Microsoft has taken a bit of a different approach with their latest SideWinder mouse. It starts off innocently with the standard left and right mouse click buttons, and a scroll wheel between the two. The wheel does not tilt left or right but it is easily depressed for an additional button click.
Directly behind the scroll wheel are three buttons used to change DPI settings on-the-fly. This is a bit different from most mice that typically use two buttons in a Plus/Minus configuration to increase or decrease DPI settings. Each button lights up via a LED, but if that isn't enough, Microsoft also includes a small LCD screen located between your thumb and index finger that displays the current DPI setting. Behind the DPI buttons is the Quick Launch button, that opens Games Explorer in Vista and the IntelliPoint software in Windows XP.
Two thumb buttons are positioned vertically, again, a bit different than the norm. A macro record button lies directly in front of the two thumb buttons which can be used to record macros in games, but be warned that you most likely won't be able to reach it with a normal grip on the mouse - it's simply out of reach, even for someone with a long thumb.
The bottom of the SideWinder is relatively plain, with a glossy red surface, five mice feet and an eject button for the weight cartridge that slides out on the right side. Microsoft included three sets of interchangeable mice feet, each offering a varying degree of friction, or lack thereof. Simply choose whichever feels best to you.
Microsoft includes only four weights with the SideWinder; one 5g and three 10g, but only three can be fit into the cartridge at any given time. The weight and replacement feet box also doubles as a cable anchor to prevent the mouse cable from tugging at your mouse or to keep some extra slack at your disposal.
One word can accurately describe the Microsoft SideWinder Mouse: large. During testing, I was never really able to fully get accustomed to its size and even found my wrist to ache a bit after a few hours of gaming, something that doesn't happen with smaller/standard-sized mice. I also found that the two thumb buttons took some time to get used to, as most mice use horizontally-positioned buttons.
The IntelliPoint software allowed me to customize each button of the mouse as I saw fit and adjust the DPI presets from 200 to 2000 incrementally. Accuracy during FPS gaming was superb and I never felt like the mouse was mistracking or otherwise obstructing the experience. I liked the idea of multiple mice feet - this certainly helps to give the mouse a better feel, as some people like very slippery mice and others prefer something with a bit more friction/tracking.
Price as of writing: 64.99
- Adjustable on-the-fly DPI
- LCD display
- Adjustable weight cartridges
- Cable management box
- On-board macro record button
- Interchangeable mouse feet
- Very large
- Build quality feels a bit "cheap"
- Unusual thumb button layout may pose trouble for some