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Razer DeathAdder Mac mouse review

When I picked up the 2011 MacBook Pro, I needed a mouse at the same time.

I’ve used Logitech mice almost exclusively over the years, but they haven’t been without their issues. Poor Mac software, inaccurate scroll wheels, and (more importantly) feet that either wear off or aren’t held on well by the glue.

Razor’s built a pretty good name for themselves, so I decided to give a Razor mouse a try this time around. I got the DeathAdder – fairly basic mouse with 2 thumb-buttons and a clickable scroll-wheel.

 

I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary, but was so impressed within the first few minutes of use that I thought the experience was worth sharing.

The Good

Like virtually all USB mice, it was functional the moment it was plugged into the Mac, and worked perfectly well in the Mac OS.

The DeathAdder is extremely accurate. I’m using it on a table-cloth (technically a bed sheet, but it’s a long story…), full of wrinkles and creases. Not an ideal surface, yet I quickly realized I was getting more accurate tracking than my Logitech which has the benefit of a real mouse pad. A little PhotoShop work confirmed this. I really don’t think I could go back.

The wheel’s precisely calibrated. It’s tight (unlike the logitechs which have always had some play in movement), and there aren’t any anomolies. No dead spots in the wheel, and you always get exactly 1 movement per click. Trying to nudge the wheel forward or backward (without actually clicking it) didn’t cause scrolling. It’s very precise.

I installed the Mac software (downloaded from the site). Here’s what it looks like:

RazerDeathAdder software on Mac OS X (installed in /Applications). Click on the image above to see the larger version.

Unfortunately, the software required a restart after installation (one of the few things that actually needs the Mac to restart). However, it installed seemlessly, and even added an easy-to-find-uninstaller in Applications/Utilities.

I opened up all the options for the screenshot. It has a bit of a cluttered feel to it, but all the options are there. Changing the Polling Rate caused the mouse to freeze for a few seconds while it applied the settings, but beyond that there weren’t any surprises.

A small nicety is that the lights can be turned off from within the software. If you need complete darkness for whatever reason, both the scroll-wheel light and the logo light can be switched on/off independently. I suppose switching off the lights might save a microscopic amount of power as well, which might be marginally helpful if you’ve got flakey USB ports or are running on a laptop’s battery.

The Bad

I’ve only had a few days of use, so keep in mind that if long-term issues exist, I haven’t had enough time to run into them…

There’s no install disc in the box (PC or Mac). You have to download the software from their site if you want to install it. You may not need it, but if you want it, you’ve gotta find it. That in itself isn’t all that bad – usually CD’s have outdated versions of software anyway, so you’re generally better off throwing those discs away and downloading the latest version online. That said, there’s a pile of other junk in the box already, so since “cost” or “environmental reasons” don’t seem to be the rationale behind it, they may as well have thrown a disc in there anyway (perhaps having the installer check for an updated online version first before installing).

Reversed up/down at the Mac’s boot-option screen. If you hold “Alt/Option” down at startup to choose a drive to boot to, up/down are reversed. Really a minor detail, but still strange.

Soft feet. The mouse feet glide smoothly, but the material’s very soft. Even the tablecloth I’m using has scuffed them a bit. That means a coarse surface might wear these feet off over time. It’s clearly a design-choice – the material is soft, but glides smoothly. I’d be careful about choosing a mousepad to go along with it though to be on the safe side.

The Ugly

22MB installer, and 40-50MB installation. Wowzorz. I know disk space is abundant these days, but that seems a bit large for a driver and mouse software.

Scroll wheel acceleration conflict between MacOS mouse settings and Razor software mouse settings. After you install the software, the scrolling acceleration is insanely fast. Normal speed for the first few lines, and then WHAM it zips down the page, easily to the end of most documents. The FIX is to change the “Scroll Speed” in the Mac’s SystemPreferences/Mouse section. Turn the “scrolling speed” there down to the bottom, and the mouse behaves the way you’d expect it should – a moderate amount of acceleration. I list this as “ugly” because it requires you to adjust the Mac OS X default mouse behavior, rather than simply being adjustable from within the Razer utility (where you’d expect it to be). It actually took some trial/error to figure out this fix.

Conclusion

It’s only been a few days, but this is quite possibly the best mouse I’ve ever owned. We have a number of machines here, all using different mice. I’m generally not very picky – I can make just about anything work.

The fact that the DeathAdder actually caught my attention enough to make me really appreciate it is… well… both unexpected and unprecedented. Coming with software for Mac OS X is an added bonus (I could have really done without it to be honest).