Razer mice, a survey

March 15, 2008

When it comes to most things electronic, I'm kind of odd in that I have no qualms about buying everything available in a particular product line — until I find the right/best thing — and mice are no exception to this insanity.

With respect to pointing devices, I've been using Razer mice since the dawn of time; indeed, since the days of the original Boomslang (which they recently re-released). As far as I know, they produce (and have been producing for years) the best, most advanced mice in the world.

Over the course of the last month, this little "problem" of mine has been in full swing — I bought the Razer Lachesis (their flagship model), DeathAdder, Copperhead, and finally the Diamondback 3G (I was using the original Diamondback before this buying spree began). That's every mouse Razer currently sells, save the Krait.

Before getting into the very cursory summaries of my experiences with these mice, I have to point out that my opinion of the Lachesis and DeathAdder was colored strongly by Mac OS X's broken mouse acceleration,1 which has been a known issue for quite some time; fortunately, it doesn't seem to affect all mice. Essentially, the acceleration curve is not so much a curve as it is a steep incline that abruptly plateaus.

Even with the tracking speed turned all the way up, the Lachesis and DeathAdder were barely able to traverse my 23" monitor without me having to lift my hand. It's kind of hard to explain, but basically the mice acted differently depending on how fast I was moving them, and in a weird way it kind of felt like I was exerting force or effort to make them behave how I wanted. It was work.

For example, if I was moving slowly over the tabs in my browser, the pointer would move slowly, but if I moved from those tabs to the bottom corner of my screen, I was likely to hit the "plateau" velocity, after which the pointer would take off. I was constantly fighting the mice, trying to get them to move the way I knew they should. It was an incessant, overriding annoyance.

And now, without further ado, a few completely irrelevant thoughts about each mouse.

Lachesis
The Lachesis did not fit my hand at all. In fact, my hand actually started cramping and throbbing within 10 minutes of using it. I tried to convince myself that I was holding the mouse wrong, but when you start making excuses for something that should be second nature when using a computer, you realize that the problem probably isn't with you. Moreover, the scroll wheel was recessed so far back (toward your palm), that it required a very uncomfortable motion to use it.
DeathAdder
I generally don't like mice that aren't symmetrical and that are designed to support your entire palm, but I figured I'd give the DeathAdder a shot given how long it's been since I'd used such a mouse. Well, I was immediately reminded why I stopped using them — they're draining and require a lot of entire-hand movement to control (unlike a "fingertip" mouse, which allows you to cover a greater area without having to lift your wrist). Another big problem for me was the scroll wheel; it was nearly impossible to scroll up without engaging the wheel's built-in button.
Copperhead
A great mouse, and very similar to the Diamondback [3G], save one annoying design issue involving the side grips. On the Copperhead, the side grips came to a very distinct point throughout their length, and as such, didn't allow me to get a firm grip on the mouse; I couldn't figure out if my thumb was supposed to go on top of the rubber, beneath it, or straight to the side.
Diamondback [3G]
As far as I can tell, this mouse is perfect for me and suffers from none of the drawbacks listed above. Oddly, it's (I think) the cheapest mouse in Razer's lineup (though the low-end Salmosa may take that prize when it's released later this year).

Finally, for those wondering, I use the Razer eXactMat mousing surface (surprise!). Yeah, it's large, but I like it besides.


  1. Yes, I'm aware of the various third-party solutions (e.g., USB Overdrive, SteerMouse, etc.), but a mouse is something that I feel, in principle, should work out of the box; I didn't want to pay for something that I felt should be a non-issue.   

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