By: Jonathan Kwan
October 21, 2006
Although Logitech isn't the kind of company that advertises on every billboard down the road and every other page in magazines, it's very interesting how they are such a successful company. Every year, as they roll out new keyboards, mice, and other computer peripherals into store shelves, it's the time when big crowds of computer enthusiasts and general consumers alike begins drooling over fresh new boxes from Logitech factories. Why? The key is innovation beyond marketing. Just as you thought they made a product that's hard to improve significantly enough to convince you to go out and replace your current set, they announce something so simple, yet different and darkly attractive that brings you to a local retailer before you know it. The Logitech MX3200 Cordless Laser Set? Once it's been revealed to mankind, I've seen users from various forums (Including APH) pre-ordering them even before it officially ships. The main question is -- is this set any good? Let the truth be revealed today.
Our review unit came in a relatively large Logitech box, similar to the one containing our Logitech MX3000 (Which by the way, I discarded that review since it's not what I call a great review by me, haha) last year from DHL. No problems getting by customs this time; I got it one day after it's been shipped as with the Logitech G3 back in July. The DHL person came after 6:00 pm, which is quite a surprise for me. But then, that means I don't have to drive half way across the city the next day to pick it up from their shipping depot. That, I appreciate!
The Logitech MX3200 came in relatively typical Logitech teal, white and black retail packaging for keyboard and mouse combinations. The black Logitech MX600 cordless laser mouse is displayed on the right through a piece of custom cut and shaped clear plastic; with major features printed across the front and an image of the MX3200 keyboard. At the back of Logitech MX3200's box covers each most functions this set offers through utilization of a diagram as well as a list on both sides.
Most of the features listed on Logitech's site are on the back of Logitech MX3200's packaging, with the exception on the point in regards to spill resistance. I can't see it anywhere on the product page as the time of review; the packaging says "Visit www.logitech.com/spillresistance for more details" seems to be a non-existence page at the time of review as well. Speaking of features, below are some of the stuff listed on Logitech's website:
Take advantage of all your PC's great media and communication capabilities in first-class comfort and style. Working with Windows Vista the Cordless Desktop MX3200 Laser makes it easy to access advanced features such as Dynamic Search and DocFlip. Enjoy ultra-precise navigation with the high-resolution laser mouse, and easy Internet call management with convenient one-touch controls.
- Enjoy premium comfort. Integrated soft-touch palm rest provides extra support and can help reduce fatigue.
- Benefit from a superior typing experience. This straight keyboard layout, featuring Zero-Degree Tilt offers an extremely comfortable and natural typing experience, and the sculpted design of the mouse fits comfortably in your hand. Large, full-travel keys maximize comfort, respond instantly and are extremely quiet.
- Dynamic search and zoom. Dedicated search buttons help you find files faster. Use the touch-sensitive slider to explore Windows Vista folders and images quickly and precisely. Additional Windows Vista controls that quickly close and switch on applications also work on Windows XP.
- Programmable hot-keys. Convenient hot-keys instantly open applications, games, folders, or web pages. To customize, simply hold down the desired hot-key with a long press.
- High-performance laser mouse. State-of-the-art laser technology delivers exceptional precision and control. Gently contoured sides and soft rubber grips offer enhanced support and comfort.
- Ready for Windows Vista. The "Start" key lets you get the most out of Windows Vista.
- One-touch Internet calling controls. Access your favorite Internet calling application and start or end a call with a single touch.
- Integrated soft-touch palm rest. Provides premium comfort for extra support and can help reduce fatigue.
- AgION antimicrobial technology. Both the keyboard and mouse incorporate the AgION antimicrobial compound, providing protection to prevent the growth of a broad range of bacteria, mold and mildew.
- Reliable, hassle-free wireless technology. With Logitech SecureConnect technology, your keyboard and mouse have been pre-connected to the receiver to ensure hassle-free set-up and secure keyboard encryption right out of the box. The Plug-n-Play USB mini receiver provides added convenience for notebook computers.
- Extended battery life. Sophisticated power management technologies mean that batteries can last up to 15 months for the keyboard and up to 6 months for the mouse. The convenient LED battery indicators flash when batteries need changing. The mouse features an On/Off switch to extend battery life even further.
- Mouse with Tilt Wheel plus DocFlip. Scroll horizontally or vertically. Click the wheel to move effortlessly between documents in 3D with Windows Vista. It has never been easier to cut and past between applications, compare documents, or check email.
Out of the box, you will get the Logitech MX3200 keyboard itself, black Logitech MX600 cordless laser mouse, SecureConnect RF (Radio Frequency) mini receiver, receiver stand, Logitech product brochure, driver CD and 6 Duracell AA batteries in individual sets of two.
One of the biggest points for marketing of this cordless keyboard and mouse set is Logitech's implementation of the AgION antimicrobial compound. Research has been done to show that keyboards is a major residence and carrier for bacteria, therefore in many places where sanitary regulations are strict requires daily cleaning of keyboards using special chemicals. In residential environments, it is unlikely that you will clean your keyboard daily, but Logitech integrated AgION's antimicrobial compound into both the MX3200 keyboard and MX600 mouse for protection against bacteria.
A more detailed explanation on how AgION antimicrobial works, as taken from AgION Technology's site:
The multi-faceted zeolite crystal carrier provides a three dimensional release mechanism that provides efficient release of silver ions independent of particle orientation in the substrate.
Silver is a powerful antimicrobial metal ion. Zeolite crystals containing silver ions are randomly oriented and distributed through the surface of a polymer or coating. In conditions that support bacterial growth, the sodium ions, in ambient moisture, exchange with silver ions at reversible bonding sites on the zeolite. The exchanged silver ions are now available to control microbial growth.
AgION antimicrobial attacks multiple targets in the microbe to prevent it from growing to a destructive population. The silver ions interfere with cell growth in three ways. They inhibit transport functions in the cell wall, they inhibit cell division, and they interrupt cell metabolism.
In many applications, the AgION antimicrobial compound has been shown to provide microbial efficacy within hours while maintaining optimal performance for years.
Unique chemical properties of Silver (Ag) have been recognized by people long ago for medical treatments; as well as for food and water preservation. Scientists have found additional capabilities of silver and new ways of implementing it; silver ions are the active ingredient in the AgION antimicrobial compound. Basically, a slow and steady controlled release of silver ions is triggered by moisture in the air. The silver ion release will probably last for quite a few years, which by then you probably would have gotten a new keyboard already!
From top left: Logitech MX3200 receiver stand, Logitech MX3000 RF receiver, Logitech MX600 (Black, with AgION and comes with MX3200 cordless laser set), Logitech MX3200 SecureConnect RF mini receiver, and another Logitech MX600 (Grey, comes with MX3000 cordless laser set).
The SecureConnect RF mini receiver is shaped like a USB thumb drive with a small "Connect" button on its bottom. Saying that, it is still much larger than flash drives such as OCZ Rally2 and the APH favorite, SanDisk Cruzer Titanium U3. The SecureConnect receiver with Logitech's SetPoint software supports encryption out of the box (Hence the name). You will be prompted to set up encryption once you connect the keyboard as long as you already have the latest SetPoint already installed -- a quick and easy procedure that requires less than a minute to complete. Press Ctrl+Left Alt+F12, hit the Connect button that's located on the bottom of your keyboard, enter the 16 digit encryption key as displayed on screen and you are ready to go.
The receiver stand proves to be a fairly useful accessory. Although the SecureConnect RF mini receiver is in the shape of a USB thumb drive, it's still considerably thicker than a USB cable connector, therefore won't fit in vertical ports at the back of your computer without blocking out other ports beside it. The receiver stand prevents this problem and allows much better signal transmission by not limiting itself to a fixed location.
Note though, the receiver stand won't function as a normal full power USB port. I've tried plugging in a flash drive into it, and it doesn't work.
One cool thing about the Logitech RF receivers is that they work interchangeably between different Logitech RF keyboards and mice. The mouse works flawlessly; but keyboard says otherwise. It could be because my SecureConnect RF mini receiver was plugged into a USB port while the MX3000 receiver was plugged into a PS/2 port, but nevertheless the special keys on the left of my MX3200 won't work until it's connected to the SecureConnect RF mini receiver that comes with this keyboard. Well, there goes yet another USB port.
Now, onto the mouse. There isn't too much to say in regards to the mouse, it's wireless, and it's laser, but nothing spectacular like the company's flagship Logitech G5 or G7. Ironically though, without the mouse it wouldn't be called a cordless laser set. With its plastic feet, usage of 2xAA batteries, Logitech's MX600 sure isn't anything too optimized for gaming due to its lack of glide and weight. Tracking is average, but again not recommend for serious graphics or gaming. However, it offers excellent fit with my hands as a palm mouse user, and buttons are easily accessible but does not get in the way makes it one decent enough office mouse. The battery indicator will light green when batteries are first inserted and will flash red to warn you of low battery.
The body and button placement is identical to the Logitech MX600 that comes with the MX3000 laser set made last year; the difference lays in its color (Black vs grey) and the button under the zoom buttons is re-mapped to search instead of the previous 100% (1:1) view setting. Oh, and of course, the AgION coating!
You'd be surprised how much the LCD screen and mini-speaker on the Logitech MX3200 makes a difference in regards to battery consumption. I'll go over what I just mentioned later on in the LCD screen section (No, you won't be able to play music through the mini speakers, it's used for alerts only). The Logitech MX3000 keyboard takes two batteries and has a manufacturer rated battery life of up to 18 months. The Logitech MX3200, however, takes four batteries (All are AA sized) and Logitech rates it a 15 month battery life.
Battery life is very dependent on usage though. For me, I would expect it to be around a 1/3 to 1/2 of Logitech's rated battery life. Most APH readers report a 2-3 month battery life for Logitech's MX600 laser mouse, and I personally got approximately 9 months on my MX3000 keyboard. I do type a lot though, but the Logitech MX3200, I'd assume it to last 7 months or so, as least for me.
The Logitech MX3200 will power up with three out of four batteries inserted in order to conserve data on the LCD screen. I would actually appreciate a cell battery backup (Like the ones on your motherboard), so if you accidentally removed too many batteries, you won't lose your data (Especially character count, again more on this later). So if you were to change batteries, make sure you do it before it completely runs out (My Logitech MX3000 lasted a week before it completely cannot type after SetPoint reports my keyboard batteries are 'Critical'), and change batteries only one by one if you don't want to lose data.
The MX3200 keyboard itself. Let's start off with the built in keyboard risers on the back (Not shown in photo). Instead of Logitech's implementation of the cool flip from out to in, it seems they've went back and now it's a fold from inside to out like majority of keyboards.
Moving back onto the front of the keyboard, instead of standard character casing labels like Logitech's MX3000, the MX3200 now has everything capitalized like Logitech's MX5000. Standard key placement (Standard main keys and numpad) is identical to majority of Logitech keyboards but slightly different than 'standard' keyboards (I guess with the amount of Logitech keyboards going around, it is the standard then). For example, it has relatively unique letter key size and spacing that takes a while to get used to, but once you get used to it, you won't use keyboards from any other brand. Another unique placement to Logitech keyboards only includes the large Delete key with the Insert key moved to where the Print Screen key is on 'other' keyboards with the Print Screen and Pause/Break key moved one to the right and Scroll Lock combined into Fn+Pause/Break (Doesn't that just remind you of laptop keyboards?). The top row F keys including the ESC button are half the size of letter keys, with the F5 and F9 groups spaced widely apart to accommodate the Logitech logo in the middle.
I am not sure about the Vista orb key and Vista compatibility written all over it, but from what I can see it's more about marketing to users worrying about compatibility with future operating systems than anything else. I am pretty sure existing keyboards will work with Vista without any problems as long as you have the proper drivers for remapping specialized keys or functions. But it is more reasonable than using an XP logo with Vista just around the corner.
The VoIP keys at the bottom right are pretty interesting. It allows quick access to your favorite VoIP program (Well, it can be mapped to do basically anything) and the two buttons on the side are designed for accepting and ending/denying calls. Unfortunately, at the time of review, it's not compatible with Windows Live Messenger -- and it is, after all, the most popular instant messaging program (Although maybe not for voice, but that's what I use to chat with friends).
What I really thought was cool was the Dynamic Search and Zoom keys. At first I thought it was a physical button, but the zoom in/out strip is actually a touch strip -- even the 'key' that resets zoom to 100% is touch activated. Just run your finger over it and the keyboard will give a quiet "beep", then return your document to 1:1 size. The 5 buttons beside it are physical buttons but can be remapped to do various tasks within SetPoint, however making it do keystroke assignments proves to be less useful, as you have to actually press the keys to program it -- therefore, if you want it to do the function of Alt+Tab, then you will have to press Alt+Tab within SetPoint while mapping the key. Unfortunately, Alt+Tab really alt-tabs out of the program, making it impossible to make a key do that specific function. Same thing with Ctrl+Alt+Del; the only kind of assignments that could be workable are stuff that does not affect built in Windows function like Ctrl+S.
Overall, keys are reasonably quiet during typing and considerably quieter than its predecessor, the MX3000. Also, the F-Lock function has been removed and is replaced by holding down Fn+(Button).
The LCD screen. It's small, and offers four major functions: Clock with date (No year), alarm, timer, and character count. The LCD is controlled by Fn+F9 to F12; where each key is clearly labelled on how it affects the LCD screen. Settings on the LCD screen can be entered by the numpad and even arrow keys; easy and logical to use. Character count is pretty cool, I am surprised how much I use the keyboard -- I am approaching 200,000 keystrokes already after one week. And of course, 100,000 of those keystrokes are made on weekends.
Don't expect this keyboard to double as your alarm clock though. The relatively quiet auditory alarm will not wake anyone up; it's implemented primarily to remind you of things. The LCD screen could be better utilized if more modes can be displayed on the LCD screen though; for example battery indicator that's currently not displayed should be user activated if not displayed all the time. Another interesting thing with this keyboard -- there are no numlock/capslock indicators, not even on the receiver as the MX3000 did. Now that's first of its kind (And not exactly what I consider a good thing).
There are 11 media keys at the perimeter surrounding the LCD area. Both the LCD area and keys are made of those shiny plastic, which means they are very vulnerable to scratches and definitely fingerprint magnets. Anyway, the standard volume and play controls are there along with a Media key, Playlist Preset 1, Playlist Preset 2, and a Shuffle key. All these can be remapped within SetPoint to do other tasks.
When any of the 11 media keys are pressed, a corresponding string of text appears on the LCD screen. However, they will only display default functions and are not synchronized with SetPoint. Therefore, if you pressed the 'Play' button, but you remapped it to open Microsoft Word, the LCD screen will still display 'Play'.
The LCD screen can only be viewed under reasonably lit conditions. If it's pitch black in your room, you won't be able to read the screen since it does not glow nor does it have a backlight. This is reasonable, however; battery life is a concern to all.
The integrated wrist rest. There are goods and bads to it -- let's go over the goods first. Firstly, it's actually integrated into the keyboard, and for quite some time, I haven't used any modern keyboard without the provided wrist rest. However, the clips holding the wrist rest onto the keyboard usually are not anything of superior quality -- I broke the ones from my Microsoft Digital Media Keyboard and Logitech MX3000 over time. The next solution is tape. But since the MX3200 has them integrated with no cheap clips as the attachment medium, I felt relieved that I won't be breaking any more wrist rest clips for a while.
Another good thing is the comfort. It feels more comfortable than other provided wrist rests; almost to the point that it gives a virtually feeling of leather-like soft. In reality it is hard plastic, but at least it feels good.
The bad is that it is probably the part of the keyboard that's most vulnerable to sweaty or oily hand marks. When I came back doing the dishes (And some parts of my hand were still slightly oily), the marks were very apparent on the wrist rest as shown in the photo above. Marks from wet or sweaty palms evaporate very quickly and leaves barely any marks, but this is the part of the keyboard you want to clean more often.
In regards to the wireless range of this keyboard, it's very good. I put my RF receiver under my desk and went around 3 meters away with a wall and 3 pieces of wooden boards in between and it still received signal. Any further won't work though, but if there's nothing in between Logitech's MX3200 keyboard and receiver the range would be much better. During normal usage and gaming, I noticed no lag or signal loss intervals.
Overall, the Logitech MX3200 is a great keyboard and mouse set. The mouse is cordless, and it's laser, and it fits well -- but with its weight and tracking ability, there are better mice out there for serious graphics professionals and gamers. The keyboard is well designed overall, but definitely room for improvement. The good things include implementation of AgION antimicrobial compound on both the keyboard and mouse, relatively quiet keys, great key layouts and a few cool things such as the zoom touch strip. On the other hand, although I found the LCD screen a nice feature, it can be better utilized. The bad? No on-demand battery level indicator and no indicators of any sort for numlock and capslock status. Integration of the comfortable wrist rest is good, but it can be done so it's not as vulnerable to marks. Despite a couple of these missing features, I still like the Logitech MX3200 keyboard very much -- and I won't go back to my MX3000 as far as I can see. At the time of review, it is less than $80 after rebate at my local retail stores. APH Recommended? Seems like we've been getting a lot of great products in the last couple of weeks, and I think this can still manage a recommendation by us despite the drawbacks. Of course, it all depends on how much they concern you.
Special thanks to Kate over at Logitech for making this review possible.
Rating: 7/10 | APH Recommended
- The rating 7/10 means "Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing."
- APH Recommended is an indication of a product as best of its class, therefore only very small portions of our reviewed products get such an award.
- More information in our Review Focus.
Great keyboard (And mouse, but not for serious graphics or gaming). Good wireless range, lag free, cool touch strip and comfortable integrated wrist rest. AgION antimicrobial on keyboard surface is a nice added plus. Drawbacks: LCD screen can be better utilized, and there is a missing numlock/capslock indicator.