By Alec Meer on December 11th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.
I’m always a little confused whenever anyone starts talking about the need to replace the mouse with something touch-y or pad-y or any other kind of funnily-shaped objected intended to act as ferryman between the world of flesh and the world of pixels. I like mice. They do the job well, they’ve evolved into high-precision, versatile objects and they remain a great metaphor for remotely poking and prodding at another dimension. I’m a right sucker for regularly picking up new ones that I become (incorrectly) convinced will somehow transform my working and playing life, thanks to their claims about DPI, button placement, mechanically-augmented scroll wheels and spurious new colours of laser. I’ve got about a dozen of the bloody things kicking about in various states of disrepair or simple abandonment. Lately added to the pile is Logitech’s taser-esque G602, a wireless, gaming-centric effort that looks like it fell off the new Robocop.
First, facts. Better get ‘em out the way, because where we’re going, we don’t need data.
- 11 programmable buttons
- DPI switchable from 250 – 2500
- Wireless, with nano receiver
- Takes two AA batteries; no charger
- 500 Hz / 2 millisecond report rate
- 250 hours of battery life, raising to 1440 in ‘Endurance mode’
- Wireless range: 3 metres
- ‘Delta Zero sensor technology’ for “power-saving optimisation and high-accuracy cursor control through exclusive lens design, illumination geometry and processing algorithms” and stuff and things
- Max. acceleration: 20 G2
- Max. speed: up to 2 meters/second (80ips)2
- USB data format: 16 bits/axis
- Dynamic coefficient of friction – Mu (k): .093
- Static coefficient of friction – Mu (s): .143
OK, I’m now going to completely fail to mention about 90% of that for the remainder of this piece.
I’ll start with the look of thing. Clearly it’s trying to make mice look cool and is targeting what focus groups say people who willingly call themselves ‘gamers’ want, but fortunately it’s gone for a sort of future-industrial look rather than the hideous neon and skull/alien/weapon iconography that too often results in. This is both subtle and ostentatious; the former in terms of its black, carbon and silver colouring, the latter in terms of its inflated size and blade-like protrusions. I mean look at this:
BRB, just off to hold up a grocery store.
In its defence, my middle finger is a little longer than my index finger so the asymmetry does reflect biology too, but symmetrically-fronted mice haven’t ever been a cause of concern before. While I’m afraid of putting my own eye out with the G602, I like the colouring and I like the anti-sweat ridged pack. It might be a little too deep into Terminator country, but not enough to make me feel embarrassed to have it on my desk. It’s… kind of cool. Kind of. Personal preference remains a traditional, more curvy mouse – I consider the sculpt of the MX500 and many later Logitech mice to be something of a design classic (within the sphere of mice, at least – Bang & Olufsen it is not) and it’s to a derivation of that I’ll likely return now. This has a pleasant curve to its surface and is remarkably light considering its bulk, but I’m particularly not getting on with the thumbrest protrusion – it’s too wide, and presses into the underside of my thumb in a way that’s increasingly causing me pain. Your mileage may vary of course, especially if you have a fleshier thumb – my digits are fairly bony.
Onto what I suppose I should call performance, which I can’t fault. I generally steer clear of wireless mice, because of battery life issues and because I prefer a very nippy rodent where possible. The USB polling rate – in very simple terms, this means how quickly your actions are reflected on screen – on wireless models tends to languish at 125 Hz, which equates to an 8 millisecond response time. This, and I’m sorry to sound so nerdly, honestly has noticeable lag to me. Wired mice could be ‘overlocked’ in this regard, and increasingly bundled software or drivers allow easy tweaking, but wireless mice in the main haven’t been able to do this as the limitation is in the radio transmitter rather than the USB connection.
The G602, however, offers up to 500 Hz, or 2 milliseconds, which I simply cannot fault in practice even though true hardware gonks claim a mouse should be 1000 Hz / 1 ms or GTFO. I’m sure graphs and stopwatches can prove there’s a real difference, but if there is my hand-eye coordination is too slow to pick up on it. 500 Hz is fine by me, and it’s a definite improvement on almost all other wireless mice I’ve used. Nice to have the cable off my desk without feeling I’m compromising.
Battery life it’s too early in the day to be saying meaningful things about, unless you really want me to spend up to 1440 hours continually moving a cursor around in order to see which dies first, it or me. Is that what you want? IS IT? Don’t answer that, anyone who still harbours a grudge about my Witcher 1 review. A week and a half of daily use on there are no warning lights flickering however, so hopefully it’ll keep up steam. I do lament the lack of a charger or the option to make it wired in the event the power peters out though, especially in such an expensive peripheral. There is a switch to flip it into a low-power endurance mode and possibly eke a little more emergency life out of it, but again I’m not there yet. I’ll add updates to this later in the event anything of import happens battery-wise.
And now buttons, which to my mind is where the G602 becomes a minor disaster. Look at this mess along the left-hand side:
That’s six buttons, arranged like a Stegosaurus spine. Six angle-edged lumps pressing into my increasingly sore thumb. Pushing into these ridges of doom, as I must to activate any of these six buttons, feels like being bitten by an old, weak man, or a zombie’s last gasp. But, to be honest, my mousing hand’s such a mess of RSI and tendonitis by now that this doesn’t bother me as much as it probably should. The real issue is that while I’ve always wanted to be a pianist, and I don’t mean in the ‘man walks into a bar / wishes for a ten inch…’ sense, but what those close to me have (slightly insultingly) amateur-diagnosed as a mild form of dsypraxia means it’s never been realistic. Precision-tapping six buttons crammed into barely more than an inch of space isn’t beyond me as such, but it sure is a fiddle – especially as the oft-used browser page back and forward buttons are crammed into the middle there, and I often manage to press a millimetre or two to the left or right and not get what I want. Someone with more golden hands than I will find this less an issue, but I maintain that fitting six buttons where only one or sometimes two would be is a… brave step. I was also disappointed that there’s no horizontal movement on the scroll wheel, which I’ve often comfortably used for browser back’n'forth when side buttons are absent.
It must be clarified that this is a ‘gaming’ mouse, however, and those buttons are placed there with the intention of binding custom, user-programmed keyboard commands and macros to for high-speed use in more frenetic and complicated online games, yer Dotas and CODs and whatnot – games I don’t play much and as such I may not be the most appropriate audience for this mouse. I’ve had many such programmable mice before and never really found a use, because I’m familiar and comfortable enough with a QWERTY to have everything I need there, but no doubt that makes me far slower than the pros and the habitual LoLers. Then again, I do insist on a fast mouse and a nice-looking mouse, so I am still relevant: the G602 is the kind of mouse I’d have been interested in regardless.
Two extra, top-mounted buttons allow DPI switching, which I do use to hop between slower-moving desktop work and quick-spinning in action games. I’d argue they take up too much space, but this is such wide mouse that they don’t get in the way of standard clicking in practice. Speaking of girth, I fear the G602 is just a touch beyond the comfortable bounds of my average-sized hands, and again will be happier with the MX500-style rodent, but the larger-handed gentlething will doubtless be glad of a reprieve from clenching their generous mitts into a claw shape.
Oh Christ, I’ve written 1400 words about a mouse. I thought I’d left my PC Format days long behind me. A conclusion then: I quite like the G602, it’s extremely responsive and my ever-cluttered desk is very glad to find a wireless mouse being the match of a wired, but its width and that clump of half a dozen tiny, spiky buttons makes it a problematic peripheral for me. I also dearly wish it was rechargeable. And about £30 cheaper. All that said, I’ve been using it quite a bit on my laptop when it’s attached to my telly and I’m a few feet away on the sofa, and it’s most pleasing to retain the responsiveness I get on the desktop rather than resort to some sluggish Bluetooth thing. The G602 certainly doesn’t feel like any kind of compromise there, but it’s not taking pride of place on my desk. It does, however, give me renewed hope that (better-shaped) wireless mice might be the future after all.
1500 words. I worry about myself sometimes.
The Logitech G602 is out now, costing an eye-watering £70/$80.