For as long as we can remember, Razer have been about the most recognisable name in the gaming peripheral arena. Although some of this can be traced to the fact that with the Boomslang they invented the Pro Gamer hardware marketplace, and part is to do with the fact that their products nearly always hit their mark right away, and so tend to have very long shelf lives. Instead of a new item being released every couple of months as they struggle to catch up with the latest technical developments, Razer consistently are at the very forefront, with only minor tweaks needed.
So you can imagine our surprise at seeing the 2012 line-up getting a significant refresh, with some genuinely new products in their range. With next year being their 15th anniversary, and making us suddenly feeling old, it's as good a time as any to try and reclaim their place under the fingertips of the gamers everywhere. After all, whilst they might be close to the forefront in peoples minds, many companies have taken large chunks out of their performance lead. Everyone from SteelSeries to Roccat have a slice of the gaming pie now, so is the Taipan good enough to turn heads?
Certainly looking at the specifications it's very difficult not to have your eye taken by those very gaudy sensor numbers. Even the smoothest players amongst us would struggle to keep a 8200dpi sensor in check. It's the marriage of this to the ambidextrous design that will really catch the attention though. So often lefties have to make do it's nice to see the Taipan following the SteelSeries Sensei idea and packing all the top line technologies into a mouse everyone can use.
Besides that we have all that you'd expect to find on a premium mouse. Lots of customisable buttons, high acceleration and the all important 1ms response time.
- 4G Dual Sensor System - 8200dpi
- Ambidextrous form factor
- Razer Synapse 2.0 enabled
- 9 programmable Hyperesponse buttons
- 1000Hz Ultrapolling / 1ms response time
- Up to 200 inches per second / 50g acceleration
- Approximate size: 124 mm (Length) x 63 mm (Width) x 36 mm (Height)
- Approximate Weight: 132 g
Time to see what she looks like.
The Razer packaging is down to a fine art these days, with the cardboard box an exercise in simplicity and minimalism on the front, although the chromatic logo always stands out, and round the back we have the highlights of the various features.
Inside, as well as the lurid green container for the mouse, we have the blurb, stickers, manual and so on. But the main event, as with any input device, is the Taipan itself. High quality braided cable leads to a rodent that looks rather different to other Razer mice that have come through our door. They so often have a molten quality to them that seeing an angular one is a pleasant surprise, and further proof that this really is a new product and not just a gentle tweak.
As befits an ambidextrous mouse this looks identical from both sides. Usually this means that the outer buttons aren't placed in the best ergonomic position, but we'll discover that in our testing.
Rather than the soft coating we've so often seen from Razer, this is a hard plastic top. It's certainly got plenty of grip, but provides a very different tactile experience. Underneath is that 8200dpi 4G dual-sensor. The heart of the Taipan.
A quick pop along to the Razer website and a reasonable download later and we're the proud possessors of the Synapse 2.0, Razers all-purpose customisation software. Very well laid out, with everything clearly marked rather than hidden behind some obscure icon, it's a very pleasant place to be. The first surprise is that you need to create an account and login before it will let you at the tinkering tools. This is because Razer use cloud computing to store your settings, allowing you to pick them up from wherever you're at. It would be nice to at least get at the settings before making us log in.
The sensor has five steps of sensitivity. Even the most hardened gamer would find 8200 just too sensitive for general use. Multiple profiles sit alongside the lighting controls. Sadly your choices are only on or off, and there appears to be no way to stop the breathing effect on the palm light.
The Synapse 2.0 software comes with a lot of profiles for Razer gaming surfaces built in, but you can also tune it to your own particular pad if you use an alternative one. It's been a very long time since we've had a Razer surface in the office, so we stuck to the manual calibration mode.
Finally the Macro recorder is robust and easy to use, supporting all the clicks and keyboard commands you can desire, although pointer co-ordinates aren't something that you can record. Otherwise it's simplicity itself and you'll be up and running in moments.
Blimey this sensor is insane. Normally we start working our way through the starter before hitting the main course, but trust us, when you have finished your first day with the Taipan it's tough to think of anything other than how blazingly responsive it is. It is like finding a ghost chilli in your apple pie. One moment you're weighing up the comfort and suchlike, and the next your eyes are out on stalks as your brain struggles to process all the information coming it at once.
But, for a moment, let us return to the entrées.
The packaging is standard Razer fare. A nicely designed box that wouldn't survive too many LAN events, surrounding a retina burning green cradle in which the Taipan sits. Round the back is the documentation, all well written and crisply designed. The software requires a download, which is something we expect, such is the fast changing world of software development. You always want the latest version and, like drivers with GPUs, nobody would ever install the included one so it makes sense to leave it out the box entirely.
Speaking of the software, it's a huge amount of great, mixed with a tiny flaw. Starting with that flaw, we'd much prefer at least giving us the option if we want the cloud settings storage, rather than yet another username and password for yet another site before we can even get to the good stuff. We understand that LAN gaming is the focal point for all peripherals, in the same way that a fast Nurburgring time is the focus for a fast car, but in the same way that most cars are used going to the shops, so most peripherals go no further than your desk at home. Having the option not to keep your settings on Razer's servers would save us all bandwidth, time, effort and the like. However, once you get past that little hurdle it's a breeze to use. We've lost count of the amount of times a confusing icon has been used when text would be clearer, and nobody likes spending their life waiting for a tooltip to appear, so kudos to Razer for making the UI as uncomplicated and clear as is possible. Everything is where you want, and does what you want.
The Taipan itself is surprisingly comfortable for such a small mouse. If you're a palm player, or blessed with the kind of hands that can play a keyboard octave, then it will probably be a bit on the small side for you. It's not laptop mouse small by any means, but neither is it akin to a Kone+ or Mionix NAOS in the heft stakes. The coating is hard and, to be honest, not that nice to feel, but feel isn't the point of it. This is about grip and control, and the Taipan has that in spades. You could be playing the CS world final in the Amazon Rain Forest and still it wouldn't slip out from your grasp.
But that sensor. Wow. We've seen a couple of quicker ones in pure dpi terms, but the smoothness and the responsiveness are almost unparalleled. Here at OC3D we're heavy gamers and, although we're not pros, we found the sensor right on the edge of our capabilities to keep under control. It's so good it's nearly better than we are. Sure you can turn it down, and doing so loses none of its sharpness, but you wouldn't buy a 100W Marshall Amplifier and put your headphones in it, and buying the Taipan is all about challenging your capabilities and extracting the maximum performance you're capable of.
So with the only downsides being that the lighting is green or green, and that if you're particularly large of hand you need to use a fingertip style, then the Taipan is easily an OC3D Gold Award winning mouse and, dare we say it, a match for the epic Steelseries Sensei.
Thanks to Razer for supplying the Taipan for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.