As time has moved on in the technological world there has become a bit of a split between what people want something to do. Through the 80s and 90s, and to some degree the early part of this century, we all wanted more bells and whistles, more features, bigger better more more more. Now, as our phones are TVs and our TVs have the internet on them there is quite a large amount of people who want some of the benefits of modern technology, but without so many needless features. Anyone who wants a mobile phone that doesn't need recharging every 4 hours and breaks if you so much as sneeze on it will know what I mean.
So what if you want all the benefits of a modern gaming sensor on your mouse, but don't need a dozen buttons, an OLED screen and the ability to make a cup of tea? Your choices are extremely limited, although back in December we saw the brilliant CM Storm Xornet which hinted at things to come. Now SteelSeries are joining the fray with the Kana, and the Kinzu v2 Pro. We absolutely love the Sensei here and think it's still the best mouse on the market. So if you have all the comfort of the Sensei, as well as the build quality that SteelSeries is known for, and a beastly sensor, we definitely should be in business.
So similar are these mice that we're reviewing them together. As you can see the major differences is that the Kana is a little lighter, and has a couple more buttons. But the main event, the sensor, is the same on both and as we'll see on the next page the design is familiar too.
|Frames Per Second||3600|
|Inches Per Second|
Kana : 130
Kinzu v2 Pro : 65
|Megapixels Per Second||3.7|
|Counts Per Inch||400-3200|
|Sensor Data Path||16 bit|
|Maximum Polling||1000 Hz|
Kana : 72g
Kinzu v2 Pro : 77g
Kana : 6
Kinzu v2 Pro : 4
Time to look up close.
Kana Up Close
If there is one thing we can never criticise SteelSeries for it's the quality of their packaging. It's sturdy enough to protect whatever comes inside, and the design is always an exercise in minimalist perfection. You know what the product is called, what it looks like, and the features. No endless logos. No fantasy knights.
The Kana itself is, as you can see, seriously matte black, but the brightness of the orange scroll-wheel and CPI button just doesn't come across in photos. It's almost fluorescent. The cable has high quality braiding, and the transparent orange underside helps break up the blackness.
Following the design of its bigger brother the Sensei, the Kana is ambidextrous with a button either side and a nice neutral design. The top is soft and grippy, so you wont lose control in the more frantic moments.
Kinzu v2 Pro Up Close
The smaller brother to the Kana is the Kinzu v2 Pro. Here in limited edition silver, but also available in red and black. The standard Kinzu v2 is in yellow, white, orange and black, so you've got a lot of coordination options. Of course the downside to a shiny silver mouse in a plastic cover is you get a reflection of my orange OC3D t-shirt, but don't worry it's purely silver as you'll see in the lower photos.
Although we haven't got the two-tone cable braiding we saw on the Kana the Kinzu still has the same high quality, soft braid on the cable.
The Kinzu is very much a pared down mouse, lacking any side buttons at all. All we have is a soft plastic that nicely inverts the setup of the Kana.
The Sensei is the biggest of the three in this stable, with the Kana a few mm smaller and the Kinzu smaller still. They're by no means tiny with the Kinzu being 117mm long and the Kana 124mm.
Last year we ended up with two mice that we really took a shine to. At the very high-end we had the SteelSeries Sensei, which these two ape in design if not features, and at the bargain end of the scale was the CM Storm Xornet which was, just like the Kana and Kinzu, an exceptionally low-priced mouse that wasn't lacking for much that your average user would require.
Whereas the Xornet was a 2000DPI model for £20, the Kinzu and Kana both come with 3600DPI sensors for £30 and £35 respectively. This definitely moves them from the market of a person who plays games now and again that the Xornet inhabits, and into the territory of the serious gamer.
The Kinzu has a shiny coating and grippy sides, very similar to the Sensei. Although the top is shiny it's actually got a fine texture to it which ensures that you wont lose control in frantic moments. The most immediately surprising thing is the complete lack of side buttons. All you have are the standard left and right ones, a central scroll click, and the CPI changer just behind, for switching the sensitivity on the fly. When you consider that a large proportion of games, and certainly most of the FPS' and RTS ones, don't take advantage of more than two buttons in their default control scheme then this seems like less of an oversight than it might otherwise be. We do have to point out that we've got so used to at least a 'back' button on the side that after years of muscle memory we were constantly hitting a button that didn't exist.
The Kana is a bit of an inverse of the Kinzu. We have a very soft grippy top surface, and shiny sides. More importantly, or at least bringing it up to something a bit more customisable, is the inclusion of a couple of side buttons. These are fully programmable with the excellent SteelSeries Engine software. You still get the excellent sensor, and the scroll-wheel, as well as the underneath, both light up in a soft orange glow.
When the pricing is so close it's difficult not to come away thinking that the Kinzu is a little overpriced and the Kana is spot on. For about a fiver more with the Kana you're getting a couple of extra buttons which not only help your gaming but make browsing the net and general usability more pleasant, but also a bit of lighting and the whole thing just feels like a higher-end product. The Kinzu in contrast is probably the ultimate in a minimalist gaming rodent, but the loss of those two buttons seems a bit too much for only a small drop in price.
This is especially true when comfort, sensor capabilities and quality of the cable are near identical on both mice. Such is the white-hot competition in the gaming mouse marketplace that we can really only recommend the Kinzu v2 if you're desperate for a great sensor and don't mind losing everything else, and for that we award it our Bronze award. The Kana on the other hand has that same great sensor as well as a couple of the bells and whistles that make a difference without over-egging the pudding. For £35 you're getting a lot of mouse that will serve you for a long time and for that we're happy to award it our Gold Award for being the best value in this very crowded price-bracket.
SteelSeries Kinzu v2 Pro
Thanks to SteelSeries for supplying the Kinzu v2 Pro and Kana for review. Discuss in our forums.