The folks over at Razer sent me some of their Star Wars: The Old Republic branded PC peripherals for review. I was ogling the design of these a little earlier this year when I first saw them announced, so I'm excited to get my hands on them and give them a test run, both in SWTOR and day-to-day use.
Today I'll be starting by reviewing the SWTOR gaming mouse and mousepad. There are three main components to the mouse: The mouse itself, the charging dock, and the cord.
What I really like about this mouse is that it can function has both a wireless mouse, and a wired mouse, and it's incredibly easy to switch back and forth.
I have never used a wireless mouse before, because I never felt I could trust it not to fail on me at a critical moment in a game (or trust myself to remember to charge it, I guess). The USB cord for the mouse has a custom end that fits snuggly into both the mouse and the charging dock. With the cord plugged into the mouse, you wouldn't know even know it wasn't hardwired.
I did give it a try with the wireless though, and while I can't speak with a lot of experience with wireless mouse docking, this one was effortless. The mouse sits up on the little pedastal, almost on display.
A magnet guides the mouse into the appropriate postition with the contacts, so you really just have to drop it onto the charging dock. I never found myself having to fiddle with it in order to get it locked in or charging.
The look of the mouse (and all of the SWTOR peripherals) is unique and distinctly Star Wars, but without really screaming the brand. There are no logos or other gaudy embellishments... instead the design seems to be geared almost towards producing peripherals as they might look if they were in the Star Wars universe themselves. They definitely have a sci-fi look about them.
The mouse comes with an interchangeable faction logo plate, so you can show off your faction pride. In fact, all of the peripherals give you this freedom to declare for the Republic or the Empire, which creates a nice unity across your desktop.
You can change the color of the glow to whatever you want, but it only affects the scroll wheel and the buttons on the side. The faction emblem will glow yellow no matter what, but it will match the faction emblems on the rest of the gear that way.
Now into the meat of it... the performance of the mouse itself. I'd been especially looking forward to trying the mouse out due to the sheer amount of abilities you end up with in SWTOR. All of the classes seem to end up with so many attacks and abilities, all of which seem useful and viable, and you quickly run out of easily accessible hotkeys on your keyboard.
Previously I was using the Cataclysm mouse from SteelSeries. It worked well enough when I was playing WoW, but the extra buttons on the mouse don't want to play nice with SWTOR. I've heard some people got it to work by setting up macros, but I found that to be unreliable, and it would often reset to default on me for some reason.
The SWTOR gaming mouse has twelve buttons right by your thumb, just like the Razer Naga. At the flip of a switch those buttons can represent either the number keys at the top of your keyboard, or the NUMPAD, or you can assign them individually. You also have five more button on the top of the mouse.
The mouse is comfortable to hold... more in line with what I would call a "normal" mouse. I say that because the Cataclysm mouse was very wide, and I got used to it over time, but I remember when I first got it how awkward it was. The SWTOR mouse doesn't have quite as extreme a shape to it, but remain ergonomic and comfortable.
The SWTOR mouse next to the Cataclysm mouse:
The buttons on the SWTOR gaming mouse have a nice spring to them. Razer knows mice, and the construction of this one feels really solid. The scroll wheel is especially nice and smooth, and is coated with firm rubbery substance that helps with scrolling, and also helps with using the wheel's button without accidentally scrolling.
The bread and butter of the mouse is the pad on the side though, four rows of three buttons. Like any new mouse, it took a few hours to get used to, but eventually I had twelve more abilities readily accessible in-game. The 1-2-3, and 4-7-10 buttons are the most easily reached, I find. The 12 button ends up sitting right next the knuckle joint of my index finger, which is less comfortably hit in the midst of battle, so I tend to place out-of-combat abilities towards that corner of the number pad.
Precision of the 5600dpi 3.5G mouse laser is impeccable. Via the Razer Synapse application you can tweak the sensitivity just how you want it.
The the mousepad is really well-made too. In the past I've generally used fabric "gel" mousepads, but the surface of this one is surprisingly comfortable for long hours of use. It's a textured, non-reflective hard surface, but still really smooth to the touch. And the mouse just glides across it. I ended up turning mine vertically due to space limitations on my desktop, but it still provides plenty of mouse room either way.
Overall, these are a couple of solid products. Like I said, the mouse is essentially a Star Wars-themed Naga, and what you're getting for your money (aside from the aesthetics) is the huge amount of buttons, and the wired/wireless dual function. In my experience, Razer has always made good peripherals. I've yet to use one that felt cheap or flimsy, or that didn't feel like it was designed with gaming in mind. The fact that they look so cool (especially all side by side) is just a bonus.
And thanks to Razer, a handful of you guys are going to take home some free SWTOR peripherals. They've sent me some extras, which I'm going to be giving away via contests, starting today with the mice and mousepads!
SWTOR Gaming Mouse Photoshop Contest
I have three sets of SWTOR mouse + mousepad by Razer to give away, so I'm going to ask you to get a little artistic for this one.
I want you to whip up an image with the theme of "Light Side" or "Dark Side". You can paint, you can draw, you can photoshop, BUT the foundation of your image MUST be a screenshot from inside Star Wars: The Old Republic. When I look at your image, whatever embellishments you've made to it, it needs to be clear that it started out as a screenshot from within the game.
So you can find a screenshot online, or take one of your own character in-game, but either way, I want you submit an image that conveys either "Light Side" or "Dark Side". How you interpret that is up to you, and part of the challenge.
I'll be judging entries based on creativity, execution, and overall coolness. If you just take a picture of Emperor Palpatine and slap it onto a SWTOR background and call it "Dark Side", that's probably not going to cut it. Get creative. Or, as Razer would say, Get Imba!
When you've finished your entry, email it to:
cad.contest (at) gmail.com
The deadline for entries is midnight on January 4th 2012. At that point I'll choose my favorite ten images, and put them on the front page to be voted on. The top three will take home a new Razer SWTOR mouse and mousepad!
Only one entry per person is permitted, multiple entries will disqualify you. Please include your full name and email address with your entry so that we can contact you in the event you win.