Wireless Mice Have Come A Long, Long Way

There was a time when going wireless was a risk, an illogical decision. These days, the tech is no longer the problem. If anything, it's pretty bloody cool.

That much has been apparent lately with a few bits of wireless gear that we've had in the Kotaku offices. The first is a combo deal from Corsair, pictured above: the Dark Core RGB SE wireless gaming mouse, although like most wireless mice these days, you can keep it corded if you want.

But there's absolutely zero reason why you should ever use the cord. And that's because the MM1000, a mousemat that doubles as a Qi wireless charging pad, keeps the Dark Core juiced up throughout. There's even a spot towards the top right where you can power up a phone.

If your phone doesn't support wireless charging, the MM1000 comes with a little dongle that you can plug your phone into. That's neat. There's a USB 3.0 port on the back of the mat as well, which is handy if your PC case is a good deal away from your desk.

I bring all the quality of life stuff up first, because features aren't something you get from mousepads. They're a surface, often a piece of cloth, that sits on your desk. Sometimes it feels good underhand. Usually it just soaks up spills. But it never actually does anything. It's a mousepad. It's not supposed to.

And that's why, generally, they don't cost a whole lot. The MM1000 starts from about $115 locally, and it'll set you back about $129 to get the Dark Core RGB as well.

The latter isn't that unsurprising for a wireless mouse, although some of the larger mice more ladened with buttons and features - the Razer Naga is a good example. And that's the kind of user the Dark Core RGB is aiming at.

Here's just a picture, from the user manual, of all the buttons and switches you can toggle:

The interchangable grips are interesting, and you can leave them off entirely if you want a fraction less weight. The grip out of the box has a flatter edge, while the spare grip has a smaller ledge for your fingers to rest on (like the opposite side of the mouse).

Coupled with the choice of wireless or Bluetooth functionality - handy if you need a spare mouse for a laptop and don't want to use a touchpad - it's a neat package. The rubberised texture on the left side and the palm of the hand is really nice as well - some of the best on a mouse recently, actually. The LEDs on the side also communicate various information like which profile and DPI is selected, as well as the current battery charge, although it's easier to control all of this through the Corsair CUE software.

Personally, I prefer to avoid software altogether unless it's as minimalist as possible. Those with a Corsair keyboard will get a little more out of being able to control all of your devices at once, although for the most part it's just neat to know precisely how much battery you have left.

From a gaming perspective, however, the Dark Core RGB SE was just too big and too heavy for my liking. I didn't have any connectivity issues or problems with the sensor while gaming - I was able to keep the receiver nearby, and the PWM3367 is a reliable enough optical sensor (being a revision of the PWM3366, a sensor that appeared in the Logitech G900 and the older edition of the Logitech G Pro, a very good mouse in its own right).

Logitech G Pro Gaming Mouse: A Little Beauty

Like many competitive Counter-Strike players from the 1.6 era, I have a history with Logitech mice. And I still remember the exact time and place when I swore I stopped using them. it was in the middle of a tournament, during a crucial round. The mouse decided to fail on me, doing 360 degree spins in the air instead of shooting the one guy that would have won the match for my team.

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But ultimately the size was too large for me to use on a regular basis, which is entirely fine! Everyone has different size hands, and there are many good mice that simply aren't a good fit due to the ergonomics. Fortunately, that's where another mouse came in.

This is the most expensive mouse I've ever used. At retail, the new Logitech G Pro Wireless - which doesn't have the same shape as the older wired G Pro, or the new edition with Logitech's Hero sensor - will set you back $249.95.

I'm not kidding. That's about double some of the most expensive mice on the market today. You could get two of the older - or newer! - G Pro wired mice for the same price, with change to spare.

That'll be too much for some.

So, why would you ever consider a wireless mouse that costs so, so much?

I've got this picture here from the Logitech gaming software to illustrate the first reason: battery life. The biggest kicker with wireless mice, traditionally, is that you end up having to recharge more often than you like.

If the RGB lighting is turned off, and you're running the G Pro Wireless at the default polling rate (1000Hz), you'll get a maximum charge of around 64 hours. Drop the polling rate to 500Hz, and you're looking at 84 hours maximum charge.

So that's the first problem fixed. The second issue with most wireless mice: the weight.

Out of the box, the Logitech G Pro Wireless weighs 80 grams - a few grams less than either version of the wired G Pro. 80 grams makes it lighter than most small or "light" mice on the market - the Ninox Venator weighs in at just 79g, and the only thing substantially lighter than that, but with a much larger frame, is the Finalmouse Ultralight Phantom. You can even knock off a few grams from the G Pro Wireless' weight by removing the cap on the rear of the mouse. (The box does come with an alternate that adds an extra 10g, if you want a slightly heavier experience.)

But the best thing by far, and also the most important facet for any mouse really, is the shape.

One of the biggest issues with the G Pro mice was the curvature towards the end (where the mouse buttons and cable are) and on the sides of the mice. The latter was particularly problematic - rather than relatively flat edges, the G Pro's sides jutted out a little. The side buttons also stuck out quite prominently, which made them a little too easy to accidentally press.

The G Pro Wireless has flattened the sides more, making for a more naturally comfortable shape. The side buttons also don't stick out quite as far, so that's an improvement. The box even comes with spare side buttons so you can attach them to the right side of the mouse instead; if you want, you can even have one button on each side, which left handers will enjoy.

For me, as someone who plays a ton of Counter-Strike, Overwatch and a lot of twitch shooters, the biggest change is the weight balance. Rather than being located to the rear, like the G Pro, the balance is much more central. That makes a massive difference if you do a lot of swipes across the mouse pad, which you'll do if you play on lower sensitivities (for the record, I'm using between 1-1.1 @ 800 DPI in CS:GO, and around 3.4-3.7 in Overwatch on the same DPI).

Logitech have changed the surface as well, opting for rubberised plastic rather than any kind of texturing. Some people might find that a little slippery in the hand, although it reminds me somewhat of the original Intellimouse 1.1a mice. Again, each to their own.

The main takeaway I got from both wireless mice was that they performed just as admirably in the heat of battle as any of my wired offerings, the G Pro at work, the Ultralight Phantom at home, or the Ninox Venator and Zowie ZA13 I've had kicking around for a while.

And part of the reason I had the G Pro hanging around was because of the lightness of the clicks. The Zowie ZA13 had the best shape, but the stiffness of the mousewheel and the left/right buttons made it prohibitive to use on a daily basis. Similarly, the Venator had a great shape but was well short on build quality - the cord was ordinary, the chassis rattled a little when you squeezed it, and the clicks sometimes stuck in the middle. (Weirdly, I also had this problem with the Ultralight Phantom, where the left mouse button would get stuck. You can fix it, but it involves removing the mousefeet and taking out the screws, and without having similarly-shaped replacement feet, that wasn't an option.)

That's the fun of going through gaming mice though: finding one that's right for you, and going through that process of discovery.

Wireless mice weren't part of that conversation previously: the latency was too much, the weight was too prohibitive, and the battery life was rubbish. Forget to charge before a LAN? Well, I hope you like playing with a wire.

Now? That's not a problem anymore.

Sure, the cost is still prohibitive. But as is the case with anything new, in time that will come down. And while I absolutely wouldn't spend $249.95 on a mouse at launch - genuinely, you could save money by having it shipped from overseas - things might be more palatable come November, when the Click Frenzy/Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals land.


Comments

    Corsair so some great stuff. Really love their keyboards.
    I feel like I'd be hitting that usb port at the top right with my mouse all the time though.

      Hard surface also wears down the mouse feet a lot faster, and you've got the scratching sound that may or may not bother people.

      Dream is a Qi enabled cloth pad, although I've no idea how you'd get the engineering for that to work.

        surely the conductivity would still work through a thin piece of microfibre?
        My phone has no issues charging with it between the pad and the phone

          Thinking long term stability, when people roll the mousemat up, shipping, that sort of thing. Maybe if it was a solid strip that goes through the middle of the mouse pad - so in effect you've got a more stable layer wedged in between two layers of cloth - that could work better.

      I replaced my failing G910 with a Corsair K68 on the weekend and boy is it a nice keyboard to type on. Has a really satisfying clacky sound and a much lighter touch. Only downside is that it only has red LED backlighting, but that just makes it look cyberpunk as hell, so I'm fine with it.

    I still kinda want the Logitech; hero sounds super accurate and efficient. Though that phone charger sounds nice too.

    But there's absolutely zero reason why you should ever use the cord. And that's because the MM1000, a mousemat that doubles as a Qi wireless charging pad, keeps the Dark Core juiced up throughout.

    There are two reasons not to use this. Wireless charging is less efficient than regular so you're effectively wasting electricity. Might only be a tiny amount but it's worse for the environment and your electricity bill. And secondly, I've still encountered problems with wireless devices conflicting. Especially with Logitech.

    I tried to go fully wireless with a mouse, keyboard and headphones all from logitech. Eventually I gave up and ditched both the headphones and keyboard because they just weren't reliable with constant drop outs and syncing problems. Using any one device by itself was ok, but two or more and they would crap out regularly. The headphones would disconnect and reconnect constantly for 10 minutes or the mouse would lag out like it was scrolling through molasses.

    Can't comment about the Corsair mice, but their other kit is pretty good.

      You've got the Bluetooth connection if 2.4Ghz has interference issues, and I wouldn't go *all* wireless precisely for the same reason you mention: you're just increasing the risk of jamming up the signal.

      I hear you on Corsair's other kit though - we've got quite a few journos/people in the office - within the tech sites and outside of those - who rather like their keyboards.

    I bought a Steelseries Rival 700 mouse on a whim a couple of years ago to replace my pain in the arse Thermaltake Level 10m Esports mouse.

    Unexpectedly, the Rival 700 is hands down the best mouse I've ever used. Has some really cool features, like a mini lcd which you can load up a name tag, or even a gif on, and the sensor is in fact a snap on module that can be removed with a single screw and replaced if it ever fails, or if a more accurate laser module is released, for a fraction of the cost, around ~USD$25

      Thought the Rival 700 was an optical sensor?

        Sorry my bad, yes it is optical... not sure what i was thinking. amazing mouse.

          Yeah, I've heard good things about the Rival series since they came out. I'm pretty happy with this wireless Logi right now, though.

    oh i remember buy this at tandys in the 90's...wait new? wtf this shit is old.

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