- Hardware provided by PR.
The Speedlink Kudos Z-9 gaming mouse makes a striking first impression: an eye-catching metallic red sheen coats a mouse with a design that might make you worry you’ve unwittingly brought home a compact Decepticon, albeit a very attractive one with enough glowing lights for a rave. I think that’s what the kids are still into? Unfortunately, its appeal ends with aesthetics.
Second impressions are not quite so kind to the Z-9, as getting our hands on the mouse brought back painful memories of another mouse with an “ergonomic” design that our hands still haven’t recovered from, the Razer Naga. The Z-9 features similar divots and ridges designed around the shape of the hand, and while it’s a design choice we certainly understand, it’s also one we’ve just never found comfortable: When used as intended, the divot for the thumb forces our pinky onto the mouse mat, ruining our ability to move the mouse to the right when it gets caught under the mouse. If we compensate for this and ignore the thumb divot, our grip is dramatically reduced. Similarly, the curves for the ring finger and pinky are horribly uncomfortable and we’re still not sure how we’re supposed to hold it after weeks of use.
It’s also too small to be comfortable, even with our slightly-on-the-small-side hands, as trying to get a decent grip with our palm means our fingers are half hanging off the front of the mouse buttons, and the only way to hold it further back without our fingers getting caught under the mouse is a finger-tip grip with the hand hovering an inch away from the mouse as if we’re gingerly sliding it around. It’s just an intensely uncomfortable experience in line with most mice on the hunt for ergonomic perfection. Ten minutes of gameplay with the Z-9 is enough to provide your hand with some discomfort, and your knuckles might need cracking at the thirty minute mark.
What the Z-9 lacks in comfort, it makes up for in functionality. Ten mostly customisable buttons adorn the mouse: the standard left and right click buttons, two by the thumb, two beneath the wheel to select and control one of the mouse’s four profiles, two on either side of those auto-assigned to volume control, and finally the wheel itself will tilt to either side for another two buttons. You can save four profiles of these customisations and switch between them on the fly with one of the buttons beneath the wheel, also changing the mouse’s bright, glowing light.
That’s a lot of buttons with which to play, opening up a lot of options for the player regardless of game choice. It’s particularly useful for button-heavy games such as MMORPGs or real-time strategy games, and the spread of buttons makes for an easier time than a few extra number buttons slapped on the side. One particular feature that we hope becomes standard is tilting the wheel, as it quickly seemed absurd that most mice don’t feature this.
The Z-9 has a DPI of up to 8200, letting you dart about or take it slow with four easily accessible profiles. You can switch from a higher DPI to find your enemies in an FPS to a lower one in order to focus on them with the click of a button.
More problems arose when we actually began to use the mouse: alongside the discomfort, the mouse is also rather frail-feeling with a right mouse button with such low resistance that simply resting our finger on it would often result in an inadvertent click. The lack of heft to the mouse also caused it to drift on our mouse mat a lot after moving it in to positions, resulting in a frustrating amount of mis-clicks.
The Z-9 has an odd “floaty” quality to it, too. It rarely moves into the position you want it to, and once you do wrestle it there it often floats off by half an inch all by itself. This makes for an infuriating lack of precision in all manner of games from Overwatch to any RTS where precision is key, and only adds to the other woes that the mouse brings along with it.
If you’re after a mouse that looks the part, then the Speedlink Kudos Z-9 will be right up your alley. For a piece of hardware marketed as a “gaming mouse,” however, it lacks the precision, comfort, and overall stability required for web-browsing, let alone high-octane gaming.