By Jeremy M. Zoss in GearFest
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm
With that, on with the review!
Why am I starting with overall impressions? Because the first thing you'll notice about Roccat's Kone mouse, Isku keyboard and Kave headset is the cohesive nature of the line. Everything from the general design to the packaging and the documentation feels consistent and thoughtful. Even the driver CDs are carefully packaged in a manner that's consistent with the Roccat look. In terms of presentation, Roccat has an attention to detail on the level of Apple. You can't say that about many companies.
Rather than say it individually about each piece of gear, I'll say here that all of Roccat's gear feels solidly build and well-designed. The entire line looks nice and feels sturdy. Let's take a look at the three different components.
The Kone+ mouse is an upgraded version of Roccat's Kone mouse, which improves on the original model by including Roccat's EasyShift[+] function (which we'll from here on out refer to simply as Easy Shift). It's a 6,000 DPI mouse with adjustable weight, multi-directional scroll wheel, LED lighting effects and right-side thumb buttons. There are also three additional buttons aligned with the scroll wheel on the mouse's rubberized surface. Right off the bat I was taken in by the solid feel of the mouse, the eye-catching cycling light and the ridiculous number of customization possibilities - of course you can program the various buttons for specific macros, you can also change the weight to your desired feel through included inserts. Nice.
|The Easy Shift programming interface.|
As nice as those features are, Easy Shift is the clear selling point here. Easy Shift allows you to hit a button and to switch through different presets to drastically increase the number of functions you can map to the mouse. With Easy Shift, you can program up to 22 different macros onto the mouse. It comes pre-loaded with macros for games like Starcraft, as well as programs like Photoshop and browsers like Firefox.
The Kone+ mouse retails for around $100.
Easy Shift is also a major feature of the Isku keyboard. Along with eight dedicated macro keys, Easy Shift instantly adds another 28 macro keys - per profile. The Isku can store five separate user profiles, each of which can be programmed with different macros. There are also three "thumbster" keys below the keyboard that can be programmed with additional functionality. As your thumbs are your least-used digits on a standard keyboard, this is a really clever way to increase productivity.
That's really only the tip of the Isku's functionality. If you want a really complete overview, check out this video:
With so many features, it's easy for anyone to find something they like about the Isku, and there are few flaws to point out. I love the keyfeel, integrated media controls and the wrist rest. The only thing I really didn't had to do with the illumination - I felt that the keys at the top of the keyboard could be a little hard to read because of how the light comes through the key label. However, that was before I discovered that the light level, like everything else, is completely customizable. Another nice touch, Roccat.
The Isku retails for about $90-100.
The Kave headphones aren't as innovative as the keyboard and mouse, but really what innovations can you pack into a headset? They're a comfortable, ultra-loud set of headphones with a microphone that's so easy to tuck away that you'll hardly notice it when it's there when not in use. Cleverly, the mic is detachable, so if anything ever happens to it, you won't lose your sound while Roccat replaces it.
While I generally like the Kave, I'm a little more mixed on it than the rest of the of Roccat line. They sound great and they're extremely powerful. The desktop control unit with individual channel volume controls and movie and game settings is great. On the other hand, I do sometimes hear a slight humming in the headphones, and they get a little heavy after a while. The cupped ear design is designed to block out noise are are very effect at doing so - so much so that I occasionally wear them slightly angled so I can hear if someone's coming into my office. You know, in case a zombie attacks.
Overall, the Kave headset sound stellar and has a bunch of nice features. It does get a little heavy after a while, and the fact that it requires four pin connectors and a USB means it's not ideal for laptop gaming. Still, if you want a quality headset at a decent price, this is a great choice.
The Roccat Kave retails for about $120.
To sum up, I'm very impressed with Roccat's US launch lineup. The mouse and keyboard are cutting-edge and the headset is very fine. I know there's a lot to explore with all this gear that I haven't yet delved into, but nevertheless I feel comfortable recommending it to serious PC gamers. This gear was very clearly designed with that audience in mind, and I'm sure they'll appreciate the incredible attention to detail.