Review: The Cordless Desktop S530 Laser for Mac by Logitech - Macenstein

Review: The Cordless Desktop S530 Laser for Mac by Logitech

Posted by Lab Rat

Due to a rather one-sided altercation between my 2-year-old son and my Apple pro keyboard, I recently found myself in the market for a new one (keyboard that is, not son). I knew from recent events that I wanted a wireless solution, as that seemed less likely to be swung on. I’ve been a fan of Logitech’s offerings in the past, and a co-worker had a PC version of one of their cordless desktops, so I figured (despite the horrible name) I would give their Mac version a chance.


Setup for the S530 was pretty simple. The S530 ships with software that installs Logitech’s “Control Center� System Preference pane, which allows you to customize the majority of the S530’s keyboard and mouse functions. Both the S530’s keyboard and mouse are wireless, requiring the use of an included USB mini receiver (so you must have an available USB port). Each device is battery powered (2 AA’s for the mouse, 2 AAA’s for the keyboard, included) and each unit has a battery indicator that will begin to flash when you are down to about 10 days of battery life left. Logitech claims with normal use you can go as much as 6 months before replacing.

After a quick “pairing� routine between the receiver and the devices, you are good to go.

The Keyboard

Logitech did a very nice job designing the S530’s keyboard, both in styling and ergonomics. The keyboard rests almost completely flat, rising less than 3�4 of an inch off the desktop. This, combined with a generously wide palm rest, make typing on the keyboard for extended periods of time almost enjoyable. As I approach the ancient age of 30 years old, it seems years of computer geekery have taken their toll on my wrist ligaments, so I appreciate a comfortable keyboard when I find one. The tactile response to the keys is also nice. The keys themselves are a bit shallower than the stock Apple keyboard, and a little quieter too.

It is obvious the design of the Mac version of the S530’s keyboard consisted of more than simply taking one of their PC offerings and slapping a “Command� key on it. The keyboard is white, like Apple’s offerings, but about 2 inches wider, and about 3 inches deeper. The palm rest, which runs nearly the width of the entire keyboard is brushed aluminum, nicely complimenting Apple’s line of pro displays. There is an additional aluminum accent along the top of the keyboard as well.

Designed with the Mac user in mind

The nice thing about designing a keyboard for Mac users is you have a pretty good idea what applications they are likely to have installed and want quick access to, namely, the iLife apps. To that end, Logitech has included a number of Mac-centric “hot keys� along either side of the keyboard, giving the user quick access to the most commonly used apps (such as iTunes and iPhoto). In addition to the standard “volume adjustment� and “eject� keys, there are buttons designed to open Mail, Safari, and Spotlight. Rounding out the hot keys are some iTunes-specific playback keys such as “play/pause�, “forward� and “rewind.�

Above: The various programmable “hot keys” on the S530’s keyboard. LEFT: Battery indicator, Power, Open Mail, Open Safari, Scroll up and Down, Back. RIGHT: Open Spotlight, Play/Pause, Skip Forward, Skip Back, Open iTunes, Open iPhoto, Volume Up, Down, and Mute.

If you are some sort of ultra-power users who eschews the “consumery� apps like iPhoto, don’t worry. Each key can be reprogrammed using Logitech’s “Control Center� System Pref to control any application. For example, I now have the “Open Home Page key� set to run an AppleScript that launches Fetch and connects to the Macenstein ftp site.

Pretty much the only quibble about the keyboard I can think of is there is no notification light for the “Caps Lock� key. I assume this is to conserve battery life, but I would take a couple week’s less battery in exchange for a little green LED.

The Mouse

The mouse for the S530 shares the keyboard’s white and brushed aluminum styling, and is solidly built, fitting comfortably in the hand. Well, MY hand at least. Mouse comfort is always a pretty subjective thing, but Logitech did not do anything too “out there� with the design. It’s a mouse.

Above: the S530 mouse, actual size (or pretty close)

I found the mouse’s tracking to be very accurate and smooth, and I was very impressed by the range of surfaces it can handle. Only on the most polished of surfaces (like a CD jewel case) did the laser ever lose its tracking, and I hardly ever use my mouse on a CD jewel case.

Like the S530 keyboard, the S530 mouse boasts a large number of buttons (a dizzying 8 in all!) which can all be programmed to perform tasks other than standard right- and left-clicking. I actually found I only needed to re-program one of the mouse’s buttons, as the rest are preprogrammed with fairly useful functions out of the box. There are buttons for “Volume Up�, “Volume Down�, and “Mute�, a “Forward� and “Back� button for web surfing, the standard “Right� and “Left� clicks, and finally the scroll wheel also serves as a button. And speaking of that scroll wheel, this is the first mouse I’ve owned whose wheel cannot only scroll up and down, but left to right as well. I have quickly become accustomed to this in such apps as iTunes, and now miss it when on my office computer. While the scroll wheel works silently, but does not scroll as smoothly as some wheels I have tested. All in all the S530 is a very nice mouse. I found the volume keys to be a bit too small to really get into, but I eventually became a big fan of the “Next� and “Back� buttons when surfing online.

Initially I was disappointed to find I could not program any of the S530’s buttons to work with Apple’s Exposé, a feature I use 100’s of times a day. On my current 3 button Microsoft mouse I have the scroll wheel button programmed to cause Exposé to show me all desktop windows. After an e-mail to Logitech I found there is a work around for this, and once in place, it works perfectly (I’ll post that solution in the comments for anyone who cares).

So that crisis averted, the only other qualms I have with the mouse are minor. First, like the S530 keyboard, everything about the mouse is controlled in the Logitech Control Center System Preference. Everything, that is, except the tracking speed of the mouse. For that you still need to go to the regular Apple Keyboard/Mouse panel. Also, I found that quite often the mouse’s tracking speed would be way too fast after a reboot, and require an adjustment.

Second, I found some of the behavior a bit inconsistent across some applications. For instance, the “Next� and “Back� buttons, work great in Safari, but will not take you back or forward in finder windows or in the iTunes Music store. Also, many buttons have useful features in some apps that you sort of have to just discover on your own. For instance, in QuickTime player, “Back� will cause the movie to start playing backwards, “Forward� will resume forward play, scrolling “up� and “down� scrolls through the movie, scrolling “left� and “right� adjusts volume. What I would like to see in a future version of the Logitech Control Center software would be the ability to program button functions for specific applications.


The Cordless Desktop S530 Laser for Mac is a solid and stylish wireless keyboard and mouse set loaded with many extras that should make it a strong contender for any Mac user in the market for such devices. As the two main links between you and your computer, the keyboard and mouse you choose should make the experience as painless as possible, both ergonomically and functionally. While somewhat gimmicky at first, the programmable buttons on both units soon grow on you, and eventually become second nature. The flexibility to reprogram these keys to suit your specific needs makes the S530 desktop a powerful tool.

The Cordless Desktop S530 Laser for Mac by Logitech

Price: $99

Rating: 8.7 out of 10

Pros (keyboard): Good looking, low profile ergonomics, programmable keys and buttons provide limitless opportunities to streamline workflow, great battery life.

Pros (Mouse): Stylish, accurate, 8 programmable buttons, side-scrolling scroll wheel, great battery life.

Cons (Keyboard): None significant

Cons (Mouse): Some inconsistent button functionality across applications, mouse speed is adjusted outside of the Logitech Preference pane.

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