|Epic Gear Meduza Gaming Mouse and Hybrid Pad|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Input Devices|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Wednesday, 22 February 2012|
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Epic Gear Meduza Software
At Benchmark Reviews we tend to have a very hardware focused evaluation since that is the physical piece of property that you get to call your own. But it's quite surprising how much the software and drivers impact the physical experience. Give the same microcontroller and a task to two different programmers and you can end up with drastically different results.
So far the Epic Gear Meduza has fared well in the hardware department, but often it will be the software that makes a difference in success. Once upon a time, mouse performance was tied entirely to the driver installed when the mouse was plugged in. But now there is almost always a software package that must be installed to adjust and control advanced features of the mouse. This also meant that you could only use your mouse and features on a computer with the software installed. A more recent trend has been to put memory inside the mouse and store these advanced settings within the mouse so it can be ported to other systems. In some cases the configuration software can also be run from a portable drive.
The solution provided by Epic Gear for the Meduza requires installing the configuration software to make adjustments to five unique profiles. These settings are stored in 128 KB of memory on the mouse so you can use it on any system. While not the ultimate in portability, it is the next-best option.
The configuration utility, i.e. mouse software, has four separate pages used to configure the mouse. The Main Control page is used to assign button functions and DPI settings for each of the five profiles.
For button assignments, only 6 of the 7 buttons can be customized. In order to prevent a "soft" brick, one mouse button is dedicated to switching between profiles. If all buttons could be customized it would be possible to setup a mouse so that you could get stuck into a single profile with no way out. While this is a great feature, it would be nice to at least make the profile button movable. The remaining buttons can be assigned to typical mouse functions and macros, but nothing fancy like program launching.
For DPI settings, four discrete sensitivity levels can be set for each of the three sensor modes: optical-only, laser-only, and HDST. The optical sensitivity selections are hard coded into four discrete levels of 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 DPI. This also applies to HDST mode since it uses the optical sensor but a fifth option of 4800 DPI is also available. For laser-only mode the X and Y axes can be set independently using slider bars for a more highly customized sensitivity.
The performance page of Meduza's configuration software has a more random collection of configurations. The USB polling rate can be changed between four distinct frequencies of 125, 250, 500 and 1000 Hz. There is an LED power saving option that will turn off the LED to save power if the mouse is idle for 60 or 120 seconds. Since LEDs take so little power, and you probably have a hundred running in your home there's really not much point to this one.
There is a small section that will allow you to change the Windows settings for scroll wheel speed, double-click speed, and pointer acceleration. These Windows-specific settings did not transfer between systems. There is a slider for lift-off distance. I can't imagine that anyone would want to increase their lift-off distance, but maybe it was easy to code so they included it.
Finally, there is a mysterious "Angle Snapping" setting with a scale from 1 to 10. It's not clear exactly what this setting changes, but the outcome is a jumpy mouse-cursor. Basically the mouse pointer seems to snap at intervals rather than moving continuously across the page. At a setting of 10, the mouse tends to move only vertically or only horizontally. Trying to move on angles is tricky and inconsistent. I've never heard a demand for such a feature, and could only speculate at why Epic Gear thought this was important enough to code into the software.
The third configuration page is for creating macros. The interface and functionality of this macro generator are extremely basic. You can record and name as many macros as you want, but during the record phase, only mouse clicks and keyboard buttons are available. The keys and timings are recorded for the press and release events. The editor can only record and delete individual lines. You cannot change the timings, insert mouse movements, use advanced keys or scripts or anything useful at all. This is the most basic macro tool and seems archaic compared to what is standard in the market. I'm surprised that more time wasn't taken from the "Angle Snapping" feature and put to use where everyone would benefit greatly.
The last page of the software is for support. At present there are only links which lead to error 404 web pages. The website is still new enough that no additional support information can be found.
Overall, the software leaves gobs to be desired. It has a super flashy interface with some nifty features, but the functionality is lacking, especially in the macro writing module. Personally, I'd rather have a visually bare utility with bundles and bundles of options. Give me everything you can and even a hidden mode where I can do stuff that might brick my mouse. But luckily this version is an early release so we can hope that by public release the programmers have read the reviews and made bundles of changes to enable additional, useful features that everyone will use.
In the next section we'll finally take the mouse for a full-fledged test-drive and see how it performs in the real gaming world.