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The Life of P

Tag: Razer

Three Blind Mice

Humans and our ancestors have been using tools for some two and a half million years.  Over that time I think we have earned the right to be picky not just about their utility, but just how they sit in our hands.  Certainly, I have always been abnormally selective in the cutlery I feel comfortable using (at home anyway, I can generally suppress it when outside): it must be slender, smoothly curved with a balanced weight distribution.  The reason, it eventually dawned on me, is that subconsciously I see cutlery as an extension of my fingers, giving rise to certain preconceptions about how it should feel and respond.  It also explains my affinity for chopsticks which are essentially a direct extension of two fingers.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I am similarly specific about my mice, being tools many of us spend hours each day using both at work and home. I recently described purchasing a new mouse as like acquiring a new limb, an idea which seemed to resonate with several people. A good mouse is a perfect example of how, when form follows functional ergonomics, a thing of beauty is created. I currently use three mice, with different choices behind each one.

The bedroom: my desktop is primarily a gaming machine and unsurprisingly sports a gaming mouse, a Razer DeathAdder. Razer understands that while there are technological requirements consistent across all gaming mice (high resolution sensor, fast response time), an individual’s mouse grip affects ergonomic considerations, as they distinguish between the most common palm grip, the claw grip and the fingertip grip. My gaming style is a claw grip which I find lends itself to swifter reactions. The result is that I wanted a mouse with an arched body for support and lipped edges to it buttons to avoid my fingers sliding off the sides (essentially concave buttons rather than a mouse’s typical convex surface). Unlike my other mice, this one is still wired to avoid the risk of running out of charge mid-game.

The Office: Conversely, at work I adopt a palm grip for comfort over long periods. When replacing my work mouse recently, I briefly considered one of the new wave of multitouch mice with the neat swiping gestures they bring. However it became clear that far too many ergonomic compromises have been made in all the touch mice on the market. Instead a large “handshake” mouse would maximise comfort and the Logitech MX Performance is the easy choice.  Its perfectly constructed sweeping body both feels and looks fantastic, while its freely spinning scroll wheel is a life-saver when dealing with long documents – a single flick of the wheel sends pages flying past. Despite its size, the mouse is surprisingly lightweight, requiring minimal effort to use for long stretches. Sold as rechargeable, opening it up reveals it actually runs off an AA battery, shipping with an eneloop (Sanyo’s new rechargeable range with a greatly reduced self-discharge rate, with which I have replaced all my AA batteries).

The Living Room: While my HTPC is primarily controlled with the same universal remote as the television to which it is connected, it runs Windows 7 and is capable of other functions that necessitate using a mouse from the sofa.  The Logitech MX Air is ideal as, in addition to functioning as a normal mouse when on a flat surface, it is gyroscopic so can also be picked up and used in the air.  Rather than waving it around in an exhausting manner, it is best used by simply angling it in the appropriate direction with a small movement of the wrist. Given that it is held more like a remote than a typical mouse, its weight distribution is crucial, sitting comfortably in a rounded ball that fits the palm of your hand with just the slender buttons at the front.

PlayDigital: Legal DRM-free MP3 Reaches the UK

Beating Amazon to the punch, with Play.com’s launch of their new PlayDigital download service, DRM-free high-quality mp3 downloads from major record labels finally reach the UK. Which also means it is time to put my money where my mouth is and, in line with a promise I made a long while back, buy an album. This actually proved harder than I expected. Not through any fault of the store itself, I hasten to add. It feels just like buying anything else from Play, which is to say almost too easy. No additional software is required, you simply pay and then download (download speed was disappointingly slow but this is likely due to the store being swamped at launch). The first issue is that EMI is still the only one of the big labels who is playing nice and fully embracing this non-crippled digital distribution model, and the second is a question of pricing. Harking back to my darker metal roots Paradise Lost’s In Requiem was my first choice until I realised that the album offered for download at a very reasonable £7.25 was actually being sold physically, jewel cased CD with free postage, for just £6.66. If I were not the album buying sort the general 65-70p price point for single tracks is great, and undercuts Apple’s iTunes enough to tempt people away, particularly when one notes the format offered here is far superior to anything offered by Apple as I’ve discussed before.

So, given that I did remain true to my word, what was the eventual winner? Dragonforce’s blisteringly fast Inhuman Rampage for a bargain £5.25. The first couple of minutes of Through The Fire & Flames has already given me a real craving to play Guitar Hero…

Razer MakoOn a related musical theme I am generally disparaging of fashion speakers like JBL’s Creature series, glossy white and very slick but utterly average in the most important characteristic of sound reproduction — they match Macs wonderfully which one assumes was really their primary purpose. However the new Razer Mako 2.1 system has really impressed me from what I’ve seen so far. I’m dying to hear for myself whether they live up to the THX certification they have received (Logitech’s THX certified speakers sound simply phenomenal and have long been my favourites for a PC). These are definitely ones to keep an eye on.

UPDATE: I have heard from others that they are now getting fast downloads from PlayDigital so any speed issues are now resolved.

"Luck is the residue of design."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2021 Priyan Meewella

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