NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
A Cheaper Alternative.. A Review of Logitech "Mouse+"
by Doug MacDonald, Co-President, January 98
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I am a user of Microsoft Office 97 "Professional, " and I have been wistfully looking for some time at the Microsoft "Intellimouse." This three-button pointing product offers a number of features of particular interest to users of the Windows 95 operating system, particularly those with the latest version of the Office suite. I said I was looking wistfully, because the local "street price" of this product is $79.95, and my Scottish nature was finding it difficult to justify spending that much for "just another" mouse. I finally elected to be Santa's helper and get myself an Intellimouse for Christmas -- after all, Santa's there to give us the luxuries we wouldn't buy otherwise, right?

You can imagine my surprise when I found the Logitech "Mouse+" sitting right next to the "Intellimouse" on the shelf of a local computer store. Looking at the specifications on the two boxes I could see little difference between them -- except the price! For $29.95 it appeared that I could get all of the features of the Microsoft product at a considerable savings. Since I knew that Logitech has been in the "mouse business" for years, I figured I would take the plunge and invest in the cheaper solution. I am glad I did!

To be honest, I have never actually seen a Microsoft "Intellimouse" in action; there may be "extra" features with it that the Logitech product does not have. I cannot figure out what they might be, off the top of my head, because the Logitech "Mouse+" seems to have everything you could want in a pointing product. The major feature that this new breed of mouse offers is the ability to scroll vertically through long documents without resorting to the vertical scroll bar at the side of all Windows applications. Both products accomplish this through use of a small wheel that functions as a third mouse button. To move up or down in a document or application, you simply move the wheel forward or backward. You can set the amount of movement each detent produces in the readily available setup program. In the Logitech version, the wheel is also a switch. You can "click" it vertically as well as roll the wheel forward and backwards. This "click" can invoke a feature called "Autoscroll," which makes the scrolling process even more automatic. My understanding is that the scrolling features are only operational in Windows 95 and Windows NT. While Windows 3.x users can use some of the other features of the product, such as enhanced mouse pointers, scrolling is only available on the later Microsoft operating systems.

The product comes configured as a PS/2 mouse intended to plug directly into the small round mouse port provided by most modern computers. An adapter is included in the box that allows you to use the "Mouse+" as a serial mouse if you wish to do so. Installation is easy. Simply replace your old mouse with the "Mouse+," turn on your computer, (Windows95 will detect the mouse just as it did with your old mouse), and install the mouse control software that comes on two 1.44 HD disks. The "Setup Wizard" talks you through configuration, which is a snap. What is a bit daunting at first is the fact that there are a variety of options that allow you to configure each button on the mouse, the wheel, and the pointer icons, independently! If you have a favorite Windows 95 "Theme" that includes non-standard mouse pointers, they will be picked up automatically when you install the "Mouse+." [Should you need to re-install those icons later, you will need to know where they are stored on your system as well as which animated icon indicates which computer function.] The product is fully configurable for right or left-handed users. There is a "Quick Setup" that does most of the work for you, but if you want to explore the options available you will need to configure the "Mouse+" manually.

There are two configuration options that are worth a special comment. "Cyberjump" is an option intended for users who make frequent use of the Internet. This option allows either mouse button to easily perform any one of eight functions that normally require you to move the mouse to a particular part of the screen and click a special button. When set to "Cyberjump" a special eight-part icon appears that allows you to open any one of the menu options across the top of the window, open the bookmark list, add a bookmark, move back one HTML page, go to the vertical scroll bar, stop downloading a page, go to the horizontal scroll bar, or open the "Start" menu on the bottom left corner of the Windows 95 screen. Put simply, this option allows you to perform myriad functions without moving the mouse more than an inch or so or using a bunch of "hot keys!" It makes Web navigating a snap! The second function is called "Hyperjump," and, like "Cyberjump," it offers the user the ability to perform eight separate functions with minimal mouse movement. It also allows you to open any of the upper window menus, minimize a window, close a window, move to either horizontal or vertical scrollbars, resize a window, recall the previous window, and open the "Start" Menu. As if this were not enough, there are forty-eight other function choices available for each mouse button! If you are used to having your right (or left) mouse button perform a particular function, I will bet that you can still have the "Mouse+" perform that same function simply by selecting the correct option.

One word of caution, if you select a "special" function like "Cyberjump" or "Hyperjump" for your right mouse button, it will no longer perform the special functions that the right mouse button is intended to do within the Office 97 suite. Some of these functions are very convenient. Fortunately, you do not have to go to a lot of trouble to get them back. Although you can remove it if you wish, the default installation routine places a small mouse icon on the task bar that allows you to return to mouse configuration options easily. You simply select "Buttons" and quickly re-configure your right mouse button from "Hyperjump" (or whatever) to "Context Menu/Alternate Select." This allows the right mouse button to carry out whatever function your application normally intends for your right mouse button to perform. When you are finished with that application, you can easily return the mouse configuration to whatever you like to use for normal operations. It is easier to do than it is to describe!

In summary, if you are in the market for a "new" mouse, I can strongly recommend the Logitech "Mouse+" as an inexpensive alternative to the Microsoft product. For $29.95 I don't think you can go wrong -- and you can spend the difference on Uninstaller or another one of those utilities you have been intending to buy but never gotten around to purchasing!

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