The first mouse I ever used was a bog standard two-button jobby, with no scroll wheel, no optical sensor, in a tasteful beige. My latest one is an entirely different affair. In fact, on first glance, it looks more like a die-cast toy of some kind of crazy futuristic flying car. It also has more buttons than most dedicated game controllers. With PC gamers demanding more sophisticated ways to control their on-screen destinies, peripheral firms have taken the art of crafting mice to extreme lengths, coming up with some mind-blowing devices, with a frankly incredible number of options all accessible with just one hand. Just as they have helped give western gamers a taste of what a proper arcade stick plays like, Madcatz are no strangers to the world of the gaming mouse.
Their R.A.T.9 mouse is highly popular, and set a high standard when it was released a few years back. So as not to exclude those of us not au-fait with PC gaming, they have given us the super-sleek M.O.U.S.9 – which they claim is aimed at regular people for day-to-day PC use. The M.O.U.S.9 could probably be used for PC gaming without many problems at all, but has a slightly lower-spec dpi sensor. It is also designed to be used on just about any surface in your household.
Using the M.O.U.S.9 for the first time is daunting if, like me, you are used to using a Dell two button wired mouse. But it soon begins to offer up its charms and you start to realise that, hey – maybe these PC gamers are onto something. To begin with, it looks the business. You feel like you are holding something of weight, of real substance; a glossy red finish makes this the Ferrari of mice, even though it is available in three other less racy hues. Connecting the mouse is also less of a chore than I was expecting. Using the Bluetooth Smart technology, you can connect direct to your device, or go down the USB dongle route. My elderly PC hardware did not have the required Bluetooth 4.0 functionality, but the included nano-dongle worked an absolute treat and paired with the mouse with no technical hitches whatsoever. The wireless works at an impressive ten metre range, and there is a cute little blue LED which not only tells you that the mouse is connected via Bluetooth, but also blinks on and off to let you know when the battery is running low.
Gripping it for the first time you become aware of the comfy thumb support and adjustable palm support. You can basically pull the bottom of the mouse out by an extra centimetre or two, and lock or release it using a button on the right of the unit. The dual wheels – one is operated by thumb on the left side, and the other (which can be tilted from side to side) sits atop the unit in traditional fashion, with the two standard non-programmable “left” and “right” mouse buttons. Below the scroll wheel and next to the main left clicker are two smaller silver buttons which can be programmed.
Next to the thumb support there are two small buttons which out of the box are pre-programmed to move backwards and forwards when in a browser window, but can be programmed to serve other functions. The most interesting thing about the left side of this bad boy is a round button which has a “precision” function, meaning that when you hold it down, the cursor is slowed down, thus allowing more finesse.
The best thing about the M.O.U.S.9, however, is the included software, which allows you to enter a Mad Catz dashboard which gives a user-friendly means to programme all of the buttons on your mouse, and set up specific profiles for each of your chosen programs. You may want a profile for your Internet Explorer, for example, which allows easy zoom in/out, opening new tabs and suchlike, and it’s a doddle to assign such functions to your many buttons. The mouse is also smart enough to remember more than one setup, and will automatically switch configurations depending on which program you are using.
VERDICT: Everything about the M.O.U.S.9 screams class – from the impressive jewel case that it comes packaged in to the handy carry pouch, and that is before you figure into the equation its superb performance. For a hardcore PC gamer it would probably not have the right amount of sensitivity required, but it has enough clout to attend to just about any other task. The levels of customisation are truly terrific, and I was particularly taken aback by the excellent software which made setting everything up a breeze. With just one AA battery lasting a year (according to Mad Catz, that is), and simple and effective connectivity, the M.O.U.S.9 now takes pride of place in front of my knackered old computer.