Does either of them help make Windows 8 better on your desktop?
Microsoft recently released Windows 8 which took the aging OS into a whole new direction. The modern UI works quite well with touch based devices, however, if you are stuck to an older desktop, the swiping and gesturing becomes quite tiresome. With laptops, Microsoft has implemented some of this functionality through a trackpad but almost everyone working on a desktop uses a mouse. So what we have with us today are mice from Logitech and Microsoft that are looking to solve this issue and help make the transition to Windows 8 a little easier.
From Microsoft, I received the Bluetooth based Sculpt Touch mouse which is targeted more as a portable mouse with its smallish size. While the Sculpt Touch mouse is small to carry, it is a bit heavier side. There is no Bluetooth dongle included in the packaging so you’ll either need to make sure that your computer is equipped with Bluetooth or purchase a dongle separately. To set up the Mouse, you need a mouse to add it as a Bluetooth device which is a bit strange.
The Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse has two buttons on top and a touch enabled strip between them that acts like your scroll wheel. Sliding your finger over this strip allows you to scroll horizontally or vertically between documents and web pages. Unfortunately, you don’t get that butter smooth scrolling effect that you get with Mac OS X or the natural inertia that makes using it more realistic. The lack of side buttons can also be looked at as a disadvantage for uses like me that have the side button as assigned as a “Back” button.
For customizing the mouse to your liking the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard app allows you to individually assign buttons based on the app you are using. Considering that left and right mouse buttons are pretty much universal, you really only have the center strip button for any added functionality.
Coming to the Logitech t620, this is an update for the t600 that we had previously looked at. The new version adds support for Microsoft Windows 8 and comes bundled with the unifying receiver that lets you use one USB dongle for multiple Logitech devices and a carrying pouch. The t620 is slightly larger than the Sculpt Touch mouse but I preferred that as it allows my hand to sit more nicely on it.
Setting up the t620 was extremely easy. All I needed to do was plug the unifying receiver, add batteries to the mouse and switch the on/off button. A little windows popped up asking me to download and install the software and before I knew it, everything was all set and ready to work.
The entire surface of the t620 acts as a touch capable surface and recognizes gestures. You can slide your finger on the mouse for scrolling in any direction and while it works better than the Sculpt Mouse, it is still not as smooth as Mac OS X. You can also double tap the surface to bring up the Start screen or swipe from the left or right sides to bring up the multitasking or Charms bar. However the curved surface of the mouse prevents this experience from being as smooth as you would like it to be and many times I had to repeat the gestures to bring the charms bar or the task switcher. Also the mouse buttons aren’t as pronounced at Microsoft’s Sculpt Mouse making clicks a bit less clicky.
The software that Logitech bundles with the t620 works well and allows you to set what gestures and swipes do. For example, you can have the mouse set to bring up your desktop from a swipe which is certainly appreciated for folks that prefer living on the desktop instead of the start screen. Sadly an option to reverse the scrolling gestures is missing which would allow for a more natural tablet like flick.
Unfortunately neither of these rodents helped make my Windows 8 experience as nice as a touch screen does. The scrolling felt unnatural with both of these and while the swipes help get to things faster on the Logitech, getting them registered successfully is a hit-or-miss affair.