral manufacturers, one of the few brands that generally makes high-quality products and sells them at a fair price. I've got Logitech speakers that are every bit as good as systems that cost three times as much. They pretty much own the reasonably priced universal remote market. I've Logitech keyboards and mice that have worked flawlessly for years. They're the only company that makes videogame console controllers that I'll buy instead of those from the console manufacturer.

Seeing their failed experiments explains why: they aren't afraid to try something goofy, but even less afraid to toss it out if it doesn't make their products better.

logitech_2.jpg

Pretty, but probably useless.

logitech_3.jpg

Smells like burning apples.

logitech_4.jpg

I love how the prototype in this one is just a Photoshopped Nikon camera. It shows Logitech isn't afraid to swipe good interfaces from other product categories.

logitech_5.jpg

I wonder why this one didn't make it to market. That actually sounds useful.

logitech_6.jpg

Their restraint is mighty.

logitech_7.jpg

One company's failed design is a Taiwanese crapvendor's probably-not-gain.

logitech_8.jpg

Does anyone besides astronomers and plastic surgeons actually use laser pointers in presentations?

logitech_9.jpg

Marry me.

Join the Conversation

40 Comments

  1. Now, if they’d only bring back Bluetooth mice instead of using their stupid lose-them-and-the-mouse-is-useless USB dongles.

    I got tired of seeing their BT offerings disappear (The V470 is the only Bluetooth mouse they currently sell) and ended up buying a Microsoft Bluetooth mouse instead (Wireless Laser 8000); full-size, more than two buttons, and rechargable to boot.

  2. I’ve used the same wired, ambidextrous, standard two-button-with-scroll-wheel Logitech mouse with four different computers across almost ten years. I can’t think of any other gadget that I own that has such remarkable longevity.

  3. Sisyphus @ #2:

    I have just such a mouse, and it is currently back at my house hooked up to my Dell Studio 17 so I can get back to Fallout 3 once I get home. Had it for years, and it’s just as capable now as when I bought it three PCs and two states ago.

  4. While Logitech’s being self-snarky, can we get them to repost a copy of the old “Feels Good – Feels Better” ad that appeared in Mondo and Wired back in the day? ‘Cause I can’t find hide nor hair of that, and I’ve needed to show it to some friends…

  5. If only they’d spent some of that reinventing-the-wheel R&D money on teledildonics, the world would be a much, much happier place.

  6. I have been using a G5 mouse and G15 keyboard since they came out, and love them both. they still have almost no signs of wear and still work perfectly. I also have their X-540 speakers that I got on sale for like half the price, and are amazing.

    G5: http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/mice_pointers/mice/devices/359&cl=us,en

    G15: http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-967599-0403-G15-Gaming-Keyboard/dp/B000AY0HTU

    X-540: http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/speakers_audio/home_pc_speakers/devices/234&cl=us,en

  7. RE:Bluetooth mice and lost dongles. The answers to both are similar. Lost dongle=another sale. Bluetooth device= Royalty+certification fees for BT likely exceed the cost of the dongle. Or is it just sloppy market followup?

  8. Whilst I agree Logitech make wonderful products that last forever, the best value mouse I’ve ever purchased was from a fantastic brand called Lagitech.

    It was $15 AUS (when laser mice were first becoming mainstream and generally cost 3 or 4 times that) and it still worked perfectly when I was given a newer microsoft-mouse that had some groovy extra buttons.

    That piece of crap lasted about 9 months before Counter-Strike killed it. Unfortunately I’d given away the Lagitech.

    Ahh cheapo knockoffs from funny markets. How I love you so.

  9. I had an optical mouse, from Dell, that was your standard two-button plus scroll wheel. I didn’t think it was really possible for a design like that to fail (unless physically crushed or broken), but I was wrong. After about 4 years, every time I played a video game, my character would suddenly look at the sky or the ground and spin in place every few minutes. It didn’t matter what surface I put the mouse on, or what computer I connected it to. I wrote that mouse off as “haunted” and bought the “commercial” version of the Razer Diamondback (or was it Copperhead? One of the two). It has served me well, though I’m learning why white is a bad color for mice.

  10. I bought a cheap 2-button with scroll wheel USB/PS2 mouse for $15 when I was 15 years old. First optical I ever owned. I bought a new one last month (8 years later). The only reason I bought a new one was the LMB was getting a bit stuck from all use use I’d given it. This time the mouse was $10. No fancy gadgets or dongles, just a simple mouse. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. I will only buy Logitech mice. But with their longevity I hope they don’t go out of business!

  11. Now everybody except Logitech has a mouse with a built-in laser pointer for presentations. A quick check on MacMall, list all mice, narrow search with keyword “Present”. Microsoft, GearHead, Hiro, SMK, but no Logitech. I guess they were too early and wrote it off.

  12. They made a prototype that entailed having a fan blow air through a g5?

    I wonder if they kept the build notes. I happen to have a g5 and a tendency to sweat on it (It’s icky, I know, but trust me I would stop doing it if I were able to).

    I would have paid extra for one with a fan in it. There’s plenty of room for one inside, too… the fan occupies what would ordinarily be the location for their (kind of imbecilic) weight-cartridge slot (so teh hardcore gamers can fine-tune the weight of the mouse… which has little effect other than wearing the pads down faster).

  13. ooh, and as an addendum:

    while logitech mice are unquestionably cool… their QC seems really lacking in the keyboard department. I know three people who own either a G15 or its cheaper LCD-free variant (myself included), and of the three of us 2 received one with a key that sticks every time it’s pressed (this is fresh out of the box, new… so it’s not dirt from misuse). That’s something QC should be able to catch pretty easily, and unfortunately didn’t.

  14. Let’s face it, a mouse is a device that substitutes for touching the screen. I’m not sure it has much time left. Either touch-screens will get cheaper, or we’ll all grow a third hand.

    That said, I would certainly have bought a mouse with two scroll-wheels, so I could scroll left-right as well.

  15. I love Logitech. My “Mouseman Dual Optical”, which i bought back in 2001, still works perfectly.
    The rubber on the sides decomposes, the cable was taped twice, the paint finish on the left mousebutton has rubbed off due to extensive use, the model tag cannot be read anymore… you get the picture.
    Still the only thing that had to be exchanged since i bought it were the pads, which logitech sent me free of charge. I think that was back in 2004 or 2005.

  16. RE Bluetooth Mice.

    I believe the main reason they are moving away from bluetooth is that too many people can’t figure out how to connect them to the computer. The mice with dongles come pre-paired so there are a lot less frustrated customers.

  17. #17, Google “Gorilla Arm”.

    About ten years ago, I bought a box full of the PS/2, wide-teardrop-shaped body, three-equisized-button Logitech MouseMan mice. I’m down to only 4 in reserve, but damn, I love these mice.

    I’m a Unix/Linux user (since 1995, yo), where the middle button is no second-class citizen, and I worry about not finding something good in the next few years.

    P/N 811188-01, we hardly knew ye!

  18. Logitech makes good stuff; my only complaint with them is that their support is pretty bad. Out of what appears to be pure greed, they decided not to update the drivers for most of their old hardware when Vista came out, telling their customers to upgrade instead. Of course, the old drivers work just fine if you install them directly instead of using the Logitech installer.

  19. I have an MX revolution at work that I really love. The weighted scroll wheel took a couple days to get used to, but when I go home to my old MS Explorer mouse and try to spin the wheel to get to the top or bottom of a document or long web page and it just clicks at me a couple times I think I need to just spend the money and buy myself one for home. This wheel really was the next step in mousing.

  20. Any discussion of Logitech wacky mice should at least mention the Logitech IFeel Mice. They were on the market for a little while. I loved the idea of feedback from the mouse, and was disappointed to not see it used more. Actually hearing the mouse go ‘pingggg’ when you roll over a button was so cool. I still use my IFeel, but software support is lacking…

  21. MX1000 Laser user here. Aside from some paint wear and worn-off stickers, still works like the day I bought it. =)
    Been only about four years, though. =)

  22. I bought a “Logitech cordless mouseman optical” back around new year’s 2000. Still using it.

    My ideal mouse would be much like it, with decent heft, but ideally ambidextrous in shape, and rechargable, but able to either take batteries, or run while plugged in, for when the charge runs out and you need a mouse NOW. Laser, not IR, but with a visible indicator that it’s got charge. Anyone know of such a mouse?

    Worst mouse: in an effort to replace this one, I bought an unbranded laser mouse. Which had wheel plus eight (well, 9 plus one on the charger) buttons plus wheel, wtf? but it felt plasticky, and rather than just being recognised as a generic device, it would install about four drivers and require a reboot, every time you plugged it in. Doesn’t hold a charge well, can’t be used while charging, and no replaceable batteries. Getting it to even talk to the receiver was a dark art of button-pushing the hidden ninth and tenth buttons simultaneously while praying and standing on one foot. Nasty. No more unbranded stuff for me!

  23. But… they *did* sell a mouse with a light-up logo. In fact, I’m still using it. The original Mouseman Wheel Optical (P/N 830417-0000) has a blue-LED backlight on the Logitech logo at the palm.

    All of my mice are Logitechs. I had a few Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer and other wired mice back in the day, and the cables always failed at the solder joints of the circuit board, despite the strain relief. My Mouseman Wheel Optical? Eight years of trusty service – I’m only thinking of ditching it because the rubber grip surface is just beyond grotty at this point.

  24. I’ve had the same mouse since optical mice came out, has no logos serials or brand names they wore off long ago, and as a plus I’ve never needed a driver for them period, they either work or the port is dead, I’ve had to solder new cables to the board, twice, when my cat became convinced it was a toy and the connector broke at a lan party mishap. I’ve never found a more comfortable mouse.

  25. I’ve been a big Logitech fan for years. These days I use a VX Nano on my laptop – when I have to use someone else’s mouse, I feel crippled; I introduced it to a client of mine and now all of the doctors (and most nurses) have them.

    My other favorite product – and I don’t understand why Logitech never promoted this, and nobody else even made it – is a wired keyboard/wireless optical mouse combo. Logitech made them, but orphaned them; a liquidator in Pasadena apparently snagged a few thousand of them, and sells them for $15 at the computer shows here. I go every couple of months and pick up two or three – I’ve put them into dozens of clients’ offices, and everybody likes them. Everybody needs a wireless mouse, but most people don’t really need a wireless keyboard; the transmitter for the mouse is inside the keyboard, which prevents the most common connection problem (the transmitter falling down behind the desk). Also, when you do need to re-sync it only takes two hands, instead of the usual three-handed juggling act. The mouse is decent quality (it doesn’t compare to my VX Nano, but then nothing does); the key labels wear out a little fast on the keyboard, but the build quality is excellent (and if you type enough to wear the labels off, chances are you don’t look at the keys much anyway!)

  26. I once had a (ball) mouse with a horizontal scrollwheel above.

    My recent mouse woes, though: I thought my power supply or motherboard was failing, but it turned out my 3-yr-old el cheapo mouse was somehow crashing the system (I now suspect it was a stuck-constant-input sort of thing) I’ve also in the past fried a motherboard with a slightly-frayed keyboard cable! Wireless FTW!

  27. Hah… Most of those goofy mice are actually on the market, if not by Logitech, then by somebody!

    – Was mentioned, but the very first Logitech optical mouse had a glowing logo.

    – iHated that iMac puck-up.

    – Mouse with a joystick? IBM made mice with the Thinkpad’s much-maligned “clitoral cursor” instead of a wheel. (Unfortunately, a lot of users couldn’t find it, even when they were looking right at it.)

    – Mouse with a laser pointer? Where do you want to point today?

    – Logitech does have a 3D mouse… but they didn’t design it: http://www.3dconnexion.com/3dmouse/spacenavigator.php

    – The “function dial” concept wasn’t totally abandoned by Logitech. For quite a while there, the default when you clicked the wheel was to bring up some awful dial on the screen, which you rotated with the mousewheel and clicked again to select. Now the default is to do an ALT+TAB (Win+Tab on Vista) so you can spin the wheel thru your open windows… Ecch! What’s wrong with just leaving it as THE MIDDLE BUTTON, people?

  28. SHADOWFIREBIRD: regarding touch-screens: I use one at work (Walmart pharmacy clerk). I’d much rather have mouse & keyboard. The touch film wears out fast, oils from the hand get the screen dirty, and why would I wish to reach 1.5 feet across my screen at arms length, when a few inches of mouse movement covers the same area?

  29. Mmm Logitech.

    I’ve had my Marble Mouse since 1995. 13 years and counting! Still works like the day I bought it.

  30. I can’t believe SetPoint (Logitech’s mouse software) wasn’t mentioned anywhere here. I currently own my 3rd Logitech mouse since ~15 years; I used to be a fan but it will be my last one, mostly because of SetPoint, one of the worst piece of software junk I’ve ever encountered in my life.

    The previous installment, MouseWare, was lightweight, stable and offered lots of configuration options for your device… everything SetPoint doesn’t. I have to install uberOptions, an unofficial SetPoint modifier to get some really interesting options (that should already be there by logic) for the programmable buttons, and even then, I have to cope with the tons of memory the program takes, crashing now and then and horizontal scrolling “hanging” in certain windows.

    As for the mouse itself… I use a MX400, I don’t hate it but it took some getting used to : much too big, the buttons are badly placed and the laser reacts quite strangely (delay, jumping) compared to an optical. But in that price range, it’s the only choice I had : everything else either had nothing else than standard buttons, or resembled and cost like the MX Revolution behemoth.

    And don’t think that all I mentioned here has to do with my computer configuration : I’ve used my MX400 on two different PCs and OSes at home, and I have another one at the job, and they act the same everywhere.

  31. I hate touch screens. I used to regularly use the Library of Congress– and at the time, they had touch screens hooked up to their junky gui catalog– you couldn’t use LOCIS in some buildings. There were a few terminals with mice attached, and those were far more comfortable to use. For one thing, they actually could detect a “button push.”

    Touch screens and keyboards don’t work well together. It’s easier to grab a mouse, and point very precisely at a pixel than it is to reach up and point a pudgy finger in the general vicinity.

  32. – Mouse with a joystick? IBM made mice with the Thinkpad’s much-maligned “clitoral cursor” instead of a wheel. (Unfortunately, a lot of users couldn’t find it, even when they were looking right at it.)

    (emphasis mine)

    I suppose the cursor is even more like a clitoris than we suspected, then?

    Why couldn’t I have seen your comment ages ago when this would have been funnier >.>

  33. Been using my MX500 since ~2002, still works perfectly. Have a G3 at home (had an MX510 that bit the dust a few years back and replaced it with a G3).

    I love logitech

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *