|Submited By: Jason Reedy on 06/15/2010|
The MX 5500 offers a lot of bells and whistles, but doesn t deliver on the absolute basics. The wireless reception is at times inconsistent, battery life is much shorter than advertisxed, and the construction quality is lower than what you would expect for a manufacturer s top of the line model. Both the mouse and keyboard has some unique features which give the product some merit, and the included SetPoint software from Logitech is powerful. However, the combo failed at its basic premise: reliably operating as a wireless mouse and keyboard.
After years of working solely on desktop computers, earlier this year I purchased a laptop computer. I had finally found a laptop that had a screen size and computing power that would replace my desktop computer, while at the same time packaging the computer in a (somewhat) portable format. Despite the fact that I had a laptop computer, I still found myself using it in a "desktop" environment 90% of the time. That is, the vast majority of the time I was using the computer at my home office, fully tethered to the network. Very quickly I realized that there was no need to give myself neck and back strain by crouching over the laptop using the included keyboard and touch pad. Thus I decided to purchase a separate keyboard and mouse for the computer, which I would use the 90% of the time the laptop was setup in my home office.
I did a fair amount of research on what I believed the perfect keyboard and mouse combination would be for my usage, and came up with three main requirements:
* Wireless - Preferably Bluetooth, as I didn t want to have to worry about interference from any RF devices in the home, such as my Wi-Fi network, iPhone, etc. I also didn t want to have to mess with any cords, and wanted to easily be able to transition my laptop computer from its "desktop" configuration, without a lot of plugging and unplugging
* Rechargeable - Having had both a wireless mouse and keyboard in the past, I knew that these devices drained a lot of power. I would need to change the batteries in my previous combo on a regular basis, and wanted to avoid the hassle of swapping out batteries every other week
* Footprint - My new laptop only came with three USB ports, and I didn t want to lose two of them to USB receivers for a Mouse and Keyboard
While these were my main requirements, I was also hoping for a keyboard design which was ergonomic and also innovative, since the keyboard looks remarkably similar to its cousin from the 1980 s.
Unfortunately, I was soon to learn that my three requirements were pretty much incompatible with one another. I could have wireless (either RF or Bluetooth), but couldn t have them be rechargeable. I could have Rechargeable in the mouse, but not in the keyboard, and could only solve my dependency on batteries if I were willing to forgo the wireless functionality on the keyboard. Similarly, no matter which combo I looked at, all of my options came with at least one receiver, which meant that I was going to lose at least one-third of my USB ports to the combo.
My compromise was the Cordless Desktop® MX(tm) 5500 Revolution. The combination was wireless using Bluetooth, had a rechargeable mouse (the keyboard would still need batteries), and would hopefully be able to use the Bluetooth on my computer to leave all of my USB ports free. I did look at purchasing a separate keyboard and mouse instead of a combo, since Logitech offerred the Logitech diNovo Edge Keyboard (Black) , which was Bluetooth and rechargeable. However, I really didn t want to potentially sacrifice two out of my three USB ports with separate receivers for a mouse and a keyboard, and so decided to go with the MX 5500 and the combo set.
The MX 5500 installed out of the box with little difficulty. The included Set Point software was very easy to install, although it was several versions out of date when I bought it, and so I had to download the update from Logitech s web site. This was very time consuming, and took multiple attempts, including having to completely uninstall the original software and then reinstall it from Logitech s web site. The Bluetooth setup worked fine, but I was amazed that there was not an option to use the native Bluetooth receiver on the computer, instead of the receiver shipped by Logitech. Since most desktops don t have Bluetooth built-in, and have plenty of USB ports, I can see why Logitech included the Bluetooth receiver. However, it would have been nice to have the option to use the laptop s built-in receiver and free up the extra USB port.
Putting that aside, I was initially very pleased with the keyboard and mouse design. Once I started using the combo on a daily basis, there were several features that I really enjoyed. The mouse has something called "Hyper-fast scrolling", which I think is something of a misnomer. I prefer to think of it as "Touch-sensitive scrolling" as the main scroll wheel on the mouse feels as if it has physical contours, which you can feel as you scroll through a web page. This makes it very simple to scroll a single line at a time, and you don t have to worry about jerking all over the screen. The "Hyper" part comes in when you scroll more than a page at a time, as the contours magically disappear and the wheel spins freely, allowing you to rapidly move through a web page or other text document.
The keyboard includes a built in LCD display which defaults to show the time and date, but also allows you to scroll through other options such as your Inbox, Media Player, Temperature, Keycount, etc. The display was not very practical on a day to day basis, and was more of a curiosity that I used most of the time as a clock. However, one innovation which I thought was great, was the ability to use the keyboard as a calculator, separate from the computer itself. Right above the number pad there is a small button with an image of a calculator. When this button is pressed, the LCD display turns into a readout from a normal calculator, and you can use the number pad to input basic calculations without interrupting what you are doing on the computer. This was probably the most used feature for me, which made it all the more painful when the LCD panel broke three months later (see below).
Aside from these two features, however, nothing else really stood out about the MX 5500 that made it any different from any other keyboard and mouse combo that I had used in the past. Product manufactures have made the keyboard and mouse more and more cluttered by adding many extra buttons and features to both the keyboard and mouse. Yet these extra buttons and features mostly got in the way, such as the forward and back buttons on the mouse near where your thumb is located, and I did not find that I used these extra features with any regularity.
While I initially enjoyed the keyboard and mouse combo, it did have its drawbacks. The first was that I noticed that the Bluetooth wireless would lose connection periodically. This was not a frequent problem, but did occur at least once or twice a week in both the keyboard and the mouse. Nothing is more frustrating that trying to click on something, and shaking the mouse like crazy trying to get the cursor to appear. I spent time researching the issue on the Logitech web site, but their support offered very few solutions other than relocating the receiver from the original USB port (which I tried). The problem still exists to this day, although it is more of an inconvenience than anything else. I have come to live with the fact that occasionally I will lose signal, and I will need to wait a few seconds for the connection to reestablish itself. (Technical note: There are no other Bluetooth enabled devices within range of this computer, and no other wireless devices within my home office which should interfere with the signal.)
The second problem that I noticed with the combo was the advertised battery life. The SetPoint software included with the MX 5500 Revolution includes a tool which measures battery life, and lets you know how frequently you need to recharge the devices. I found this tool to be highly inflated in its estimates, as it would often predict that I had 5 days of battery life on the mouse, and then an hour later I would get the message that the battery levels were critical. I just got into the habit of charging my mouse on a daily basis using the included charger, as it never came close to the 7 days of battery life advertised by the software. But the real issue is the keyboard battery life. I have had the combo for a little over four months, and am on my fourth set of 4 AA batteries. If I check SetPoint, it says that I have 160 days remaining before I need to change batteries, but this is obviously not correct since I am on my fourth set of batteries in four months. In my day to day use I found that 40-45 days was more accurate, which means that SetPoint is overstating battery life by a factor of at least 3. Worse, when the batteries do run out, the software still insists you have 90 days left of "charge". The way you discover that your battery life is finished is that the keyword will sporadically lose connection with the Bluetooth receiver. The first time this happened it was very difficult to diagnose, and I couldn t understand why I was constantly seeing the "No Connection" message on the keyboard s LCD display. Again Logitech s online support did not provide any answers, and as a last grasp I finally decided to try changing the batteries. That did the trick, and I have now come to recognize that when I start losing wireless connection once or twice an hour, instead of once or twice a week, that the batteries have been drained, and it is time to replace them.
Perhaps it was my frequent changing of the batteries which led me to my third, and final, problem with the keyboard and mouse combo, the relatively flimsy construction of the keyboard. Although this is Logitech s high end model (after the diNovo keyboard), I had two issues directly related to the quality of the construction. On the underside, the included "legs" of the keyboard are very flimsy, and easily snap off if you change they keyboard from a flat to tilted typing angle. Fortunately the legs appear to be able to snap on again very easily, although I am sure that one of these times the legs will break, and I will be forever locked into typing with the keyboard in its "flat" configuration. The other issue was that the LCD display broke after several months. It turns out that the plastic housing covering the LCD display is very weak, and when I grasped it to get to the underside of the keyboard (for my fourth battery change), the plastic popped down, into the LCD display, permanently damaging the display. The pressure that I put on the display was equivalent to what you would expect if you were firmly wiping it with a cloth to clear the surface, so beware if you purchase this product to make sure to be especially gentle when near the LCD display.
In the end, the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 failed in all of the main requirements that I had for purchasing the set. Although the combo is wireless, it suffers from periodic interruptions. While the mouse is rechargeable, and works very well if you recharge the mouse at least once every other day, the keyboard will suck battery life about three times faster than the software tells you it is doing. Make sure to have a set of 4 AA batteries always on standby for when you get the "No Connection" message. Lastly, there is no option which I could find to use the included Bluetooth receiver in your computer, and you have to use Logitech s included Bluetooth Receiver, sacrificing a USB port in the process. If I were to do it all over again, I would most likely keep the Mouse because of the "Hyper-fast scrolling", and try the diNovo keyboard, since it is rechargeable.