Precise craftsmanship. Relentless refinement. The uncompromising pursuit of perfection. It's funny how all of these high aspirations can be condensed and expressed in the simple act of sanding down a block of wood. Throw in a nicely sharpened pencil and an earnest-looking designer, and you have the makings of basically every Apple or HTC design video ever made. Those tech companies have been following the example set by watchmakers, who have emphasized the artisanal, handcrafted nature of their products for decades.
One thing I hadn't yet seen, however, is a design story for a good old computer mouse. But here it is, the Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse, replete with its own genealogical narrative. Every design buzzword is present on the dedicated Crafting the MX Master website: it's a precision instrument that has been sculpted and honed by hand, with "the fine detail of every surface tuned to create a delightful and unique finished product."
You can't tell a design story without some hand-drawn sketches for authenticity
Logitech's eager embrace and promotion of design is in keeping with the broad trend of electronics companies appealing to more sophisticated consumer tastes. And yet, the devices that have received this kind of high-minded treatment so far have all related to a passion of some kind, whether it be music for Apple's EarPods or gaming for Alienware's Area-51. This MX mouse is a mundane pointer-moving object for the office, yet it comes with bronze accents and an attractive sprinkling of polygon art. It's got flair!
For Logitech, this MX model is also unusual in using a standard Bluetooth connection and removing the need for the company's Unifying USB dongle for wireless peripherals. You can still use the old method for wireless connectivity, but you probably won't feel the need with Bluetooth now being more energy-efficient than ever. The MX Master also has an extra scroll wheel under the thumb and a 1,000dpi laser sensor.
So yeah, it's a mouse.
The MX Master Wireless was designed by hand, but its manufacturing is done in the same conventional way as every other Logitech mouse. Its price is also not that luxurious, coming in at $99.99 in April. That's not stopping Logitech from promoting it like a truly high-end piece of precisely crafted design.
Putting design ahead of engineering is still atypical for the PC industry, which is more comfortable with deliberately technological and masculine designs that make a show of how their form follows their function. But times and tastes are clearly changing, and now even $99 gadgets are starting to speak to our yearning for artisanal, human design. It's not unreasonable to expect to see more mice and keyboards advertised in the style of premium watches and cars — where precise engineering is celebrated as a means to an end rather than a purpose in and of itself. It's a lesson that Apple learned long ago, and it's one that Logitech is now evidently taking on board. The peripherals maker is still selling gaming mice as if they were literally otherworldly objects made up of high specs and engineering, but it's now taking on a few tips from the likes of Rolex and BMW. Check out the videos below to get a sense of the contrast.