Roccat puts some serious thought into its brand, that much must be said. Whether it's a pamphlet explaining the discovery of a new element that glows blue (and presumably put in the mouse) or the included credit-card-sized member's card with a number that ends in 1337, the German company gets its audience. And when a company has a mantra of "do it your own way and don't talk shit", we're inclined to like them.
This is the original Kone, soon to be one-upped by the re-engineered Kone[+]. Primarily covered with the rubberised plastic that gaming mice vendors seem to love, the Kone is a right-handed mouse with all the familiar trappings: on-the-fly DPI switching (up to an insane 3200dpi), customisable buttons, some flashy lights and the latest trend of installing profiles on the mouse. The Kone will store five profiles, although most macros appear to be too large to store on the mouse, so you won't be able to take those with you.
Attractive, tight and functional, Roccat's software is the real deal. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
Opting for a thick rubber, Kone avoids the braided cable trend. The braided cable does give a perception of quality, but we found that the Kone's cable choice had no impact on our gameplay.
While Microsoft remains the only company that's cracked thumb button placement, the mouse is comfortable enough, although the DPI switchers are awkward to hit.
The scroll wheel is four-way and satisfying to use, while the button above it is set to the Windows key by default. Being a gaming mouse it can of course be changed to anything — including media controls or a macro.
Customisation is one of the pillars of gaming mice. Roccat does reasonably well. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
The macro editor is reasonably fleshed out, allowing recording of key presses, and after the fact insertion of delays and mouse events (excluding movement). While delays can be edited, individual key entries can't be — you'll have to delete the entry and re-record for a single key press.
We'd hazard a guess Kone is using the same macro software as SteelSeries, as apart from looking similar, it has the same advanced editor where you can manually drag out delays with the mouse. In this case, it seemed to only allow inserting delays on random key presses, and after editing the macro in the advanced editor and attempting to insert an entry, in all future edits the advanced view would turn up blank.
The advanced macro editor is broken. It also looks like it's the same one SteelSeries uses. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
The control panel is otherwise tight, offering the expected sensitivity (including x/y), acceleration and polling-rate options. The Kone offers two features away from the norm. The first allows you to customise the light strips down the side at two points and the Roccat logo to be different colours, as well as rotating these colours clockwise or counter clockwise, or setting them to pulsate (which just like Alienware, is more of a flash), blink or flash like a heartbeat. You can even set the rate at which these events happen, but we're guessing the discerning gamer will simply turn them all off, thankfully something that can also be done.
Apparently gaming means coloured lights. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
The second feature is Roccat's Tracking Control Unit (TCU) — an extra camera that analyses the surface the mouse is on, then optimises the response to better suit. At first we thought this was pure placebo, but then realised we were testing it on surfaces we already knew performed well. As such, if any changes were made by the TCU at all, the differences were imperceptible. It's clearly doing something though. When calibrated to a reflective black surface, it appeared to smooth motion and knock out a few skips, and when we switched back to our standard mouse mat the cursor started skipping all over the place, requiring another TCU calibration to set things right. While all serious gamers should have a decent mousing surface to begin with, the TCU should be treated as another tool to give you a slight edge over the competition.
The final element of the Kone is something Logitech brought in a while ago: adjustable weights. The Kone offers 5g, 10g, 15g and 20g discs, which while not as granular as Logitech's solution does offer something completely over the top: a chip in each disc, purely so the control panel can know which weight is in there. We'd prefer this was ditched to save on the cost of the mouse.
A fragging session in Serious Sam HD revealed the Kone to have a somewhat floaty feel, compared to the harsh precision of the G500 and the Xai. It nonetheless had more than enough accuracy to keep us cool and survive in the hardest difficulty, taking potshots while infinitely keeping on the run. An extended session of Left 4 Dead cemented our impressions: this is a darn good mouse.
The Kone has earned itself a spot among our favourite gaming mice, Roccat proving it's got what it takes.