The SilverStone Raven is a surprising new entry in the high-end gaming mouse scene long dominated by Logitech's tweakable G-series and Razer's curvy, rubberized mice. Initial impressions of the mouse were positive and all around interesting, but the "big two" have set the bar rather high; killer ergonomics, insanely accurate sensors, and truely usable customization software have come to define both - but as of recently, so has stagnation. It seems like they have been running low on fresh ideas - only giving us higher resolution sensors and more questionable ergonomic changes. They're either continually refining toward their ideal, as Razer has lately, or they're hedging their bets like Logitech by letting you pick your own ergonomics, as Logitech promised, but their follow-through (they promised aftermarket mouse bodies for the G9 which sadly never materialized) is somewhat lacking. The problem here is that if the feel of the Razer doesn't fit your hand and if Logitech's mouse skins were your reason for your interest, then you've been left out in the cold. I want to believe that SilverStone could be the third major player in this field, introducing new ideas, competition, and disruptive technology that will keep the market fresh and innovative.
Recall, if you will, the heyday of gaming mice when the humble Microsoft Intellimouse had a clicky, well-defined scroll wheel, everyone was excited about new optical mouse technology, and Razer, Logitech, Creative and Microsoft were making actual strides in usability and ergonomics. Notice what's different? One, Microsoft was making mice that were comfortable in the hand. Two, there were more players in the market, and their interaction drove competition and innovation. Let's see how the up-and-comer stacks up to the entrenched giants, if they can be the boot to the pants the industry needs.
The Raven comes packaged in a surprisingly minimalist black package, conveniently presenting the mouse front-and-center for viewing; unfortunately it's recessed far enough that it cannot be palmed adequately to get a feel for it without removing the box. Listed are the system requirements, basic features, and a fairly good three-point illustration of the mouse indexed to the relevant features and details. And speaking of features and details, the specs are pretty impressive - the highlights being a 3200 DPI sensor, capable of tracking 50Gs of acceleration (about 500 m/s^2 for the physics crowd).
Unfortunately, as soon as you crack open the sleek, matte-black box you're confronted with a hermetically sealed, ultrasound-welded polyethylene sarcophagus, which is actually the strongest material created by human engineering.This is due to the sheer number of carbon-carbon bonds - it's like diamond, but more flexible!! You get to rip into that before you can play with your new toy. Good luck getting into it without resorting to barbaric rock smashing techniques. If you do however succeed in opening it without succumbing to a life-threatening packaging injury, you are treated to several things: First, the shiny new mouse, reeking of volatile organic compounds (think paint thinner). Second, a satisfying user manual - I swear, this thing is close to a quarter inch thick. True, it's printed in a half dozen languages, but elsewhere that would yield a half dozen page thick manual. Lastly, the inevitable driver disk in obligatory paper sleeve. (Remember when jewel cases were the norm? Yeah, I'm starting to feel old.) While the packaging feels fussy, I expect it to do a better-than-adequate job protecting your new Raven during shipping.