Saitek has been making top notch computer peripherals for a long time. Their joysticks, keyboards and driving wheels are second to none. The new Obsidian computer mouse seems to be another great product from Saitek. Lets see if it holds up to the test. .
- 4-mode, touch-sensitive scroll function
- Recharge cradle with wireless transmitter storage and spare battery recharge
- 5 buttons
- 1000 dpi resolution minimum
- Interference-free 2.4GHz wireless technology
There are several things you will notice when you start using the Obsidian mouse. The first will be the lack of a scroll wheel. My pointer finger usually goes directly to the scroll wheel when I place my hand on the mouse, not only to orient my hand without having to look at the mouse, but also because I am a fidgeter and my finger can fidget with the scroll wheel without causing too much damage to what I am doing. Without a scroll wheel this is a little more difficult. Instead of a scroll wheel, the Obsidian has a touch pad. It is very similar to the touch pads that are on a laptop. There are 4 modes to the touch pad — scroll, scroll lock, tick up and tick down. The scroll is done by sliding your finger from the top to the bottom or from the bottom to the top. The scroll lock is done by tapping the center of the pad and tick up and tick down is done by tapping the top or bottom of the pad once.
Another feature of the Obsidian is the interchangeable batteries. While other wireless mice have batteries that can be replaced it usually requires replacing multiple AA or AAA batteries. The Obsidian has a single circular battery that pops in and out really quickly. They even included an additional battery so that while one is charging you can still use the mouse.
The wireless transmitter has dual uses as well. You can leave it plugged into the base for normal desktop use or you can take it out of the base and plug it directly into a USB port for use with a laptop so you don’t have to deal with long cables.
The design of the Obsidian mouse is really simple. There are no fancy curves or colors. The all black look and smooth surface not only look good, but they work well also. The top of the mouse, like all PC mice, is where you will find two buttons and the scroll wheel. In the case of the Obsidian you will not find a scroll wheel, instead you find the touch pad that I mentioned before. There is a light around the touch pad that is used to indicate the status of the mouse. A steady light indicates a good connection and a good charge on the battery. A slowly blinking light indicates a low battery charge. A fast blink indicates no connection to the computer.
On either side of the mouse is an area covered in rubber. The rubber area covers two more buttons. Because the mouse is ambidextrous the buttons on both sides of the mouse do the same thing, They are the forward and back buttons.
The bottom of the mouse is where the battery goes. You will notice a small switch that is used to release the battery. The battery is designed as a circle and it has contacts all around the top so you don’t have to worry about putting it in the wrong direction.
The cradle is simple. It include a place for the mouse in case you want to store it when not in use. It also has a place for the battery charging. The charger is surrounded by a light that indicates the charging status. A green light indicates a complete charge, and a red light indicates charging. Unfortunately, the cradle does not charge the battery while it is still in the mouse, even when you rest the mouse on the cradle. There is also a small indicator light on the USB dongle. This light indicates if it is receiving information from the mouse. It lights up whenever you press a button or move the mouse.
The performance of a mouse can be measured in several ways, ease of use and accuracy. To test the performance of the mouse, I used it in several different situations to see how well it worked. The first situation is basic desktop navigation and it worked really well. Clicking on icons and navigating the start menu was no problem at all. Using the mouse in a browser was ok, until I tried to scroll. I would frequently try to move my finger up or down to scroll and instead the scroll lock would kick in, and if I moved the mouse I would end up jumping all over the page. You have to tap the middle of the pad to get scroll lock off. This is really frustrating if you are working on a long paper or document because it could make you jump several pages. You then have to spend the time finding your place in the document again. Next, I used the mouse in Photoshop where I needed to make a lot of precise movements. I found that the Obsidian lacked in this area. When moving the mouse slowly it would sometimes get stuck and them jump ahead randomly. This was especially annoying when I was trying to select a specific area in a picture with a select box. The last test was using it in games. I found that I had the same accuracy problem with games, but a lot of games don’t require a lot of accuracy. Using it with a First Person Shooter and being accurate with your shot is very difficult.
Playing First Person Shooters (FPS) brings up another problem with the mouse. The touch pad, while nice to look at, does not perform nearly as accurately as a wheel. One of the uses of a wheel in a FPS is changing weapons and sometimes in the middle of a fight you need to change weapons quickly. With the touch pad you are not always guaranteed to get the weapon you want. With a wheel you have the clicking of the wheel to tell you that you are selecting a different weapon and you know which weapon you are getting depending on how many clicks you feel. With the track pad you can either slide your finger to select the weapon, but this is not good if you only want to move one weapon up or down. Instead you can do a single tap on the top or bottom of the touch pad. This will move the weapon one space at a time, but it does not always work. You could fix this by adjusting the sensitivity of the touch pad, but because there is no software to do this, you are out of luck.
The Li-ion batteries last about 10 hours and it takes about 2 hours to charge. You must remove the battery from the mouse and place it on the cradle to charge. It would be very nice if you could just place the mouse on the cradle when you are not using it and have the battery charge. If you don’t watch the light on the touch pad you may wind up running out of batteries in the middle of a game or something, and that can be devastating. I really found having to swap the batteries to be easy, but it got annoying after a while. I have another wireless mouse that takes 2 AA batteries and those batteries last at least 6 months and they are not lithium batteries. If Saitek could make the mouse charge while docked and make the batteries last longer that would be really great.
The mouse transmits information using the 2.4 GHz range. I did not have any trouble with interference, but I did have trouble with the mouse losing its connection when it sat idle for more than a couple hours. About twice a week or so I would go to use my computer and find the light blinking rapidly, indicating that there was no connection. To reset the connection you must remove and reinsert the USB dongle.
The one thing I really liked about the mouse was the weight. It is heavier than a normal mouse and that gives it a really solid feel. When I switched back to a normal corded mouse it really felt cheap and light.
Warranty and Support
Saitek provides a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty. This is decent when compared to most other companies that only offer 90 days or 1 year. It can still be better, but I cannot complain. I fully expect that the warranty does not cover the batteries.
Saitek makes really great peripherals for computers, but they seem to have missed the mark on this one. The design is good, and the ideas have a lot of promise, but the end product is hard to use because the sensitivity and buttons are not customizable. If you feel like an adventure then feel free to try this out. I am going to wait until they come out with version 2. Maybe by then they will have worked out some of the bugs and included some software for customizing. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|