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Hugh Morley (Kent, United Kingdom)

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SteelSeries Kinzu v2 - White (PC/Mac)
SteelSeries Kinzu v2 - White (PC/Mac)

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply beautiful, 18 Oct 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So I'm a long-time gamer, and for most of the time that I've been using my own PC I've also been using gaming mice, including mice like the Logitech G5, G9 and Roccat Kone. This isn't just because they have "Gaming" in their name, it's because any decent gaming mouse will generally be much more comfortable for playing games with than a regular one, designed with more durable materials and better optical or laser sensors for more accurate and responsive tracking, along with a higher degree of customisation. However, what you also will find is that, no matter the manufacturer, almost all gaming mice around today are chock-laden with totally unnecessary buttons and glowing lights where there need be none. This has not annoyed me that much until recently, when I decided to try and become a minimalist of sorts, and whilst it's easy to pick simple, unobtrusive designs in almost every other aspect of my life, gaming has never been a hobby for calm, simple aesthetics. Fortunately, SteelSeries came to the rescue. They have a range of products almost as large as Razer, Roccat or Cyborg, but whilst keeping the durable materials and functions of other manufacturers, a quick glance across their website reveals that they value simple, beautiful design more than their competitors.

I chose the Kinzu, then, primarily on the virtue of it's simple looks, and was not disappointed. It's very well built indeed, with the glossy laminate top and rubberised edges proving to be solid in the hand and promising to last for years of heavy use without incident, whilst still providing the minimal aesthetic I was looking for. I alternate between a claw and palm grip when I use a mouse, and in both positions the Kinzu is comfortable. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that SteelSeries have also built in a degree of customisation, or at least as much as can reasonably be provided for such a simple mouse. The mouse is fully ambidextrous and you can easily switch the left and right mouse buttons in the SteelSeries control panel. There's also the ability to set two different CPI settings of between 400 and 3200 CPI (400, 800, 1600, 3200) which you can alternate between using the only extra button on the mouse - a dedicated CPI switcher just below the scroll wheel. This works seamlessly in game and out of it, at least in my experience. Finally, you can set different game profiles if you want to dedicate any of the buttons to a particular function within certain games, which is nice, even if it feels like a bit of a token gesture since pretty much every game ever made already uses at least two of the buttons on a mouse, and this is especially true of newer games.

The one complaint I have is not about the mouse itself, or the software, but rather the lack of a disc for the software in the box. CDs cost essentially nothing to manufacture and distribute, and the Kinzu requires the SteelSeries drivers to be installed before it will basically function, which is weird for a modern USB mouse but not unheard of. Given that fact, I was mildly annoyed that I had to go to the SteelSeries website to download the drivers, but it was a fairly painless process. It's far from the end of the world, and I can forgive it since the price is so low for the Kinzu, but it would still have been a nice gesture to include a CD in the box, or just make the Kinzu able to run from it's internal firmware alone so that it's functional without the drivers even if the extra options are disabled.

Owing to the bewildering lack of drivers out of the box, I can only give the Kinzu four stars as an overall package, but the mouse itself is a truly brilliant little device and, given the availability of replacement glide pads from Amazon, I think I'll be using it for years to come. SteelSeries, you've got yourself a fan.

Kindle, 6" E Ink Display, Wi-Fi (Previous Generation - 5th)
Kindle, 6" E Ink Display, Wi-Fi (Previous Generation - 5th)

323 of 359 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindling a love of reading, 21 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So, I took the plunge. I have a Kindle. I've ummed and ahhed about this decision for five years, but I've recently decided to try and become a minimalist. As part of that, I've disposed of most of my books, with the rest to go in short order, and an e-reader seemed like a good idea because it allows me to continue reading without the physical clutter that it can create as a hobby.

Why the Kindle? I work in selling consumer electronics, and have plenty of experience with both the Kindle and Kobo as a salesperson. After a bit of internal wrangling about the merits of open systems such as that supporting the Kobo Touch, I opted for a Kindle on the basis of ease of use. This was partly against my better judgement, as I have always preferred the physical look and feel of the Kobo, but the option of a lit case which integrates with the battery, as well as the Whispersync service, was appealing and so I wound up with a fifth generation Kindle two days ago. The reduced price also helped - the £69 model is now the lowest priced mainstream e-reader on the market.

Compared to the older models, the text seems a tad sharper, although not having spent much time actually reading with those it's hard to make a worthwhile judgement about any comparative increase in quality. The battery life is still excellent and the storage more than adequate, as you'd expect from any e-reader, but where this new Kindle really excels over it's more expensive brethren and the competition is in build quality. The matte finish metallic edge is somewhat cold to the touch, but reassuringly so - it feels far more solid than plastic fantastic models such as the Kindle Keyboard. The buttons feel well weighted and are easy to access, not changing from the old fourth generation Kindle except in colour as with the rest of the fronting, although I will say that when the official lit case is connected you might well struggle to use the left pair of page turners as there's not much give in the rubber backing there compared to the right hand side. Amazon haven't changed much on the rear of the new Kindle either, keeping the same rubberised panel from the fourth generation Kindle that feels great in the hand and provides a bit of extra grip for drowsy night-time or travel reading. It's the same well built device as the fourth generation Kindle was, mostly because it's effectively the same device, but the new colour turns it into a great looking device as well as one that's comfortable to hold, and the same quality for £20 less is a hard bargain to ignore.

As you might have guessed by now, I also picked up one of the official lit Kindle cases, and in tandem with the fifth generation Kindle it's probably as close as we'll come to the Kindle Paperwhite in the UK for the next year. It fits very snugly around the new model, and the light is bright and clean without being harsh. The uneven lighting created by an external source such as this built-in LED means some people might struggle to read with it in pitch blackness, but I find it creates a more natural effect than a backlit screen or the upcoming Nook SimpleTouch with GlowLight and Kindle Paperwhite might well do. We'll find out in the coming months, I suspect, when those devices are released in the UK. The most important bit for me, however, is that the LED runs directly from the Kindle's internal battery, and so saves you having to worry about changing a battery if you're in the middle of nowhere. The fake leather exterior is lacking much grip, but the interior is easy and comfortable to hold, warming the hand without making it sweat.

Owing to the problems with the left page turners when integrated with the official lit case, I can't say that the Kindle is faultless, but it's definitely a five star device nonetheless. Well built, easy to use, easy to hold and it looks great, too. I've already found myself reading more than I was a few months ago, and I will probably never go back to print books now save for education. Amazon's made a believer out of me: e-readers might take a while to become truly universal devices, but the Kindle is leading the charge for good reason - it's the best.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2012 3:07 PM GMT

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