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Logitech NuLOOQ navigator

Date: February 13, 2007
Author(s): Jen McPherson

We are always on the look out for a tool that can help us work faster and more efficiently. Logitech’s NuLOOQ navigator promises a great deal of added functionality in a complimentary desktop tool, making it easier and more fun to use many applications. It’s not a mouse and certainly won’t take its place, you use it to compliment your mouse, NuLOOQ in one hand and your mouse in the other.



Introduction


NuLOOQ is a tool designed for creative applications, as well as basic applications, so just about anyone can use it. Yet it has specific uses in the design field, with applications such as the Adobe Creative Suite 2, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier Pro and more. Read on, and you’ll see the many uses of this neat yet strange little device. Graphic designers, desktop publishers, digital artists, art directors, photographers, web designers, illustrators and more would find use for the NuLOOQ.

Yet the biggest questions are, how does it work and how well does it work. Will it really make using tools easier and faster? Let’s take a closer look at the NuLOOQ and its variety of uses.

System Specs

System Specs

Adobe Creative Suite 2
Adobe Photoshop Elements 4
Adobe Bridge
Microsoft Word & Excel
Final Cut Pro (Macintosh only)
iMovie (Macintosh only)
Adobe Premiere Pro (Windows only)
iTunes
User configurable for virtually any application

Closer Look

Once I received the NuLOOQ I was quite interested in what I could do with it. The box listed all the functions of the tool as well as the system specs. Simple yet efficient packaging complimented the tool and housed it nicely, with no wiggling while inside. Opening the box you could see the NuLOOQ nestled in nicely under a formed plastic bubble, and underneath that held the documentation and driver disc.

I have to say first impressions were mixed when I saw the tool up close. It is certainly different and surprisingly heavy duty. The tool itself weighs in at one pound, so in combination with the rubber grip ring on the bottom it doesn’t slide around your desk easily.

Overall the NuLOOQ is about the size of a tennis ball cut in half. The outer gray ring is the navring, which allows you to scroll, pan and zoom. On the top are the tooltuner dial and the programmable trigger points. The tooltuner dial is the circular center that is touch sensitive, and can be used to control option values like opacity, flow, brush size, and so on. The trigger points are programmable values that you can assign short cuts to, like specific keystrokes, short cuts or special keys. I’ll get into their extended use the more we get into the review.



Installation

Because the NuLOOQ is a dual system tool, for both Mac and PC, they have drivers for both systems. However, when I initially went to load the drivers, the disc was specified for a Mac system. It was easy enough going to the Logitech website to download the PC driver for the tool, as most people would have to do if their driver disk didn’t work. It happens from time to time, you get a bad disc or the wrong version. My NuLOOQ was labeled with the Mac version, so I knew I would need to get the PC driver directly. No big problems there.

Hooking up the NuLOOQ was no issue. I was worried that the cord may be slightly short, and was skeptical when setting it up thinking it wouldn’t reach the area I wanted it to sit. But it did, which was a relief to me to say the least. The NuLOOQ was now up and running with no problems.

You do have to configure the NuLOOQ to your Photoshop, which will only take a few minutes. They tell you how to set it up when you run the program, so you have a shortcut to activate the navigator in Photoshop.

I didn’t initially start working with the NuLOOQ in the creative aspects, but rather tested its basic functions first, then went into the design tools. With the driver installed you should have a small icon in the corner of your task bar, which looks like the actual unit. Clicking on it you can open the navigator preferences pane, so you can customize how it works for you. The device will work right out of the box with default settings for Photoshop, illustrator and InDesign. You can export or import configurations, add/remove applications or restore defaults.

Using the basic default settings to start I went online and began using the NuLOOQ while I surfed. Basically you can scroll pages without having to use your scroll wheel on your mouse, just by pushing the navring on the NuLOOQ forward or pulling it backward. You can also pan over large images by again pushing forward, back, left or right. This motion takes very little movement, 1mm to be exact. If you have multiple tabs open on web pages you can flip through them as well with the navring by turning it to the right or left, again very little movement, exactly 4 degrees. Why such little movement? Logitech had performed some research and found that these small movements get the job done, with minimal effort. It makes it easy for anyone to use.

Even so, the small motions have a great function, for the twisting and turning of the navring are rate based. The more you move the ring the faster the operation pace. Actions continue until the ring is released or the function your working has reached its endpoint, such as zooming or page panning. All of this is accomplished through three LED illumination points and sensors that measure 1,000 points of resolution in multiple directions all at once.

During casual use I find that the minimal turns and twists are nice, and does exactly as it promises. Of course, the NuLOOQ does move on the desk slightly though, although the weight keeps it from going all over the place. The biggest issue is telling yourself you don’t need to turn it that hard or far to make it work.

One feature I really like is the toolturner dial. This part is the smooth, circular top of the NuLOOQ. This pad is touch sensitive that you activate in a clockwise and counter clockwise motion. For basic function you can use it to turn up the internal volume of your system. Since I have my speaker volume controller sitting relatively close to the NuLOOQ I am now able to turn up the speaker volume and control the internal volume of my system without having to go in manually to do it, or mess with volume on my keyboard. Just touch the toolturner anywhere and run your finger over it one direction or the other. On basic settings to turn the volume up you touch and move clockwise, and to turn down touch and turn counter clockwise. You can also hear a slight ‘clicking’ sound as you do it. Easy and amusing.



Further Look, Final Thoughts

However, the volume function only works while on your desktop or surfing the net, unless you otherwise specify. If your in a program it’ll take on the default functions for the program you running. While in MS Word, the turn dial would increase the size of text, and in Photoshop CS2 it would work in conjunction with the trigger points (specifically the static value control trigger) allowing you to increase brush size, opacity, hardness and more, just by simple motion. You could configure it to work that way with all applications, but that limits your uses for it.

Last but certainly not least are the programmable trigger points. These buttons are all given an icon, which are lit up blue when you turn your pc on. Now, this is where I got a bit stuck on their use, and took me a little while, but I figured out how to set them up to my own specifications. Using the preferences pane you can change the default settings to configure them for specific desktop use and also use them in conjunction with other programs, such as Firefox.

I have the buttons set up under All Applications so they are shortcuts to my most used applications, like MS Word, Winamp, Dreamweaver, and so on. Remember though, these shortcuts only work on the desktop or your specified applications, they aren’t universal unless you make them so. The buttons can be set up to open any program you want, or perform specific functions, such as stopping music, play, next song or mute. A pull down list shows you what programs you can configure your NuLOOQ for specifically, rather than just going with the system defaults.

Next are the pre-defined trigger points. These buttons cannot be changed in Photoshop CS2 on a Mac, and only the dynamic value triggerpoint (circle icon button) can be on a PC in Photoshop since that is a Mac only function. The top square shaped button, located at the 12 o’clock position, is the static value triggerpoint button. In Photoshop CS2 you can press this button to activate the NuLOOQ navigator box, which allows you to select from the specs of different tools.

When activated the icon lights up, and goes dark when off. Then, using the tooltuner dial with it, you can adjust those settings the way you want them. Brush sizes, opacity, hardness, feathering, tolerance and so on. It is really great being able to adjust your brush size without having to go in and manually do it.

I can’t really get into the dynamic value control button, since it is a Mac only function in Photoshop. But what it does allow for more tool usage for brushes, blur, sharpen, smudge, dodge and burn, possibly more. With this tool you can also adjust the tool options, like brush size, angle jitter, roundness jitter, scatter, opacity jitter and so on, while simultaneously using the mouse. If you were drawing with your mouse your stroke would be uninterrupted. For PC users this would be a disappointment, since they would only get to use the static value control, which won’t allow seamless transition.

Conclusions

At first I was skeptical, that the NuLOOQ was just another step you’d have to take in your overall work routine. After all, many of us already have our work habits, and hitting keyboard shortcuts is commonplace. Changing it seems awkward, and often at times feels like a chore, more work. I can’t say the NuLOOQ doesn’t have some of these aspects, for it isn’t something I would use constantly. Out of habit I found myself just punching the keyboard shortcuts, or scrolling with my mouse rather than using it for typical things.

Mainly its bonuses come into play with the creative programs it’s linked to. Yet I’m unsure if it is compatible with older versions of Photoshop, which can be a major drawback.

The look of the device can be deceiving, for when you first look at it you find yourself saying “how can I use that?” Yet it works, just like it says. I’m not exactly sure if it saves a great deal of time in overall work productivity, but it can be a useful item, and it is relatively easy to use. I had a few ‘what the heck’ moments, trying to figure out the preference pane and setting up the buttons, but overall I can’t complain.

In the end I it comes down to will you use it, and does it help a great deal. I’d like to say yes, but then I know honestly it’s iffy. I don’t find it that much more helpful than simple keyboard shortcuts, and when you use a tablet that pretty much gives you what you need at your finger tips. Perhaps if you used the tool often and for design aspects it would be of benefit, especially with the tool adjustments, but for common usage, not so much.

It is an interesting tool nonetheless, and offers a great deal of functionality in one small package. What I would like to have seen is the device offered in different colors, not so much vibrant ones, but black and gray would be a nice alternative to the white.

I give the NuLOOQ 6 out of 10.

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