Review: Razer Boomslang 2000 USB Mouse
Price: $99 for 2000dpi model ($69.99 for older 1000dpi model)
Requirements: Mac with USB. Some form of mouse driver, such as USB Overdrive.
Apple’s new (and long-rumored) optical mouse sent shockwaves through the Mac mousing community. Yet as nice as it is and looks, its single button will hardly satisfy die-hard gamers who want a mouse specifically designed with their needs in mind, such as:
- high resolution for accurate movement
- multiple buttons for all the functions a modern gamer needs
- big buttons that you can find in the heat of the battle
- cutting-edge design
- long cord
The Razer Boomslang mouse by kärna is intended to conquer this very market.
First, a word of caution: the Razer Boomslang is a PC mouse. Due to its USB interface and the magic of USB Overdrive, however, it can be used equally well on the Macintosh. Unfortunately, the lack of Macintosh drivers makes the mouse even more expensive, unless you happen to own a copy of USB Overdrive anyway. Fortunately, the company Web site promises native Macintosh drivers later this year.
The installation is very easy. Assuming you have USB Overdrive already running on your machine, all you need to do is take the mouse from its beautiful package (it would make a great gift just because of that) and plug it in. Two things you will notice immediately:
The mouse has a long cord. At 7', it is way beyond the usual 5' average mouse cord. Compared to the 1.5' of Apple’s puck mouse, it promises freedom of movement. This comes in very handy for those high-adrenaline battles where you can’t afford to be limited in your motions by a short mouse cord.
The second thing you will notice immediately is that the mouse “flies.” Due to its extremely high resolution, it is very sensitive to mouse movements on the standard Macintosh sensitivity settings. Just barely touching it will make the cursor fly across the screen. Mastering the new mouse will take a lot of practice, and you can best get used to it by decreasing the sensitivity settings for the mouse until you learn how to control its power.
The high resolution has one goal: to allow you to perform mousing maneuvers at high speed, with as little movement as necessary, while maintaining high accuracy. After some training, the mouse does excel at this, although the difference is not quite as dramatic as its manufacturer makes you hope or expect. Precision is more important for some games than others. With proper training, it will likely give you an edge in first-person shooters. Some compare the improvement to the difference between a kitchen knife and a surgeon’s scalpel. Maybe. But don’t expect to start operating overnight.
The mouse is pretty, in a high-tech kind of way. It lacks the elegance of the new Apple optical mouse, but it is one of the prettiest mice I have seen.
Besides the translucent panels on the top and bottom, the biggest visual marks are the two very large buttons on the front. These two primary buttons have been exaggerated to provide easy access to the most important function: firing. Between them is the mandatory scroll wheel, which is also more sensitive than standard wheels. The wheel itself can act as fifth button.
Fifth? Where are the other two, you will ask. They are hidden on the sides, about where I would hold the mouse. This is my biggest complaint about the mouse. For my large hands, the mouse is very difficult and uncomfortable to hold. To hold it steadily, I do need to exert some pressure where I hold it, right about where the two side-buttons are. However, to use those buttons, I have to increase or decrease the pressure on them for a while, making it very hard to move the mouse at the same time. In effect, this made it impossible for me to use those two buttons, pressing them when I didn’t want to and not pressing them when I moved the mouse rapidly. This effectively turned the mouse into a two-button mouse, which significantly reduced its playing value for me. I found myself going back to the four equal buttons of my Kensington MouseWorks. Although not as spiffy a mouse, it does a better job of allowing me to use the extra buttons while maintaining enough contact with the mouse to move it.
That was my personal experience. People with smaller hands may find the mouse easier to use. What is shared by all, however, is a complaint about the too-easy triggers on the side buttons; also, most find the wheel to be too stiff. The ball on this mouse was moved towards the back of the mouse, forcing a different grip that tends to tire your hands when combined with the larger weight of the mouse.
The Final Verdict
Many PC gamers swear by the improved accuracy of this mouse. While I found it noticeable, it wasn’t as great as I had hoped. I wanted to love the mouse, but I just couldn’t. I mostly blame my hands. Maybe the lack of proper Mac drivers also didn’t allow the mouse to reach its true potential. I will try to retest it once the Mac drivers are out.
In the meantime, the lack of Mac support and the high price don’t necessarily make it an ideal buy for every Mac user. Then again, hard-core gamers are not your average Mac users. If you are tempted to get the mouse, give it a try—but make sure to have a 30-day money back guarantee.