There used to be a time not all that long ago, when all computer hardware outside of your joystick was designed to be used as general purpose. You used the same mouse for everything, and nothing was packaged as “designed for gaming”. As more and more hardware is customized specifically for gaming, some quality products are rarely given a second look. In that vein of thinking, I took a look at the Obsidian Wireless Mouse from Saitek.
As I pointed out above, this mouse isn’t marketed towards the gaming space in the same way that the 1600 DPI Gaming Mouse and the GM 3200 Laser Mouse were, but as Saitek makes all its own hardware, I figured the apple couldn’t fall too far from the tree as it were.
I started by using the Obsidian as my every day mouse at work for a couple of weeks. I decided that if I was going to get used to the touch sensitive feel of the mouse, it would probably happen a lot faster if I was using it every day for 8 hours a day. Having played around with a few of the touch sensitive mice, primarily the Macintosh mouse, and while it is almost exactly same feel, these types of mice definitely take some getting used.
Once I became comfortable with it, I found the replacement for the scroll wheel to be not just acceptable, but preferred. I found that scrolling through web pages, which I tend to do a lot of (even at work), is drastically faster and more comfortable when I was using the Obsidian.
The unit comes with the mouse, the USB wireless dongle, a USB recharging station, and two rechargeable batteries. The recharging station has a USB port built in, designed for the dongle, so you can plug both units into only one port. Making the dongle detachable was also a nice touch so it can be used without the charger, perhaps with a notebook on plane rides. The dongle itself is simply the transmitter for the mouse signal, and while it doesn’t make use of Bluetooth, it does provide more than adequate (10 meter) range for use with a desktop system, with no noticeable interference.
The batteries are circular, about and about as big around as a .50 cent piece and about ¾” inch in height. The batteries are easily interchangeable, ejecting the currently installed one through a quick push of a slider near a heel of the mouse, and simply pushing the new one in. The inclusion of 2 batteries is key, as the batter life tends to be about 10 hours on the top end, so if you wind up putting in a long day at the office, or better yet, fragging your friends in UT 2K4, or similar endeavors, you may find a need to change the battery somewhere along the way. Fortunately, the charge time on each battery is a little over 2 hours, so you can always have one ready and waiting while you’re using the other one.
In terms of gaming, the Obsidian definitely performs up to snuff. It lacks the high definition of its gaming oriented big brothers, but is fast enough at 1000 DPI optical resolution to perform well in most combat situations. One thing especially noticeable in comparison to other Saitek products is the lack of programmable button software that is standard for Saitek gaming-oriented controllers. Clearly this isn’t designed to be the top of the line gaming mouse, but it was more than acceptable for use in my first few hours of adventuring in World of Warcraft. The touch sensitive scroll is also particularly nice when using menu based controls. Scrolling through selection menus is quick and easy, and games that feature multiple levels of sub-menus will be far more manageable with this type of mouse.
There wasn’t a lot I didn’t like about the Obsidian. The recharging station works nicely for connecting the dongle and charging batteries, but isn’t a particularly well designed cradle. The battery life could be better, as I once had to change batteries just in working a particularly busy 8 hour day. In terms of gaming, it simply lacks most of the nicer features of its higher end counterparts, and for many gamers the difference in cost will be worth it. Unless you really want a wireless mouse, the Obsidian, while a nice general use mouse, probably isn’t the mouse for you.