Logitech MX Master 3 and MX Keys, hands on: Logitech reinvents the (mouse) wheel

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It's been more than two years since we reviewed the Logitech MX Master 2S, a rather expensive mouse that offered a number of features with appeal for business users -- especially those who work on more than one computer. The reason that it's taken Logitech so long to come up with the new MX Master 3 is that it has, quite literally, been reinventing the wheel for this latest model. Along with the new design of the MX Master 3 mouse, there's now a companion keyboard, in the form of the slimline MX Keys.

Both devices cost £83.33 (ex. VAT; £99.99 inc. VAT, or $99.99), and UK customers can also buy the MX Keys with a separate wrist-pad for £91.66 (ex. VAT; £109.99 inc. VAT), although that option doesn't seem to be available on Logitech's US website at the moment. 

Alternatively, you can buy a 'combo' pack with mouse, keyboard and wrist-pad for £166.65 (ex. VAT; £199.98 inc. VAT, or $199.98). That's a lot of money for a mouse and keyboard, so the MX devices need to work hard to earn their keep.

Design & features

The design of the MX Master 3 mouse has changed significantly, including a new 'magspeed' scrolling wheel that uses an electro-magnetic mechanism to provide fast, smooth and virtually silent scrolling. The scrolling speed accelerates as you continue to scroll through a long document or web page, and according to Logitech you can flick the wheel with your finger and scroll through 1,000 lines of code in one second.

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The MX Master 3 uses a redesigned 'magspeed' scrolling wheel, but is still for right-handers only.

Image: Logitech

If you prefer a more precise style of scrolling, there's a button just behind the wheel that allows you to switch into 'rachet' mode. This feels more like a traditional mechanical mouse wheel, with a more precise scrolling action that provides a definite 'click' feedback as the wheel turns. The horizontal-scrolling thumb wheel on the left edge of the mouse -- which we found too small on the Master 2S model -- is larger as well, and both mouse and keyboard now use a USB-C port for charging their internal battery. The only disappointment is that the mouse is still completely right-handed, so lefties need not apply.

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The battery in the MX Keys will last for up to five months.

Image: Logitech

The MX Keys is a new addition to the MX range, and adopts a slimline, low-profile design similar to that of Apple's Magic keyboard -- albeit in a shade of dark grey, rather than the silver-and-white favoured by Apple. It's a full-size keyboard, with a numeric keypad and a row of Function keys, and the one-piece metal plate that forms the body of the keyboard feels rather more sturdy than its Apple rival. The low-profile design means that the keys don't have that much 'travel', but the overall solidity of the design means that you can type up a storm when you need to. 

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Battery life for the MX Keys is five months if the backlight isn't used too often, while the mouse should last for 70 days.

Quick Keys

Like the MX mice, the keyboard can be programmed with a variety of shortcuts and commands, using Logitech's Options software, which is available for both Macs and Windows PCs. You can also pair both mouse and keyboard with multiple computers, perhaps switching between a laptop and a desktop computer. You can even use the mouse to drag and drop files from one computer to another (although both computers need to be connected to the same network for this option to work).

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Settings for the MX Master 3 mouse.

Image: Cliff Joseph/ZDNet
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Shortcuts for the MX Keys keyboard.

Image: Cliff Joseph/ZDNet

Logitech is particularly targeting 'creatives' and coders with the new mouse and keyboard, with the Options app providing a series of profiles with predefined keyboard shortcuts and button functions for a wide range of software, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro, and Apple's Final Cut Pro. So while the price of the new MX mouse and keyboard might well make your IT manager look twice, they will prove particularly useful for power users who want quick shortcuts to speed up their work, and people who regularly switch between a laptop and desktop PC in the office.

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