Jumping into the game I found that the Saitek seemed a bit too light in the hand, despite its size. It’s certainly lighter than my regular stock Logitech three button wheel mouse. In its favour though it really does glide incredibly smoothly across the desk or mouse mat.
However, no sooner had I joined a Counter-Strike server, than I found that I’d been dumped back to the desktop, with a hexagonal icon having popped up. At first I didn’t know what this was or how to get rid of it. It turned out that by default the side buttons are mapped to shortcut wheels. Each section is a shortcut to an application of choice so instead of having to go down to the start menu and scroll through a list of programmes you can open what you want quickly. This is great for things like Notepad, the Dos Prompt, Calculator or whatever you want but it’s not so great when your playing a 3D game and I didn’t appreciate being unceremoniously dumped back to the desktop. It’s certainly not what I’d expect from a supposedly ‘gamers’ mouse. To get rid of this you have to go into the options of the bundled driver (a shortcut sits in the system tray) and set the keys to ‘Normal Function’ rather than the default.
Also irritating is that to get the wheel to scroll in browsers and Word you have to manually enable the ‘Compatible Scroll’ option in the driver and increase the rather useless default single line scroll setting. Why Saitek has set this up as a default is beyond me.
Another point is that the software doesn’t look as slick as that from Logitech or Razor, with a rather hokey feel to the design, if not the functionality. It’s worth bearing in mind that at the time of writing the software is not available for download so if you lose your disc you’re stuffed.
While the programmability is good, ultimately what’s important is how comfortable the mouse feels in the hand. For me I found that the Saitek sat too high up in the palm. By contrast I had a quick play with a Razor Diamondback and much preferred its elongated shape. It’s long and thin rather than high and round, which just suits the way I hold a mouse. Despite Saitek’s claims for its mouse, the Razor is also more suited to the left-hander as it’s completely equal on both sides.
The Saitek is undeniably attractively priced at only £26.99 but what makes a good mouse really does come down to personal preference. Personally I’d spend more and go for a Razor Diamondback. But if you can give the Saitek a try in a store and like its feel, then you won’t be disappointed – at least once you’ve taken control of the unruly software.