I have major trouble finding good peripherals. I go through keyboards like candy and mice like Gatorade after a long bike ride, so I was really glad to finally get my hands (literally) on a keyboard (the Microsoft Sidewinder) and mouse that I'm happy with.
A wired mouse was a must for me as the RF connection hiccups that occur occasionally, no matter how rarely, bug me horribly (though with the Bluetooth setup on my Mac I've had no real issues). I also have trouble with occasional wrist pain - a minor carpal tunnel issue - so finding a comfortable mouse was very important to me. And while the SideWinder mouse isn't perfect, I'm keeping it.
The first things that struck me about the mouse were the size (it's big) and the shape (it's weird). But for me, they work well: the unconventional size and shape allow me to shift my grip throughout the day while still being able to reach all the controls. This keeps the pain away better than any other mouse I've ever used, particularly those that force me into holding my hand in the same position all day long.
The scroll wheel and forward/back buttons are next up: I've found the buttons a bit too far forward for me (my hands aren't HUGE), though not far enough to make their position a deal-breaker. The scroll wheel is graduated, meaning it doesn't spin free like some others, but has excellent feel and weight to it. It also doubles as a button; I've mapped mine to the Vista Flip 3D function that shows all open windows. This is a function I got addicted to on my Mac (where I use expose mapped to a scroll-wheel press) as I tend to have a lot of windows open at once and can get a bit lost. My only complaint here is that I have trouble finding the perfect setting for scroll wheel increments - sometimes each step goes too far, but making them shorter can make scrolling long pages a pain in the butt (this can mitigated a bit by using accelerated scrolling).
There are a few more things make this mouse unique. First, there are three DPI switches on the top of the mouse which allow you to change the mouse resolution on-the-fly. The new resolution is displayed in a small LCD window on the mouse itself, and each of the three pre-set DPIs are changeable using the mouse software. Second, there's the weighting system: the mouse comes with set a of 5g and 10g weights (two of each) three of which can be inserted into the mouse body in a slide-out tray. Third, the mouse comes with three different sets of feet that can be easily switched out to find the optimum material for your mousing surface. The differences aren't huge, but I have found that picking the right feet makes the mouse slide easier. Finally, the feet and weights all store easily in a small box that has a slot through which the mouse cord can be fed; this makes it not only a handy storage container but an excellent cord control device.
As for the software, it's exactly what you'd expect. You can map all the buttons (except for the one which opens your games folder...stupid, that..though it is out of the way) pretty much any way you'd like, including making program-specific setups. I've had no crashes of the driver, and everything has worked flawlessly for me since day one. Please not that I have only used this with my PC, and have NOT tested it with any of my Macs.
If I could change anything about the mouse I might make it a TINY bit smaller, I'd definitely make the game-launch button re-mappable, and I'd add the ability to put the scroll wheel into a free-spin mode (like some Logitech mice). Overall though, the good FAR outweighs the bad, and I'm not changing mice anytime soon.
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About the reviewer
Bradford Schmidt (BradfordSchmidt)
My background is in the arts; I designed and ran a television station in the 80's, was a record producer and independent engineer in the late 80's and early 90's, then formed one of the first online advertising … more
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Elevate your skills with the revolutionary Microsoft SideWinder Mouse designed to provide you with unprecedented performance, handling, and adaptability. Customize your mouse with every game you play using advanced software and adjustable accessories. Use the first ever LCD display on a gaming mouse for macro recording and DPI settings to reduce on-screen interference during gameplay.