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PC peripherals, unlike women's fashions, don't come in a size zero. Even a downscaled or shrunken object still takes up space. So even if you choose to supplement your laptop's touchpad with a petite notebook mouse instead of a full-sized desktop model, you still need to find a couple of inches of room in your briefcase for it.
After putting its best designers to work on this, er, small problem, Logitech has found an inspiring solution:
The idea behind the V550 Nano Cordless Mouse for Notebooks ($60) is that it doesn't give you one more thing to carry when you grab your PC and head for the conference room, or one more thing to forget when packing your briefcase. Instead, the mouse clings, limpet-like, to the lid of your laptop, ready to whisk into action when you detach and put it on the table or desk.
When docked, the mouse draws no battery power, though Logitech says it will last for up to 18 months on two AA alkalines anyway. There's a manual on/off button on the V550's bottom, and another automatic shutoff when you push a rear latch to remove its plastic base, then stash its USB 2.0 receiver for travel in a tiny slot between the batteries.
It's unlikely, however, that you'll store the receiver inside the mouse in that way. Instead, you'll simply leave it plugged into one of your laptop's USB ports 24/7, because it's the same miniscule module that debuted in Logitech's VX Nano notebook mouse last year -- what the company calls a "plug-and-forget nano-receiver" that protrudes only 0.3 inch from the port.
With the interference-resistant 2.4GHz receiver in place, you don't need to worry about snagging or breaking it as you might if you tried transporting your notebook with a larger cordless dongle (or a flash-memory drive) plugged in. Combine this with the piggyback-riding mouse, and the penalty for carrying a pointing device along with your laptop falls to near zero.
We say near zero because the mouse stands a bit over an inch tall, which effectively makes your notebook an inch thicker. You'll have to hold your portfolio flap or briefcase laptop compartment lid a little wider when sliding the PC into place, so as not to snag.
Becoming Attached To You
The docking process starts with selecting a spot on the notebook's top to carry the mouse. Logitech recommends you pick a place well clear of the edges but not dead center, then prepare it by rubbing with one of two tiny supplied cleaning wipes and letting it dry.
You then place and press down to affix a small adhesive tab with a protruding nubbin to the case. Two of the nickel-sized tabs are provided, one black and one silver-gray to coordinate with different laptop color schemes. So is a little plastic wrench to twist and remove the dock if you later decide to do so (the tabs aren't reusable).
After a little off-center wiggling, you'll learn to place the V550 over the nub, then push it forward or upward to lock into place. A firm tug back pulls the device free to resume mousing duties.
It's possible for an impact or jolt, whether a careless swipe of a hand or something shifting position in your briefcase, to dislodge the mouse, but only if it's hit head-on; a side impact merely makes the Logitech pivot around the connection point.
We also tested the mouse's travel toughness when removed from the notebook by tossing it in the air and dropping it a few times. The low-battery light on its top came on, obliging us to open the mouse and reseat the slightly battered batteries, but otherwise it worked fine.
Of course, as we said the last time we reviewed a mobile mouse, it's rarely all that challenging to find a couple of extra inches of luggage space. So to some extent you might see the Nano's clever parking place as just a gimmick, especially considering its not inconsiderable price.
Fortunately, the V550 is an easy mouse to admire otherwise. Its symmetrical 2.3 by 3.5-inch body feels comfortable even in large hands, while its laser optical technology gives precise control even at screen-sweeping speeds.
We found its two main buttons to be solidly responsive, with one intriguing extra: Several times, we noticed that our test unit's right button felt a fraction easier to press, responding to a slightly lighter finger flex instead of actual tap, than the left. Could it be compensation for most folks' middle fingers being slightly weaker than their index fingers? Could our V550 be an oddball from the assembly line? Could we be imagining things? Whatever it was, we kind of liked it.
The V550 is a relatively simple rodent, with no side-mounted buttons for forward and back navigation or other functions, but does have one extra button on top, south of the scroll wheel. By default, this summons what Logitech calls Document Flip, a pop-up menu for switching among active applications. Interestingly, the top-button option we've seen in some other Logitech mice -- performing an instant Web search for a highlighted word or phrase in a browser window -- is not available.
The scroll wheel is the mouse's fanciest feature. As with most medium- to high-end mice, it offers four-way movement, with a left or right tilt for horizontal scrolling as well as vertical scrolling via wheel rolling.
Pressing downward to click the wheel toggles between conventional up and down movement with clicks or detents and a free-spinning flywheel mode that lets you traverse vast vertical distances with a flick of the finger. Test-driving an Excel spreadsheet, we were able to scroll 5,200 rows down or a spectacular 22,000 rows up with a full-strength flick. Tapping the wheel hits the brakes and stops the blur.
Logitech's SetPoint driver software -- a 54MB download, since there's no CD in the package -- lets you reassign the buttons and left and right tilt to functions such as forward/back, play/pause, mute, minimize, maximize, cut, copy, and paste. A button can perform different operations in different applications.
All in all, we give the V550 a thumbs-up for its simple, effective design and nifty nano-receiver. By contrast, its ability to cling to your notebook strikes us as no big deal, although we did catch ourselves humming the cartoon theme song "Spider-Mouse, Spider-Mouse" once or twice.
Logitech V550 Nano Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks
On a 5-star scale:
This article was first published on Hardware Central.