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Logitech does it all

Logitech makes arguably some of the best third-party accessories available for computers, cell phones, audio, video and gaming. They have been around for ages, and for as many products you know they sell, I’m sure there are a handful that you don’t—for instance, this green screen. Over the years I’ve tested or used regularly many Logitech products, and often struggle to find significant fault…and this review of the MX Master Keys and MX Master 3 for Mac is no exception.

It’s like getting all of your presents on Christmas Eve, and knowing you can’t open them

The MX Master 3 mouse and MX Keys keyboard form Logitech were released in the fall of 2019, and in that time I’ve been watching, waiting and wanting. A generous Christmas bonus was enough to encourage me to indulge, as the pair of devices costs $200 before tax without any sales. I also recently discovered same-day delivery from Best Buy, which is a wonderful thing when you’re in a pinch (or if you have an itch you need to scratch quickly). Such was the case for this purchase of the MX Master 3 and MX Keys (both the “for Mac” edition).

As a quick side note and short peak behind the curtain, same-day delivery is only awesome if you can tear into your new products actually on the same day. Reviewing products that I receive at no cost as well as products that I buy with my own money (and intend to use on some regular basis) is a bit of a double-edged sword because the best photos of those products will always come when the device first comes out of the box. I put a decent amount of effort into capturing a good array of angles on both the packaging and the device for the sake of the reader, and while my photo taking and editing skills are hardly better than amateur, it’s still the first part of my review process and as a result sometimes delays that gratification (especially the “same-day” variety).

Hey there, good lookin’

I remember a time when premium unboxing experiences were the norm—sought after situations that could be as exciting as, or even more exciting than, the product itself. Lately, though, unboxing has taken an eco-friendly turn, which creates a new challenge for manufacturers who aim to deliver a solid unboxing experience while minimizing environmental impact. As a generally conservative person I’m not sure how much this really moves me, but I can certainly see the upside of trying to be nicer to the environment on which we rely. Still, nothing quite replaces that high quality unboxing experience, but maybe that’s just one of those things that people will write about in future history books, a mere phase of our existence.

To that end, Logitech doesn’t give the buyer much excitement when it comes to unboxing the MX Keys and MX Master 3, which is tolerable, I suppose. It is a relatively simple experience, and the packaging as far from ugly as it is from premium.

The design language used with this latest iteration of Logitech peripherals is perfectly in line with their previous premium peripherals. The keyboard has low profile, chiclet-style quiet keys; it is a physically substantial device that is rigid and uses high-quality materials, and has keys with spherical indentations to match your fingertips. The MX Keys is not unlike the Craft Keyboard from Logitech, only without the top bit that makes that particular keyboard both expensive and a bit of a head-scratcher.

Meanwhile, the MX Master 3 looks like a slightly polished, modernized younger sibling to the MX Master 2S while still being quite a large mouse. The 3 has a textured surface much like the 2S did, but that texture is different, almost ‘grippier’ in some sense. And despite its large size, it somehow feels smaller and more compact than the 2S does. This comes with a bit of good and bad—the good being a similar comfort level but smaller footprint; at the same time, if you are a big fan of just how big the MX Master 2S is, there is a noticeable enough difference that might leave you feeling like you’re missing out.

The MX Master 2S (front) and the MX Master 3 for Mac (back)

A minimalist keyboard with a trick up its sleeve…

The keyboard employs automatically activating AND adjusting backlighting: as your hands approach the keyboard the backlight engages, and that lighting will be adjusted according to the room’s ambient lighting. The adjustment of that lighting undoubtedly has a positive impact on the keyboard’s battery life, which I found to be sorely needed after spending some time with the Logitech Craft keyboard over the last couple of years.

Between the MacBook Pro, iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard Cover and Apple Magic keyboard, I am perfectly accustomed to (and rather enjoy) a flat keyboard experience. The MX Master Keys keyboard is very much aimed at minimalist buyers, so it is no surprise that it comes without any sort of pitch adjustment. This works great for me, but I think the omission of a mechanism to raise the back side of the keyboard may leave some buyers feeling left out.

The best just got better

The MX Master 3 is hands down (see what I did there?) the best general use mouse experience you can find, provided you like larger mice. And arguably the best feature of this mouse (along with a few other offerings from Logitech) is the scroll wheel which automatically switches between hyper-fast and precise scrolling based upon the speed the wheel moves. This is achieved through electromagnets and is almost entirely silent during use. It isn’t often that I find myself needing to scroll down a couple thousand lines at a time, but if ever I need to, the option is there—and it’s very comfortable. Keep this in mind if you are a programmer or hard-core Microsoft Excel user; there really is nothing like it.

The mouse has buttons in several places—the typical left and right click, forward and back at the side of the thumb, a gesture button under the base of the thumb, and a button just below the index and middle fingers nearer to your palm. Each of these buttons is customizable in the Logi Options software.

Logitech strikes a good balance with the button count on the MX Master 3, providing plenty to help increase efficiency but not too many so as to leave the user confused or stumbling. Within the Options software, customizations per application are available that really dial things up a notch. Personally, I love that the stereotypically named “forward/back” buttons in a browser are automatically set to “undo/redo” in the apps of the Microsoft Office suite, and are used to toggle video and audio in Microsoft Teams. And if you don’t like those choices, you can re-program them to visually any command available through menu or keyboard shortcut, and do so on a per-app basis.

For instance, the button that primarily controls the scroll setting of the scroll wheel is easily reprogrammed to Cmd-Shift-4 and gives me the capability to capture screenshots with only one hand. Between existing Mac keyboard shortcuts, and the ability to create custom keyboard shortcuts within specific applications built right into macOS, the applications with the programmability of the Logitech Mouse and Keyboard are virtually endless.

Standard fare

“Feature rich” is a term I’d use to describe many of Logitech’s products, as is the case for the Keys and 3. Switching between multiple devices is relatively straight-forward thanks to dedicated buttons on both the keyboard and the mouse. On the mouse it takes a bit more effort and requires access to the bottom of the mouse, which I find to be somewhat annoying.

Logitech’s wildly popular Unifying Receiver is also compatible here, and still my preferred connection to my primary computer. Logitech is kind enough to include an additional dongle if you don’t have a couple dozen already lying around your house in drawers collecting dust, and I’m really looking forward to the day when slimline USB-Type-C dongles become the standard for applications like this. And speaking of USB-Type-C, both the MX Keys and the MX Master 3 charge via the modern connection.

Battery life

It is likely evident that I really enjoy these devices, and there really are few downsides to ownership. Historically, one of the significant annoyances for me (and at least a few other Logitech-loving friends of mine) when it comes to Logitech’s peripherals is poor battery life, and it is in this department that I am most curious about how these newer devices will fare.

And I say “will fare” because despite having these for a couple of weeks now and using them nearly daily, I’m not convinced. With the Logitech Craft Keyboard, battery performance seemed to decrease significantly over time, to the extent that I found myself charging the keyboard almost one per week. No, once per week isn’t that big of a deal, but it is certainly more frequent than I think should be necessary. I had a similar experience with the Logitech Ergo, a fantastic keyboard that had initially excellent battery life that decreased substantially over the first several weeks.

Given it is still early in my ownership of the MX Keys keyboard, I was delighted the other day when the MX Master 3 was the first device needing a recharge. Keep in mind I started using these straight out of the box and never gave them a full charge to begin with, and I don’t know what the charge level was upon receipt. Still, I’ve always found Logitech mouse batteries to last significantly longer than keyboard batteries (both chargeable kind and the replaceable kind), so this is possibly a positive sign (or something meaningless that I’m far too elated over).

In terms of advertised performance, Logitech claims the keyboard can last a full 5 months with backlighting disabled. This seems exaggerated to me, but I’m jaded by my previous experiences. The low end of that number (with the backlighting in use) is 10 days.

The MX Master 3 is advertised with lofty claims as well: 70 days of use on a full charge. In addition, you can get 3 hours of use from 1 minute of charge and 8 hours of use from 3 minutes of charge, however, the Keys keyboard doesn’t seem to have any quick charge promises.

Final thoughts

But how does it feel to use the Logitech MX Keys and Master 3? Well, there is likely little I can write to describe that in any objective manner, and you really should try it for yourself. If I had to describe it with a phrase, though: It’s good to be home.

I’ve been using Logitech’s peripherals for years, and have now owned and used regularly each generation of the MX Master mouse. My first generation MX Master has only been out of regular use for a little more than a year (I gave it to my brother when I got the 2S), and my 2S still works totally fine. In fact, I hesitated to purchase the 3 for as long as I did because the 2S provides such a great experience—but I’d be lying if I said that I have any buyer’s remorse.

I’m also excited that Logitech released a keyboard that can headline as well as the MX Master mice have. I can confidently say the third-party keyboards I’ve used in the last 10-15 years were Logitech branded more than any other brand, and it’s nice to put a Logitech keyboard on my desk that so nicely compliments Apple’s aesthetics.

The big pill to swallow here is the price tag, as each of these devices retail at $100. But, given your primary physical interaction with your computers is done via your hands, the devices under those hands are crucial to a good user experience. Logitech knows this, and that’s why they can sell their ‘flagship’ devices at the prices they do.

At the end of the day, though, there isn’t much here to disappoint. What’s even better, you don’t have to be a Mac user to get these awesome peripherals, as both the MX Keys and Master 3 are sold in versions that are non-Mac specific. I happen to be fully in Apple’s ecosystem so the Mac version works for me, but if you’re looking for a high quality, minimalist mouse and keyboard that look great, are ridiculously customizable and will last a long time—perhaps that search has come to an end.

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