CES 2012: Razer

After the announcement of the Blade, Razer seems to be going under the radar. There were new stuff over at their website, such as some licensed products, Tiamat headset, and the Stealth Black Widow, but to me they are nothing to get excited about.

However during the CES 2012 at Las Vegas, Razer have announced two new products. One is the Razer Naga Hex, which still doesn’t excite me. But the other one really blow my mind, it’s the revelation of Project Fiona.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Naga Hex. It seems that they acknowledge a lot of reviews that mentioned about too much buttons and three (or is it four?) of the side buttons closest to the hand are hard to reach. So they address that issue by releasing the Naga Hex, which simplify the number of side buttons, shape, and locations. See the picture below.

Other things to consider about the Naga Hex are :

  1. New graphic design / facelift on the top surface.
  2. Physical switch on the bottom of the mouse to switch the function of the side buttons to map keypad number from 1 – 6.
  3. Interchangeable thumb rest and compatibility with previous Naga add-ons.
  4. The Naga Hex will be driverless and you have to use Razer Synapse 2.0 (the cloud service) to customize the mouse.

More on Razer Naga Hex : http://www.razerzone.com/hex

Now to the more interesting stuff, which is Project Fiona. In case you haven’t heard, it is a PC gaming  tablet. Yes, it’s in a tablet form factor but powerful enough to run modern PC games. I think Razer is the first at attempting this kind of gaming peripherals.

Razer claims that the Fiona is still a prototype, however they have a working model shown at CES 2012. The Fiona has a 10.1″ (capacitive?) display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 and it will be running Windows 8. It is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor, which is reported to be the nex generation Ivy Bridge. The rest of the specs are as follows:

  1. Hybrid user interface for PC gaming
  2. Intel® Core™ i7
  3. 10.1″ 1280×800 display
  4. Full-screen user interface supporting multi-touch
  5. 3-axis gyro, magnetometer, accelerometer
  6. Force feedback
  7. Dolby® 7.1 surround sound
  8. WiFi 802.11b/g/n
  9. Bluetooth® 3.0

Although I was not quite satisfied with my previous experience with Razer product, I have to admit that the Fiona is getting my full attention. The real question now is: “How much will it cost at launch?” considering the previous Razer Blade was launched with a very steep price tag.

Until that info comes, we’ll just have to be satisfied with what they have on their website and announced at CES 2012. For more info on Project Fiona and the picture gallery, go to http://www.razerzone.com/projectfiona

Puretrak Talent — review

This is my review of the Puretrak Talent mouse pad.

Disclosure:

  • The unit in this review is a second hand item that I bought from someone at Liga Game, Indonesian online forum for gamers.
  • The review will be subjective to my preferences but I will guarantee that this review is impartial.

FIRST IMPRESSION

The Puretrak Talent came in a large aluminium tube. Although I can re-use this tube for whatever purpose in the future, it is quite cumbersome. However the packaging is pretty straight forward: logo, picture of product, specs.

I do like the design on the packaging, it’s like giving an intro (if you’d like to call it that way) about what the product should look and feel when I take it out of the tube. So before unboxing it, I can already feel what to expect.

What’s impressive about the specs for me are the size and it’s machine washable. Other claims from Puretrak that caught my attention are: perfect for low sensitivity players (like me), has thick rubber backing which helps when used on uneven surface, super smooth surface, and it is stain resistant.

So are the claims true or false? Read on to find out.

IN REALITY: SIZE

The real dimensions of the unit that I’m reviewing are 451.25 x 343 x 6 mm. Bummer! It’s smaller than what’s written on the tube. But does that make it unusable? No. It’s still within my preferred mouse pad size. I wonder if the previous owner ever tried to wash this pad but did it wrong so it shrunk. Hmm…

I also did a size and thickness comparison to my Ozone Ground Level L mouse pad. Check out the pictures below!

With it’s size and thickness, most of the times I used it in a vertical position so that some part of it falls down a bit from the ledge of my work desk. Thus the Talent can also function as a comfort pad for my wrist at work.

PROOFING CLAIMS: STAIN RESISTANT & MACHINE WASHABLE

I didn’t know what the previous owner did to this mouse pad, when I pulled it out of the tube, it got a  thin layer of stain on it. Look at the picture below, it’s in the middle and spread a bit to the left. The colour is a little bit brown on the surface there. When I try to feel that part with my hand, the fabric also felt stiffer unlike the fabric outside of the stain area. It’s like dried out chocolate, coffee, or tea.

What I did is rinse the Talent on the sink, put a little bit of liquid hand soap on the part with the stain, and scrubbed it softly with my hand until the stain was gone. Then I put it flat to let it dry out naturally with an air fan to help it dry faster. It took 1 full day to dry the talent, mostly because of the thick rubber backing. But the stain was gone and I’m quite satisfied with the result.

Stain resistant : No, but you can clean the stain (unless it’s ink or something like that).
Machine washable : Haven’t tried it yet, but at least it is washable.

PROOFING CLAIMS: SUPER SMOOTH SURFACE, PERFECT FOR LOW SENSITIVITY PLAYERS, CAN ACCOMMODATE UNEVEN SURFACE

Super smooth surface is definitely a yes. Not as smooth as a hard mouse pad, but it’s smoother than the Ozone Ground Level L. However, the Talent is much easier to pick up sweat from your palm / wrist than the Ozone Ground Level L. So bear in mind that you may need to wash it more frequently.

Perfect for low sensitivity players? I think this is more of a personal preference thing. For me, however, I do enjoy the smoothness of the surface. It also helped me to improve my working speed during detailed graphic design work on Photoshop and Illustrator. FYI, for work I set my CPI to 400 and 800, with Windows’ mouse sensitivity property set to 6/11.

Can it accommodate uneven surface? To a certain extent, yes it can. However I did try using it on my spring bed, sometimes I still need to put a thick magazine below the Talent to help level the surface.

CONCLUSION

The Puretrak Talent has become my preferred mouse pad and I recommend it for anyone who like to use big cloth mouse pad but prefer a smoother feel to the surface.

Pros:
BIG size, smooth surface, washable, thickness gave extra comfort on the wrist, helps on uneven surface, fair price.

Cons:
Smaller dimensions than written on the packaging, heavy, caught sweat easily, cumbersome to carry in your bag.

Click here for the whole photo gallery.

My verdict for the Ozone Ground Level L mouse pad is
4 out of 5

Rating guide:
0 : Don’t even think about it.
1 : Waste of time and money.
2 : Flawed, could be better.
3 : Good, but there are more options out there.
4 : Great value.
5 : Must have!

All ratings are subjective. They may or may not be accurate to your preferences. However, the review is guaranteed to be impartial.

Ozone Ground Level L Review

This is my review of the Ozone Ground Level L mouse pad.

Disclosure:

  • The unit in this review was not provided by Ozone or any store that sell their product. I did not receive any reward from Ozone on making this review.
  • The review will be subjective to my preferences but I will guarantee that this review is impartial.

SPECS: ON PAPER

The Ozone Ground Level L is a cloth mouse pad. The spec, according to Ozone’s website are rubberized base material for the best grip and a soft cloth surface for perfect glide. The mouse pad’s dimensions are 400 x 320 x 3 mm.

IN REALITY

The real dimensions of the unit that I’m reviewing are 398 x 318 x 3 mm. The numbers may appear smaller but in reality, the surface is large enough for me to move my mouse around.

Since it’s quite thin, I can easily roll and stow it away in my messenger bag (an Everki Track) or my back pack (Djarum Super custom merchandise). However the thickness could not provide an enjoyable experience if put on top of an uneven surface, such as my bed mattress.

The surface is smooth but still gives a bit of restriction to the mouse movement. At first this is annoying to me, but after a while I’m getting used to have a bit of control over my mouse movement. I found it very useful when doing graphic design work while the mouse is set above 1000 dpi. I know… but sometimes I’m just too lazy to switch dpi.

The rubber base is okay. It can stick quite nicely on top of my wooden table, but it’s not as sticky as the one on the Razer Vespula. Well, unless you’re using your mouse in a brutal manner, then this is not a problem at all.

CONCLUSION

The Ozone Ground Level L is definitely worth it. It’s quite cheap compared to other surfaces on the market and it gets the job done. There are 4 sizes available: S, M, L and XT (extra thick, 6 mm thick).

Pros:
Cheap price, available in different sizes, rubber base does not smell.

Cons:
Not suitable for uneven surface.

Click here for the whole photo gallery.

My verdict for the Ozone Ground Level L mouse pad is
4 out of 5

Rating guide:
0 : Don’t even think about it.
1 : Waste of time and money.
2 : Flawed, could be better.
3 : Good, but there are more options out there.
4 : Great value.
5 : Must have!

All ratings are subjective. They may or may not be accurate to your preferences. However, the review is guaranteed to be impartial.

Razer Abyssus 3500 Review

I know… This review should be made before the SS D3M review… But I’m too lazy. Well, since I already sold the mouse, I might as well put the review online.

This is my review of the Razer Abyssus 3500 (regular edition). It will be subjective to my preferences but I will guarantee that this review is impartial. I did not receive any reward from Razer on making this review, but even if I do, I’d still make it impartial. At the end of this article, I will post a link to the whole photo gallery and a short video review that I’ve made.

QUICK UNBOXING

The Razer Abyssus 3500 — lets call it RA35 for the rest of the review — came in a typical Razer packaging. Very simple, yet looks sophisticated, especially the gimmick part.

This is pretty much it, apart from the mouse itself.

They didn’t include any CD for drivers or software, but you can download it at http://www.razersupport.com (yep, not razerzone). But to be honest, you don’t need the driver for this mouse. Seriously.

DESIGN & ERGONOMIC

The RA35 is a simple, or essential, gaming mouse. That means it only has 3 buttons: left, right, and scroll wheel button. If you’re a gamer that don’t use macros, this is already more than enough. It’s also ambidextrous, so it’s good if you use your left hand to operate a mouse. FYI, not all lefties accustomed to use computer mice with their left hand.

The mouse is all plastic and in black, except for the Razer logo on the back which is the only part that has illumination. The top part is made of soft touch / rubberised plastic, feels incredibly smooth to the hand. While the bottom part is made of glossy plastic, which is better for gripping in my opinion.

The size of the mouse is small, probably the same size as an SS Kinzu. Therefore, my hand tends to claw grip or finger-tip grip it when you play games. I prefer a palm grip mouse so I don’t feel comfortable using the RA35 for a long gaming session.

Size comparison to a Logitech generic / OEM mouse
And another size comparison

FYI, my hand is considered to be a medium sized hand according to this hand size reference.

PERFORMANCE

The RA35 comes with two mechanical switches on the bottom of the mouse. The left one is the poll switch with two options: 125hz or 1000hz. The right one is the DPI switch with three options: 450dpi, 1800dpi, and 3500dpi. I like to leave it at 1000hz and 1800dpi since I play more RPG than FPS.

After a couple of months of using this mouse, I can say that the mouse feet is really good at helping the mouse glide smoother, although they are small ones. I’ve tested both on hard (Vespula) and cloth mousing surfaces. My experience with the Vespula is that it grinds the mouse feet quite roughly that it leaves small residue. I can’t see it but the mouse make a scratching feel and I have to clean it.

Clicking feels not too good at first. Sometimes the click doesn’t register, sometimes it made me do accidental double clicks. But after using it for some time, it felt better and great. I guess it’s like engine that needs a “break-in” usage before reaching the optimal performance. Honestly, it felt better than the SS D3M clicks.

The scroll wheel is not so good. On the positive side, it’s quite big, wide, rubber coated, and I can feel the steps very well when I scroll it. But it is very noisy when scrolled up and down. I hated the scroll wheel just because of that loud noise.

CONCLUSION

Pros:
Basic gaming mouse (simple buttons layout), nice click feel to all the buttons, glides smoothly, best for claw grip or finger-tip grip, ambidextrous.

Cons:
Uncomfortable for palm grip unless you have a small hand, mechanical switch on the bottom is cumbersome if you switch DPI a lot.

Click here for the whole photo galery

My verdict for the Razer Abyssus 3500 gaming mouse is
3 out of 5

Rating guide:
0 : Don’t even think about it.
1 : Waste of time and money.
2 : Flawed, could be better.
3 : Good, but there are more options out there.
4 : Great value.
5 : Must have!

All ratings are subjective. They may or may not be accurate to your preferences. However, the review is guaranteed to be impartial.

SteelSeries Diablo 3 Mouse Review

I received my SteelSeries Diablo 3 (D3M) with a lot of anticipation. This is my first SteelSeries product and I’m a big fan of Diablo since the first installment of the series. After using this mouse for a couple of weeks, I’m ready to give it my review.

Please note that SteelSeries did not provide me with the unit nor offer me any kind of reward for writing this article. So I can assure you that my review is based solely on my experience, subjective but impartial. Photos and video will be added later.

DESIGN

It’s tribal and it has Diablo theme. I do think that the tribal design is actually even more cool when you look at the mouse in person. The D3M photos on websites doesn’t do the designer any justice. I especially like the center tribal design. It’s wicked and reminds me of Diablo itself.

On the bottom, the mouse has three large mouse feet / glides. The laser sensor is located on the center, there’s a highlighted text that said “Laser Class 1”. However the D3M doesn’t include the LCD display, as seen on the Xai or the Sensei. I guess the theme license is that expensive. :p

The braided cord is kinda funny for me. Because the last time I remembered seeing a black braided cord with red striping was on an old electric iron. I thought maybe that’s just me, but my brother mentioned the same thing when he looked at the mouse. :)

ERGONOMIC

My first impression is that the mouse is big enough and ergonomically better than my previous mouse, which was the Razer Abyssus. It’s natural because I use palm grip, while the Abyssus is more suitable for claw grip or finger tip grip. The soft touch plastic material is very comfortable to the touch. While I felt the mouse is a bit heavier than the Abyssus, it is easy to lift.

What makes the D3M better for me is because of the wider rear end of the mouse. The highest part of the mouse is also more to the back, thus it fits the center of my palm nicely. If I’m not mistaken, the size and shape of the D3M is similar to the Xai and the Sensei. However I’m still not used to the shape for a long session use. I’m beginning to think whether mice with ring and small finger support shape, like the Ikari or the Naos, are more suitable for me. Another justification to buy yet again another gaming mouse. LOL!

FYI, my hand is considered to be a medium sized hand according to this hand size reference.

PERFORMANCE

What I noticed at first is that the large mouse feet / glides at the bottom really helps the mouse to move better on both cloth mouse pad (Ozone Ground Level L) and hard mouse pad (Razer Vespula). Switching from high CPI to low CPI is very quick. At least I didn’t notice any lag in between CPI switching. This is crucial especially if I want to play FPS games or just need to lower my CPI for a more accurate use.

Scroll wheel is relatively quiet when scrolled down, but makes a little more noise when scrolled upward. The triangular shape of the rubber on the wheel is great. They actually make scrolling felt better. I hope the rubber last long. Scroll steps are set only from the Mouse option within Control Panel (I don’t know where to find this in OSX). Unlike the Razer Abyssus crappy driver / software which always reset my scroll steps settings to a very high number every time I boot up my Win7. By the way, the D3M is also OSX compatible which is a good move. :)

Clicking on all the buttons felt nice. Definitely a gaming grade feel and feedback. However to me the Abyssus gave better feeling to each click I’ve made, but that was after I used it for a couple of months. The left button of the D3M seems to got a bit soft now, while the right button still feels like new. It’s not really a problem though since it doesn’t give any down side effect to the whole mousing experience.

I thought I’m going to often accidentally press the outer side buttons with my ring finger. At first, I did press them accidentally a couple of times. But the more I get used to the D3M, the less I accidentally press them. Ideally, you should just turn them off through the software. Now I know why the Zowie AM can only be set to use only one side of the side buttons.

CUSTOMIZATION

Since the D3M doesn’t have an LCD like the Xai or Sensei, it also lost the capability to store multiple profiles. For this, you need to use the SteelSeries Engine software, downloadable from their website.

The software lets you assign all 7 buttons function. You can customize CPI settings on 2 levels, high and low, starting from 100 to 5700 CPI. You can customize the polling rate, which by default is already set to 1000 hz, which I don’t think you should change. And there’s the illumination options, which lets you customize intensity and pulsation, or to turn the whole lighting off.

I think the last active profile will be stored on the mouse, so that you can use your personalized settings elsewhere. This is relevant because when you play Diablo, you only use your character, and probably will be playing on your own rig or laptop. However, I do recommend creating a unique profile name to be saved within the mouse.

DOWN SIDE

Before you continue, I would like to give credit to SteelSeries that responded in a positive way to the issues I’ve mentioned here via their twitter account, @SteelSeries. I like good online PR and they did a very nice job. I hope they fix the info soon to prevent further misleading.

Although I enjoy using the D3M, there are some things that I think SteelSeries fail to deliver. There are things that they mention on the product page on their website but I can’t seem to find them on the product or the software.
  1. CPI and LOD

    The above image is a screen shot from the D3M product page. It said that the CPI is scalable in increments of 1. This is not true, since the software only allows increments of 100. I hope this can be fixed in future updates of the SteelSeries Engine.The lift off distance is also higher, it’s more than 2 CD roms, but it’s the same height compared to my old Razer Abyssus. This is definitely a problem for FPS games and gamer who demand low LOD, but I’m not sure if it’s a problem for playing Diablo 3.
  2. SteelSeries FreeMove

    There is no or I could not find the FreeMove option in the software, which is SteelSeries Engine. This option is actually good for players who don’t want prediction.
  3. Mouse Features

    I can customize CPI on two levels and set polling rate. I can’t find the rest of the options stated on point number 2.

I, like most customers who spend a lot of money on a single product, expected to get what’s promised on the advertisement or product page on the website. In my eyes, these are marketing blunders for SteelSeries. So, either they made an update to the software or update the information on the website, both product page or the FAQ.

CONCLUSION

For those of you who love Diablo or a big fan like myself, buying the SteelSeries Diablo 3 mouse is like getting a collector’s item. There’s no wrong in doing so. It’s also a solid gaming mouse. It’s plug and play, but you need the software to customize it even further. However, having failed to deliver some “promised” features is a bummer for perfectionists, like me, or gamers who like the design but use the mouse to play a variety of games.

Pros:
Diablo 3 theme design, comfortable in my hand, soft touch material feels nice on the hand, all buttons are nice to click, scroll wheel is nice,  great performance, smooth gliding, easy to configure via software, pretty light weighted.

Cons:
High LOD,  no FreeMove option, some things stated on the website needs to be revised, definitely not for pro gamers.

Click here for the whole photo galery

My verdict for the SteelSeries Diablo 3 mouse is a
4 out of 5

(previously was a 3.5 / 5, before their response on Twitter)

Rating guide:
0 : Don’t even think about it.
1 : Waste of time and money.
2 : Flawed, could be better.
3 : Good, but there are more options out there.
4 : Great value.
5 : Must have!

All ratings are subjective. They may or may not be accurate to your preferences. However, the review is guaranteed to be impartial.t

Comfort of Gripping a Mouse

I’ve read quite a lot of in online forums where people asked which mouse is better. Sadly, there were no satisfying answers for such questions. The only valid answer I’ve seen suggests the inquirer  to go to a gaming gear store and try one out. I see that as a valid answer because no matter high the specs of a gaming mouse, people will always be critical about it’s comfort or ergonomic.

However, not everybody can have the luxury of going to a store and try a gaming mouse. They may not live near such store, or there is a store but they don’t have testing units on display. That’s why people ask in online forums, read review articles, or watch unboxing / review videos on YouTube. One thing that I see is that whenever people give out recommendations, they always refer to themselves.

Example :
“This mouse feels very nice in my hand. I have a normal sized hand.”

Normal sized hand? Compared to who? What style of grip are you using?

I’m sure you guys already familiar with grip styles. If not, then head on to this article at Yorku Plays Games! blog to see different styles of mouse grip and identify which one are you accustomed to.

As for hand size, I would like to suggest that we use the measurement at Handshoe Mouse website as a standard. I’ve done a screen shot and paste it below. Now grab a ruler and see which size category are your hands belong to.

So that’s about it. I hope this article can help you guys to discuss and recommend gaming mice to other people. :)

Razer Vespula – Mouse Pad Gaming untuk Dua Sisi Performa

Setelah akhirnya saya beli laptop Sager NP5165/Clevo W150HRM (yang saya belum bikin reviewnya :p), saya pun menemukan kebutuhan baru akan sebuah mouse pad yang fisiknya keras. Soalnya kebetulan tempat yang tersedia untuk menaruh si laptop itu adalah di meja kecil di sisi kasur saya. Untuk pekerjaan grafis & main game, saya lebih suka pakai mouse daripada track pad. Dan saat itu yang menjadi mouse pad-nya adalah kasur saya! Kebayang dong konturnya ngga rata. Belum lagi ditambah mousenya suka nyangkut di seprai.  Pe er banget deh…

Seperti biasa, sebelum beli sesuatu pasti saya cari referensi sebanyak mungkin dari internet. Untuk kebutuhan saya, pilihan mouse padnya tidak banyak, tapi juga tidak murah karena yang menyediakan sedemikian rupa adalah para produsen peralatan game. Dengan pertimbangan bahwa saya bukan professional gamer dan terbatasnya ruang penyimpanan, maka saya cari yang ukurannya tidak terlalu besar dan tidak perlu yang dilengkapi tas khusus/protective case. Lalu saya catat kandidat mana aja yang sesuai tujuan dan cukup masuk akal, dan yang lebih penting lagi masuk budget.

Dengan ketentuan tersebut, pilihan paling pas saya jatuhkan kepada Razer Vespula.

Secara subjektif, penilaian saya terhadap produk ini adalah:

Pro:
1. Fisik keras, bisa mengatasi masalah kontur tidak rata.
2. Permukaannya bikin mouse lancar bergerak dan gampang dibersihin.
3. Ada dua sisi yang bisa digunakan, lebih kasar untuk kontrol & lebih halus untuk kelincahan.
4. Ukuran cukup ringkas untuk diselipkan di sebelah laptop saat dibawa di ransel.
5.  Disertai alas tambahan dengan dasar karet, jadinya ngga akan geser-geser kalau dipasang di atas meja.
6. Ada palm rest berisi memory gel. Ini penting buat saya yang butuh waktu untuk pekerjaan grafis.

Cons:
1. Alas karet gampang kena debu dan kotoran.
2. Kalau mau dibawa, alasnya bisa digulung, tapi ngga ada karet atau gelang pengikatnya.
3. Harganya mahal.

Apakah saya akan merekomendasikan ke orang lain?
Kalau kebutuhannya sama, ya, pasti saya rekomendasikan. Tapi saya ingatkan untuk selalu prioritaskan kebutuhan. Kalau memang professional gamer, mungkin lebih asik kalau beli yang ukurannya lebih besar dan ada tas pelindungnya. Kalau ada budget buat keperluan gaming, tapi budgetnya di ngga nyampe buat beli Vespula, mungkin sebaiknya melirik mouse pad gaming yang soft/bisa digulung. Kalau budget terbatas banget, mungkin bisa diakalin dengan benda-benda lain di sekitar rumah. Di kantor aja saya pakai alas piring makan dari bahan yang dirajut untuk jadi mouse pad. :)

Terakhir, saya sempat bikin foto-fotonya, tapi karena ngga bawa kamera jadi saya ambil pakai hape. Harap maklum ya. Kalau ada waktu, nanti saya ganti foto-fotonya dengan yang lebih baik (pake kamera beneran). Silakan disimak galerinya di bawah ini. :)

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