Gear: Steel Series Sensei – redefining gaming peripherals
Ever had a device that feels like it was made for you? After testing equipment for long enough, you start to believe they all do the same things and work the same way. Josh had a play with the Steel Series Sensei and completely fell in love. Here are his thoughts.
The first time I used a mouse for gaming, I couldn’t get my head around it. Quake was doing the rounds on PC and its multiplayer was booming. My first few rounds I got creamed, unable to keep up with the speed and precision of the other players. Over the next few months my performance improved as did my kill death ratio. However I was always behind the curve and over time my frustration made me turn to my equipment. Someone suggested that I try a new mouse, so I went out and brought a new fangled laser mouse and lo and behold the change in my performance was staggering.
From that moment on, I understood hardware can be equally as important as the skills you have. Every dedicated PC gamer has different requirements for their mouse, and finding the perfect fit is a very subjective thing. I am aware what I’m looking for may not be the same as a World of Warcraft player or StarCraft pro gamer. My idea of perfection in a mouse is something which can evolve to suit the type of game I give it. This is the basis of the Sensei.
Long before companies became obsessed with green LED lights and mouse devices with a thousand buttons, such peripherals were simply, responsive and comfortable. Nowadays it seems like every brand has to come with multiple colour choices, adjustable weights and several designs. This makes it hard to see a good pick when you’re blinded by a sea of flashing lights. Steel Series has decided to try something a little different, attempting to make the focus more on the abilities of the mouse and less on design and style.
The Steel Series Sensei avoids sharp edges and crazy patterns, instead offering a sleek and simple ambidextrous design. The Sensei feels odd at first, its lack of flamboyance style feels a little generic however this is to ensure it offers maximum comfort and versatility. Its design features two thumb buttons on either side, a sturdy and firm click wheel for those all important weapon switching moments, as well as a DPI (Dots Per Inch) switch for moments when extreme accuracy is required. The mouse clicks are smooth and fast with the mechanism feeling robust and durable. The bottom of the Sensei has large plastic stoppers to allow for easy gliding across most of the surfaces it was tested on and a small LCD panel on the base to add a clan name or your own to really make it your own.
My favourite design feature is also the most unnecessary. All of the technical organisation and settings can be adjusted to your specifications through software called the Steel Series Engine. Apart from the pages of virtual customisation (discussed in the next section), this program allows you to set custom colour schemes for your mouse based on the game you are currently playing. For example my mouse is set up so The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has an ice blue and white theme, Borderlands 2 is yellow and orange and Battlefield 3 is all green, incorporating a similar coloured theme.
This is where the Sensei shines the strongest. Not only does it have almost unlimited levels of customisation but it blows its competition out of the water by offering up the power of a small computer built into the mouse itself. The Sensei uses a small 32-bit ARM processor and is about as fast as the original Pentium 75 MHz processor released by Intel in 1994.
Sure, it may seem like overkill but this technology allows the mouse to perform most of its calculations directly from the mouse itself, removing the need to drain resources from the user’s computer. It also allows the mouse to offer customisation on the fly using the LCD panel on the base of the mouse, perfect for when you’re plugging into a foreign computer avoiding the need to install drivers and software.
Lastly, Steel Series have developed Exacttech, four settings all designed around smartly controlling your mouse in the times you need it most.
Exactlift: This gives you the ability to customise the lift distance. If you have forgotten your mouse-pad, or are playing a cyber-cafe, the difference in surfaces can cost you kills. This allows you to adjust accordingly before you play for the best results no matter where you are.
ExactAim: Basically, this enhances precision. As you slow down your cursor, the mouse will automatically decelerate affording you far greater accuracy when focusing on your target.
ExactAccel: The complete opposite as ExactAim. As you increase the speed of your mouse movement, this technology will accelerate your movements even more so in order for you to move across your game or page even faster still. It’s a godsend for Real Time Strategy buffs.
ExactSens: Sick of games with low sensitivity settings? ExactSens gives you full control of movement no matter what the game. You can set the in-game sensitivity to whatever you like using the Steel Series Engine.
After a lot of tweaking and configuring the Sensei now feels more like an extension of my own arm. The mesh between comfort and smart technology means my mouse is smart enough to know what settings to apply based on the game I’m playing and the simple button system means I can always control the way I play. The movement is smooth and even in games such as Skyrim with awkward mouse controls, I have managed to massage the problems using the wonderful DPI settings. This is the most comfortable mouse I have ever used and the personalisation takes away any frustration I previously had playing such titles.
The Steel Series Sensei is hard to top. Beyond aesthetics it has all of the key ingredients of the perfect mouse. Speed, versatility, power and customisation are all handled from a gamer’s perspective making it feel comfortable in the palm of your hand no matter who you are. This is the only mouse I intend on using from now on, and I advise you to do the same.