Monday, February 7, 2011

My Pet Computer Mice

I always try to spare no expense when buying monitors, keyboards and mice but in the last few years it's been difficult to figure out which mouse to buy.

In the days of ball mice I tended to get a high-end Logitech mouse. I must admit that Logitech is my favorite brand-name for mice. I've had so many bad experiences with other mice that I just tend to ignore any other brand. That said, Microsoft occasionally makes a good mouse. The one major problem with Microsoft is they seem to have no common sense. Every time I use a Microsoft mouse I wonder what's gone wrong with the mouse wheel. Microsoft mice often don't have a clicky mouse wheel. Their mouse wheels are extremely smooth as if the mouse wheel was an analog device. There are many situations out there where you need that precise clicky control of the mouse wheel and for Microsoft to ignore this just makes me suspect their sanity.

On the other hand, Logitech does silly things with the mouse wheel as well. I have a Logitech MX Revolution mouse. Its mouse wheel is a mechanical marvel. It can either be a clicky style mouse wheel or smooth scrolling mouse wheel depending on how you configure it in the software. I'm not sure how exactly they do this but it's really cool. There's even a special mode where the mouse wheel will be clicky until spun fast enough where it'll become a free wheel and turn with no resistance whatsoever. As soon as the wheel stops spinning it becomes a clicky wheel again. This is extremely addictive behavior. You essentially think nothing of scrolling rapidly through documents and in my opinion I think every radiologist who uses InteleViewer should have one of these things. I've seen how much radiologist use the mouse wheel when they use our product. This mouse wheel would be a godsend.

The one major problem with the Logitech MX Revolution mouse wheel is it surprisingly hard to click. On most mice it is easy to click the middle mouse button (which is the mouse wheel itself) but on the MX the mouse wheel takes an unexpectedly large amount of force to click. Add to this a mouse wheel that rotates easily (even in clicky mode) and more often than not you'll accidentally scroll when you click.

The Logitech MX Revolution mouse is also quite heavy. This is because it's a wireless mouse with it's own battery, air supply and guest washroom. So that shouldn't be too surprising. I don't like heavy mice and almost took it back because of its sheer weight. On the other hand the weird shape of the MX Revolution mouse isn't just there to make it look like a spaceship. It's incredibly comfortable. Holding onto one is like putting your hand in glove. It's so very, very nice.

The Logitech MX Revolution 's wireless reception isn't so nice, though. I'm in a apartment block where there's quite a lot of radio traffic. The wireless reception of the mouse is so bad that I had to get a USB extension cord to bring the wireless receiver within 30 cm of the mouse itself. Only then could I get decent performance. With the transmitter any further away the mouse tended to pause while being used. This is annoying while doing ordinary office tasks and completely infuriating when playing StarCraft II.

The Logitech MX Revolution doesn't work very well for games either. I'm not sure what Logitech did. I figure it's either the latency added by the wireless link or some sort of smoothing system in the mouse itself. The pointer just doesn't feel connected to the mouse. It sort of, lazily wallows around the screen in some sort of pot-like daze. It's quite a shame too because it tracks quite well otherwise. I couldn't get the mouse to skip or jump when moved quickly like some of the cheaper optical mice.

Speaking of cheaper optical mice I also have a Logitech Optical Mouse. This one doesn't have a spcial name. It's essentially the cheapest optical mouse that Logitech makes. It's a fantastic mouse! It's light, has a good mouse wheel and a great shape. What's more, the cursor feels like it's connected to the mouse unlike the Logitech MX Revolution. The only thing bad about this mouse is if you move it really fast the cursor gets confused and shoots off in the opposite direction. This makes it completely useless for games. I like this mouse so much and it's so cheap that I buy many of them and give them to my friends. Many of them have terrible mice that are so bad that I just take pity on them. If you want me to fix your computer you should at least get a decent mouse for me to use.

Between the lazy, disconnected performance of the Logitech MX Revolution and the Logitech optical mouse's unsuitability for games I was left with a hole in my life. I needed a mouse for StarCraft II! I think I might have found it in the steelseries XAI Laser Mouse.

I just got this mouse recently and its been consistently impressing me. The cursor feels connected to the mouse to an extent I don't think I've ever experienced. It's also light and has a shape very similar to the Logitech optical mouse. It is a bit bigger than the Logitech but it's also more comfortable. I must admit I am a complete addict of this mouse shape and while the MX Revolution is capable of giving me an orgasm every time I grab a hold of it I still keep going back to the traditional shape. Though at $99 I'm not going to give it away to friends for free. It's also not wireless. Which I like but might be a dealbreaker to some people.

Steelseries, the manufacturer, seem to take their mice extremely seriously. They don't ship any software in the box. You have to go and download it. I suspect this is because they don't want their clients to have out-of-date software although at $99 I expect to see some obsolete software in the box. Give me a CD you cheap bastards!

To be fair, the mouse will work fine out of the box. Steelseries actually advertises it as a driverless mouse. That is, a mouse that doesn't need drivers rather than a mouse that doesn't actually ship with the drivers. When you download the "driver" software, however, things start to get interesting.

The software is pretty well done on the whole although I noticed a repaint error or two. The software contains many delightful settings as well as an extremely informative manual attached to the side of the window. This is a good thing as I had no idea what any of the settings did until I read the manual. A full review of all the different settings is way beyond what I'm prepared to do but thankfully there are others to fill that gap. My only complaint, if it is a complaint, is that the software was done using anesthetic that a hard-core gamer would love. Black and orange! Yes! We could probably do that for InteleViewer. The radiologists would love it. Peow peow.

This mouse has made me very happy. It was made to the exacting standards of gamers but also works incredibly well for office work. Most importantly, it actually tracks properly! Hooray! I think I found a new favorite.

Using my psychic powers I can guess that someone's about to ask me if I've ever used any of Logitech's gaming mice. To be fair, I've never had the courage. They look massive! I'm not sure I would like using a mouse that big. To be sure I grabed a large potato and dragged it across the mouse pad a few times clicking on its eyes. It made a mess as I'm sure the gaming mouse would do. Want to clean up the mess? What better way than to use a mouse that looks like a bar of soap. That's my philosophy.

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