Razer Krait First Impressions

My Razer Krait showed up today and I’ve been using it for a few hours now so I thought I would share my first impressions of it.

krait-mouse.jpg krait.jpg

I am specifically NOT going to review it in the standard “gee whiz bang new gaming mouse” fashion. I really don’t think you care what exactly the box looks like, I know I didn’t – you only look at the box for a second, then open it and toss it aside anyway. Nor do I care to have an itemized list of items included – every piece of hardware comes with a generic instruction book and a driver install CD.

Do you really need pictures? Then look at the link above…

Here’s what I find important – fit, finish, feel, functionality and ‘formance (I had a roll going…)

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Fit Rating: 10

It’s a dainty mouse. I like that. I’ve owned gobs of mice including the venerable Razer Boomslang 2000 which was anything but small, God only knows how many Logitech 2 button and 3 button/wheel mice, and a Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer or three. My currently replaced mouse is a Microsoft Wireless Optical 2.0.

All of these mice vary in size and shape, from “palm huggers” that were always too small for my meat-hook hands anyway to basic normal computer mice. The Krait is slim, it’s slender, it feels dainty and I like that. My fingers rest perfectly on the rubberized glowing side bars and my two outer finger tips (right ring and pinky) curl under nicely and don’t drag on the desktop.

Some say that it is a “small” mouse. I don’t find that at all. When I think of a small mouse I think of a notebook travel mouse. In reality the Krait feels very close in dimension to the standard uber-generic desktop mouse that you get with a new Dell or Gateway.

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Finish Rating: 9

Its a sexy mouse. All black with glowing yellow side rails and glowing yellow scroll wheel. The logo is tasteful green Razer and white Krait on the top just aft of the buttons. The buttons are long and slender, like the mouse, and the rubberized texture (standard on all Razer mice) is a beautiful silky flat black. At the right angle the curve of the buttons to the front of the mouse edge reminds me distinctly of a rattle snake (below) more than a krait (pictured above).

rattle-snake-coiled.jpg

So why the 9 rating instead of the 10? The glowing is really cool and distractingly bright at all, it seems that the side rails could use a little more oomph toward the front of the mouse. It’s like they used one LED to do all of the work when they should have used three. Also keep in mind though that this is, at least now a days, a sub $30 (USD) mouse and looks fantastic for the price. Had this mouse been more expensive my finish rating would have started going down significantly because of the non-uniform lighting in the side rails.

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Feel Rating: 10

Reading through the “Fit” section you get the idea that I like the way this feels in my hand. The rubberized sides for my pinky nd thumb are perfect, the rubberized buttons are non-slip. the buttons are shaped concavely toward the end and with enough click-resistance that your fingers rest comfprtably in the dents.

It boasts (as all high end mice do these days) Teflon feet. Normal mice just have protrusions of the plastic for feet to glide across your mousing surface. Teflon keeps my eggs from sticking to the pan, and now it keeps my mouse flowing across my surface (a Razer eXactMat) like an oiled ball bearing.

The scroll wheel deserves some mention here too. It an indented wheel unlike the past three MS mice I’ve owned, and many of the newer Logitech mice coming out. The detentless wheels feel silky smooth but actually offer less precision than a properly “old school” detented wheel. Why? Simple – your mouse wheel is actualy a digital input – it’s two buttons being reported to the OS – one button that says “up one line” and another that says “down one line.” whoever designed the original scroll wheel should be a patent millionaire because the idea is ingenious in the method of how it works. Wheels are logical, way more so than adding two more buttons to a mouse to do the same thing.

To tell you specfically – I play a lot of games, first person shooters, and like to use my mouse wheel to scroll through the weapons I have. I find this much easier than trying to take my movement hand off the keys to reach over an tap the 10 key. Nothing is more infuriating than trying to scroll through weapons and keep over shooting the one you want because you don’t have detents to tel you how many you’ve moved.

So for feel I’ll sum it up by saying that this is a very precise mouse and the light weight, low profile and slick feet make me feel like I am using an instrument as precise as it really is. This is how I imagine a surgeon feels wielding a scalpel.

 

krait-mouse.jpg

Functionality Rating: 7

What can I say, I plugged it in, turned on my machine and it worked. At least in Ubuntu Linux it did. The mouse was way crazy fast but that was fixed easily by adjusting the sensitivity to 0 and the acceleration to about 1/4 which makes it feel like any other mouse I’ve used.

screenshot-mouse-preferences.png

Since I run a dual-boot machine with WindowsXP that my wife uses occasionally (she just won’t try Ubuntu) I thought it prudent to reboot into Windows and install the actual drivers there. In Windows I installed the drivers (with the mouse already plugged in), followed the on screen prompts and rebooted when it asked. When I got back into Windows the mouse was still crazy fast so I opened the Razer Krait control panel (in the system tray) and tried adjusting it. It was open for only about 30 seconds when it crashed explorer.exe. For those that don’t know, this is the program that IS the Windows interface. The driver stayed on the screen but explorer restarted. And crashed, and restarted, and crashed and…

Crappy Windows XP. Rebbot into Safe Mode, uninstall the driver, reboot normally into Windows and download the latest drivers. Install, reboot, sigh heavily to myself, and then it came to me: “Screw Windows, I’m booting back into Ubuntu.”

Remember folks, it’s a three button wheel mouse. It is a REALLY ACCURATE three button wheel mouse, but it is what it is. I found myself wondering what made the drivers so special that I couldn’t use the standard Windows mouse driver instead and I found what it is:

1. On the fly sensitivity adjustment

2. Choosing between 400 DPI and 1600 DPI resolution.

That’s it. That’s all that that using the drivers gets you, in the grand scheme of things. Sure, you can assign custom actions to the buttons in the Razer driver, but other than “left click”, “right click”, “scroll up”, and “scroll down”, WTF did you expect a three button mouse to do? It doesnn’t store profiles, it doesn’t support multi-profile switching for games, it doesn’t have any side buttons to assign macros or “web forward” and “web back” to.

I had originally thought I might try to hack the razertool-gtk for Copperhead/Habu to support the Krait, but the only thing it would do is change the DPI from 400 to 1600. I’m perfectly happy keeping it at 1600 in Linux so I’m not even going to bother with hacking.

Unfortunately the Krait only rates a 7 because of the explorer.exe issue in Windows. Had the drivers worked properly out of the box it would have gotten a 10. It didn’t score lower because it worked flawlessly in Linux under the standard xorg.config I had for the previous mouse. I did expect to have to adjust the speed/sensitivity of the mouse, it is scanning at 4x the rate as my previous mouse, and since the previous mouse was wireless it was also that much slower as well.

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‘Formance Rating: 10

Of course it rates a 10. I was using a laggy, crappy low resolution mouse to work and game with. As you will read all over the internet, this is a subjective matter. I will say that the mouse tracks smoother on the screen with far less jittery movements. In fact heres absolutely NO jitter in the mouse movement on the screen and it seems to refresh faster as well (fewer mouse artifacts on my slow-ish 12ms LCD). It probably has to do with the 1000 hz polling rate versus a 250 hs polling rate for standard mice. And just think, your old-ass PS/2 generic mouse only polled at 125 hz.

Game motion is smoother, I tested in Unreal Tournament 2004. I’m a twitch/flick gamer, I snap my view around fast with the mouse and it seemed like I was able to land the crosshair on target faster and with less follow-on post acquisition adjustment to shoot.

 

So where does this put us overall? Lets add it up…

Fit                     10

Finish                9

Feel                   10

Functionality   7

‘Formance        10

Total             46/50 

My advice? If you find one for less than $30, snatch it up. That is assuming that you want a highly precise, great feeling, great looking but otherwise ordinary in form and function 3 button scroll wheel mouse. This mouse would have scored higher with better lighting on the side rails (it doesn’t glow as neatly or uniformly as their promo pictures or the box…) and if their driver support was better. TigerDirect sells them currently for $29.99 (barely at the threshold) and ships for $7 – $10 depending on location. Other vendors prices are a scoche lower, like in the pennies, so it lookslike the wholesale on it probably isn’t going to save you any more.

There’s a reason you don’t see used Razer hardware on eBay, they make really good stuff! The only thing I would like to see come out of Razer next is Linux driver support. This actually really surprises me, Linux users will often spend lots of money on good equipment – most of them use Linux because it’s better than Windows, not because it’s cheaper. Believe it or not there are a lot of Linux users that have Microsoft hardware, because as a hardware brand it’s very good equipment. Of course none of us are fooled into thinking MS will ever release Linux support for their hardware.

 

 

One Response to Razer Krait First Impressions

  1. The BrainX says:

    I’ve been using my Krait for about a month now. It’s awesome and I wanted to mention that Krait doesn’t need any drivers in Windows Vista and also there ain’t no explorer.exe problem. anyway I agree on “Screw WindowZ”.
    Furthermore it works flawlessly in RHEL5, Ubuntu Hardy Alpha 3, Mandriva Linux 2008.1 RC1 and openSuSE 10.3 with the standard xorg.conf.

    Regards,
    BrainX

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