The Original Kova has been around for about a year and a half and was quite startling when it was first released. The combination of a great sensor, ambidextrous usability and driver-free customisation were a unique combination.
One of the biggest downsides of it though was the various button combinations involved to change DPI settings or colours. Without any obvious feedback it was a bit poke and hope at times and once you got the mouse dialed in to your liking you were loath to press anything.
Now, following the successful "Plus" update to the Kone, it's time for a Plus, or more accurately [+], version of the Kova.That seemed like the perfect opportunity to take look at what's changed with one of our most used rodents.
Let's see how Roccat call it before we get into things.
- 3200dpi optical gaming sensor
- 130 inches per second maximum speed
- 30Gs of acceleration
- 1000Hz polling rate
- 16-bit Data Channel
- 2m USB cable
So what's new since the original Kova?
Firstly, and easily the largest change, is the removal of the button combinations in favour of a comprehensive driver package. Not only does this enable much closer control over every function available to you, but also removes something that anyone who has used a Kova regularly experienced. That "trying to do two things at once and ending up changing DPI or lighting" problem. Whilst the plug and play nature of the Kova was useful, we're glad to see it dropped in favour of the control a driver package gives.
Besides that the capabilities of the Kova Plus have been improved with it now capable of handling speeds up to 11 feet per second (which should be more than enough for any possible use) and the acceleration increased up to 30G. About the only way you could move the Kova Plus faster than it could handle would be to strap it to a race-car and move it by driving. Certainly if you're putting more than 30G acceleration through your mouse you might be better looking at how you use it rather than the product itself.
The Kova Plus also includes the EasyShift [+] button that we first saw on the Kone Plus, which is similar to how shift changes the numbers on your keyboard. One press and the rest of your buttons can do something different, allowing for two assignments per button.
Packaging is up to the normal Roccat standards with a combination of matte black and Roccat electric blue with white for all the text. It's a very classy look and one we like very much. The front of the box has a magnetic flap so you can lift it up and get a feel for the mouse prior to purchase. A nice touch especially for something that you use as much as your mouse.
The design of the Kova hasn't changed from when we first looked at it. It's still a close match for a F22 or F117, all angular and black. These looks don't compromise the comfort in using it which is something some other manufacturers would do well to take note of. We love form, but function is of primary importance. The Kova Plus has both.
The top is fully coated with a very soft rubbery surface which gives a great tactile feel and huge levels of grip. Even if you were in a world final taking place in a Florida summer you wont lose your control. The scroll wheel is large and sturdy.
Thanks to the symmetrical design this is one mouse that's at home with both right and left-handed people so for once you southpaws aren't left looking on with unrequited desire.
Like all Roccat products the USB is imprinted with the name of the product. No longer are you fumbling about randomly taking out identical looking black USB plugs in the hope of finding the right one. Well, with Roccat products at least. The manual and driver disk follow the standard Roccat packaging which is, as ever, an exercise in minimalism, but the good kind. No need for fantasy maidens or flaming swords here.
The original Kova came with multiple colours that were applied via an easy to learn but never quite intuative method of button combinations. Now we have the software to customise it a little easier, although by no means as many colour choices as we saw on the Kone Plus.
Starting with Ice Blue. Also available is a really nice deep red. Not quite the red that makes you go "what's gone wrong?" that some reds are.
The next blue is much deeper and is what would be Roccat Blue. It matches the default blue of the rest of the Roccat range perfectly. On the right we have Purple. In the photograph it looks blue on teh mat but if you look up by the scroll wheel you get a closer approximation of the colour. Ironically if the purple is hard to differentiate from the blue in photograph then the pink is near impossible with the naked eye.
Both of which are small potatoes when compared to the green and orange choices, both of which give this. The LEDs definitely look orange but the colour is definitely green. This is the original firmware and Roccat always keep their product line well up to date, but we have to review as is, and the orange and green give the same results on current firmware.
As the major change between the Kova and the Kova [+] is the inclusion of a software package rather than including everything in the firmware of the mouse, this is the primary point of our review/revisit.
The level of customisation is similar to that we saw on the original Kova, but whereas that was adjusted by cycling in a linear fashion through settings via button presses, here it's much more obvious what's going on. The driver is very similar to the rest of the Roccat line so it's instantly recognisable and easy to navigate, although it's odd to have such high sensitivity settings on the driver when the mouse doesn't support them. Unless this is a subliminal advert for the top-end Kone Plus we can't work out why it wasn't discretely removed.
Customisation via macros is outstanding. There are pre-programmed macros for most of the popular games you're likely to play, and of course many of them are transferable between games. WASD being the ubiquitous scheme it's unlikely that one set of bindings wouldn't work in another game. Either way, the customisation potential is massive with all the options you can think of already there for you and any that aren't are easily added thanks to the intuitive macro editor.
So how does the upgraded Kova Plus fair?
It's a whole boat-load better than the already good Kova, with just a couple of niggles.
Let's get the bad out of the way first. Despite software light control there are actually only five useful colours and two of those are blue. This isn't going to be the choice for you if you care about matching the colour of your mouse to a non-standard (red, green or blue) modified PC. Also, and it's a minor problem but, the default assignments for the mouse have the front left side-button as "browser forward" and the front right one as a timer. If your mouse only has three buttons the third should always be back, which is far more useful than forwards.
However those are both minimal problems. The switch from on-board to driver based customisation has opened up a wealth of possibilities and control options. If there is one thing we abhor it's things taking control away from us, or not giving us full access. Here the Roccat Kova Plus software is up to their usual incredible standards, being easy on the eye, easy to use and having a small memory footprint. The plethora of included macros should be more than enough for anyone to get using the Kova Plus immediately and are a fantastic jumping off point into creating your own macros.
For about £40, around the price of most worthwhile gaming mice, you get a hell of a lot of rodent for your money. It feels fabulous with that rubber top being a big improvement on its Dads textured surface. It's usable by left or right-handed people which is something many manufacturers overlook on their high-end gaming mice. AND it comes with a wealth of possibilities waiting to be explored.
Most of the other good choices for this money are designed for right-handed gamers and so on that basis alone the Roccat Kova Plus gets a serious recommendation. The fact it's also a great mouse in its own right is icing on an already tasty cake. This is a very congested segment of the market with a multitude of choices available but the Roccat Kova Plus still manages to stand out and is a winner of our OC3D Silver Award.
Thanks to Roccat for providing the Kova [+] for review. Discuss in our forums.