It’s that time of the year where you just want to cuddle up in a nice, warm fleece throw and take a break from having to brave against the winter cold. You lie on the couch, or maybe in bed, and decide that you want to use your laptop to watch a movie, or maybe communicate with friends online. However, you want to stay wrapped up in your comfortable fleece throw. On top of that, you don’t like having to use a laptop’s touchpad and would rather use a mouse. Normally, using a mouse on anything other than a mouse pad or a desk is a difficult, if not impossible task. However, there is a solution, according to Logitech, who has released the M515 “Couch” Mouse. As the name implies, it’s supposed to work on your “sofa, jeans, living room carpet, coffee table and desk.” But does this mouse actually deliver on its promises, allowing for convenient usage all around the house?
The Logitech M515 Couch Mouse was ordered from Amazon and was shipped via UPS Ground, arriving four days after ordering. The box had no dents or other damages, and the mouse was protected with paper filling. The M515 comes in a shrink-wrap package that looks familiar, but the back contains an “Easy Open” tab that allows a customer to easily open the package without the need for scissors or other sharp tools, a welcome design feature. Along with the mouse itself, Logitech also gives the user a Unifying Receiver (a USB dongle that can be shared with up to five other Logitech accessories), two AA batteries, and a user manual. The manual contains the usual fare of listing the package contents, how to set up the mouse, and features (switch between free-scrolling and click-to-click scrolling, middle button, Internet back and forward buttons, etc.). An interesting note within the manual points out that the Internet back/forward feature is not supported in OSX.
Logitech also provides a three-year limited hardware warranty for the M515, so users can rest assured that Logitech has confidence in this mouse lasting through years of service.
Immediately after unboxing this mouse, I noticed that the middle click was located in an odd place. Instead of clicking down on the scroll wheel, a user has to hold down the button behind the scroll wheel in order to activate the middle click. The Couch Mouse is heavier than the standard mobile mouse, weighing in at 131.5 grams total, about as much as a normal desktop mouse. The major difference between this mouse and any other mice currently on the market is the smooth bottom. Whereas most mice have a rather large dimple where the laser or optical sensor is located, the M515 has a panel of plastic protecting the sensor; this allows for the M515 to be used on what are normally unusable surfaces for mice. This panel protects the sensor from material such as lint, pet hair, or anything else that could block the sensor.
One problem I encountered when using this mouse is that it comes with sensors built into the body of the mouse to detect the difference between a user’s hand controlling the mouse, and the mouse moving on its own (say, when it’s falling to the side of your throw). While this does prevent unwanted cursor movements, it only allows the mouse to function when the user holds it properly. Claw grippers need not apply; holding the M515 in this fashion is a hit-and-miss, depending on where exactly the fingers are located. Not only does this prevent the user from moving the cursor while using a claw grip, but when the mouse doesn’t detect a hand it will shut down all functions; left- and right-click as well as scrolling won’t work. While there is a way to disable this function in the SetPoint software, it would defeat part of the purpose of using this mouse off of a desktop. Palm-grippers will have no issue using this mouse with the detection feature enabled.
A big advantage of the M515 that is becoming less common in mice across the board is that the Couch Mouse is fully ambidextrous. While not an advertised feature (as per the M515’s Amazon page), I’d imagine that this is a welcomed feature for left-handed computer users. The left and right click buttons can be swapped in the SetPoint software provided by Logitech.
Another feature is that the mouse buttons have the potential to be re-programmed when a user downloads and runs Logitech’s SetPoint software. Installation of this optional piece of software was easy: download it from Logitech’s website, install (I used the Express Install), reboot, and run. SetPoint not only allows the user to switch the left and right click, but the other three buttons present on the mouse (left and right tilt on the scroll wheel and the middle click button) are fully-customizable, a feature usually only found on high-end gaming mice such as the G9x. Other features found in the SetPoint software include adjustable pointer speed (suggesting that the DPI on this laser mouse is variable), scrolling size (1 line, 3 lines, 6 lines, or screen size), battery life tracker (it quotes 730 days of use for the batteries included), enable/disable mouse acceleration, and customizable button assignments for individual applications.
Logitech also likes to point out that the M515 has what it calls a “Hyper-Fast Scroll Wheel.” What this means in layman’s terms is that the mouse’s scroll wheel has two modes of operation: the typical click-by-click scrolling found in a lot of mice, and a frictionless mode where the momentum carries on until either the user stops it with his or her finger, or until it has scrolled through hundreds if not thousands of pages of content. This allows the M515 to have the best of both worlds, so to speak. Use the click-by-click mode in order to accurately look through page by page on screen, or the Hyper-Fast mode to zoom through page after page of (assumingly uninteresting) content. To switch between modes, users press the scroll wheel down. For those that use middle click a lot in their computer usage and would rather have that feature in the scroll wheel instead of the button behind it, there is no way to assign said function to the scroll wheel since the “Hyper-Fast” switch is mechanical in nature and cannot be changed in software.
All of the above design features alone would have made the M515 a good mouse. However, this mouse is advertised to work wherever you want to work, be it the couch, a bed, maybe even the floor. So the million dollar question is: does the Couch Mouse deliver? My answer: yes, but with a few exceptions.
Bad news first: owners of (real or fake) leather furniture shouldn’t get their hopes up. When tested on a fake leather office chair and a (possibly, I’m not sure) real leather sofa, the mouse sadly does not work well. This is due to the plastic window covering the laser sensor; it tends to stick to the surface of the leather, thus ensuring that sliding the mouse is a pain. Don’t count on the M515 being able to track on a glass surface since it won’t work. If a user plans on using their mouse on a laminated surface without a mouse pad, the M515’s smooth plastic bottom doesn’t perform as well as normal mice. This is due to the Couch Mouse’s lack of slick padding under the mouse, which would allow for smooth gliding over hard surfaces.
Places the Logitech Couch Mouse M515 didn’t work well
Couch mouse on real leather chair
Couch mouse on fake leather arm rest
The Good news: Where the Couch Mouse really shines, however, is in its advertised advantage on fabrics. Testing it on my bed, on a fleece throw, and on clothing made of cotton and polyester (and blends containing the two), the M515 worked perfectly. Same goes for my wool pea coat covered in a bit of cat hair. Surfing the web comfortably in my office chair with my Clemson throw (go Tigers!) with this mouse was just as good as if I was using a desk and a mouse pad. There was no wild cursor jumping and the M515 didn’t miss a beat whenever I needed to click on this or that. If it gets too warm in the room and a fleece throw is out of the question, no problem! This mouse works just as well on jeans as any other fabric. Same story for a jacket hanging over the chair’s arm; it just works. The only caveat to this sort of mouse usage is that like any other mouse, the M515 prefers working on a relatively flat surface rather than a wrinkled blanket and such; the slight curvature of a person’s leg or a chair’s arm (assuming it’s wide enough) will suffice.
Places the Logitech Couch Mouse M515 did work well
Pea coat (with cat hair!)
Not only does the M515 work on the advertised surfaces, but the Unifying USB dongle allows the mouse to work at impressive ranges. Testing the mouse at range, I noticed that the mouse will work at forty feet and more when placed in a hallway. On top of that, the mouse can still control the cursor even through a two-inch-thick solid wood door, and through a concrete block wall. This isn’t too surprising since the Logitech Unifying hardware uses a 2.4GHz WiFi connect between the USB dongle and the mouse (or any other Logitech hardware with this feature). One example where this can come in handy would be when a user wishes to control a HTPC system that could be stored in an out-of-the-way closet or other location.
A long hallway enabled testing on the range of the M515, 40-feet was no problem
The Unifying Receiver is designed so that a user can leave the USB dongle plugged into the laptop 24/7. If a user decides not to do this, there is a compartment within the M515 where the dongle can be stored while the mouse is not in use.
Just as Logitech said, the M515 Couch Mouse definitely works on fabric surfaces. It will accurately track on both a mouse pad as well as on your leg. I would even bet that it would work on your pet as well; sadly, I do not have my cat with me to test this theory. Not only does it work on these surfaces, but it is also comfortable to use, since it’s about the same size as a normal desktop mouse (it’s the same length and only slightly less wide than my G9x with the Wide Load grip). At $20 to $25 on Amazon.com, the Logitech M515 couch Mouse makes for a great travel companion for the roaming laptop user. Just be sure to avoid leather and glass surfaces whenever possible.