One of the key features that sets the Sensei apart from its brethren is the inclusion of a 32 bit ARM processor to take the load off of your system. This means less response lag interpreting your movements into the game, less consumption of your system resources, and overall bragging rights. This is easy to take for granted, as the vast majority of us are not tuned in to the millisecond lags that pro gamers dread. However, the control tuning and visual customization is something with which we can easily come to terms. I will delve into these two features a bit more below. To round out the package you can slap on the ability to custom record and map macros to any of the seven buttons and Teflon skids on the bottom to reduce drag.
On the bottom of the mouse, next to those Teflon skids, is a dual-purpose screen. Its main purpose is to allow you to tweak the setting of any of the five onboard profiles without the need to download any other software. Its second feature is to load in a custom bitmap. Gone are the days of scrawling your name with a Sharpie on the bottom of your gear. Represent your team, brag about your accomplishments, or even promote your site. This last feature requires the SteelSeries Engine to be installed (Windows only).
The SteelSeries Engine also lets you customize the colors of the scroll wheel, CPI (counts per inch) light, and logo on the body of the mouse with any of 16.8 million colors each. You also get access to a visual editor for all the fine tuning settings that you can access via the screen on the bottom of the mouse, a heat map for button frequency, and storing profiles to and from the mouse. That last point is of special significance, as you can take the mouse with you and keep your settings intact on any other system.
Fine Tuned Control
Finally, we get to the core of what this baby can do. The Sensei employs five special settings that allow you nearly complete control of how your actions translate into the computer. FreeMove allows you to select the level of path correction on your movements. The higher the setting, the smoother the motions. At lower settings the mouse will register every tiny twitch and bump along the way. ExactLift lets you tune the mouse for the surface you are using to play on. By adjusting this setting you can compensate for roughness, reflection, and other material qualities. ExactAim adjusts the speed curve at the lower end to allow you to pinpoint your movements at low speeds. ExactAccel, on the other end, amplifies fast movements to get your mouse across as big a screen as you need without having to pick up and reposition. ExactSens allows you to adjust the CPI of the mouse between one and 5700. There is also a button on top that can double the setting with a toggle, giving you variable speeds at a moment’s notice.
On the first pass, I felt slightly intimidated by the level of control I was being asked to provide on in the Sensei. I mean, really, how am I supposed to know what all these functions do? After some playing around for thirty minutes, though, I had a fine tuned profile that felt right at home. It took much less time to grow accustomed to the colors and logo screen, though I ended up taking more time out of the evening to tinker with these. I found myself talking at length with coworkers about my enjoyment of testing this mouse.
Negative points were few in number. One that I found in my trials was that saving settings to the mouse from the SteelSeries Engine dropped all control briefly, which scared me on the first trial. Another was that the engine had trouble saving numbers I tried to manually enter into the settings boxes (it would revert when the field lost focus). Furthermore, bitmaps seem to want to work in reverse colors (black and white reverse). Mac users will also have to live without the engine for now. In retrospect, the majority of the problems were with the optional software; the hardware was a top performer. At a retail price of $89.99, it’s hard to beat, dollar-to-feature.