Adding a Logitech VX Nano to my wife's MacBook

I really love the trackpad on my MacBook Pro and finally got to the point where I stopped using my Logitech Mx510 mouse with it. While the trackpad doesn't give me the control that a mouse does—especially when doing fine point adjustments in an image editor—I found myself quite comfortable just using the trackpad nearly all the time.

My wife however will be a different story. Her birthday is Monday and I've pretty much put the finishing touches on the MacBook I got her. I know however that she hates trackpads and since she's already going through enough of a change from Windows to Mac I figured I would get her a decent wireless mouse to help ease the transition.

I had a couple of people on this blog mention the Logitech VX Nano as a great little mouse and decided to give that a try. Though what I really wanted was a Bluetooth based solution I heard several reports of the Bluetooth mice having interference issues and as a result not being smooth all the time.

Wireless mice are not something I'm fond of when used with a laptop. I love the concept of no wires, it's just that virtually every wireless mouse requires a USB based receiver "dongle" to be inserted into the machine in order to make it work. This is the reason I liked Bluetooth based devices, since my Macs already have a Bluetooth device built in.

Having that receiver stuck into the side of a MacBook just looks obnoxious; it appears to me like a miniature diving board or a MacBook that is really excited to see you. This is where the Logitech VX Nano is different. The VX Nano came with a transmitter that is incredibly small, basically the size of a nickel.

When plugged into the side of my wife's MacBook it only projects a very small amount:

The mouse itself is excellent. I've always been a fan of Logitech mice and the VX Nano is a good example of why. It has a really slippery smooth surface on the bottom and glides over my desktop effortlessly. The primary buttons have a good solid feel to them. The roller ball is fantastic; it has nearly zero resistance and feels like a well oiled ball bearing. Spin it and let go and you'll scroll for a very long time. It can also pan right and left which is great for really wide web pages and images. There is a button below the scroll wheel that can be customized and set to pretty much anything. I set it to activate Spaces, something I hope my wife takes to.

The only thing I don't care for are the two buttons that would traditionally map to Forward and Backward on a web browser. If you look at the picture at the top of the screen they are placed just to the left of the primary mouse button. In my quick playing around with the mouse I found those to be harder to hit than something triggered by my thumb along the left edge of the mouse.

The size of the VX Nano is a bit on the small side. It's not one of those minuature laptop mice but runs about 2/3 the size of a normal Logitech mouse. I personally prefer larger mice because I tend to rest my hand on them while using them but I found this one pretty comfortable in my limited testing. My wife has very small hands so it should be perfect for her.

The software is an update to the Logitech driver. I've had miserable luck with the Logitech drivers in the past but decided to give this one a try. I don't know if I'll stick with it given my poor experience in the past but it does give me some nice control for the device, allowing me to remap any of the buttons and fine tune scrolling and click rates.

I'm going to be giving all this to Allison on Monday which is her actual birthday. I'm a little anxious to see how she takes to all of this.


Anonymous said…
Why did you not use Bluetooth? I am using a Targus Bluetooth Mouse and am very happy with the way Mac OS X handles the various modes of the mouse - such as sleep, wake and being out of range. I did not have to use any other drivers. Perhaps you should think of using a Bluetooth mouse.
N45800 said…
Two comments on your post.
A) Bluetooth Mice. I do have a bluetooth mouse, and I also have a USB/RF mouse. I usually use the RF receiver on my laptop when attached to my home setup (external HDs, DVD drive, USB Hub w/ iPod, etc. cables attached, as well as the RF receiver). The main reason I use RF is for simplicity with multi-booting. I usually switch back and forth between OSX and Windows, and having it re-sync every time is annoying. However, when out and about, I usually stick to the trackpad, or take my bluetooth mouse with me.

B) As for configuring the extra buttons on your mouse, there are a few apps that should work much better than the logitech software. SteerMouse a really nice program that is one focused mainly on mice. ControllerMate is a great HID configuration program that has a drag-drop-lego-ish approach to configuring any HID device. There is also USB Overdrive and Gamepad Companion, but they are not as advanced as ControllerMate, and also more expensive.

Also, since i'm here, one more quick comment on the iWork/Office/ thread, I HIGHLY recommend iWork. I repair computers, and teach people how to use their computers efficiently. I have helped quite a few people with Macs and Office try iWork and they love it. Import/Export is a bit annoying, but unsurprising (if their standard format was .docx, that would be a problem when Microsoft decides to modify/append the .docx spec). Numbers is much nicer than Excel for most users (I use Numbers for all my spreadsheet work, and I only needed to go back to Excel once for a HEX2DEC converter on a long table). Looking at some of the templates in Numbers gives many people some great ideas on what they can really do with a spreadsheet program. Keynote is so far ahead of PowerPoint, it's not even fair to compare the two. The only problem I have with it is that if you want to export to PowerPoint, you lose certain that PowerPoint does not have. Pages/Word is where it gets tricky. If they don't fully understand how to do things in Word, Pages is great. It is more then enough for most people, and much more user friendly (also less resource-intensive.) There are some advanced features that only Word supports, but stuff like Track Changes and most of the common used features are included in Pages and can be easily moved back and forth between Pages and Word 2007.

Wow, that ended up being much longer than I thought..
Unknown said…
Logitech drivers were the cause of some 10.5 upgrade woes. I guess those have been fixed now though. I would go with bluetooth if I wanted a wireless mouse. I currently use a Razor for Unreal Tournament. Make sure to set up the two finger scrolling and right click options on her track pad. Once she realizes how much better Mac track pads are compared to windows, she will probably start using it. I cannot stand the track pad on the HP laptop for work but only use the track pad on my MacBook Pro unless I am palying a game.
Anonymous said…
It's odd that you'd waste a precious USB port in favor of a wireless RF transmitter instead of using Bluetooth, which is built-in.

Logitech's drivers are not known for their soundness, either.

I've got a nice little RadTech bluetooth mouse (BT500+) that works extremely well. It's also rechargeable AND it can be recharged via USB while using it! It includes a driver, but the OS X driver works perfectly well.

Also, Kensington makes a few excellent Bluetooth mice. The SlimBlade Trackball mouse doubles as a mouse and trackball, if you're using it on an uneven surface. Kensington drivers are quite good, too.

Also, had you considered a Wacom graphics tablet? I carry an old 4x5 Graphire tablet with my MacBook Pro instead of a mouse. The new Bamboo Fun tablet looks good.

There are numerous advantages to using a tablet instead of a mouse. Since the tablet is FLAT, it slides easily into my laptop bag.
Unknown said…
Oh, if only Logitech would issue an equally small dongle that would work with their wireless trackballs! I'm pretty much resigned to the realization that Logitech is never going to produce a Bluetooth trackball.

As for the Bluetooth Mighty Mouse, the only real problem I've had with it is the scroll ball gumming up. No interference issues to speak of.
Anonymous said…
i also use the vx nano, its a fantastic mouse. however, logitech drivers are just terrible in my experience, so i use controllermate. you should look into it :)
David Alison said…
Thanks for the comments folks. I'm going to keep the Logitech driver on her machine for now and see how it does. I've used Steermouse on my Mac Pro and found it to be the best solution there, where I've had some conflicts with the Logitech stuff.

@n45800: Thanks for the feedback on iWork. I purchased that myself and use it extensively. Pages is excellent and I don't feel compelled to fire up MS Word at all, though Numbers is a different story for me. I can't seem to get the hang of it. The basics are very similar but some of the short cuts I use are not there.
Anonymous said…
Regarding the bluetooth interference issue, that would probably have come from me. I use an Apple external BT keyboard and mighty mouse and if I use Bitpim to transfer pictures, contacts, calendars, ringtones etc. with my phone via bluetooth the mouse gets very choppy and essentially unusable during the transfer. Plus the keyboard drops strokes.

Not so much an interference issue as much as it is a BT bandwidth issue. I live with it because it's easy enough to just turn off the mouse and use the trackpad while transferring stuff to and from my phone and either the internal keyboard or just don't hit a key.

Not everyone cares for the Mighty Mouse anyway for either the ergonomics or the easy failure of the little mouse nipple (I'm on my second one, replaced under warrantee.) Also the price is a little steep, but I have no problems with the ergonomics nor the ergonomics and at the time I could afford it, so I got one. If you found a good wireless mouse with a properly miniaturized USB dongle with good ergonomics and response then huzzah!

My wife loves her trackpad just fine but otherwise if she's going to need to do precision photoshop work she'll use a Wacom, as do I. Just the pen part, not that goofy mouse Wacom provides. One time I tried playing UT2004 with the Wacom mouse. Didn't work very well. My Wacom mouse has quite the layer of dust accumulating on it now. ;)

Anonymous said…
Hey David,

I really enjoy reading your blog and hope Allison loved her birthday surprise.

Did you purchase a protective carrying case as well? (There are some great ones out there.)

John R.
David Alison said…
@JohnR: Thanks man - glad you enjoy the blog! Just gave it to her a little while ago. She was extremely happy.

The most interesting part was that my youngest daughter ended up sitting down with her and walking her through features. I would pipe in every once in a while with things like "did you show her Spaces?" and Julia would roll her eyes and say "YEEEEES, Dad" in the condescending tone that only a 13 year old girl can deploy. She wants to be the technical support for Allison. I love it!
Anonymous said…
One of the main concerns my better-half had for our migration to a laptop was centred around the trackpad.

Turns out that once she used it for a day or so, it wasnt an issue.

Defintitely agree that mouse is more accurate, but trackpad ok for general surfing etc. Shortcut keys and things like expose help a lot too. But iMovie08 is a pain with trackpad, you end up scrubbing through movies all the time.
Unknown said…
David: Love the blog. Came across it while reading one of the many Mac websites I regularly dissect. Glad to see you've embraced the Mac so thoroughly.

I have a Logitech MX Revolution mouse (purchased from NewEgg) that I love. However, I have to echo the disappointment of others with the Logitech driver. The last driver upgrade blew out all my button programming. Bad form, Logitech.

I also have a Logitech Harmony 550 Remote that I use for various home theatre/audio setups. The best thing about it is that it passes the spouse test. It makes the complicated simple, so my wife is on-board.

It sounds like you have an extensive wireless network. To make your iTunes usage even more enjoyable, have you ever thought of purchasing an Airport Express and using the AirTunes feature to feed your main stereo? I've had that setup for a number of years and LOVE it! My Mac mini is upstairs, while stage one of my home theatre setup is downstairs. I'm listening to Alison Krauss right now on my new Yamaha receiver/Paradigm speaker setup; sheer bliss.

With your iPhone/iPod Touch setup, you can use the Remote application from the App Store to control iTunes from anywhere your home wireless setup reaches. I don't have that functionality yet because I don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch, but I remain ever hopeful!

Thanks for the great posts. They make for enjoyable reading!
David Alison said…
@Gary: Glad you're enjoying the blog. If you read back to some of my earlier posts (I started my Mac switch in Feb) you can see how it's progressed.

I'll have to look into the Airport Express and it's features—what you describe sounds great and I've used the iPhone remote with great success to my Mac Pro. Thanks much for the suggestion!
Unknown said…
David: I've had fun this morning devouring the history of your switch. I think I've read every post. It's been neat to read about how your change has evolved. You've done a good job of capturing that 'something' that makes Mac usage different than Windows. It's hard to put a name to it, but It's easy to see through your posts.

Airport Express with AirTunes is great! In addition to the Ethernet and wireless networking capabilities of the Airport Express, it has a mini-headphone output. You can plug in a stereo audio cable in that splits out to RCA plugs; Radio Shack or any other electronics store worth it's salt will have the cable. Plug the RCA ends into any open line-level audio input in the back of your receiver. I use the VCR input. iTunes will recognize that you have an AirTunes setup, and you can feed your music to your stereo through it. You can use multiple Airport Expresses to feed multiple stereos if you like. iTunes lets you manage the whole setup.

That being said, I actually use an application called AirFoil from Rogue Amoeba to manage my iTunes feed to my Airport Express. ( AirFoil actually lets you feed any application audio (Safari, Quicktime, etc) or System Audio to your Airport Express.

Airfoil also compensates for a time delay that's noticeable if you feed multiple stereos with audio through Airport Express or the audio output of your Mac, as I do. It's an annoyance that Apple has never addressed, but Airfoil has. It's a really nice feature. The music is synched regardless of which stereo it's coming from.

For those of you reading, I'm not a Rogue Amoeba shill. I've had a couple of their products for years, though, and am impressed and happy with how they work.

Hope this helps you, David (and others) get even more enjoyment out of your Macs!
Anonymous said…
One thing I did not see you mention, and the only way I figured it out was that I had 2 of them, the track wheel has 2 modes. If you click it all the way down, it goes into a divided travel where as if you press it down again it goes to a free wheel mode. You must click it all the way down until you hear it click...give it a try, if you havent found this yet!
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Mice said…
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