I’ve never been a big fan of wireless mice. They’ve been finicky for me for the most part, some of the older 2.4GHz models are terrible at filtering out the noise created by a simple microwave and I once had to tell a client to stop making toast because her toaster, for whatever reason, was interfering with the signal whenever she made toast. It was one of those old-school ones where you loaded the bread in a tray sideways and then closed the flap. But even though I’m still not a fan of wireless mice, I grew to like Logitech’s M280 and found that it didn’t get affected by anything to do with microwaves or toasters. Which is great, because fresh avocado on buttered toast is totally amazing.
My thanks go to Craving Novity and Logitech South Africa for sending this review unit to me.
Logitech’s M280 is available online for around R450, but near as I can tell there’s not a whole bunch of stores that actually stock it. So if you want something like this, you might have to do a little phoning around, though I think in the end it’s not a bad price for what you’re getting. Given other options on the market I’m pretty sure the M280 is in its own league here. Perhaps there’s competition from the Rapoo 7800, but that mouse is dedicated to gaming or power users who need lots of buttons, and it doesn’t come in blue.
Monday blues? Maybe not once you see this on your desk
Originally I wrote a review on this mouse for IGN Africa and I was a bit uncertain about the blue colour scheme. Yes, it is blue. Very blue. I’m not exactly sure if there was someone who sat on the design team and said, “Office workers need more joy in their life, so let’s make this thing colourful,” but it probably did go down just like that. The M280 I received for review was adorned in blue that almost approached baby blue and I guess this will work for some people. There are other colour options, namely red and black, but I hope Logitech sees a need to fit in more colours, other than the ones that match the packaging for BIC pens. I didn’t like it initially since I prefer black or other less vibrant colours, but it grew on me slowly.
The M280’s surface is a mixture of plastic and rubber, but it isn’t painted to be that colour – the plastic is actually blue. The rubber is actually blue (and I believe that it comes from an injection mould). That bodes pretty well for longevity purposes because if you intend to use this thing for nine months on end, you don’t want the paint job to start coming off after three months. It seems to be moderately scratch-resistant as well, so you ladies with long fingernails don’t need to worry about that either. It feels good, which is a big part of owning and using a mouse.
The palm rest is covered in this rubber and in the thumb and finger grips Logitech has lasered in little triangles arranged into a honeycomb pattern. It feels lovely and it doesn’t seem to attract finger oils or get tacky, so you won’t be spending part of your morning at the office cleaning it to keep it looking good. As part of my testing, knowing how some manufacturers coat rubber with various paints to get them a different colour, I rubbed the M280 vigorously against tissue paper. Some paints tend to transfer from their original surface to a new one if rubbed for long enough and this wasn’t the case here.
The M280 is, unfortunately, a right-handed mouse, so it attracts all the problems that I have with it as a lefty. It only works for right-handed people. It only feels good in the right hand. That’s not something to knock it on in the final score, but it’s worth noting that if you ever can’t use your right hand, using this mouse with your left isn’t going to be comfortable.
Something that I expected at this price point, though, is thumb buttons. I believe every mouse on the planet needs at least two thumb buttons, because it makes navigating web sites so much easier. There’s an added benefit for gaming but there’s also something to be said about productivity – being able to map thumb buttons to macro commands or shortcuts might save you time when doing particular things and with the M280 being billed as an office mouse, it would have been to its benefit to at least add thumb buttons in here.
Then again, that might have detracted from the clean, simple aesthetic that I grew to like, so there’s that to consider.
Popping up the mouse on its side reveals the optical laser good for up to 1000 dpi, three teflon-covered feet and a user-accessible service compartment for swapping out the battery. Logitech provides a AA battery rated for 1.5v and this is a standard Nickel Cadmium part, but I have no idea if that’s the recommended battery type or just a generic part designed to last at least halfway through the claimed 18 months of battery life. The included USB Nano receiver slots into a crevice inside the battery compartment and works up to about ten meters in my testing. Its a Unifying Receiver as well, so if you already have a Logitech keyboard with this same receiver in place, you can just leave it inside the mouse and hook up to the same one as the keyboard.
Although the included battery isn’t rechargeable, and with no method to recharge it while inside the mouse, it doesn’t really matter as you can swap in a new battery easily. Although this would normally be a drawback in my conclusion (it certainly was for the Turtle Beach PX-5), not having rechargeable batteries for this unit isn’t a bad thing. My mom owns a M235 and its been over a year since she first began using it, so when Logitech says 18 months on the box, I’m not skeptical that it could be the case. Maybe just keep spare batteries lying around in case you need to swap it out. I mean, you have those already for TV remotes, so this is no biggie.
The Logitech Options software is rather simple
The M280 is a driver-free mouse and that’s awesome from a user perspective. There’s support for it in the Linux kernel dating back to 2.6 (for reference, we’re at 4.0 as of today) and it supposedly works on Mac hardware, but that’s the one thing I couldn’t test with the hardware at hand. Logitech only says that it has compatibility dating back to Vista, though, so you may have to install the Options software before you plug it in if you’re using Windows XP.
Can I call it basic? The software is really, really basic. But its the only way to get at some features that Options exposes, as well as to tweak the behaviour of the sensor. The M280 only has a DPI rating of 1000 and with the lack of any sensitivity adjustment on the mouse itself, this is the only way to get at it, even though the effect is more placebo than anything else.
The only visual indicator that you can click on the middle mouse button is that pale blue-green dot. Clicking it gives you an array of options to switch its functionality to, which includes an application switch shortcut. What this basically does is perform the ALT + TAB + TAB combo, bringing up the task switcher and moving to the next application. While neat, I’m hoping Logitech adds in functionality later for Windows 10 that will allow you to remap this button to serve as the switching button for the virtual desktops.
As usual, though, there’s no secondary long-press functionality on offer here, so you’re stuck with whatever you set the middle-mouse button to. There isn’t even a G-Shift option here that would allow such a thing, a feature that I wish Logitech would add in to all of their products, even retroactively. With the lack of buttons on the M280, giving you secondary functions for all the buttons when holding down the G-Shift key would be awesome. There’s probably a third-party application somewhere on the internet that does something like this already, but Logitech should consider putting it in by default.
The Point and Scroll tab gives us the sensitivity options we were hoping for, in addition to otions to adjust the scrolling behaviour. Smooth scrolling does something different to the option by the same name in your browser – it analyses the speed at which you’re scrolling and tries to predict if you’re going to go further up or down, and will tell the OS to keep scrolling when you’ve reached the end of your usable grip space and retract your finger for another round of scrolling. Its a neat little trick that sort of mimics the free-wheeling nature of some of Logitech’s more expensive mice, but its not a proper replacement for that.
The pointer speed option felt more like a placebo effect, as this seemed to be something set in Windows than in the mouse’s firmware. It mimics the behaviour of a sensor with a higher DPI ceiling, but its not an exact replacement. At least there are no dropped frames even over wireless, so the mouse usually didn’t lose its position when tracking reasonably fast movements.
Looking at the More Settings options, the Options software does seem to facilitate firmware upgrades, but there’s no way for the user to do this themselves. One useful reason to install Options, even if you’re not going to fiddle with anything else, is to receive the battery notifications when its time to swap out to a fresh battery. It wasn’t possible to see what these looked like, though, because… well, 18-month battery life and all that.
RAT-AT-AT-AT-AT-AT! “Don’t go into the middle of the map you idiot!”
During my time with the M280, I obviously played a fair amount of games. Wireless mice in the past suffered from issues with polling rates which would introduce judder to gameplay and I’m happy to report that I saw none of that in my testing. Since its revival under new mamagement, Hawken has found a new lease on life and the action-packed multiplayer arena shooter continues to bring a smile to my face when I manage to tow-rocket that bastard who sniped me from halfway across the map. Hawken’s achilles is that the mechs move around on the spot rather slowly, but after some touching up of the sensitivity settings in the game’s options, the M280 had almost as much fluidity as my GAMDIAS Zeus.
I say almost because there were times when it just didn’t feel fast or sensitive enough for the situation at hand. I’m certain that the polling rate is somewhere around 100MHz and for a fast-paced shooter, that’s not an easy workload for the M280. Most of the time it handles just fine, but I feel that it could be a much better experience if the ceiling was set at 2000 DPI instead.
Where the sensitivity became really apparent was Civilisation: Beyond Earth. Scrolling around the map, moving to select units and options wasn’t as quick and easy as I would have wanted and I can’t exactly fault the M280 on this – its not a gaming mouse after all. It can serve as one provided you spend time tweaking things properly, but that’s not what it was designed for.
The M280 fared much better in slower-paced titles like Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Snapping to different enemies on the map was accurate enough for my needs and with some sensitivity changes I ended up being pretty agile in heavy firefights. This was also the one place where I wished I could set the DPI lower, because making more accurate shots while sniping was a little difficult. Still, it managed to keep up pretty well and if I had to take this with me on trips where I only had the M280 to use on a gaming notebook, I’d be okay with the performance on hand.
Spank the Monkey is an entirely un-academic test of this mouse’s abilities, but I did it anyway. I’m sure I could go faster, but I’d need a bigger mouse mat.
So, we have this little blue mouse that did surprisingly well considering the price tag and the fact that it is wireless. A lot of people in my System Builders guide will usually go out and buy some of the most basic mice on the planet just to let them get things up and running – I would know, having suffered two years with a shitty 1600 DPI Prestigio laser mouse before the sensor started giving in on me. The M280 seems to offer a lot of bang for the buck and as far as battery life concerns go, its in another league entirely. I very much doubt anyone is going to find fault with eighteen months of battery life. Hell, I hear that Apple Watch users are grateful for even three days of continuous operation.
My gripes with the M280 lie in the buttons (or lack thereof) and the software, which could stand to unlocked some extra functionality for power users. Having no thumb buttons makes web browsing a little more of a chore than usual and if there was G-Shift functionality, there would be the possibility of having those thumb buttons serve different functions in different applications. Not having any sensitivity adjustment was also a bummer, though given the 1000 DPI sensor it would have been a waste.
As for the software, I still wish that Logitech would implement a long-press sort of feature that would sort out a lot of grips users may have with button assignments, or having not enough buttons on their mice. I’ve been spoiled to have this functionality with my GAMDIAS Zeus and other mice vendors need to take a leaf out of GAMDIAS’ book while looking at the Hera software.
Overall, though, there’s not much to complain about. The Logitech M280 is a solid mouse for the money you’re paying for it. Its good-looking and compact. It is well built and the surface finishes are guaranteed to last quite a long time. Its not a gaming mouse, nor is it currently geared to power users. Its just a simple workhorse for the home office or students and in that regard, Logitech succeeded.