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Ergonomic Gear For A Better Life

Logitech’s MX and Darkfield

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test out the Logitech Performance Mouse MX ($100), but based on my prior experience with the form and comfort of the MX line, I’m guessing this new MX is the ergonomic mouse to beat in today’s consumer market. Simply put, I’ve never met a more comfortable mouse. For my hand, its weight and contour for everyday use is unbeatable. Add in the Darkfield technology and it might as well be perfect.

What’s Darkfield? It’s as if Logitech said to Microsoft, “BlueTrack, SchmooTrack. Watch this!” When you read the literature for BlueTrack, the fine print gives you the same news we’ve known about optical and laser mice for years: This mouse works on everything except glass and highly reflective surfaces. Darkfield technology has no problem with such surfaces. In fact, it was made specifically to work on them.

Dark-field illumination is commonly used with scientific microscopes for situations in which the traditional method of shining a light up from below, through a glass slide, and into the magnifying optics can’t yield a decent image because the light overpowers the subject. Dark-field illumination blocks out the direct light and only allows angled light to strike the lens. If there’s nothing on the glass slide, then the scene appears totally dark. Otherwise, light scattered by any objects on the glass gets passed on to the lens.

Logitech’s Darkfield technology uses two lasers to illuminate a surface beneath the mouse at an angle. But unlike a traditional mouse that essentially takes a series of pictures of a surface and examines the pixel changes between the images to determine distance and direction, Logitech is actually taking pictures of dust and other residual matter on top of the surface. When the laser hits glass, most of the light is lost through the transparent material, but any imperfections on the surface of that glass will reflect light back to the sensor and register as a white object on a black background. Darkfield won’t work on a perfectly smooth surface, but in environments outside of science labs, there’s no such thing as a perfectly smooth surface, especially if that environment has kids.

No, Darkfield isn’t central to an ergonomics discussion, but it is pretty cool, and it touches on the rationale of spending less time in contact with your mouse if you have better control over its movement. Given that so many modern environments have glass or highly reflective surfaces (glass tables, countertops, etc.), this technology would seem to be at least somewhat valuable in any ergonomic mouse.

  • Luscious
    I'm quite surprised your focus is on ergonomics yet you haven't mentioned anything at all about trackballs. I've been using a Logitech Track Man Wheel for close to 4 years paired with my notebook. They have many advantages over mice, not the least being ergonomically superior.
    Reply
  • ryanegeiger
    I agree... what about trackballs?
    Reply
  • Supertrek32
    I've been using the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for a few years now and must say that I love it. Very comfortable. I also reprogrammed the back/forward buttons to control media player (via Microsoft's intellitype software), which is incredibly hand for someone like me who has a large music collection and might not be in the mood for a certain genre one day.
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    ryanegeigerI agree... what about trackballs?trackballs are perfect for work only situations esp with limited desk space.
    Reply
  • ddrcoder
    I've used a Kinesis for years (I'm typing this with one right now), and I must say they're the best keyboards ever made. I've found that they relieved stress in my hands/wrists. I recommended them to a friend who couldn't touch type and as he got used to the keyboard, he quickly learned. He can now type at 60WPM, I can type at 100WPM.

    -Tom
    Reply
  • Trackballs, why have they been blackballed? Everyone I loan my spare, I have three new ones just in case they stop selling them, Logitech mouse man marble to they immediately buy one for themselves.
    My friend has CTS and cannot use a regular mouse with one hand because of the strain, trackball fixed him right up. Not only are they friendlier on the wrist the require vastly less desk space, they are easier to control and for precision work nothing beats a trackball.

    My Gaming (counterstrike: source, UT2004, UT3, half life, team fortress, day of defeat,etc) buddies all have crazy expensive uber dpi programmable gaming mice that have lasers, and my 20$ trackball whips 'em every time. Why? no wasted movement, my arm is completely stationary when mousing, my fingers can keep the ball fluid and moving in one direction without having to lift it up, move it ove,r set it down, and continue mousing, one quick flick of the finger and the ball goes spinning in the desired direction, all while my arm is relaxed and stationary.

    They are in fact perfect in play situations too.
    How about some trackball love?
    Reply
  • coconutboy
    I like these kinds of articles. Currently I own a logitech MX Revolution, it's my ~5th logi mouse (I also own a cordless logitech trackball), but really all these have just been because I couldn't find anything better including the gazillion specialized ergo mice on the market. I just wish someone would make an upright/joystick-like mouse that also includes-

    a trackball
    scroll wheel or similar device
    4 buttons minimum (5+ preferred) that users can define as forward/back/whatever.

    I've tried many mice including the 3M joystick, Zero Tension Mouse and Evoluent upright. Those were somewhat better in terms of comfort but sacrificed buttons/functionality. As a result my last 4 or so mice have all been Logitech with my current being the MX Revolution but that's because of the extra buttons and its awesome scroll wheel, NOT the comfort which is just average.

    William Van WinkleI was able to try out Logitech’s MK605 notebook kit ($100)... The keyboard and mouse are okay, and they are decently compact for travel, but I wish the stand were available separately.
    The stand can be purchased individually for $30. Linkage-

    http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/notebook_products/stands/devices/5494&cl=us,en
    Reply
  • williamvw
    The stand can be purchased individually for $30. Linkage-http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/ 4&cl=us,en
    Oh, bonus! Thanks for pointing that out, coconutboy. Again -- highly recommended.
    Reply
  • tapeglue
    Less known help for wrist pain can be a computer armrest. I have been using one called Restman 1 for a few months now and it indeed makes me forget about my wrist problem. I got it from http://restmans.myshopify.com/products/restman-1.
    Reply
  • trifler
    I find that mice with higher dpi allow me to turn up the speed without losing any of the control. This greatly reduces the amount of necessary wrist movement to use a mouse. Therefore, I actually choose the Logitech G500 (5700dpi) for ergonomic reasons rather than for gaming reasons.
    Reply