By: Jonathan Kwan
March 1, 2008
We have been following pretty much every new cordless laser set releases from Logitech since 2005. As Logitech releases a new set every year, we are generally very impressed with pretty much all of them -- what makes it truly interesting is that, despite the fact that they are 'just' keyboards and mice, Logitech still manages to innovate in every successive release that makes their products convincing enough for a lot of people to upgrade from their existing set, yet retaining the originality and usability factor of the keyboard and mouse itself. What we are trying to say is making changes and improvements are one thing, but some companies ruin their products in the progress of modification. Logitech is certainly not within this category. As a new year arrives, so does Logitech with their latest Logitech MX5500 Revolution cordless laser set. Combined with the legendary Logitech MX Revolution cordless laser mouse, as well as a brand new Bluetooth keyboard, how does this keyboard and mouse set stack up against their previous releases? Let's check it out.
Our review unit of Logitech's new MX5500 cordless laser set arrived in a corrugated cardboard box from Logitech's offices in Fremont, California -- as usual from the company. Using DHL Express, everything arrived in perfect condition, box and all -- which we are very happy with. We'd just like to lodge a complaint about DHL (And it was obviously not Logitech's fault) -- I missed the delivery twice: the second one was more of unexpected, which I admit was my fault, but DHL's customer service was blunt about it as usual and quick to deny any redelivery requests. It was very convenient for me to drive half way across the city to pick it up. If only they were like FedEx... anyways, enough of that and back to the MX5500.
Logitech carefully packed the retail package of the MX5500 Revolution with paper packing material and a thin sheet of foam; to ensure everything arrives with no bumps and scratches. The retail package carries Logitech's standard color scheme of green, teal, black, and white; but unlike their previous releases of wireless keyboard/mouse combinations it's a completely enclosed cardboard box with no windows or mouse sitting on the side like the MX3000 and MX3200 packaging. This new style of packaging more or less reflects the style of the packaging of the Logitech diNovo Edge.
As shown in the photo above, across the front is the product name and slogan along with a photo of the MX5500 keyboard and MX Revolution mouse. The sides are pretty much the same; with exception to the bottom which lists package content and other miscellaneous information. The back of the box has thumbnails and descriptive paragraph that highlights what Logitech believes are the unique or otherwise outstanding attributes of this keyboard and mouse combination.
Sliding out and opening the black colored cardboard box inside reveals a black plastic tray that holds all its contents neatly and in an organized fashion. Everything is packed individually with plastic bags -- with the exception of the keyboard, which utilizes a thin sheet of foam wrapping for additional protection. All shiny plastic surfaces have clear removable adhesive film over it, which all ensures everything in the retail pack arrives from the factory, to the store, and ultimately, the consumer's hands, in absolutely perfect condition.
Out of the box, you will receive the following in the package:
- Logitech MX5500 Bluetooth keyboard
- Logitech MX Revolution Bluetooth mouse
- USB Bluetooth receiver
- Charger/Stand with AC Adapter for mouse
- 4x Duracell AA batteries
- Drivers/Software CD, Quick Start Guide
Having owned quite a good number of Logitech keyboards, especially in the area of Logitech annual wireless keyboard/mouse combos -- the Logitech MX5500 Revolution isn't much of a huge radical design off the Logitech MX3200 as juxtaposed to the Logitech MX3000 the year prior. In fact, it resembles more of the MX3200 than the MX5000. We'll look at each of these changes in detail shortly; but generally in terms of layout and physical attributes, the MX5500 keyboard is simply an upgrade and wireless interface change from its RF based predecessor.
Like the MX3200 and MX5000, instead of standard character casing labels, the MX5500's key labels have everything capitalized. Standard key placement regarding the main keys and numeric keypad is identical to majority of Logitech keyboards, but slightly modified from so-called 'standard' OEM keyboards. Of course, the popularity of Logitech products really changes of what we call the 'standard' here -- I am so used to Logitech keyboards that it feels no longer odd or proprietary. 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 -- unless, of course, you have a Logitech diNovo Edge in which those keys are also different from Logitech keyboards of this market segment. 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 -- which sort of reminds me of laptop keyboards. Being used to the large Delete key on Logitech keyboards, I find myself having a hard time getting used to the standard six key placements in that area -- maybe that's why many Microsoft keyboards utilize the same implementation lately as well. The top row F keys including the ESC button are half the size of letter keys with low depress traveling distance like laptop keys; with the F5 and F9 groups spaced widely apart to accommodate the Logitech logo in the middle.
Unlike the MX3200, however, the MX5500 Revolution set does not have AgION antibacterial coating on it -- which was one of the biggest things when Logitech released their MX3200 set. I guess this was quickly forgotten by the masses already!
The Logitech MX5500 Revolution keyboard uses an identical integrated palm rest as the MX3200, as shown above. There are goods and bads to it, as we've mentioned last year -- 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.
Being that, it's quite unfortunate that the integrated palm rest is quite vulnerable to marks -- as you will see in one of our photos later in this review. As all human skin contains moisture to an extent, the wrist rest certainly isn't a big fan of it.
In the bottom right corner are three buttons; just like the Logitech MX3200 keyboard -- but with different functions. While the Logitech MX3200 has three buttons primarily for VoIP functions (With limited program compatibility, unfortunately), the MX5500 revolution has them labeled to somewhat Vista themed of Media Center, Photo Gallery, and Gadgets; in their respective order from the left.
The media keys are moved from the LCD area perimeter to the left on the Logitech MX5500 keyboard. The six media controls replaces five miscellaneous buttons on the Logitech MX3200; while the touch strip and touch sensitive zoom reset button are replaced by a tactile zoom in/out button with a labeled Vista Flip3D hotkey right underneath. Besides that, the physical design and style of button placement in this area is very similar between the MX3200 and MX5500.
The LCD screen on the keyboard (Which we'll go over in specific detail in the next section) acts correspondingly for what's displayed as the media keys are used. A volume bar will be displayed on the keyboard LCD when volume is adjusted via these keys, unfortunately the bars displayed on the LCD has nothing to do with the actual volume output of your sound card -- something that I would regard as a flaw.
A relatively large LCD screen is at the top of the keyboard -- replacing the relatively tiny in comparison unit on the Logitech MX3200. The LCD matrix display has a low resolution; but regardless it can handle different font sizes as well as individual icons on the left side to indicate various things such as new mail message status, capslock, mute, and low battery indicator; in their respective order from the top.
Two buttons reside under the LCD screen on the perimeter strip to navigate to one of six display functions as indicated by bullets at the bottom of the display. The first function is the clock display with full date (Month, day, year) -- it synchronizes this information automatically with your computer. This is the default display function, and the keyboard based on different situations will revert back to this screen. The second display function shows media information, such as song currently playing. It will automatically launch, say, when you start playing a song in a supported program. A progress bar is shown, but the display only shows total track length and nothing on time remaining. This may be due to the time lag between the keyboard's LCD display and what's actually happening on your computer.
The third function is the most interesting -- a temperature display. The keyboard actually has a temperature sensor that shows your room temperature! It's also configurable in Logitech SetPoint to display either Celsius or Fahrenheit. It's on the MX5000 as far as I know, but still. Who would have ever thought of that on a keyboard?
The fourth function is a keyboard shortcut section that allows you to configure the alternate function (Activated by the Fn key, like laptops) for F buttons 9 through 12 as labeled. By default, A (F9) is Media Player, B (F10) is Search PC, C (F11) is Document, and D (F12) is Control Panel.
Also as we've seen in the MX3200 is the key counter, which displays what the mileage is on your keyboard -- it tracks how many keystrokes you've put into your Logitech MX5500. This can be quite useful like your car's odometer to track gas mileage, unfortunately the key counter will automatically reset if the batteries are not replaced one at a time since the data are stored in volatile memory.
The sixth function for the LCD display works with POP3 programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Windows Live Mail to show how many new emails you have. Besides these functions, the LCD will also display other miscellaneous information such as "No connect" or "Connecting".
The calculator hotkey on the keyboard above the numeric keypad launches Logitech's Smart Calculator like the Logitech MX5000 -- an integrated calculator that performs basic functions. The calculator displays information on the keyboard’s LCD display, and is controlled by the numeric keyboard for data entry. The default NumLock key on standard keyboard layouts is replaced by the "Clear Calc" key; which controls the Smart Calculator. As the numeric keyboard does not have the NumLock key, the numpad also does not have anything other than number labels as it does not support any other function (Not that I use the numpad for arrow keys anyway, haha). Hitting "Enter" on the MX5500 automatically copies the answer on the Smart Calculator into Windows Clipboard -- very innovative and convenient in my opinion.
The LCD display is clear readable under normal lighting conditions -- but since it is not a backlit LCD, it will not be readable in low to no light environments. Being that, it's certainly within our expectations because the LCD is kept on at all times. A backlit LCD will drain the battery in no time. We would still appreciate an on-demand backlight though, similar to digital watches, for the convenience of it all.
The back of the keyboard, as usual, is where you load up the batteries. The MX5500 keyboard takes up four AA batteries; where four Duracells are included from Logitech. I loaded mine up with rechargeable alkalines. One of the biggest reasons why more units are needed for the MX3200 and MX5500 is its always-on LCD display. Logitech does not state what the rated battery life is on for the MX5500, but I would assume it to be roughly 12-15 month manufacturer rating (Similar to MX3200, but with a larger LCD and differences in wireless connectivity technology). Usually I can achieve around 2/3 to 3/4 of the manufacturer's rating, so I would personally predict this keyboard to last around eight to ten months on regular usage.
Two keyboard tilt risers are located at the bottom of the keyboard that opens outwards. The red button between them is the wireless Connect button; which we've become quite accustomed with on Logitech keyboards. A corresponding button is located on the Bluetooth 2.0 EDR receiver included out of the box -- which, again, is the size of a typical USB flash drive. Since the receiver is roughly the width of a standard USB port, it won't interfere with nearby connectors. I've had no problems using the MX5500 with my diNovo Edge Bluetooth receiver; and there are no signs of Bluetooth lag during my time of usage that plagued early revisions of the company's MX5000 Bluetooth set. In fact, reception is excellent -- I've had no problems passing the signals through walls and floors.
Now that we've taken a good look at the keyboard portion, let's examine the mouse counterpart of this cordless laser set as well -- the Logitech MX Revolution Bluetooth mouse. When it was released a couple years back, it was an instant hit as an excellent office mouse. As far as the MX Revolution goes, it has a built in rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery -- therefore a charger is included. The black charger has a pretty sweet design; it orients the mouse in a vertical position when charging with a transparent blank tinted backing plate. A separate AC adapter unit plugs into the wall for power input.
The legendary MX Revolution mouse sure sold well independently as well as gaining rave reviews from users and professional reviewers alike -- and I can see why it's everyone's favorite office mouse. It offers excellent fit on the hand if you are a palm mouse user for its curve as well as thumb functions on the side. The back/forward buttons are well out of the way but easy to reach when needed; with your thumb resting over the side scroll 'wheel' (It doesn't really spin) all the time -- all accommodated by a textured side grip. The wheel at the top is really the star innovation of this set, as where it obtained the 'Revolution' name. The weighted metal wheel can either spin in free spin mode or standard mouse 'clicker' wheel mode. Unlike the Logitech VX Revolution or Logitech VX Nano, however, it is not configured in a physical sense. These settings are to be configured in Logitech SetPoint drivers; where the wheel features an 'automatic transmission' that can switch between free spin mode and the click wheel based on how fast you spin the wheel. It's really cool and sweet as you feel the gear kick in and out. The wheel in free spin mode can spin up to seven seconds by circular momentum inflicted by the user.
An array of LEDs will light up on the left edge of the mouse to indicate battery life each time the mouse is activated -- since the mouse automatically enters power save mode after some idling time, one, two, or three battery LEDs will light up every time based on remaining battery life of the internal battery. A charge will large you fifteen days maximum; and depending on your usage, we got quite close to that. Although we do recommend you to recharge your battery as often as possible since it's a Lithium-Ion battery.
The bottom of the mouse, as standard configuration goes, has the tracking lens for the laser beam to pass through for the sensor to track movement. The red Connect button is for connecting as correspondence to the Bluetooth receiver.
Four Teflon pads of various sizes are utilized for the Logitech MX Revolution mouse feet. We would definitely have appreciated larger pads for better gliding performance, but nevertheless I am glad to see that majority of Logitech mice use Teflon feet now, and glide on the MX Revolution is very good for an office mouse.
A dedicated On/Off sliding switch is located at the bottom of the MX Revolution. Two copper contacts can be seen at the bottom for use with the stand up charger, as described earlier.
The Logitech MX5500 Revolution at my workstation setup. As we've mentioned earlier, the MX5500 keyboard's palm rest is vulnerable to temporary marks due to skin moisture -- we've also complained about such in our Logitech MX3200 review a year and a half ago. Regarding the mouse, while the MX600 had some problems tracking on my SteelSeries SX mousepad, the MX Revolution had absolutely no issues at all. All in all, there's no observable Bluetooth lag with both the keyboard and mouse -- both the Logitech MX5500 and MX Revolution are a pleasure to use without any hassles or problems at all.
In terms of everyday office use, the Logitech MX Revolution is excellent -- the way it handles in terms of comfort and button placement is definitely very convenient for office applications. However, as far as that goes, I wouldn't use the Logitech MX Revolution for gaming -- there's no Bluetooth/wireless lag, unfortunately the response of the mouse is probably not up to hardcore gaming standards. This is certainly not out of our expectations because this mouse is simply not designed for this purpose.
Overall, I am very impressed by the Logitech MX5500 Revolution cordless laser set. The keyboard is comfortable to use, and loaded with tons of features in an unbloated fashion -- the large LCD screen really puts forth a lot of conveniences for the user. The Logitech MX Revolution mouse is designed very well; comfortable for palm mouse users with all buttons conveniently placed yet not easily pressed by accident. Both pieces are built with excellent quality and are solid during usage. As a Bluetooth set, there's no wireless lag, and cordless range is excellent. There are some technicalities when it comes to design, such as palm rest mark issues and no LCD backlight option -- but these complaints as we've mentioned aren't really that significant. For the third year in a row, Logitech made yet another excellent cordless keyboard/mouse set -- and each year it only gets better. The MX5500 is a combination of the positive aspects of the MX3200 and MX5000. And for the third year in a row, it's another excellent combination that by no doubt receives an APH Recommended!
Special thanks to Kate over at Logitech for making this review possible.
APH Recommended Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.6/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Logitech MX5500 Revolution is a combination of positive aspects from the MX3200 and MX5000 -- plus more. With a full featured keyboard, and excellent office mouse, this cordless keyboard/mouse set is certainly something you don't want to miss.