Logitech G7 Laser Mouse
MyGamer Hardware Score: 7.8/10
MSRP: $ 99.99
Yes, it certainly is sexy- but is the G7 worth its $100 price tag?
Editor’s Note– Since we went live with this review, we heard back from Logitech’s customer support. They advised that the G7, unlike previous models, does not have user-upgradable firmware, which seemed to be the root cause of our skipping issues. They sent us a replacement unit with the latest-and-greatest firmware, however we found that the G7, even with this upgrade, still performs poorly on some mousing surfaces. In particular, the G7 still has “skipping” issues on the black Icemat glass-surfaced pad that it our personal favorite for FPS titles. Thinking that this might be a mouspad that is just a poor choice for ANY laser-based mouse, we tried out a Razer Copperhead on the Icemat, and that laser mouse worked flawlessly, so we can only assume that Logitech still has room for improvement in the G7's firmware. The new unit worked great on everything else we tried, however, which is indeed a great improvement. Our Logitech contact also wanted to make sure that consumers are aware that the company offers a 3-year warranty on their products, so if you purchase a G7 and have issues, please be sure to contact their tech support for assistance, rather than returning the unit to the store- you may just have an old version of the firmware installed. Based on the new unit’s performance, we bumped the review score from 5.0 to 7.8- we are still disappointed that the laser mouse functions on less surfaces than a cheap-o $10 LED optical mouse, but the rest of the unit’s features really are top-notch. The remainder of this review is unchanged.
The G7 is one of the next-generation optical mice. In place of the glowing, red LED used in previous optical mice, the G7 uses a nearly-invisible laser spot to track the device's movement. The manufacturer claims that the unit sends out a whopping 6.4 megapixels per second through its high-resolution 2000 dpi laser engine. The benefit of this system, says the manufacturer, is greatly increased resolution and precision when you need it most: in games. What we discovered, however, was that this new system might carry a high price, especially for gamers that prefer a "next generation" mousing surface to go along with their spiffy new high-tech pointing device. More on that in a bit, but first let's look at the G7's overall performance and specs.
The G7 ships with a USB base unit which does double duty as the wireless receiver as well as the charging station for the unit's dual Lithium Ion battery packs. When in use, one battery pack is in the mouse itself, while the other resides in the base unit, recharging. When the battery pack dies, it only takes about 15 seconds to swap the dead unit for the charged one and return to playing.
We loved this feature, especially since the laser mouse will run through a fully-charged battery in about 6-8 hours of use. The mouse features a subtle LED indicator that displays the current battery status, and the included Setpoint software can also be configured to generate a low-battery warning at a variety of user-defined points. The G7 also has a small, recessed power button on the underside, which we thought was a wonderful idea- no more arriving at LAN parties with a dead battery!
The G7 has a number of other features that really endeared it to us initially, including the ability to change the mouse's optical resolution on the fly (perfect for those moments where you want to dial-down to pinpoint accuracy when using a sniper rifle in a first-person-shooter, for example), as well as twin, oversized Teflon-like skate-pads on the G7's bottom- no longer will you need to affix stick-on skate pads to the bottom of your mouse to get that "pro-glide" feeling. The included Setpoint software allows the user to fine-tune the mouse's various in-game resolutions, should the three default values (400 dpi, 800 dpi, and 2000 dpi), be unacceptable.
In our testing, however, we found that the three pre-defined settings worked like a charm for any game we played, and that the accuracy we derived form the highest-precision DPI setting was more than adequate. It was here, however that our honeymoon with the G7 ended.
We ran into problems with the G7 when we tried using the mouse with a variety of different mousing surfaces. By coincidence, we initially tested the G7 on SteelPad's QcK+ Cloth Mouse Pad (reviewed below), and on that pad the G7 performed admirably. When we switched back to our favorite mouse pads, however, namely the glass Icemat Black Second Edition or the black plastic Steel Pad S&S, we instantly discovered that the mouse simply would not track, or, very occasionally, that it tracked poorly, with a great degree of "skip".
We tried upgrading our version of Setpoint with the latest version available from Logitech's support site, but nothing seemed to help- no matter what pad we tried, unless it was a traditional cloth-based pad, the mouse would not track properly. A document we found on Logitech's support forum advised that "…most of the (gaming) mouse pads currently on the market are optimized and designed for optical mice…", not laser mice, and that customers might need to "…use the G5 and G7 on light, semi-reflective surfaces that have an irregular pattern. Gamers should avoid matte or very high gloss finishes".
We found this quite disappointing, and wonder what good this ultra-high-resolution laser technology really is, when it can so easily be blinded by a user's choice of mouse pad? We can see how gamers, a group that can be very choosy and finicky about their hardware choices, would be infuriated by this answer (as we were). Our repeated requests to Logitech for an alternate solution or for more details were met with repeated links to the Knowledge base article quoted above. For $100, I expect my mouse to work on anything I care to use as a pad, whether it be glass, plastic, paper or cloth- my $10 CompUSA Optical mouse does, why not the G7?
Bottom line: if you decide to take a chance on the G7, we recommend saving the sales receipt for at least 30 days, and to use the device on a variety of mousing surfaces, lest you get an unpleasant surprise at the worst possible time (such as, say, a trip to a LAN party or gaming convention like QuakeCon, where you're forced to use someone else's mousepad). Too bad that the G7, for all the features that initially had us loving the unit, fell down so easily when confronted with something as simple and ubiquitous as a mouspad.
Pros: Hot-swappable, Lithium Ion battery packs are a great feature. We love the low-friction feet and the battery indicator LEDs. The ability to switch resolutions on the fly is nothing new, but it is very well implemented in the G7. When the mouse is working, it's one of the best we've ever used.
Cons: Unfortunately, it doesn't always work, based on your choice of mousing surface, and a device that sometimes refuses to work on something as simple as a plastic mouse pad really has us worried. The highest-resolution sensor in the world won't help you if you can't move your cursor. Mice geared towards the high-end, gaming consumer really should work out of the box with all types of mouse pads, whether they be plastic, glass, wood or cloth. If/when Logitech chooses to fix this, then and only then could we consider recommending the G7 to gamers.
SteelPad QcK+ Cloth Mouse Pad
MyGamer Hardware Score: 9.5/10
MSRP: $ 19.95
Seen one mousepad and you've seen them all, right? Well, we're here to tell you that looks can sometimes be deceiving…
SteelSeries is a manufacturer of high-end mousing products specifically targeted to gamers. In the past we've been impressed with their hard-plastic SteelPad S&S mousepad, but in their latest offering, the QcK+, SteelPad attempts to return to a classic, cloth-based design.
The design is instantly recognizable to anyone that's ever owned a cloth-fronted, rubber-backed mousing surface, but the pad's quality goes far beyond the $1.99 pads one might find at your local CompUSA. The size of the pad, for instance, is huge, measuring at 450mm x 400mm, while also being very thin (only about 2mm thick).
SteelPad always seems to make these oversized mousing surfaces, and we have to say that we love them- seldom if ever should you need to pick up and reposition your mouse, even in the most heated, white-knuckled frag-fest. The quality of the rubber backing and the cloth front is top-notch as well, simultaneously thin yet durable, lying flat without a hint of curl right out of the oblong, square shipping box.
Because the mousing surface is cloth, players that are used to the lightning-fast glide that can only be offered by a glass or hard-plastic pad (especially if your mouse is equipped with low-friction Teflon feet) might initially feel that their mouse feels ‘sluggish' when used on the QcK+, but after a few minutes of play, we discovered that this sensation faded (although it never totally went away- I guess I'm just spoiled by my glass Icemat brand pad). As a bonus, the padded surface makes long mousing sessions just a bit more bearable, since the extra cushioning and slight absorbency of the cloth helps to wick away palm sweat.
Pros: Traditional cloth-and-rubber design, updated for 21st century gamers. Oversized, flexible and, best of all, easily transportable- just roll it up and go. None of the unpleasant rubber smell that we usually associate with a pad of this type.
Cons: None come to mind, beyond price (although $20 for a pad of this size and quality seems pretty reasonable to us). Sure, you can get a cloth mousepad for $1.99 at your local PC store, but we guarantee it's nothing like the QcK+.