As someone who can hardly tell the difference between a keyboard and a typewriter, German peripheral developer ROCCAT’s newest keyboard and mouse are more hardware than I can handle. But if you want—no, need—an unbelievable amount of customization in your PC gaming experience, it’s a dream come true. We got to check out the ROCCAT Kone[+] mouse and the Isku keyboard at CES 2012 and walked away very impressed.
The Kone [+] – A Keyboard in a Mouse
ROCCAT’s new mouse, the Kone[+] brings a number of great new features to the table. The Kone[+] takes common mouse buttons and adds further functionality. For example, the scroll button is also a button that clicks left, right and down. Indeed, instead of simply cramming an unwieldy fistful of buttons onto the controller, ROCCAT has come up with their own Easy-Shift[+] function that works just like the shift-key on a keyboard—essentially doubling the buttons available.
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But the most impressive part of the new mouse it its driver software; created in house by ROCCAT. The software—an easy-to-use interface—allows complete and total customization of the mouse. And I do mean complete and total. The driver allows you to adjust sensitivity, create custom macros for different games, and even change the color of the four different lights on the face of the mouse.
The driver comes already packaged with a number of pre-configurations for many of the most popular multiplayer games, and ROCCAT will continue to update these as more titles are released. You can also edit these macros, send them to your friends, and even configure them so the mouse glows a different color when you’re using them. And for the nomad gamer, the mouse sports a feature that allows it to optimize itself for whatever surface it’s being used on.
I really could talk your ear off about this mouse, but I’ll just leave you with one feature that really stuck out for me. What ROCCAT calls their “Easy Aim” button is an ability to map a sensitivity reduction to a button for those moments in-game when you want much more control and accuracy. When sniping someone in Counter-Strike, simply clicking this button would make for a much more controlled shot. And of course, the exact rate of slowdown is adjustable in the driver software.
The Isku – MOAR BUTTONS
Much like the Kone [+], the Isku keyboard is the result of careful and measured planning on button placement, both old and new. The two most noticeable additions off the cuff are three buttons below the spacebar and five keys on the far left side of the keyboard. The keys on the left are designed as macro keys, placed more conveniently than traditional macro keys in the upper right of the keyboard. The three buttons below the spacebar are simply an effort by ROCCAT to utilize the oft-underutilized thumb in PC gaming by offering a little more button love for it.
These keys are all customizable in driver software very similar to that of the Kone [+]. To that end, the Kone [+] also syncs up with the Isku seamlessly. So you can use the shift key on the keyboard instead of the Easy-Shift button on the mouse in order to free up another mouse button if you feel like it.
With 128 keys, the Isku can seem overwhelming, but of course ROCCAT has a solution. If, during your more frenzied gaming sessions, you keep hitting the Windows button and interrupting your game, you can simply disable the button entirely whenever you’re playing a certain game. And you certainly don’t need to worry about losing your keyboard during the same frenzy—at my demo, one ROCCAT rep shook the entire booth with the keyboard, without it sliding an inch on the table.
The Kone [+] retails at $79.99 and the Isku falls at a reasonable $89.99. For the PC gamer interested in hyper customization of their gaming hardware, ROCCAT has come through in fine style. And for anyone else, the quality of the product may just warrant some looking into. As ROCCAT told me during every stage of my demo, “you can do everything, but you do not have to do it.”
How very Zen.