The world of gaming peripherals has seen an explosion with a huge amount of companies entering the marketplace and vying for a slice of your gaming budget.
There are many ways in which they attempt to accomplish this, be it through the introduction of new features, or a lower price point, or a design quirk. With so many mice to choose from making your product stand out from the pack has become harder and harder.
We here at OC3D know that our readers are a discerning bunch and wouldn't default to a "brand" solely because they've heard of it. However, the same cannot be said for the populous at large and that's why hardware gets reviewed. Everyone, even Intel, were a new company once.
Todays new company is a small Swedish concern by the name of Mionix.
Mionix have only been around for a couple of years, but like many Swedish companies they have a flair for design and a willingness to push the boundaries that bit further than you expect. With a plan to take on the more established companies such as Logitech and Razer, they cannot be faulted for ambition. With a small range of products catering to very distinct markets they certainly don't suffer from the problem associated with other companies where only a magnifying glass can show the differences between a, for example, 'Turbo 432PW' and a 'Turbo 451WS'.
As no-one will be a sensation by providing average products to the average person, we're going to leap straight in and look at their high-end gaming mouse, the Mionix NAOS 5000.
Sometimes a product name can appear to be a random assortment of letters. Not so here as the NAOS is actually named for a part of our Galaxy. I'll let Mionix explain :
This prominent gaming mouse is named after the star Naos, a blue super giant and one of the brightest stars in our galaxy. Naos means “ship” and is enough powerful to create comet tails and huge clouds of auroras visible from Earth. Naos is constantly moving away from its original position in the constellation of Vela and it spins about 100 times faster than our sun. Since its birth it has covered a distance of 400 light-years. No one knows exactly why Naos has such a high rotation speed, but an explanation to this phenomenon lies in the gravitational interaction between many other stars.
Hmm. Well they certainly have got the blurb down pat. A quick trip to the Mionix website reveals a comprehensive list of features with the NAOS 5000 supporting everything you'd expect to find on a gaming mouse, but in a single package.
• Truly ergonomic design
Truly ergonomic design with support for all five fingers
• Maximum grip
The rubber coating ensures a maximum grip
• Balanced weight tuning system
A unique weight tuning system for an optimal weight distribution
• 5040 dpi laser sensor
Remarkable tracking performance built for gaming
• 128kb built-in memory
Bring your settings and recorded macros with you stored into one of the 5 profiles
• Customizable LED light system
Personalize your mouse with extensive color options
• S.Q.A.T - Surface Quality Analyzer Tool
Surface Quality Analyzer tool to measure the tracking quality on a certain surface
• 3 steps customizable dpi in-game adjustment
Set 3 dpi values and switch easily between them in-game
• 7 programmable buttons
The buttons can be assigned to any key, mouse command or macro
• In-game profile switch
Switch easy with a click between stored profiles in-game
• Adjustable polling rate
Tune it all the way up to 1000Hz through the software
• Plug n Play
Completely Plug n Play, software needed only for configuration
We've had a good think and we can't come up with anything that we would want added. Comprehensive specifications indeed.
So we've established it comes with all the toys. Is it truly ergonomic? Keep reading.
Packaging and Mouse Up Close
I wont beat around the bush. This is heavenly. It has everything you could ever wish for when looking at a products packaging. We sometimes see items that tick a few of the boxes, but very rarely do we see them all nailed.
Starting with the top side of the box it definitely leaves you in no doubt of what you are getting and by whom it is produced. Clear and concise is possibly the best explanation. The colour scheme is very nice and matches the mouse itself and after such a swathe of the always popular red and black, green and black makes a nice change. The font is very easy on the eye too and Mionix have wisely resisted the temptation to over-sell on the front of the box. Swedish design simplicity has come to the fore and it's all the better for it.
Turning the box over to the normally cluttered rear where all the major information is held it's wonderful to see the clarity of design continuing to the reverse. At the top are the product highlights we saw on the previous page all neatly labelled and pointing to the relative section of the mouse. Below this is all the important information. On the left an overview of the mouse, in the middle the complete technical specifications and on the right information solely about the sensor itself. It's a very inventive approach to ensuring that everyone gets a feel for what you're getting. The overview is easy to read for those who don't understand mouse technology. The middle is the key parts for those of you who have a feel for what you need, and the sensor data is for people who truly know their stuff.
As you can see from the shot of the side of the box on the left the clear design principles extend throughout the whole of the exterior packaging. A gorgeous matt black finish adorns every inch of the exceptionally thick and sturdy cardboard.
If you've ever spent ages wondering quite how to get into an item, which of the four seals and tabs needs to be undone, then you'll appreciate yet another wonderful touch from Mionix. The front of the package is magnetic so that the whole front lifts up. Often we comment how that's a good way to let your customers see before they buy, but with the Mionix it's also the way you remove the mouse. Simplicity itself. You can even read the blurb about how the NAOS got its name on the underside of the lid.
Although some of you may wonder why we devote such time to the packaging of products when the key ingredient is the hardware itself, then the NAOS 5000 should demonstrate why. When you're purchasing any product you want to always feel that you're getting value. We all enjoy opening up something for the first time and when you're at the more expensive end of the market you want to think "wow this looks quality" before you open it up, rather than "well the packaging is bobbins but I hope the product is good".
Without question this is at the highest possible end of the packaging spectrum. Exceptional.
Opening up the box reveals a very simplistic layout. Just a small tin and the mouse itself. The cabling is hidden under the top flap of the insert, which is made from a similar quality cardboard to the main packaging.
Taking everything out we can get a good look at the ergonomic design and the gold-plated USB cable that's almost expected at this price.
NAOS 5000 Up Close
The left hand side of the mouse contains the forward and back buttons we're used to, whilst the right hand side is oversized compared to some and provides a great place to rest your hand. So many mice are designed for the small-handed people that those of us who can double as a catchers mitt often are all fingers with nowhere to put them. Even I, with a 10 key span on a piano, have plenty of room.
The middle two buttons are used for the on-the-fly DPI adjustment. Thanks to the generous size they are impossible to accidentally hit. On the left hand side in front of the forward and back buttons are three lights that give a very clear indication of what setting you're on.
The underneath contains the well designed weight mounting system. Often we've seen weights on the side of the mouse, so to have them either side of the central sensor should ensure a nice balance. Of course this does mean that for optimal balance you have to use weights in pairs, so if you're exceptionally sensitive to mouse weight it might be problematic.
The covers are removed by pushing the latches forward. Initially this appears to do nothing, but once you've popped them the first time they become much easier to remove. Although this isn't to say they ever become loose, they certainly don't. Rather the tolerances used in construction as so fine that it needs to be popped once to free it a little.
On the right we can see the 8 5 gram weights that are provided within the tin. I can't imagine anyone would want to add 40 grams to their rodent, but the potential is there if you've arms like Hercules.
Software and Customisation
As you probably noticed from the previous page, the NAOS 5000 doesn't come with any software included. It's truly a plug and play mouse and the majority of features are available solely from plugging the mouse itself in. This ensure that unlike a lot of the competition you can take it around with you as your weapon of choice without needed to go through a lengthy installation procedure each time.
However, should you desire to gain full control over the mouse then Mionix provide regularly updated software available from their website. Normally mouse control software is either just a re-skinned version of the Windows control panel or in trying to not be a re-skinned control panel it becomes incomprehensible.
The Mionix software is very clear and well laid out. Aesthetically following the scheme of the mouse and packaging, everything is very obvious. No sub-menu's, no bizarre configuration needed. It's all superbly simple and a joy to use. So simple is it I'll just point out the important parts.
The drop down boxes on the left for the buttons are where you can assign your macros, and with five profiles you haven't got the problem of needing to swap everything just because you've switched from Modern Warfare to Command and Conquer.
On the right the lift distance is an adjustment of the laser to ensure you get the maximum response from your surface.
If there is one thing we love, it's customisation of our colour schemes. Many of us go to huge effort to mod our systems to a particular colour and then to be limited to using either a mouse you dislike to be in tune with your system, or using a mouse you like that doesn't match. Whilst the Mionix defaults to their company green if you choose not to utilise the software, there is a large colour palette available if you wish to take advantage of it. If it does come with one caveat it's the obvious one that the difference between light green and very light green is almost indistinguishable when applied. On the left of this screen you can see that the lights can be on, off, or only certain ones on.
Before you wonder if the selective thing allows for multiple colours across the mouse, it doesn't allow for that, solely the turning on and off of certain lighting. From some angles the scroll wheel light can catch your eye when scrolling, so if you're exceptionally focused then it might be worth adjusting that when in the white heat of competition, but otherwise you'll never spot it.
Unlike the Smog Tom reviewed the other day the macro abilities are very easy to use. You can select individual key bindings from the drop down box of our first picture above, but if you want to implement complex macros you can. You can also either have them playing instantly, or if you need to introduce a delay it will record how fast you pressed the relative key. The only issue we did encounter is probably more to do with keyboard layouts and that's certain keys like ` don't register. But everything that is where it is on every layout certainly worked flawlessly. Even major ones like opening a console, typing a string, pressing enter and exiting the console, could be easily recorded and mapped to a button.
The final part of the software package is a built in firmware updater. All this requires is running the exe, waiting 30 seconds or so, and plugging it back in. One of the simplest and fastest firmware update programs we've seen.
As you could see from the software above this is able to display all the colours of the rainbow. Rather than give you 20 odd pictures of the various colours we've chosen to give two you'd expect, and two you wouldn't.
So on the left is the default green, and below that a light blue, similar to that found on many 3rd party peripherals.
On the right, a shade of pink that might not be very manly if you care about such things, but actually looks really nice in the flesh and any way you can help stand out from the crowd is good. Below that, and to the surprise of nobody at all who knows me, is the mouse in orange. It is impossible for me to have something that I can make orange and to not do so. Orange and black. Lovely.
On to the testing and let's see if the mouse keeps this high performance up.
Testing and Conclusion
The vital part of any mouse is comfort. More than anything apart from the monitor and your seat it's the one thing you use most of all. As this is also a gaming mouse I shall be testing its performance in games in which accuracy and speed are vital, but also in a couple that use long sessions and so will test the comfort.
For all of the testing the mouse was run as it would be "out of the box". Although the software download is tiny and allows for incredible control, the retail package as such doesn't include it and so I have to test things as you would expect to find them.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
It wouldn't be a review of a gaming mouse, or indeed anything much, if we didn't let you know how it handles in the FPS of choice. Although Battlefield Bad Company 2 is the current darling of the online world, we have all played enough Modern Warfare to know what to expect, and I've certainly played enough to be able to detect the subtle nuances of our test mice.
With MW2 like all FPS I prefer a light mouse with high sensitivity. For this reason the weights were left out and the sensitivity set to its highest level with all three lights lit. Wow. It's FAST. In fact probably too sensitive for my skills, or lack of. Knocking the sensitivity down to the middle stage was far more comfortable for me and my muscle memory enabled me to kill people far easier than with it on it's highest setting. At this point I realised that the incredible sensitivity available on the NAOS 5000 is above what I'm used to. Without question if you like them speedy, this is the mouse for you.
With the settings on the middle the NAOS 5000 was a joy to use with the extra space available via the large ergonomic design really helping keep tight control of the mouse.
Company of Heroes Tales of Valor
Having proven the speed of the NAOS 5000 as being phenomenal, it was time to test the accuracy of selections within a more restrained atmosphere. Naturally at the crux of any major battle the gaming can be equally as frantic as any first person game, but in general a real-time strategy game is more relaxed pacing, but requiring exception precision. One miss click is a second less that you're generating resources or building something, and those quickly mount up. Miss one or two click from every 10 and before long you're very dead.
Again the NAOS 5000 proved itself worthy. The thin coating that provides excellent grip really came to the fore under these gentler conditions. Without such a huge pressure in a short match I don't grip the mouse as hard, and therefore the general grip from the mouse is more of a factor than muscle grip. There wasn't anything outstanding, nor hideous, about the NAOS 5000 and it went where I wanted it to go with a minimum of fuss.
Dragon Age : Origins
Finally I wanted to test the long-term comfort. For someone who spends as much time at their PC as I do then comfort is vital. Almost a primary concern. Apart from using the mouse in my daily PC usage I wanted to test it more stringently. I currently only have two "unable to put down" mouse based games, the ever addictive Football Manager 2010, and the greatest RPG since the stunningly brilliant Witcher, Dragon Age : Origins. Any game I've completed four times and am on my fifth play through has to have a lot going for it.
The extra girth the NAOS 5000 provides absolutely shine here. It's exceptionally comfortable. If you can imagine floating on a feather bed down a river of honey whilst eating blancmange, that's about a comfortable and joyful this is. In the introduction I mentioned how we like to see new companies because they bring things to our attention that we hadn't thought of. So many mice we've tested are sleek and ambidextrous, and if they aren't ambidextrous they are still smallish, that to be pleasured by one that allows somewhere for all your fingers to rest even if you have big hands is a joy.
Dragon Age being one of those games I can gladly play for 8 or so hours without noticing this extra comfort was a boon. You know the type of game. One second you're saying you'll be in bed in a minute, the next you go to bed, but somehow in between the dawn has come and you hadn't noticed. The comfort provided means that whilst your other half may cause you incredible pain for such a long session, the NAOS 5000 wont.
So the NAOS 5000 has all the goodies you could ask for when it comes to a check-list of must haves. It comes in some of the best packaging we've ever seen. It works without software if you like. But also has some bulletproof, user-friendly software available for extra customisation if you wish. It is capable of providing more sensitivity than I can tame, but on the lowest setting also provides incredible control for fine detail work in photo editing and more general usage.
Under normal circumstances this would be the kind of product we can easily stamp a 10 and best in class on. Unfortunately there is a large elephant in the room and we can no longer ignore it, and it's that price tag.
The Mionix NAOS 5000 has a MRSP of £65 but we've seen it online for around £60. There are very very few mice even in the gaming sector that at priced at such a lofty amount. The packaging is exception, the performance is brilliant, the software is some of the easiest we've used. But £60 is a steep price to pay. Thankfully if you're in the market for a mouse and have found the treasure of the Sierra Madre down the back of your sofa, then this comes with the highest recommendation and you can't do better.
For the rest of us, it's very much a case that you get what you pay for.
Thanks to Mionix for providing todays review sample. Discuss in our forums.