iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






CeBIT 2002: Logitech

Logitech, being one of the leaders in production of high-quality computer peripherals (mice, trackballs, game simulators), made a very interesting exposition. But taking into account that not everyone could get to CeBIT Logitech, Alion and TDK organized a presentation in Moscow on March 26. Brendan MacFerran, Sales Manager in European countries and Katarina Tarmann-Droscher, Sales Manager in Eastern Europe, had the floor.

Logitech produced already more than 10,000,000 wireless mice, 3,000,000 internet-cameras, a great deal of joysticks and keyboards. In the fiscal year 2001 its retail turn-over increased by 34 %. Alion, a distributorship, is a strategic partner of Logitech in Russia and takes the largest part among Russian distributors - 46 %. The February shows that Alion is the largest distributor of Logitech in the Eastern Europe and it takes 19% of the Eastern European market.

Despite its solid age Logitech is developing dynamically. The sales volumes keep on increasing, but the company is not going to stop and plans on expanding its sphere.

As I was able to take a look at the Logitech's products at CeBIT 2002, I will focus exactly on this trade shaw, though I also had an excellent opportunity to try new devices given by Alion and Logitech in Moscow.

Let me give you a bit of statistics which allows us to find out more about Logitech and track the tendencies of the computer peripheral market.

Quantity of sold Logitech wireless products

Sale growth for wireless and video devices

The attention both in Hannover and in Moscow was attracted to the new Logitech's product with the Bluetooth technology which serves as a presentation device and an optical mouse.

This is a Cordless Presenter - a device based on the Bluetooth technology and meant to control presentations from up to 30 ft. The Cordless Presenter comes with a USB receiver for notebooks which do not support the Bluetooth. The device has a built-in laser pointer. Turn its switch and it will become a wireless optical mouse. The Cordless Presenter is going to start selling in April 2002 at approximately $199.95.

The Cordless Presenter can easily move from one Microsoft PowerPoint presentation to another with the help of "forward" and "backward" buttons. The switch located below can activate the laser pointer which can be used to draw attention of the audience to the desired item. The integrated LED indicator shows the Bluetooth support and a battery status.

Chris Bull, the marketing manager for Logitech input equipment says that Logitech has a huge experience in development of wireless devices. In addition to the popular 27 MHz radio technology the company actively supports the Bluetooth. And they contribute into making the life free of wires and develop reliable solutions for wireless presentation devices. The Cordless Presenter with optical mouse functions is developed for professionals which travel much.

The Cordless Presenter has an attractive design, a blue case and a roundish shape. It fits hands excellently both of right-handers and left-handers. At default the left button allows moving forward, and the right one - backward; however, the Logitech MouseWare can help you change it. In the mouse mode the left button has the select function and the right one serves for displaying a context menu. In addition, there are two scrolling buttons. The receiver of the Cordless Presenter can be connected to a computer via a USB port and operates with Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Me and Windows XP. The Cordless Presenter uses Bluetooth Human Interface Device (HID) Profile .95 and is compatible with devices based on this profile. The USB receiver is a bridge for notebooks which do not support the HID .95. The device comes with a 5-year warranty.

Another interesting model is Cordless TrackMan Optical. It has a cruise control, a keyboard lock button, a darker than usual ball's color and a case pleasant by touch.

At CeBIT they also demonstrated the Z series of acoustic systems. This series includes three models: Z-560, Z-540 and Z-340, combines an effective performance with the patented Logitech technologies and looks very attractive for users in the high-end segment. These systems suit excellently for computer games, DVD playback and listening to CDs and MP3 music thanks to good power and a clear sound. The new design makes them look like a home theater.

The flagship of this series is Z-560 which is THX certified . This is a 5-piece acoustic system with the sound power of 400 W. The loudspeakers of 4 satellites have special fixed conic cores made of polished aluminum which provides excellent sound quality. Such devices are usually used in home hi-fi systems and rarely for PC solutions. The satellites have connectors for standard cables used usually in home systems, that is why users can make the cables as long as they want and place the speakers where they want.

The satellites have unique rotating supports so that they can be placed on a table or attached to a wall, and removable front panels without which the system looks more aggressive.

The Z-560 includes a powerful subwoofer with a possibility to adjust lows, it provides an ideally clear bass regardless of a volume level. Besides, the M3D Matrix technology provides 3D sound from a 2-channel source.

This acoustic system comes with the SoundTouch remote control which allows tuning the sound with regard to a location and a room. The remote control has separate controls for M3D, volume, feeder and bass. The Z-560 has an original design and explosive sound power and it will be available at about $300.

With the THX certificate of the Z-560 Logitech guarantees that the sound will be matchlessly clear and and powerful.

Mark Paddack, Director of Licensing, Lucasfilm THX Consumer Division, said they were very satisfied with the Logitech Z-560. All speakers that receive the THX certificate must correspond to very strict standards concerning the bandwidth, frequency balance, minimal distortion level in peak loads etc. The tests proved that the Z-560 system met all the requirements and it got the THX certificate.

According to Katarina Tarmann-Droscher the Z-560 speakers demonstrate a new performance level for PC acoustic systems at a moderate price. It gives an excellently clear reproduction of basses thanks to fine dynamic adjustment of low frequencies. They hope the speakers will become popular very soon with audiophiles.

THX technology

At the beginning of 1980s George Lucas studied carefully all aspects of production and distribution of movies and was unsatisfied with sound quality in most movie theaters. He noticed that all theaters differed from each other, but only few complied with high professional standards. In 1980 he established criteria for estimation of theater quality. His aim was to make sure that all his movies, as well as movies of other producers, were reproduced precisely to the audience for whom the sound quality was an important part in perception of a movie.

Three years later THX named after the first Lucas' movie "THX 1138" was developed, and THX systems were installed in two cinema theaters. Today over 2,000 theaters and studios in the world correspond to the THX requirements. As a further support of movie distribution in 1983 the TAP (Theatre Alignment Program) was developed for film creators and studios. The TAP is the most complete program which guarantees quality. It includes control of sound and image quality, distribution among theaters of technical film requirements and correct equipment adjustment, installation of the equipment in theaters and a free hot line so that theater managers can inform about technical problems.

In 1986 Lucasfilm started developing home THX audio systems. The development of the Home THX took 4 years. Today over 45 manufacturers of audio components for home theaters are THX licensed.

THX also certifies software for home theaters using the THX Digital Mastering program; it confirms that certain software for DVD, laser discs and VHS tapes provides the best image and sound quality thanks to the patented THX technology and quality examination.

Lucasfilm Ltd, located in California, is one of the leading world's production and entertainment companies. The list of "eternal" movies created by Lucasfilm includes such masterpieces as "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones". The movies of Lucasfilm got 16 Oscar awards in all and some more nominations of the Academy.

The Z-series includes 2 more models. Z-540 is a 5-piece system of 40 W. The system consists of a Logitech's subwoofer with a phase-inverter which makes sound richer and louder than usual subwoofers do thanks to excellent reproduction of lows. The Z-540 system, like its brothers in the Z-series, supports the M3D Matrix technology. Thus, users can get realistic 3D sound in DVD or in computer games even if their sound cards do not have the surround support. These speakers can be placed on your desk or hung on the wall.

The Z-340 is a 3-piece system of 32 W. It also includes a Logitech's subwoofer with a phase-inverter which provides the highest-quality sound. On of the satellites has a headphones jack.

Logitech is also moving towards new markets. And the next interesting things that attracted our attention were keyboards for PDA Palms.

In Hannover Logitech announced a new unique fabric keyboard which controls data input and is very convenient for owners of compact computers like Palm. The Logitech KeyCase keyboard is made of ElekTex fabric which makes the device very thin and allows protecting the computer from dust and water.

KeyCase releases you from using a stylus and on-screen buttons and provides quick access to frequently used Palm functions and to "select", "cut", "copy" and "paste" buttons. A highly sensitive scroller provides flawless navigation in the menu and long documents. The keyboard is ready to input data via the SmartMotion cradle. A user has to unfold the case, put the PDA upright and start working. The KeyCase with English, French and German layouts will be available in Europe starting from April 2002.

Denis Pavillard, Marketing Manager for Logitech Keyboards and Desktop Products says that this is a unique product; a firm water-repellent fabric case protects the PDA the best way while you are traveling. Then you unfolds it and it turns into a fabric keyboard for your PDA.

The KeyCase demonstrates the contribution of Logitech into development of peripherals for mobile computers using innovative technologies. They say they do their best to make our work and travels as comfortable as possible. The universal device combines two useful products created specially for businessmen for who mobility is very important.

The Logitech KeyCase is compatible with the Palm OS 4.1 and Palm OS 4.0 for Palm m125, Palm m500, Palm m505, Palm i705 and next models with a universal Palm connector. The software for the keyboard adjustment is compatible with Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 95 Windows 98, Windows Me and Windows XP, and with Macintosh OSs. The keyboard comes with a free beta version of the WordSmith, a popular text editor based on the Palm OS.

The ElekTex fabric from ElekSen is based on the technology which provides an interface between a user and an electronic device. The unique construction of the fabric estimates pressure in 3 axes - X, Y, Z where Z is force applied to the material 1 mm think. The ElekTex defines X and Y coordinates where pressure is applied and a Z coordinate, i.e. how great it is. The measurements are then transformed into digital signals which control the electronic device. Flexibility and a possibility to measure applied pressure are the best advantages of the ElekTex over other sensor technologies such as touch pad. Products based on the ElekTex are flexible, light, firm and elastic. The ElekTex is developed by ElekSen, a world's leader in the sphere of flexible and sensor surfaces.

Another keyboard solution is Logitech's TypeAway. It's also meant for Palm computers.

This is a pocket-size light folding aluminum keyboard. The device has tactile keys of normal size, and it is twice smaller and lighter than other folding keyboards for PDA.

The TypeAway keys are based on the scissor technology which is used in ultrathin notebooks. Convenient navigation keys provide fast access to frequently used functions of a mobile computer. The Logitech TypeAway is expected in the USA and Europe in April 2002 at $79.95.

Denis Pavillard states that today users of mobile computers are mostly interested in the data input ways which are as close to desktop conditions as possible; Logitech has a great experience is development of beautiful and convenient devices, and TypeAway keeps to the tradition.

The Logitech TypeAway is compatible with the Palm OS 4.1 and Palm OS 4.0 for Palm m125, Palm m500, Palm m505, Palm i705 and next models with a universal Palm connector. The software for the keyboard adjustment is compatible with Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 95 Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows XP and Macintosh OSs. The keyboard comes with a free beta version of the WordSmith.

Apart from the new devices the company showed off lots of mice, game pads, wheels and joysticks.

Next to each computer was a web camera.

Well, I wish good luck for Logitech, and I'm looking forward to the announced devices.

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