By SHAUN A. NOORDIN
If you're a gamer who's looking for a fast, responsive mouse with customisable features, the Roccat Kone makes for an excellent choice.
THE first thing that struck us about the Roccat Kone was that it wasn't, in actuality, conical.
In fact, it's shaped pretty much like a perfectly ergonomical computer mouse that fits comfortably in the grasp of a right-handed user.
Which we suppose makes sense, since the Roccat Kone is marketed as a high-end mouse for hardcore gamers.
Jokes about the mouse's name aside, though, the Kone is actually a serious bit of hardware. The sleek mouse sports two illuminated strips running down its sides, capped off with an illuminated Roccat logo on its black body.
A small array of extra buttons adorn the top and left side of the mouse, most within easy reach of a trigger-happy FPS gamer or a twitchy RTS commander.
The German-based Roccat Studios produces nothing but computer peripherals targeted at hardcore gamers, and the Kone exemplifies their philosophy on gaming controls: It's fast, responsive and pretty sweet-looking.
The responsiveness is in no small part due to the optical mouse's adjustable sensor, which you can switch from 800dpi all the way to 3200.
Additionally, the built-in Tracking Control Unit - a small optical aperture at the bottom of the mouse - purportedly improves performance by adjusting the Kone's responsiveness according to the surface the it's placed on.
We say purportedly because it's really difficult to measure any improvement in the mouse's responsiveness; even at 2,000dpi the mouse controls superbly whether it's on our bare wooden desks, a blank piece of A4 paper or, for preference, the Roccat Taito fabric mouse pad.
(At this point we feel it's almost cheating to mention how smoothly the Kone glides on the surface of the Taito.)
The Kone even comes with four separate weights (ranging from 5g to 20g) that you can optionally plug into mouse; the additional grams let you fine tune how the Kone responds in your hands.
Of course, speed and accuracy aren't the only things required to make a good gaming mouse.
The Kone features a detailed level of customisation: You can change what each button does (except for the standard right/left buttons), program in macros, adjust the sensitivity of the mouse specific to the x-y axes, or even change the colour of the illuminated strips/logo.
You can store your settings in up to five different profiles, and you can switch between them either manually (you can program your extra buttons to do so) or automatically (you can link a profile to a specific application).
This leads to the possibility of some rather interesting setups.
Need macros to better command your errant transforming Tengus in Red Alert 3? Want your mouse to glow red and control extra-sensitively when you're sniping Blue Heavies in Team Fortress 2? Need a macro that shuts down all incriminating tabs in Firefox for when your boss walks by?
Well, we don't actually condone that last one, but yeah, all these customisations are possible using the mouse driver that you'll have to download off the Net.
Interestingly, the Kone has 128KB of onboard memory in which you can store your profile settings, so in theory you can go to different cybercafes and carry your macros around with you.
Of course, in theory, if you go to different cybercafes carrying your own mouse, you might be a little crazy :-)
But it's nice to know that the Kone accommodates your particular flavour of madness.
It feels a bit weird for us to show such fondness for a mouse that isn't named Mickey, so we'll focus on the Kone's less admirable properties now.
The fact that the Kone is (thus far) only produced for right-handed players is an obvious turn-off to left-handed gamers.
The USB cable is a bit of a mixed bag: On one hand, we like our mice wireless, if only because we have enough wires running across our desk.
On the other hand, it's good to know that we'll never need to worry about batteries running out just as we're about to deliver a Javelin-related victory in Modern Warfare 2.
The issue of the third mouse button is more of a sticking point, or should we say, sticky point.
Right out of the box, the third mouse button (the mouse wheel) feels a little stiff and difficult to press.
The problem seems to subside after you play with the Kone for a week or two, (or maybe we just got used to it) but it's still strange for an otherwise excellent mouse to have a problem with a common button.
Our excuses to play games - er, sorry, we meant our extensive product testing exercises have proven that the Kone gave us fast, accurate control whether we're trying to frantically command our armies in RTS games or aiming for headshots in first-person shooters.
But the responsiveness of the Kone isn't the only thing that makes this mouse an amazing device to use; it's the number of well thought, easy-to-customise features that Roccat provides that pushes the Kone out of the realm of good and into the territory of really great peripherals.
If you're a (right-handed) gamer in the market for a new mouse, then the Kone will make an excellent addition to your arsenal.
Pros: Excellent levels of customisation; very responsive and accurate.
Cons: Middle mouse button a bit stiff initially; not for left-handed users.
Maximum resolution: 3200dpi laser sensor
Image processing: 6.4-megapixels-per-second
Maximum acceleration: 20G
Maximum speed: 7,080fps
Number of buttons: 8 customisable keys
Other features: Customisable lights, extra weights, 128KB onboard memory (stores 5 profiles), supports macros, 72MHz Turbocore Processor, 1ms response time, 1,000Hz polling rate, 4-way mouse wheel
Weight: 118g (without cable and additonal weights)
Review unit courtesy of Answer Sdn Bhd, call (03) 2711-3080