Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse: Apple Magic Mouse Replacement

Problems with the Apple Magic Mouse

I had been using the stock Apple Magic Mouse on an iMac. The right click often didn’t work properly. Also, selecting and dragging files in Finder, or the Finder replacement I use (PathFinder) often failed. I figured the former was related to the mouse but assumed the latter was related to the OS. That turns out to not be the case.

The Magic Mouse will run on any AA batteries but if you don’t want to change the batteries a lot and have other problems, you need to use super-duper electronic device batteries. I think I was spending at least $50 a year on batteries. That Magic Mouse is a great piece of design and innovated in being a device that could handle gestures as well as act like a normal mouse.

But eventually my Magic Mouse started to get old, started burning through batteries more quickly, and most importantly, started disconnecting or otherwise giving problems. No big deal, mice get old and die. Time to get a new one.

In considering replacing it with a new Magic Mouse, I looked into alternatives and found the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse t631 (not to be confused with the t630). It is explicitly a replacement for the Magic Mouse, but officially also runs on a Windows machine. Checking further, I also found, as is the case with so many devices including those made by Logitech, that it also works on a Linux machine, though the manufacturer does not support it.

Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse t631

Knowing that the mouse works on Linux and knowing that I needed a new mouse for my Linux laptop anyway, I went ahead and bought the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631 for Mac (for somwhere south of $60, which I think is cheaper than a new Magic Mouse).

The problem I had with double clicking is gone. So, too, is the problem I had with selecting files. Had I known that was the mouse, I would have gotten a new mouse a long time ago (I doubt this is a Magic Mouse problem, probably something wrong with my specific mouse from the get-go).

The Logitech mouse will not be liked by everyone. When I first started using the Magic Mouse I found the touch was way to sensitive. But in short order I got used to that. People who like the fact that the Magic Mouse has a hair trigger on the click may be annoyed by the fact that you have to push harder to click with the Logitech Ultrathin. Personally, I’m fine with that and probably prefer it.

The Logitech Ultrathin is, well, ultra thin, and generally, much smaller than the Magic Mouse (but about the same width, which is important for gestures). Given Apple’s trend towards extreme smallness, this should actually excite Apple Ecosystem denizens. For me, again, the smallness is fine. Personally, I prefer to move back and forth between mice of very different sizes, shapes, and overall feel as I move between computers. That is probably just a quirk of mine but I think not ensuring that my hands are always configured in the same exact way no matter what reduces muscle and joint fatigue, decreased the chance of carpel tunnel syndrome, etc.

The mouse has all the usual gestures. Oddly, even though the Logitech Ultrathin is designed as a Magic Mouse replacement, it has several gesture features that don’t apply to the Mac, but do work with Windows to do various things. For example, there is a left and right edge swipe. It also has an app espose gesture that works on the Mac. The gestures are highly configurable and can be disabled.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 9.22.25 AM

Seeing this extra gesture functionality makes me want to try it out on Linux sooner than later. Note, for example, that the Logitech Ultrathin has a middle click. Yay for the middle click! (This especially applies to emacs users.) Again, I’ve not tried it out yet, but I’m sure it will work on Linux with a little tweaking.

The Logitech Ultrathin is a Bluetooth mouse, so your device is going to have to be a bluetooth device. Also, it has a button on the bottom that effectively changes the mouse’s identity, so you can pair one identity with one computer, the other with a different computer. This allows you to easily switch between two computers. All the literature with the mouse talks about doing this with two different Macs, but I don’t know why that wouldn’t work in general. I’ve not tried to pair it with my android phone yet… or an iPad … We’ll see.

ultrathin-touch-mouse-t631 (1)

The mouse runs off an internal rechargeable battery, so that 50 bucks a year I’m spending on batteries for the Magic Mouse paid for the Logitech Ultrathin, assuming it lasts just over a year. It has a fast charge, so one minute of charge is said to produce one hour of use-juice. The company says that one and a half hour of charge gives you about ten days of use. So, remembering to plug it in all night now and then will do it. Which, of course, I won’t remember, but it is a nice thought.

There is a design flaw, in my opinion, that I want to mention. You plug the charge cord, a micro-USB (which is highly convenient) into the bottom of the mouse. So you can’t use it while it is charging. I’d rather have the mouse hook up to the charger and still be usable, even if it has a cable hanging off it, for those moments when I have to keep working but forgot to charge it. I’m not sure why they made it this way.

And another thing, one of those strange quirks of the Magic Mouse, now solved. For reasons I did not understand at the time, Google Maps were useless on my iMac. When trying to navigate (using the mouse) by dragging the map, the zoom mode would activate and the map would start growing and shrinking rapidly and randomly. I’d be looking at the distance between my hope and my son’s new grade school, and suddenly I was comparing the distance between Coon Rapids, Minnesota and Bognor Regis, England. With the new mouse, that does not happen. So that is yet another quirk that was the Magic Mouse’s fault, now solved.

The mouse does not require installing configuration software but you will probably regret not doing so. So do that. Easily done on a Mac, and it works. If I experiment with Linux, I’ll write something up on what esoteric command line magic you will need to make the mouse sing on that OS.

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When trying to navigate (using the mouse) by dragging the map, the zoom mode would activate and the map would start growing and shrinking rapidly and randomly.

You aren't the only one - happens here too. Will be checking out the Logitech.

Been using a Microsoft USB mouse for years on both IMACs. Works fine with nary a glitch in all that time. Comes with software that enables scroll and right button functions and works with all versions of OSx.

By colnago80 (not verified) on 09 Jul 2015 #permalink

Hmmm, I've not once had any of the issues that you describe with your Magic Mouse. I have been mightily impressed with mine, including with the battery usage - between myself doing work and my kids doing lessons it gets about 6-8 hours of use per day, and the batteries last 4-6 months per charge. I'm agog at the thought of paying $50 for a year's worth of one mouse operation - that's enough for a new charger and a few dozen rechargables to power everything I have, with spares at the ready!

When my mouse carks it though I might have a look at the Logitech. I like to swing, if for no other reason than for the change in ergonomics - it's good for the brain! I use my left hand for mousing now as much as my right, and it's translated to a lot of other useful ambidextrousness. I'm curious to see how the Logitech would work.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 09 Jul 2015 #permalink

I've been using my old PC two-button with scroller wheel in the middle mouse on my Mac forever. I got tennis elbow (bad) from the newer wireless ones, so went back to the older bigger version. Only downside, it has to be plugged in.

Works great and does everything. Much better than any Mac mouse I've ever seen, and my elbow's fine.

I love the right mouse button option. Steve Jobs was obsessed with not providing choices, but this is way better.

By Susan Anderson (not verified) on 12 Jul 2015 #permalink

Susan, it's possible to get wireless two button mice with scroll wheels. I had a Logitech one before my Magic Mouse, and I loved it except that it was starting to give me a tingling carpal tunnel (the wheel was the cause, I think) - the MM does not.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 12 Jul 2015 #permalink

BJ: exactly. Luckily I hadn't yet disposed of the old one, and it's a case of don't fix it if it ain't broke.

So for anyone still paying attention, a strong suggestion that if you start to have elbow or wrist trouble, consider getting a bigger old-fashioned style mouse or something else. They don't seem to care any more if you are in acute pain, as long as it's "sexy" enough to get people to buy it.

By Susan Anderson (not verified) on 13 Jul 2015 #permalink