It's rare for a company to burst on the scene with an endless stream of excellent products. Normally they have one great idea, form a company and then, like a rock band, have the sophomore slump of trying to follow it up.
Roccat most definitely aren't in this group of companies as their products have been innovative, well built and have always impressed us to such a degree that we actually anticipate their next product.
For their next one their actually returning to their roots. Back in June last year we reviewed the 3200dpi Roccat Kone and found it to be a great performer with everything we threw at it and about the only thing we could find to complain about was the pricing being in line with the big names of the industry for a first product. Of course we know now that Roccat are one of those big names.
So now we have the update to the best-selling Kone, let's see what's new with the Kone [+].
The main changes between the two models are the natural updates we'd expect in 2010. The laser has been upgraded from 3200dpi to 6000dpi. The acceleration has been upped from 20G to 30G, and the onboard memory has been vastly improved from the previous 128KB to 576KB to take the much larger settings available with the EasyShift[+].
- Pro-Aim Laser Sensor R2 with up to 6000dpi
- 1000Hz polling rate
- 1ms response time
- 11750fps, 10.5megapixel
- 30G acceleration
- 3.8-5m/s (150-200ips)
- 16-bit data channel
- Tracking & Distance Control Unit
- 72MHz TurboCore processor
- 576kB onboard memory
- 2m USB cable
- 6000DPI PRO-AIM LASER SENSOR - for maximum precision
- EASYSHIFT[+] BUTTON DUPLICATOR - for 22 directly accessible mouse functions
- 4-LED LIGHT SYSTEM - for individual colors + effects
- TRACKING & DISTANCE CONTROL UNIT - ultimate tracking; minimizes pick-up-flight
- ROCCAT™ DRIVER + MACRO MANAGER - incl. Macro Presets for games & apps
- ONBOARD MEMORY (576KB) - store 5 Game Profiles with macros
- 4 EASY-TO-CLIP-IN WEIGHTS (4X5G) - for individual weight adjustment
- 8 MOUSE BUTTONS - programmable + solid 4D mouse wheel
- ULTRA QUIET - low friction mouse feet
Kone [+] First Look
The packaging is up to the normal extremely high Roccat standard. Matt black with the Roccat logo in gloss and some lovely blue highlights of the important elements. The front of the box flips open to allow you to both test fit the mouse in the palm of your hand, and also take a close look at the various button assignments available.
The rest of the box does the always tricky job of expressing a huge amount of information in a clear manner with aplomb.
As more and more mice at this price level have a very similar specification it becomes more vital that the little touches are perfect to help your product stand out. Roccat have got this completely nailed. Everything in the box is designed exactly the same as the packaging and drivers. Black with the white panel and the electric blue Roccat logo. To see it on the CD, which normally are completely unlike the rest of the design, is especially satisfying.
One of the things Roccat do well, especially when it comes to multi-function buttons, is having a handy quick-reference guide available. So many companies rely on PDFs for their manuals which are all well and good until you're actually in need of the information right then. So it's great to have a CD sized guide readily to hand.
A Closer Look
The original Kone had a light-up logo at the palm part of the mouse. This has now been changed to a large printed logo. Amazingly enough although you'd imagine this is a lessening of features it actually looks better in our opinion when the mouse is both lit and idle.
It's designed for right-handed users but isn't so insanely ergonomic as, for example, the Logitech MX Revolution that it's problematic for left-handed people. Obviously the button positioning is fixed but it's possible to use left-handed. The Kone [+] is coated with a very tactile rubberised coating that really makes the mouse feel soft and grippy without being squidgy or sticky. On the left hand side are the standard back and forward buttons you find on all mice, except the rear button is mapped by default to the EasyShift[+] function.
Up front is where the real action is. The plus and minus buttons are there for on-the-fly DPI changing which can also have an audio cue should you so desire it. The scroll wheel is the type with specific notches as you scroll around rather than the fully smooth motion which should help weapon selection. It also scrolls in all four directions so you can move across documents as well as up and down them. In front fo that is another button that's assignable as we'll see on the next page.
Underneath we have the 6000DPI laser as well as the place for any addition weight should you want to tune the Kone [+] to be heavier. The original Kone came with four differing weights whereas the Kone [+] comes with 4 5g weights instead. This is a far preferable system as it gives an extra level of tweaking should you wish all your weight to be in a certain direction.
Speaking of the weights they come in a container that matches the rest of the design perfectly, although isn't the easiest thing to open in the world.
In keeping with the insane attention to detail even the USB plug is branded perfectly. A boon for any of us who've been round the back of our cases wondering which of the 6 identical black plugs is what.
Easily the most important thing with any control device designed for high-end use is customisation and tweaking options. The Kone [+] is stacked so full it's almost overflowing.
Starting with the first tab, besides the profile creation and assignment which is available on all tabs, we have the main sensitivity adjustments. The DPI Switcher, controlled with the Plus and Minus buttons, can be set from anything between 1 and 5 different positions, fully customisable from 100DPI to 6000DPI. Although 100DPI would require a mousepad the size of Wembley Stadium. There is also an audio cue for each setting which actually speaks the exact DPI you're on rather than just the setting number and relying upon your memory. Details.
The buttons default to the following. The EasyShift[+] being button five, the standard back button, and the combination of that and then the other buttons doubles amount of assignments from 12 to 23. It's especially nice to be able to switch profiles on the fly should you play one or two games particularly often.
Speaking of games the Roccat software comes with a plethora of in-built profiles for a variety of games enabling you to very quickly assign commonly used controls in common games, as well as create your own specific ones. The main problem is that if, like me, you've spent years with your forward and back button in the same place you'll have to adjust because if you map button five to "back" as per normal it strips you of any EasyShift[+] abilities as that cannot be mapped elsewhere which is quite a shame.
Personalisation of colours is comprehensive. There are four main lights which can be set to 35 different colours. You can turn individual ones on or off, have one colour for all lights or utterly different ones across the board. They can blink, breathe, be on, be off or have a fairly convincing heartbeat effect. Finally the colours can be cycled using "Color Flow" is any direction you want, or not at all. There is no doubt that if you desire anything from no lights at all to a ever changing pulsing chromatic array, the Kone[+] gives you the choice.
So with everything as fast as you desire, and it the right colour, we move on to the advanced options. You can adjust vertical and horizontal sensitivity separately so if you're playing something in which the ability to strafe is more important than any threats from the sky, you can lessen the likely-hood of accidentally staring at your toes.
Tracking control is taken care of automatically with the laser taking a map of your surface and adjusting as necessary. This is highly effective and although the image we're using here is from my "none more black" gaming surface, it works just as well at recognising anything from your lap to the dog.
It's also possible to adjust the lift-off distance, polling rates, audio feedback and even the mouse pointer should you wish to do so.
Finally the always important driver upgrade and support screen. A new driver and firmware package is about 20mb and doesn't take very long at all to install.
Colour reproduction of LEDs is always tough to photograph as you either have pitch black to show them as saturated as they appear to the naked eye, so I've tried to give a variety for the shots. Just be aware that in actuality they are MUCH more saturated and brighter than they appear here with a far greater colour graduation than appears. The right hand edge of the right hand shot is probably the closest to replicating how it looks.
For testing the Roccat Kone [+] was used as the main mouse for a week doing everything from Photoshop to browsing, Starcraft 2 to Battlefield Bad Company 2.
The primary two things that really make or break a rodent as a high quality useful input device are of course the quality of the sensor, and then the comfort.
On both counts the Kone [+] shines as brightly as any other Roccat product. The sensor is extremely responsive and accurate regardless of the setting. Sometimes these high-DPI lasers can be so highly tuned that the more precise settings aren't so impressive. The Kone [+] works perfectly at everything from the very bottom of the scale all the way up the the hyper-responsive 6000DPI.
Changing between these settings is also a joy with the DPI adjustment buttons being in a very ergonomic position but never hit by accident.
If there is one thing the Kone [+] definitely has it's prodigious levels of comfort. It's not too large or small even for my generously proportioned hands. The coating works well at providing grip without stickyness and isn't compromised no matter how intense and heated the action becomes. Even the right-handed nature of it isn't so extreme as to force you to hold it in a particular manner and if you can cope with opposite side buttons it would be suitable for a southpaw too. Adjustable weighting helps to keep everything where you want it to be even if you're a ham-fisted brute or a delicate flower.
Customisation is where the difference between good and great can be made and the Roccat has it in spades. The software is as comprehensive as you could ever wish to find giving you seemingly infinite control over button assignments, colour combinations and macros.
Actually the customisation gives us the only thing we can find to dislike about the Kone [+]. So many mice utilise two side buttons for back and forward that it's almost as much a default expected setting as the left and right buttons themselves. Of course we're not adverse to reinventing the wheel if it is an improvement but even after a week we never quite got used to having to press the back button and the left mouse button to go back on our browser/explorer. Unfortunately there is nowhere else to put the EasyShift [+] button as it's either on the side or nowhere.
The final slight quirk is that the button in front of the scroll wheel is just not at all within reach. You either have to have your hand in a postion that will guarantee RSI and makes scrolling hard, or just ignore that button entirely.
Those two things do limit some of the incredible personalisation you can perform and whilst you might get used to using a two-button combo to go back, you can't reposition the front button somewhere easier to reach. It's definitely not something we want to see moved to the thumb position where you're going to catch it every two minutes but relocating the EasyShift[+] button to either the front right corner of the mouse or as part of a three-button side suite would be a great improvement upon an otherwise flawless product.
Don't let that dissuade you though. This is a seriously high quality mouse from a company that has rapidly become one of the finest around. Sure a £65 price-tag is up there with the very highest priced mice, but it's one of the very highest quality and best performing ones.
Just because of slight button placement/use issues and that rather steep price-tag when compared to previous Roccat models, the Roccat Kone [+] is awarded our Silver Award for being exceptional, if slightly flawed.
If you can get used to the EasyShift[+] system and don't mind one of the buttons not being the easiest to reach, it's a Gold Winner. But for us that's just enough at this premium price point to drop an otherwise phenomenal product down to a Silver.
Thanks to Roccat for providing the Kone [+] for review. Discuss in our forums.