New cursor tricks

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This mouse has legs-or at least a slick-turning wheel that sends it dashing through documents. Logitech yesterday unveiled its new MX Revolution mouse, which packs useful new functions onto the lowly pointing device.

More later about the wheel. Handier to me is a button on top of the mouse that pops up my favorite search engine. Highlight a word or phrase on a document or Webpage, click the search button, and another Webpage opens with search results.

The button's sure to save time, as much as I'm always heading for Google, MSN, or Answers.com. Maybe it's only minutes a day, but on deadline, minutes matter--and over time, they add up. The button is easy to find while staying out of the way of normal scrolling and clicking.

The free-turning wheel is for long documents, more a factor for others with tasks like crunching numbers on long spreadsheets. Spinning the scroll wheel sends the cursor into hypermotion, zooming through hundreds of pages in seconds.

I didn't have any extra-long docs, so I created a 500-page Word file. One strong wheel flick sent me nearly to the bottom. As the wheel slows, so does the cursor--it can take a couple of flicks to get through a long document.

Wait, there's more. A third wheel tucked into a side slot is for jumping between open windows. In early use, it seemed more awkward than the other functions and, frankly, overkill on this device. Finally, the scroll wheel can zoom you in and out of photos and documents. Whew.

The mousing fun comes at a steep price--$100 for the MX desktop version and $80 for a similarly talented VX laptop model. Both are wireless, and the desktop one has a built-in, rechargeable battery. Bonus: The desktop rodent is the most comfortable I've held, with a deeply sculpted slot for a right-handed thumb.

As usual in tech hype, "revolution" is an overstatement. But the MX Revolution is one cool mouse, even if the price is chilling.