Roccat's Kova is a "driverless gaming mouse". It's been a long time since we've seen even a basic mouse come without drivers. So with interest, we plugged the Kova in to see what it was all about.
An ambidextrous mouse, the Kova is about simplicity from the get-go. Despite being smaller than the average gaming mouse, it features a huge scroll wheel, reminiscent of a fat tyre. It has back and forward buttons on both sides. That's almost it for the Kova, apart from two strips of lighting on each side of the mouse buttons and some exhaust style lighting at the base.
It's the back and forward buttons where the magic lies: hold in the left and right top buttons while plugging in, and the mouse flips into left-handed mode, reversing the left and right mouse button functions.
Pressing these buttons while the mouse is plugged in changes the lighting effect, from "breathing" (alternating colours, with each one fading off and the new one fading in), to full brightness, to completely off. Pressing the left top and right bottom buttons will alter the "breathing" mode to cycle colour after one, two or three "breaths", or keep the colour constant between fade-outs. Hitting the bottom left and top right buttons manually changes the colour. It's a little fiddly, but in lieu of software it's rather clever.
DPI switching is done by pressing the bottom left and right buttons simultaneously, the mouse flashing red for 400dpi, violet for 800dpi, green for 1600dpi or blue for 3200dpi. You don't have to wait for the flashes, allowing you to cycle through modes as quickly as you like.
While the switching system is elegant, the signalling system isn't so much. We found ourselves wishing for a visual meter somewhere as per Logitech, especially since there's no software to fill the gap. There's also no way to tell what DPI the mouse is currently on without cycling through all the DPI settings again.
While basic Windows use was much of a muchness, gaming is where the Kova shines. Despite the lack of hardcore configuration, it proved itself accurate and deadly during Serious Sam HD and Left 4 Dead. Its smaller than usual size and great thumb and pinky grips near the base allow for even greater control.
For a gaming mouse without software, the Kova is damn good. If you don't hold truck with macros, customisable buttons, x/y axis sensitivity and the like, this could be the one for you.