Turn your Tablet into a Tablet-Top with the Bluetooth mouse from Logitech.
When it comes to Apple products, I can imagine many may struggle with bipolar feelings. I have an iPad Pro 11” (1st Gen) and thanks to the Apple Smart Keyboard, I have enjoyed my Tablet-top. It has been responsive, it provided protection to the back of the case when open and the keyboard provides protection to the case when closed. Additionally, I have grown accustomed to using the screen as my pointer, when needed. We all know that Apple will release a slew of new products each year: iPads, MacBooks, iPhones, Apple Watch, Etc. So far, I have been on a 5 year MacBook cycle, annual iPhone Cycle, and a biannual to triennial iPad purchasing cycle. I have grown accustomed to the buyer’s remorse typical of my Apple lifestyle. Essentially, when I purchase something, a newer better device soon follows with better features. The Magic Keyboard from Apple is the most recent example of this frustrating phenomenon.
Despite the added benefits of the Apple Pencil/touch screen, sometimes I missed having a mouse/trackpad; even though the Smart Keyboard added functionality, it was not the same as my MacBook Pro without the trackpad. Instead of dropping $299/$349 for the new Apple keyboard/mouse combo [close to 50% of the price of a new iPad Pro 11” (2nd Gen) or roughly 1/3 of a new iPad Pro 12.9” (2nd Gen)], I considered adding a Bluetooth mouse to my smart keyboard. With the addition of iPadOS 13 and further improvement with iPadOS 13.4, mouse support gained function/support. With the iOS support in place, I was excited to learn about the inexpensive Logitech Pebble i345. The device arrived in a 3-inches wide by 4 5/8-inches tall by 1 1/4-inches thick clean-white package. The cover displayed the “Logitech Pebble i345” title along the top left, and listed the iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro model compatibilities. The main showcase of the cover was the visually appealing 3 1/2-inches long oblique image of the graphite pebble mouse with scroll wheel.
Evaluating the other sides of the packaging, I was pleased to find that the company chose to avoid over-complicating the product panels. The right side panel provided the product title, the top panel provided a clear product hanging tab upon a blank surface, and the bottom panel provided contact information and SKU barcodes. The left panel was quite a bit busier than the other panels listed above, showing images of the product contents (mouse/AA battery/instruction manual), detailed the 1-year limited warranty in English/French, and also provided some FCC compliance information. The back panel, similar to the cover, provided a classy image of the product. Taking up nearly 50% of the panel, the image of the black graphite mouse fit perfectly adjacent to the Tablet-keyboard combo. To complement the desk theme, I loved that they chose to include the marble countertop and the trendy cappuccino heart design. Beneath the image, Logitech included four icons detailing the slim and light design, the high precision optical tracking, 18-month battery life, and Bluetooth low energy technology. Along the bottom of the panel, you will find the same compatibility list as documented on the cover.
I removed the small piece of tape along the bottom of the panel and removed the mouse blister-pack, quick start guide, and safety pamphlet from the box. The 2.68-ounce, 4 1/4-inches tall by 2 3/8-inches wide by 3/4-inches thick mouse had a split click design and a central scroll/click wheel. The bottom of the mouse had two arcuate plasticized sliders, an on/off slider, a Bluetooth activation button, and the laser port. To activate the mouse, slide the on/off toggle to the “on” position. If you do not have the latest iOS update, you will repeatedly receive a “Pairing Unsuccessful: Pairing took too long. Make sure that the Pebble i345 is turned on, in range, and ready to pair.” I did not realize that my iPad iOS was not up to date and I spent approximately five minutes fiddling with the mouse. I held the little Bluetooth button and the blue LED flashed rapidly. I activated/deactivated my Bluetooth on my iPad Pro and after about a dozen failed attempts, I looked to the iOS. I updated my iOS to 13.4.1, turned the device on, pressed the little Bluetooth button and the Logitech Pebbile i345 paired flawlessly the first time.
Using a mouse with the iPad proved to be quite the novelty for the first few minutes. As you move the mouse around your home screen, you will see a little grey dot. Similar to the trackpad, if you lose this dot, move the mouse around quickly and you will see a larger arrow. Normally from the home screen, I could use the touch screen to swipe left/right to get to new screens. With the Pebble i345 I was not able to move screens in that manner. I found that I needed to touch the little circles along the bottom of the screen to transition between screens. One of the features that I use frequently on my MacBook is the ability to drag to the home screen. This feature was not present with the iPad and was more of a difference in iOS and thus I did not truly feel it to detract from the Pebble mouse. Within an App like pages, as you move the mouse around, you will see a grey vertical line. If you pause long enough, the grey line will vanish until you awaken the Pebble again. Move the cursor to your desired location and select your option. Choose from one of the items within a toolbar, open/close a file/picture, start/stop music, and click-drag and edit within apps. Many of the features that required finger/screen contact were compatible and enhanced by mouse functionality.
I loved the sleek rounded edges, the graphite color, the click feel of the buttons, the clicking of the scroll wheel, and the middle click button. Initially, I was concerned for the left-handed mouse users, but I did find the ability to adjust the button mapping. If you navigate to Settings, to Accessibility, then to Pointer Control, you can adjust several of the settings of the Pebble: contrast, pointer size, pointer animations, and scrolling speed. I turned the scrolling speed to 75% and noted a significant boost to the scroll wheel utility. For additional control options, select the blue “AssistiveTouch Settings” icon along the bottom of the panel. Tapping Pebble i345, you can customize the button options. I set the left button to single click, the right button to secondary click, and the middle button to home. In total, there appeared to be thirty-eight different options to select from. This process can allow you to change the mouse from left-handed to right-handed; adjust the right button to single click and the left button to a special/secondary click. With so many options, you can customize the device to add extra quick buttons. For example, you can imagine making the left click a scroll to the top option and the right click to a scroll to the bottom option. Or, if you ware watching a movie, you could make the left button to volume up and the right button to volume down. With three buttons at your disposal, you can add Siri functionality to the middle button, or you can add other options to enhance your productivity.
The lightweight portable Pebble i345 is a steal at $29.99. The more I played around with the button configurations, the more reasons I found to tote the Pebble with me. Without the option to change the buttons, I might agree with those who say “why do I need a this device?” However, the added utility to change just the middle button to “hold and drag,” Siri, Screenshot, etc. would make the sale. I kept returning to home and App Switcher as my favorite options for the middle button. Perhaps with future iOS upgrades and tech upgrades from Logitech, we will gain the ability to create quick swap button loadouts. Similar to the Apple Pencil, the Pebble i345 mouse added a layer of precision that my nubby imprecise fingers could not achieve. My only other wish for the Pebble i345 would have been a semi-rigid carrying case to throw into my Timbuk2 Command Messenger bag. Other than that, I struggled to find a negative for this device. When done, slide the toggle switch off to conserve the 18-month battery, place it into your bag and carry it along. I have not yet used it for any gaming purposes, but look forward to testing the limits of the device.