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Reviewed: Razer Boomslang Speed, Razer Viper
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: June 24th, 2004
Page: 2

Boomslang Speed

The Razer Boomslang Speed is an upgraded version of the original Boomslang 2000. Interesting to note is that my original series Boomslang 2000, which I've had since November 1999, is still running just fine - score one for solid engineering.

That being said, the Boomslang Speed's design does offer quite a few improvements. It's not any lighter, but the curvature of the two top mouse buttons has been changed slightly, allowing fingers to rest on it more naturally. The scroll wheel is both easier to move, and has more pronounced ridges to avoid its slipping under the finger. The side buttons are a bit firmer, I'm presuming to prevent trigger-happy gamers from setting it off without meaning to. And the rear end of the mouse is just slightly slimmer, which is nice for gamers with smaller hands.

The slide pads on the bottom of the mouse have been moved around a bit, and seem less likely to catch dust or grime around their edges, which is good. And, after a few months of abuse, the mouse still feels like it did the first day it showed up. In 3 months, one cleaning isn't too bad. The redesign of the socket has, however, made the rollers slightly more difficult to clean, which is a minor annoyance.

It's still a bit heavier than one expects a mouse to be; if you're not used to the weight, that can be annoying.

The new Boomslang series has also dumped the PS/2 port adapter and PS/2 port overclocking software from the drivers; while back in 1999 it was a decision designed to make the Boomslang available to as wide an audience as possible, USB ports have been standard equipment for so long that it's highly unlikely a buyer won't have one, and the performance requirements of the Razer mice pretty much make the USB port the only choice.

Viper

The Viper, being Razer's first optical mouse and first non-Boomslang design, is a completely different animal. Where the Boomslang is a heavier mouse, suitable for the hands of habitual gamers, the Viper is almost feather-light. While it retains the length of the Boomslang series, suitable for quick hand movements, it's only 2/3 as wide, and has longer (and only two) buttons.

The scroll wheel is perfectly smooth, but twice as wide, and I found it to move even easier than the Boomslang Speed's wheel did. Meanwhile, the lack of a third or fourth button didn't really hinder the Viper at all, because games today are designed around the two buttons and scroll wheel system; while binding the other buttons was occasionally useful in games like Thief: Deadly Shadows, it really didn't make a tremendous amount of difference overall.

As an optical mouse, the Viper of course has no trackball, relying instead on the usual optical red-light system. A pair of semiclear panels down the sides provide a cool illumination effect when the mouse is in use, though illumination effects on mice are rather silly when the player's attention is going to be focused on the screen. It does enhance the appeal of the mouse when shown off to one's friends, however, and kudos to the designers for making it aesthetically pleasing.

Comparison/Conclusions

The purpose of this review was twofold; to get a good grip (pun intended) on the quality of the new Razer offerings, and to compare the two to see if one was hands-down better than the other. On the side of quality, both of the new offerings are even better than the original Boomslang series, which is exciting to see; little tweaks here and there have made a lot of difference.

In the comparisons side, given the previous Razer track record, I fully expected to find a tie. Boy, was I wrong.

Now, granted, it's darn close. If you're a hardcore gamer, you're going to want what the Boomslang Speed can give you, every time - faster mouse response, the extra button, highly controllable design that the hand rests comfortably on top of.

But for the majority of casual players, the Viper is going to be the way to go. It's lower maintenance, lighter, and feels more like a "normal" mouse. Plus, it's nearly as fast as the Boomslang Speed as it stands, something that wasn't all that surprising. It's also lower price, for the frugal among us.

Ultimately, the Viper didn't obsolete the Boomslang Speed. If you're a performance freak, the Viper isn't for you. On the other hand, if you were considering the Boomslang Control, you should really be considering the Viper instead.

And yes, BOTH products are worthy of an Editor's Choice award. They are both that damn good.


Added:  Sunday, June 27, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Score:
Page: 2/3

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