MS Explorer for Games
It's difficult to say why Razer designed "a new improved" replica of Microsoft's Explorer. Especially as it's not the only gaming mouse of this shape. Nevertheless, various approaches give users a freedom of choice, so we are pleased to see any steps in this direction.
Now let's see what Razer has to offer.
That's what the company declares about its mouse-making technologies:
Massive overkill. However, this is advertisement. Let's find out what's behind these words.
DeathAdder is an ergonomic mouse for right-handed users, designed for any games and other applications. It was engineered for network battles to be used with low sensitivity settings to movements (for snipers).
The traditional black box, decorated with a photo of the bundle, contains a mouse in a blister under a flip cover. You cannot try it in your palm, because it's surrounded by a high collar. There are a lot of labels on the box, plus full specifications of the mouse in eight languages. The bundle includes an oval user manual with a driver CD and a certificate.
Design and Ergonomics
It's a classic Explorer with minor modifications, mostly nice. The mouse has a right-handed design - steeper curve of the left side for a thumb, plus two additional buttons there. Like other products from this family, it's designed for large or medium palms, and it won't fit a small hand. You can hold the mouse in different ways - either move the mouse fast with your fingers or rest your palm on it and scroll documents. It's the most convenient grip for us. You can lay your fingers wide on the buttons, or keep them close to each other - nothing limits the main buttons at the sides or from the front.
The mouse is made of black plastic. The back of the mouse is a single whole with the main buttons, separated by a slit from the middle of the back to the wheel, which then gets wider. They are coated with brand rubber-like material from Razer. The scroll wheel, made of silicone, has small widely spaced notches. It scrolls discretely, no side scrolling is available. Just like the logo on the back, it's illuminated with a blue LED. You can switch it off separately for both locations.
The sides and the bottom are made of sticky glossy plastic. If your fingers sweat much, this material will be unpleasant to touch. But on the whole, the grip is safe owing to this very sticky plastic. The side buttons are large, convenient, and easy to locate by touch. Accidental presses are out of the question. The mouse is well balanced, the gravity center line goes through the center of the device. You don't have to change your grip to lift the mouse.
The belly houses a sensor right in the center, plus three feet made of white teflon - two smaller feet are in the fore part, and one wide foot is in the rear. You can also see a label with technical information there and a button to switch between profiles. It's located in a very inconvenient place, and the driver reacts to pressing this button somewhat reluctantly, so it's fifty-fifty. Besides, the driver does not indicate the current profile. Only the logo blinks differently for each profile when you switch between them. We can put it like this: this button makes no difference. It will take 15 seconds to switch between five profiles.
Except for this mysterious button on the bottom, we have a standard toolset of the IntelliMouse - two main buttons, two additional buttons, and a scroll wheel (counts for three controls). So we have five buttons and seven controls.
All four buttons have an average stroke and distinct feedback. They produce a good impression. The same can be said about a button under the scroll wheel. It's rather hard, and you feel vibration, if you scroll it fast. Perhaps, it was done deliberately - shooters usually use the scroller to choose weapons, so accidental scrolling is intolerable here.
The mouse has a thin and flexible cord. It does not interfere with mouse movements. The cord is 210 cm long, it's attached to the mouse via a damper. The USB connector is gold plated.
On the whole, the mouse offers a nice design, high assemblage quality, and excellent ergonomics. It's pleasant to look at the mouse and hold it in your hand.
Razer names drivers just like the product they are written for. You can display all settings in a single large window. However, when you activate advanced settings for button actions, you cannot use other settings to minimize this tabbed page.
The driver offers an excellent set of options. The only gripe you may have is that the list of standard actions for HID devices contains only 21 items in three groups. This list might have been expanded. However, all these actions work perfectly and can be assigned to any button. Including to scrolling the wheel. As a brand feature of Razer mice, you can choose a mouse button to emulate any single press of a keyboard button or record a macro. The standard options include changing a mouse resolution and a current profile.
The choice of resolutions is small - just three options: 450, 900, and 1800 dpi. It would have been better to be able to adjust it at 100-200 dpi steps.
Each profile has its own settings, so you may configure profiles for different games. Or for a graphics editor, surfing Internet, editing texts, and playing music. Cursor speed and precision can also be configured separately for each profile. It would have been great, if you could easily switch between profiles and see the current profile.
Configurations can be saved into a file and then restored. Besides, you can use the Apply button to save all settings automatically into mouse memory. The mouse will slow down a little. The logo on the back will flash to indicate the process.
The mouse allows to update its firmware. That's what we did before our tests. We had no problems with flashing new firmware following directions in the manual. We have no gripes with the drivers. They offer advanced settings, they are stable, and they are updated.
Razer always publishes them on the web site and retail boxes.
These are specifications of a modern mouse. Any improvements will be hard to notice even for a hardcore gamer.
Links to the drivers are hidden deep enough, here is a direct link to the page where you should start searching for the driver you need. It takes little time to download them, and they are easy to install.
The web site contains a wealth of information, which may be interesting to fans of this company. There are technical specifications, gallery, reviews and testimonials for each product.
Razer offers a two-year warranty for all its products. You should make sure your retailer supports this warranty. Although they have no right to offer a shorter warranty than the manufacturer, it sometimes happens, so you should be careful. It often involves much trouble to obtain your warranty from the manufacturer, if your retailer's warranty is over.
I used this mouse as the main pointing device for two weeks at work and at home. I also had to play games with this mouse to evaluate its target functionality.
Mouse feet glide perfectly almost on any surface. Friction is low on smooth surfaces, cloth and rough surfaces increase friction, so you can choose an optimal surface for your needs. Weight - 107 g.
I managed to fool the sensor even with a black desk surface. It does not like white paper either. Just like the first version of the MS IME. Such behavior puzzles us... However, the mouse works well on a mostly green Verbatim pad.
Cursor control is very accurate, I don't have any gripes with it in games or in a graphics editor. Precision and smoothness of cursor motion is up to the mark. The sensor still works when the mouse is lifted by two-three millimeters, so it's not difficult to lift the mouse off the table without moving the cursor. The mouse lies tight in your hand, when you do it.
USB sample rate was set to 1000 Hz in the driver, and it was higher than 1000 Hz according to PS/2 Rate. According to MouseRateChecker, it varies from 700 Hz to 800 Hz. We most likely failed to move the mouse fast enough to reach this limit. The sample rate was quite stable, it went down only when the mouse was moving slowly, there were no unexplainable abrupt drops. It cannot be any faster.
Attention! High port sample rate generates a heavy load on a CPU; it's up to 15% in case of Pentium 4 3 GHz! That may be the reason why some people are not satisfied with this mouse in resource-intensive applications, especially in games. Because each game distributes available resources in its own way, only its developers know exactly how it's done.
The USB extension cord (2 m) and KVM do not interfere with mouse operations. When connected through the reference Aten CS-1774 KVM, USB sample rate does not go down, and the mouse operates in full capacity.
You can check prices directly at Razer's website. Not that cheap, but don't forget that Razer charges for its brand. Besides, this is a very good mouse (except for a couple of drawbacks), and certainly a very convenient one.
It's a very good mouse. It might have been even better, but let's hope that such improvements will appear in future products. You should consider buying this mouse, if you liked your Explorer product and are now looking for a replacement. But don't rush things, we'll soon review another interesting product from the same family.
Sergey Shashlov (firstname.lastname@example.org)
March 14, 2008
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