Before we get too far ahead of ourselves on innards and features, let’s talk a little more about design. As already mentioned, the Sensei is ambidextrous, and thus symmetrical. Keeping this in mind, its contours are just about ideal – though we’ve handled more comfortable mice, none of them catered to southpaws. There’s a decent amount of support for palm gamers, while the body is slim enough for ‘claw’ gamers, making it a great compromise no matter which hand you use or how you use it (appropriate jokes in the comments, please).
Despite its glossy-ness that silver finish isn’t a fingerprint magnet (due to some magic involving the CPU and a quantum stereofibrilizator, no doubt), and the soft-touch black plastic along the sides provides a secure grip, though strangely it’s not as soft or grippy as the Xai. 16 percent of the mouse’s base is covered by its Teflon feet and glide action is very smooth – though no more so than most reputable gaming mice.
The action of the Sensei’s main right and left buttons is superb, with just the right amount of resistance and a firm, audible click. The active zone for each of these buttons is also huge, extending to nearly the middle of the mouse’s body: you can still click quite easily by pressing to either side of the CPI switch.
The other five buttons likewise have a great action and are well-positioned. Our only niggle is that it’s far too easy to press one of the side buttons accidentally while trying to grip the mouse in the heat of battle (or even while just browsing the web or such like). This may be the inevitable result of creating an ambidextrous mouse whose extra buttons are easy to press when you need them, but we wish there was a way around it.
Last but not least, the soft rubberized scroll-wheel feels great under your finger, offers a crisp click, and sports beautifully balanced, notched action. Mind you, it’s far from the most advanced wheel we’ve come across. For one thing, it only offers up and down: unlike rodents from Microsoft or Logitech there’s no sideways scrolling, which even if you never use vertical scrolling robs you of two usable ‘buttons’.
For another, we’re completely addicted to Logitech’s micro-gear scroll
wheels – that allow you to flick them just once and have them spin for a
while – and really miss it on any mouse that doesn’t have it.
That said, this is very much a design decision taken for good reason. In all the research Steel Series has done, hardcore FPS gamers in particular have said they prefer mice that don’t freewheel or offer side clicking because when they use the scroll wheel while gaming they want to ensure that it only moves as much as they require and their movement isn’t interrupted by erroneous side clicks. In this regard, it really must be remembered that Steel Series markets this mouse as a gaming tool, rather than simply another flashy mouse. That said there’s an argument for saying the side clicking buttons on the scroll wheel could still be included and users could simply disable them while gaming.
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Finally build quality on the Sensei also holds up well. There’s not a hint of creak and the mouse survived a few trips in our backpack with no visible scars. The 2m cable is braided and supposedly anti-tangle but we found it proved far from tangle-free, though few mice truly avoid this. And of course its USB connector is (arguably pointlessly) gold-plated – natch, this is a 1337 tool, after all!