Input Devices Guide
The Glass Tracker
The Glass Tracker
Optical and laser-guided mice are easily one of the greatest developments in the history of PC peripherals. Before them, we had to use trackballs, which often got dirty easily. However, due to the way optical and laser mice work, they could only be used on certain types of surfaces. Traditionally, glass has proven to be the trickiest surface for these mice to work on, mostly because it is perfectly smooth and reflective.
But that's all about to change as Logitech has a technology to fix this flaw. Dubbed Darkfield, Logitech says its latest mouse tracking technology will track on glass. This technology is featured on its newest Performance Mouse M950 and we check it out to see if it really works.
The Big Show
While the M950 might boast the latest in mouse-tracking technology, it certainly doesn't show since it looks so normal. It's big and hefty to be sure, but that also means it feels well-built and solid. Additionally, it has all the niceties you'd expect a high-end mouse to have, such as wireless connectivity, tons of buttons, on-the-fly DPI adjustment and a battery life indicator. And despite its considerable mass, it has slick teflon feet that gave it a fluid feel.
One neat thing about the M950 is that it gets four thumb buttons, and these buttons can be easily customized using the bundled Logitech Control Center software to do just about anything, from minimizing and maximizing windows, to checking the battery life status, to zooming in on web pages. On the topic of battery life, we must say that the M950 is one power-hungry beast, sapping the bundled Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable battery dry after just four days of use.
That aside, the M950 also features Logitech's Unifying receiver. The awesome thing about this is that a single Unifying receiver is able to pair itself with up to six other devices so that you can easily add on additional devices without worrying about running out of USB ports. It helps too that the Unifying receiver is so small that it literally disappears into your USB port. Of course, the catch is that the Unifying receiver works only with Logitech devices.
Exploring the Dark Side
So does the Darkfield tracking technology actually work? We are happy to report that it does. In fact, it works almost like a normal mouse. This is quite amazing, given the fact that most of the other mice we've tried simply do not work at all on glass. For those who have always wanted a minimalistic desktop setup with a glass top table, this is the mouse for you. However, glass isn't the best surface to use a mouse on since it has a fair amount of friction and that's something Darkfield can't help you out.
If you're wondering how it all works, Logitech has the answer. Instead of detecting the textural details of the surface as traditional tracking devices do (which is why they fail to work on glass since it is typically very smooth), Darkfield actually looks out for microscopic particles and scratches and uses them as points of reference.
The Logitech Performance Mouse M950 certainly lived up to its billing as its flagship mouse. Darkfield works like a charm, wireless connectivity via the Unifying receiver was first-rate as we hardly felt any lag nor suffered any drop-outs and we especially like the comprehensive Logitech Control Center software which allowed for more customization possibilities for the mouse.
As Logitech's current flagship product, expect the M950 to command a price tag that is comparable to its status - S$199. It certainly doesn't come cheap, but it boasts Darkfield and is easily one of the most capable and feature-rich mouse out there at the moment.