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NuLOOQ navigator

Review - NuLOOQ navigator

by , 9:00 AM EST, December 7th, 2006

Where do you start with the NuLOOQ? It is an input device, but it's not a mouse. It can open documents, control the Adobe Creative Suite 2 applications, and execute keyboard shortcuts. But it's not a keyboard. No, it's far more. It is... NuLOOQ.

Logitech designed the NuLOOQ navigator to improve productivity in Photoshop CS2, InDesign CS2, and Illustrator CS2 by giving you an alternative to accessing tools and other commands from the keyboard. The unit is programmable, so you can change functions to suit your needs. It's not a replacement for your keyboard and mouse - it is a supplement.

You can customize the NuLOOQ navigator's settings.

The NuLOOQ navigator looks sort of like a little dome sitting on your desktop. It is comprised of a touch-sensitive dial on top that includes five programmable buttons, a jog dial that wraps around the central part of the unit's body, and a weighted base that keeps it from slipping on your desk.

The NuLOOQ navigator next to an iPod shuffle for size comparison.

The jog dial moves ever so slightly to the left or right, and you can nudging its sides, too. In applications like Adobe Photoshop CS2, it zooms in or out depending on which way you twist, and navigates around documents when you press the sides. But don't expect to make grand gestures while using the NuLOOQ: You get only about a millimeter of movement out of the jog dial. That's to help minimize your hand movement.

It's small enough for a cramped desk, but still comfortable in your hand.

On first glance the NuLOOQ navigator appears to be just another gimmicky add-on, but looks are deceiving. It actually improves your productivity in the Creative Suite applications by allowing you to keep one hand on your mouse most all the time. When it's time to select a new tool, or change a tool setting, the NuLOOQ navigator does that for you. No stopping to select a tool or type a keyboard command. That feature also lets you change brush settings on the fly. You can, for example, change the thickness of a line in mid-stroke.

The downside is that you use the NuLOOQ with you non-mousing hand. I am so dominantly left-handed that it took me some time to get my right hand to respond the way I needed it to. Your milage may vary, but at first the NuLOOQ felt clumsy in my weak hand.

But enough talk about the graphic design world. Does the NuLOOQ navigator work with other applications? Yes, indeed, it does. Some features, like changing your Mac's volume, are already there. Settings are included for several popular applications, but for others you will have to configure the unit yourself. Since configuration files are sharable, you can find some online. Logitech offers sets for Firefox, Garageband and Adobe Acrobat Professional 7 on its Web site. Final Cut Pro, iMovie, and iTunes sets are built-in. Safari even recognized the NuLOOQ and let me scroll through long Web pages.

Settings for several popular applications are included.

After singing the praises of this highly useful device, it breaks my heart to have to share my big disappointment. The NuLOOQ was originally available in two versions: NuLOOQ navigator, which shipped with the hardware and drivers, and NuLOOQ Professional, which also included the NuLOOQ tooldial application. Logitech has since discontinued NuLOOQ tooldial, leaving an empty place in my heart and on my Mac.

NuLOOQ tooldial displayed a dial-looking window whenever you typed a special keyboard command. Depending on what application was currently active, and how you configured the dial menus, you would have instant access to applications, files, folders, and application commands and tools. I found NuLOOQ tooldial to be a boon to my productivity, and I will miss it.

If you are ready to rush out and buy a NuLOOQ navigator, check first to make sure you meet the minimum system requirements. It requires a G4, G5 or Intel Mac, and Mac OS X 10.4.4 or higher. To use the NuLOOQ with Adobe applications, you must have Creative Suite 2 or individual CS2 applications.

The Bottom Line
Creative Suite 2 users are sure to get plenty of good use out of the NuLOOQ navigator, and with some configuration, any Mac user can see some productivity gains. Although originally designed for graphics pros, it is now a versatile tool for most any application, and it is already saving me from extra trips to the keyboard. The NuLOOQ navigator has changed how I use Adobe applications, and has been creeping into the rest of my Mac life as well.


Product: NuLOOQ navigator

Company: Logitech

List Price: $79.99

Amazon Price: $65.98

4 out of 5 stars

Pros: Requires minimal hand movement, great aid in Adobe apps, customizable.
Cons: Tough to adjust to weak-hand use, minimum requirements may scare some users off.

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