A good gaming mouse boasts a few key features: comfort, accuracy and a healthy dose of kick-ass. With a 6,000 DPI laser sensor, a nice soft-touch body and some customizable lighting, the $79 Roccat's Kone[+] mouse has all that and more. But can the Kone[+] hold its own against the other heavyweights in the gaming mouse market?
Click to EnlargeWith its sweeping curves, the Roccat Kone[+] is quite the looker. Upon plugging it in, our eyes were immediately drawn to the glossy, backlit strips of plastic that line the top of the mouse and change colors every few seconds in a seductive, rainbow-hued light show.
The right and left mouse buttons are sheathed in soft-touch plastic. Our ring and pinkie fingers rested on a curved plastic ridge on the right, while our thumb nestled into a longer groove along the left. A scroll wheel juts out prominently from a shiny plastic crevasse alongside a trio of buttons, while a gray Roccat logo rests towards the rear. The bottom is home to three black, plastic feet and a 6,000 DPI laser sensor.
Click to EnlargeThe Kone[+] features 12 programmable buttons, the majority of which are on the top. Four of the buttons come by way of the scroll wheel. Acting as sort of a directional pad, the wheel can be pushed down to trigger a command or tilted left-to-right or front-to-back. We easily performed the tilt-left and tilt-right commands, but had some difficulty with the front and back presses. It didn't deliver the precision that we expect from a mouse specifically targeting gamers.
The Kone[+]'s buttons are big and delivered firm feedback, but not as much snap as the competitor Razer Naga.
Click to EnlargeThe Kone[+] comes with two pairs of 5-gram weights that can be placed into a small compartment on the bottom of the mouse. When we used the mouse without the weights, it felt substantially lighter and more fragile. However, the mouse stood up to the constant mashing of a heavy firefight. The addition of the weights definitely gave the mouse a more solid feel.
Adding the weights was as simple as untwisting the large circular cover, placing the weights into their designated slots and twisting the lid shut.
Gamers can also create custom color palettes for the Kone[+]'s LEDs. Using the Roccat Kone[+]'s driver software, users can select from 33 colors and seven effects, including speed and flow direction . The effects portion of the software one-upped Logitech's sparse effects offerings (Pulse and Cycle lighting), but the G600 had a larger color palette. The Razer Naga lacks both color and effects customization.
Click to EnlargeUpon launching the the Roccat Kone[+]'s software, we were slightly overwhelmed with all the panels. The Main Control page controls sensitivity, vertical scroll speed and the DPI switcher. The Color Control panel deals with cosmetic changes, while the Advanced Contol panel handles the tracking and distance-control units. The Button Assignment panel is where you can assign buttons and create macros. There's also an Update/Support menu.
The mouse features 576 KB of storage for 5 onboard profiles. Roccat has 30 preset macro profiles covering a number of popular games, including "BioShock 2" and "Left 4 Dead." While that number pales in comparison to the Logitech G600's whopping 248 profiles, we were pleased to see presets for Firefox, Adobe Photoshop and Windows.
We created our profile in the Button Assignment panel and assigned buttons by clicking the tab next to the corresponding button number. Clicking on the small blue arrow next to the tab unfurled a drop-down menu in which we could cherry-pick commands from the presets or from our own, custom macros.
Click to EnlargeOne of the Kone[+]'s more unusual features is Sound Feedback. The mouse announces DPI, volume and sensitivity changes in a deep, commanding voice through your notebook's speakers. The function proved invaluable when we were in the heat of battle during "Borderlands 2" and needed to switch DPI for a more precise shot.
The Kone[+] also comes with an Easy-Shift[+] duplication button. Located on the mouse's lower left panel, Easy-Shift[+] increases the number of programmable buttons from 12 to 22. We used this function to create a "Borderlands 2" sub-profile on our Windows main profile. This feature enabled us to switch from our Windows configurations to our game profile on the fly with a quick press of the button. While the Easy-Shift[+] button could be used to map just about every command on a game or app, we had trouble remembering which command was mapped where.
In terms of precision, Roccat has integrated Distance and Tracking control units into the laser sensor. The Distance unit determines how far the mouse is lifted off the mouse pad, and the Tracking unit fine-tunes the sensor to the mousepad. Combined, these two features made for some very precise movement.
Click to EnlargeWith the Roccat Kone[+] in hand, we were formidable, but not the total bad-asses we were with the Mad Catz Cyborg M.M.O. 7 or the Razer Naga. We spent hours in pursuit of Handsome Jack, mowing down obstacles with a steady hail of bullets, while taking quite a few shots ourselves.
Mapping our grenades to the hard-to-reach button in front of the scroll wheel proved a costly mistake. We found ourselves constantly readjusting our grip, turning our character into a bullet magnet. However, our aiming reticle never strayed far from our target, thanks to the Tracking and Distance units. Plus, with the DPI switcher, we could seamlessly ramp up from 400 DPI when we chose to play sniper, changing to 3,200 DPI when we wanted to charge into an area, guns blazing.
Click to EnlargeThe $79.99 Roccat Kone[+] is a triforce of pwnage. The soft-touch grip and soft curve is gentle enough for marathon gaming sessions, while the removable weights and robust software enable gamers to make a mouse that's truly unique to their play style. However, for the same price, gamers could get the uber-comfy Razer Naga with its customizable side panels and limitless game profiles. Overall, the Kone[+] is a solid mouse for beginner and intermediate gamers, but experienced fraggers might want to explore other options.