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.