Completely out of the blue we received an email to have a look at a new mouse that has hit the market over the pond, but has yet to release in the States. Looking at the press release information in the email, I was intrigued to say the least to have an up close and personal look at what this new company was bringing forth.
Let me start by introducing you to Epic Gear. From what I can gather, it looks like the company just started at the end of last year and is now in the position to offer products in masses to the public. In reality they are a part of a much larger organization, Golden Empire International Limited, or as we know them GeIL, the memory company. If you were to go and check out their page on the web, you would find that I am about to show you the only two products that Epic Gear are currently offering. On that same site you can also see that they have a keyboard on the way soon and for those on the go, a bag to tote your laptop in.
Back to the products on hand, this mouse offers something that has likely been thought of to some extent, but is something I have never seen. This product uses a plethora of technology built into the mouse to deliver every user a mouse that will suit their needs. By using an ARM processor to do all of the thinking and transmitting, the mouse in combination with the 128KB of onboard memory can be programmed for macros, various profiles and the ability to switch out three sensor modes. That's right; with this mouse you can either use the optical sensor, the laser sensor or a combination of them using Hybrid Dual Sensor technology (HDST).
Along with the Meduza HDST gaming mouse I have been describing, Epic Gear also sent along a Hybrid Pad for HDST in the box. This will allow me to get the most out of the mouse by what is said on the Epic Gear website. Now that I have had ample time to play around at desktop level and in various games, it is time to show you what I found. Hold on tight as I try to cover what all is included with the Meduza HDST gaming mouse and accompanying Hybrid Pad because I think Epic Gear is a new company with very cool ideas and will definitely be a threat to the current market!
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Meduza HDST gaming mouse has a ton of specs and features that I am about to cover, but I want to go over the basics first. From extreme right to left the Meduza measures 73mm, is 122mm long and stands about 42mm at the highest point of the curved top. A combination of a rubberized surface for your thumb and the three buttons, a flat textured plastic from the palm rest and right and left click buttons, then a bit of shiny plastic to keep your ring finger and pinky comfortable on the other side. All told there are seven buttons on the Meduza and six of those are fully programmable, while the seventh button is used for the sole purpose of switching between the five profiles if the driver and control panel are used to set them.
Now here is the trick with the Meduza HDST. Since it uses an ARM processor to control things between the Meduza's functioning components and any PC in conjunction with the 128Kb of onboard memory, once this mouse is programmed, it becomes plug and play anywhere you go. There is a disc containing all the software you need and in that control panel you gain access to personalizing the DPI setting, polling rate, which type of sensor to go with, if you want angle snapping and at what distance the sensors should stop tracking when I lift the mouse off the pad. On top of that there is a full macro setup section that will allow for any configuration, even those with time delays.
The setup is simple too, you just click record, go about setting the macro and when done stop recording. Then you just have to try it out and see if you did it correctly. With five profiles and six buttons to program, the Meduza can offer up to 25 macros on top of the basic functionality of the configuration. Once everything is set the way you want it, it will keep all of your settings anywhere you go without the need for drivers on that PC.
I seem to have gotten a bit carried away on what this Meduza brings to the table, but it seems that this mouse offers controls over all of the best in mouse technology, for everyone. FPS gamers will like on the fly DPI profiles and even the MMO guys can love it for its programmability. At this point I love it for its comfort and ease of use.
The real issue is with most startup companies, pricing for such a device is usually sent out with an astronomically high price tag. With the Meduza HDST, this just isn't the case. The pricing as seen on the chart will be set at an MSRP of $79.99 when it's released in the States. For those over the pond, there are about seven e-tailers offering the Meduza for average price of £68 via Google.co.uk shopping. It isn't the cheapest solution, but I have owned mice that were more expensive and offered less. From here I will just get to it and show you why the Meduza HDST gaming mouse is a real threat to the competition!
Packaging and Contents
With all the hints of Greek mythology, the packaging lends to the Meduza naming of this mouse from Epic Gear. With thick clumps of hair, a pair of eyes and the snake skin neck, the screaming mouth is a great way to display the mouse within.
Both side of the packaging are done almost as if it was a wall being tagged by spray paint. Over some barely visible scales and the overall black background, the red and orange Meduza name pops right out at you.
On the back is where Epic Gear takes time to talk about the Meduza. It starts with and explanation of HDST and move into the design. Down the left is a list of specifications and four images of the mouse surrounding a Medusa-like head with the HDST optic and switch on display in the cut out.
Even on the top of the packaging the scales continue as the OS requirements, Epic Gear information and compliances are posted over.
The inner packaging is a plastic clamshell that has thick corners to protect the Meduza in the middle. The cord is set in an outer compartment to keep the USB 2.0 plug from scratching it.
On the back of the inner packaging you will find the disc for the software. Under the disc, the cardboard that backs the mouse for the packaging on the front has descriptions and images of the Meduza and its layout. It also has a four step guide to getting you in full control of the Meduza at the right.
Here is the front of the disc showing that this is for the V1.0 drivers for the Meduza mouse. With all the graphics and the bright red lettering there is no mistaking which product this disc accompanies when you end up storing it somewhere other than the box.
Epic Gear Meduza HDST Gaming Mouse
As we start the tour around the Meduza we are looking at the palm rest of the Epic Gear Meduza as denoted by the company logo and the stylized Meduza name near the bottom. This whole area in the middle up into the right and left click buttons are all done in a textured black plastic for a better feel.
On the left of the Meduza there are three rubberized buttons, a large rubberized thumb area and four "windows" near the front to denote with LEDs later which of the four DPI settings you are using. The buttons are used for changing the five profiles denoted with five colored lights in the scroll wheel. The two buttons together are for page forward and back, out of the box.
The right and left click buttons are contoured so that again, the user experience is as comfortable as possible, as your fingers rest naturally in the curves. Between those buttons is an illuminated scroll wheel with a rubber outer ring for maximum control. The wheel spins with very solid movements so overshooting the preferred weapon in the selection shouldn't happen here.
The bulk of the right side is made from very shiny black plastic, yet is still contoured as not to forget about the index finger and pinky finger comfort as well. The mouse actually feels more comfortable the further back in your palm is sits. Once there you have total and comfortable control of the Meduza.
Under the Meduza you can see they went with two PTFE feet to allow the front and back of the mouse to easily glide on those wide feet. Near the top is a sticker containing information on the power draw, model number and serial number of this device.
Getting much closer to what makes this all work, the sensors and switches. On the left is the optical sensor and the laser sensor is on the right. These can be used together in HDST mode as the switch is in now, or you can use either by themselves with just the flick of the switch.
Plugging in the USB connection brings Meduza to life as everything starts to glow with red LEDs. It's tough to see, but all four of the DPI lights are active on the left and the large Epic Gear logo also lights up.
The Meduza naming has an LED right behind it. You can tell the glow of the name is much more red than the EG on the palm rest of the Meduza.
The last part that illuminates other than the optical sensor is the area on both sides of the scroll wheel. In red it means that the stock profile is in use currently. The other four profiles will be denoted with yellow, blue, green or purple rings when in use.
Along with the Meduza HDST I was also sent the Hybrid Pad which is specially designed to work with the Meduza to offer the best tracking, reading for the vertical liftoff distance and keeping the theme of the mouse and pad together on your desktop.
The bulk of the sides of this packaging are all about the bold names, cool artwork and a cut-away to allow out feeling the pad at the point of purchase if in a retail setting.
The information provided on the Hybrid Pad is all found in this little area on the back of the box. As you can see I have the 350mm by 250mm version, or the medium size. As you can see all three sizes come in a 3mm thickness.
Backing the pad is the 3mm foam used to pad the surface. The bottom of it has this chevron pattern to allow it to grab onto any surface well, including glass topped desks.
The top feels like a blend of nylon and maybe some sort of polymer glued onto the top of the foam. The surface has a bit more sheen than I am used to in cloth mats, but maybe that is to aid the HDST algorithms as the Meduza tracks across it.
Just one last shot of both the Meduza HDST gaming mouse and the Hybrid Pad together to finish things off before we get to the software.
Opening the software after installation brings up a full page GUI. The opening scene starts off with the outer edges of the inner circle closed like doors. They open up to expose the EG logo as it lights up and kicks over to the control panel.
The Main Control page offers a place to assign the buttons for various profiles on the left and which of the profile colors to save it to at the bottom. On the right you have control over the sensor as well as what DPI is for each of the four settings. On the Laser settings, the DPI goes to 6000 and has more steps between to select to use with the DPI button.
Under the performance tab you gain access to the polling rate, scroll wheel speed, double click speed and pointer acceleration on the left side. On the right side you can set the power saver mode, the lift off distance and the angle snapping amount. Again these can be applied to five profiles.
The Macro tab is for exactly that, programming macros. On the left you create the name of the macro you want to set. On the right you simply click on record and as you press keys they appear on the right panel and will allow for time gaps in the macro as well.
Under the support tab you can spin the image of the mouse on the left and look at it from any angle. On the right you can go to the links provided under the Software and firmware update tabs. I looked; I am on the newest wares. Last but not least, you also have a direct link back to the manufacturer with just a click.
Epic Gear has really thought through everything with the Meduza HDST mouse. Personally there isn't anything I didn't really like aside from the overall weight of over 100 grams - I can see why there aren't any additional weights as most mice offer. The weight of the mouse is the only turn off to me and only because SteelSeries spoiled me. The Meduza was great with the feel it offers and it is very easy to feel your way around to all the buttons and functions. I like the on-the-fly DPI changes, but I found myself needing to go through too many choices. I find a standard DPI for running around and a second setting for precision aiming is all that is really needed. The lighting on the mouse is well placed and doesn't go overboard with a lot of extras that your hand is going to cover, while still offering a very functional and attractive solution.
On the technical end of things I was, let's go with disappointed. Things in the control panel and the way the HDST or optional sensors work, some of it just doesn't seem to function or matter really. Of course switching from optical to laser sensors, you can increase the total DPI, but in reality, neither sensor seems to be any better to use than the other. HDST mode is more of the same. While it definitely removed the jitter I experienced on other laser mice, it again doesn't seem to track any different. Even when turning down, or increasing the prediction, it didn't seem to affect much with the way the Meduza works and tracks. Maybe that is part of the genius of the algorithms run on the ARM Cortex processor it to make it all "feel" the same and something you shouldn't notice going on behind the scenes. Speaking of the processor, I love that I can set this up once with the drivers, then I can just take it with me anywhere and all my macros and profiles are saved on the mouse.
For some the near $80 price point may seem a bit high, but as I mentioned, I have seen many mice retail for more and they don't offer near what the Meduza HDST brings to the table. It's good to see Golden Emperor International Limited is branching out and bringing forth a very impressive mouse to start off with.
Honestly, as long as you don't mind a weighty mouse and are a huge fan of comfort and custom programmability, the Meduza HDST offers more than a lot of mice I have seen without including SteelSeries submissions in that thought. This mouse does have a bit more flash and flair that the Kana lacked, but otherwise they are functionally similar. The increase in cost comes from all the technology going on behind the scenes that made this a very enjoyable product to use. I can see this mouse is in fact going to make other manufacturers sit down and ponder exactly what the Meduza HDST gaming mouse offers now, I just hope Epic Gear makes their profits before this type of design get copied by all the rest.