I desperately wanted to hate Logitech's V550 Nano Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks, but I instead found it to be the best notebook mouse I've ever used.
Why my original prejudice? Well, here's a quick note to Logitech's packaging-design crew: Please modify either your packaging or its how-to-open instructions so that following them to the letter doesn't result in a shard of razor-sharp plastic gouging a good-sized chunk of knuckle meat out of a product reviewer. Got it? Thanks.
After I stanched my rapidly escaping plasma, I discovered a wireless RF mouse that, simply put, does everything right. The ambidextrous V550 is the right weight and the right size, and has the right tracking accuracy, the right software, the right features, and the right accessories to make it the go-to mouse for notebook users.
If you're like most 'Book owners, your notebook travels tucked under your arm, in your book bag, or along with a pile of file folders as often as it travels in a proper case. Your notebook's mouse, however, is an awkward traveling companion, sliding off the top of the notebook/file pile or getting lost in the bottom of your bag. Logitech solves the wandering-mouse problem by including a pair of stick-on Clip-and-Go docks--one silver, one black--that stick to your notebook's lid, and onto which the V550 snaps securely.
Conveniently, docking the V550 also turns it off. Unfortunately, if you remove a dock from your notebook, it's not reusable. Fortunately, Logitech will sell you another two docks, complete with the cleaning wipes and removal tool that come in the original kit, for a mere two bucks.
Another convenience is the V550's Nano RF dongle. Its tiny size allows it to live unobtrusively in one of your notebook's USB ports--no need to worry about it being sheared off in transit. Yes, if the V550 were a Bluetooth mouse, you wouldn't have to worry about a USB dongle at all, but I've never met a Bluetoother that didn't have some lag when waking up from a nap. I'll take RF over Bluetooth any day. Also, the low power requirements of RF enable Logitech to claim an 18-month battery life--try finding that longevity in a Bluetooth mouse.
The V550 takes advantage of Logitech's excellent Control Center driver software--arguably the most versatile customization software in the mousing universe. Don't look for it in the V550's bloodthirsty packaging, though--you'll need to download it from the company's Web site. You will find one surprise in the V550's plastic prison, however: a dongle dock with a five-foot USB cable, should you choose to use your V550 with an under-desk Mac Pro.
Although it's far from clear in the V550's illustrated, multilingual instructions, the V550 hides one more nifty trick in its arsenal of goodies. Click its roll-and-tilt scroll wheel, and it transforms from a standard ratcheting wheel to a smooth, high-speed spinner with which you can dash through long documents at a lightning pace. If you navigate large spreadsheets, this feature alone is worth the price of admission.
Macworld's buying advice
If the V550 had soft-rubber, easier-to-grip sides, it'd be perfect. As it is, however, it's the best notebook mouse I've ever met, and well worth its mildly pricey admission fee. I do recommend, however, that you use sturdy scissors to open its packaging.
[Rik Myslewski has been writing about the Mac since 1989. He has been editor in chief of MacAddict (now Mac|Life), executive editor of MacUser and director of MacUser Labs, and executive producer of Macworld Live. His blog can be found at Myslewski.com.]