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Microsoft SideWinder Mouse Review

Sep 28 2007, 12:00am CDT | by , in Reviews | Peripheral

Microsoft SideWinder Mouse Review
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Benchmarks

Features & Specifications
Microsoft grafted a tiny LCD screen onto the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse that displays the sensitivity setting with black letters on a red background. The LCD screen also displays prompts for recording in-game macros and binding them to one of the mouse buttons as well.

The sensitivity of the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse can be adjusted on-the-fly through three settings via a trio of buttons under the scroll wheel. Using the Microsoft SetPoint application you can choose the three presets between 200 and 2000 dpi. Another nice feature is the included accessory storage box that doubles as a cable anchor.

The weighted box has a foam lining that allows you to store the two additional sets of mouse feet that are included and holds the weights you are not using. A groove in one end of the box holds the mouse cable, which helps to keep your mouse in place. The mouse has a black set of non-Teflon feet, a gray set of Teflon mix feet, and a white set of Teflon feet that are easy to interchange depending on your needs.

The Microsoft SideWinder Mouse weight cartridge holds three weights inside for up to 30g of weight. You can opt to use no weights, one weight, whatever you want. Three 10g weights and one 5g weight are included. The weight cartridge slips into the left side of the mouse and is released by a button on the bottom of the mouse.

The scroll wheel on the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse is a silver metal wheel with a knurled center strip that offers good grip. Directly below the scroll wheel are the sensitivity buttons I mentioned before. Right below the sensitivity buttons is a button that launches the SetPoint application in Windows XP and launches Games Explorer in Vista.

On the right side of the mouse are two silver buttons that are stacked rather than being side-by-side as we typically see thumb buttons oriented. These buttons map to forward and back by default. Directly in front of the thumb buttons is the button that activates the in-game macro record function. Microsoft carried the red lighting motif started with the LCD backlighting to the LEDs that illuminate beind the sensitivity buttons and a pair of red lights that glow on the rear of the mouse.

Microsoft says the maximum acceleration that the mouse can withstand is 20 G, it can process 7080 frames per second and the maximum speed it can track is 45 inches per second. The USB reporting speed is 500Hz, making it half the Logitech G9’s 1000Hz report speed.

Gaming with the SideWinder Mouse
When I first saw images online of the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse, I didn’t like the way it looked. After seeing it in person it’s not nearly as harsh looking as it comes across in pictures, it’s actually an attractive design. The red backlighting is attractive and bright so you can see what you are pressing in dark environments.

The LCD screen is actually useful, I find it hard to tell exactly what sensitivity setting my G9 is on at times because all you have to go on are bars on the mouse rather than a number that can be read unequivocally. Many gamers will find the 2000 dpi sensitivity to be lacking a bit. Personally, I find it to be plenty of sensitivity for the vast majority of game uses. The only place where I wish for more is driving tanks or flying in Battlefield 2142 where higher sensitivity mice make turns easier to accomplish.

The thumb buttons are strange looking metal buds stacked vertically on the right side of the mouse. At first glance, it seems like one of those poor design calls where you will be ever pressing the spot where your thumb buttons used to be. However, the buttons are very intuitive, the bottom one goes backwards, and the top goes forward. It takes all of a second to get used to the unorthodox layout.

I also found the thumb buttons to be perfect from a tactile feedback perspective. You have to want to activate these buttons to do so. There is no accidentally hitting the thumb buttons in a game or in your general computer work as you get with some mouse thumb buttons. You can bump the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse thumb buttons all day, half press them, whatever and unless you consciously want them to be activated you have no worries.

At the same time, the buttons are easily activated when you do want them. You simply reach a bit further forward with your thumb that the normal resting point on the side of the mouse and click them. The buttons feel virtually identical to the main right and left mouse buttons when activated, rather than the vague, mushy feel I normally find with thumb buttons. Very good job here Microsoft.

The scroll wheel is clickable, which is where I prefer to map my push-to-talk for Ventrilo. The scroll wheel moves fast when you want to scroll quickly to the next weapon and has detents pronounced enough that you can feel when you are at the stop you want. For normal computer work, it’s not as good as the scroll wheel on the new Logitech G9 with the free wheel mode, but for gaming, the SideWinder Mouse scroll wheel is great.

This is the first mouse I have used with a macro record function built-in. I’ll be honest, I don’t use macros, even on my keyboard. Having the ability to bind a macro to one of my mouse buttons doesn’t really appeal to me. However, if mouse macros seem like a good deal to you, they are easy to set up thanks to the LCD on the mouse without having to stop your game.

One of the big features that Microsoft touts on the SideWinder Mouse is the Quick Turn button. This allows you to map an automatic command to one of the five main mouse buttons that will turn your character around in the opposite direction. This feature is easy to activate by going into SetPoint and mapping the command to one of the buttons.

Once you do that, you start your game up to calibrate the Quick Turn button. This involves simply holding the button you chose for Quick Turn down and turning your game character in a 360-degree circle. Once the circle is complete, you let go of the Quick Turn button and you are done. Once I calibrated my control, I gave it a go in Bioshock.

I found that it was not as accurate as simply turning the character myself. At the entrance to the fisheries in Bioshock, I calibrated the 360-degree circle to turn from the health station on the wall in a complete circle. I found that in use often the character didn’t make it to an exact turnaround from where he started. I would end up looking at the wall to the left of a complete turn at times. Other times I would end up looking at the conveyor belt to my right. More often than not, I would end up looking at the door directly behind my character. However, I know when I turn the character myself I will always end up looking where I want to.

Microsoft says you can calibrate smaller turns by simply letting go of the Quick Turn button before you make a complete 360-degree arc. The accessory box that doubles as a cable holder is a great feature. I normally use a Razer Armadillo to keep my mouse cord in check; with the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse, you simply use the accessory box, which also keeps the extra mouse feet and weights handy as well.

The mouse feet on the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse can significantly change the feel of your mouse. I preferred the gray feet that were pre-installed on the mouse for my rigid Razer exatMat. If you game on a cloth mouse pad, you may find the other mouse feet provide better feel. The feet are very easy to change without needing tools or adhesives. The remove easily and install easily, but hold firmly enough that they won’t fall off during a game or when you pick the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse up from the mouse pad.

Verdict

Conclusion

Pros

  • Cool design
  • Fantastic thumb buttons
  • LCD screen is very useful
  • Great accessory box

Cons

  • Quick Turn feature not always accurate
  • Sensitivity too low for some gamer’s needs

Verdict
I really liked the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse even though it gives up some sensitivity to the new G9 from Logitech. The SideWinder Mouse has a unique design that is comfortable in hand and has a host of features, like the LCD, you won’t find anywhere else. Many gamers have fond memories of the SideWinder line of gaming peripherals and Microsoft has done the old moniker proud with the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse. If 2000 dpi is enough sensitivity for you, the SideWinder Mouse is a great gaming weapon.

9.0
10
 
 

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