Reviews

Mad Catz M.O.U.S. 9 – Review

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When it comes to mice Mad Catz are known for creating products specifically with gamers in mind, mice that boast impress technical specs and equally impressive price-tags. Now, though, they’ve just released a new design by the name of the M.O.U.S. 9, which has been created because Mad Catz claim that there were thousands  of people buying their R.A.T. mice not for gaming but for everyday usage. These people weren’t so much interested in the powerful specs as they were the feel, look and customizability. And so Mad Catz  decided to take the basic design of the R.A.T., strip it down, throw in Bluetooth and Windows 8 support and call it the M.O.U.S. 9. Sadly they didn’t strip back the price in the process.

The Specs:

  • DPI – 990dpi
  • Acceleration – up to 8G
  • Polling Rate – 125Hz
  • Tracking Speed – Up to 0.8 m/sec
  • Programmable Buttons – 10
  • Connectivity – USB Nano Dongle
  • Wireless Range – Up to 33ft / 10m
  • Power – 1X AA Battery (included)
  • Compatible with Bluetooth Smart Ready Devices

Despite what Mad Catz state the M.O.U.S. 9 certainly looks like a gaming mouse. It sports 12-buttons, of which 10 are programmable, and has that distinctive over-designed sci-fi look which my brain somehow now automatically just associates with gaming. Everything about how it looks screams gaming at the top of its lungs. It’s not until you look under the hood at the technical specs that you realise that it really isn’t not a dedicated gaming mouse. For starters the DPI is set at a rather low 990 and cannot be changed. While some gamers certainly use low DPI settings this is still too little for vast majority of players out there, and even for general everyday usage if you’ve got a large screen running at a high-resolution. I would have been much happier if it sported at least 1,200 DPI with the ability to adjust it. The polling rate is set at just 125Hz and it’s got a tracking speed of up to 0.08 m/seconds.  Play something like Call of Duty’s multiplayer, then, where quick reactions and precision is required and it just won’t quite have the accuracy and response time that you want from a mouse. But let’s be fair here, for a casual gamer who just plays a few hours of Facebook games a week this will still actually do the job, but for the more serious gamer obviously that stats don’t really cut it. That’s okay, though, because like Mad Catz say, it’s not  aimed at gamers – that’s what their R.A.T. range is for. As a result of all of this the performance of the M.O.U.S. 9 is decidedly average across the board.

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So, let’s take this apart bit by bit, and the easiest place to start is with its aesthetics and basic design. The M.O.U.S. 9 sports the same strange, angular, sci-fi styling of the rest of Mad Catz Cyborg range of gear, like they’ve all been stolen off the set of one of Micheal Bay’s Transformers films. In particular with the matte black finish I could imagine the M.O.U.S. 9 being used by Batman, instantly making it about a billion times cooler in the strange world that is  my mind. It’s a styling which I’ve described before as likely to be divisive, and I’ve got no reason to change that opinion here. Like always there’s plenty of pictures adorning this page so you can have a look and decide for yourself whether or not it’s a visual style you like, but I’m going to go down on record as saying I love it – it’s striking and different, and looks awesome in the matte black finish. The overall build quality is excellent, as I’ve come to expect of late from Mad Catz, and the mouse has a lovely solid feel to it, like I could toss it through a few windows and it would never notice. Not that I would – it might hit an innocent bunny or something, and then how would I feel? I’ve been abusing it for about two-weeks  now (the mouse, not the bunny)and everything still feels fine. There’s no signs that it’s going to break or any parts are going to give out on it, though obviously I can’t comment on how it’s going to be holding up a few months down the line. However, should anything go wrong with it I’ll be sure to update this section of the review.

On the top of the mouse there’s your left and right-click, both of which have a satisfying sound when used, and your scroll wheel. Again, emphasising that this isn’t a gamer’s mouse the wheel has a very smooth spin for browsing webpages rather than having notches and more resistance for doing things like swapping between guns  in the middle of frantic battles. The wheel can also, of course, be clicked. In other words there’s the three basic things you’d expect a mouse to have: right and left click, and a wheel. Sitting just behind the scroll wheel is a button as well, which is not exactly unusual. After that, though, things start to get a bit more interesting: on the left hand side of the top of the mouse there’s a small wing sticking up at angle with a button on there, too, which can be pretty easily clicked with your left finger. The scroll wheel can be tilted to the left or right, providing, acting as another two buttons for you to program and use. Situated on the top of the mouse about halfway down its body on the left hand side is another wheel which by default is set to let you zoom in and out, but can also be reprogrammed to do anything you want. Reaching this wheel with my thumb felt a little odd at first, but I quickly got used to it. Finally, on the left-hand side of the mouse there’s two thin buttons that fall neatly under your thumb, and a larger circular button that lies just at the tip. By default the circular button is programmed to lower the DPI when held, slowing down the mouse for when you’re doing anything that requires a little more finesse. These three side buttons have a lovely soft  feel when you click them, and are almost completely silent. In short, then, there’s plenty of room to customise the mouse’s functions to your liking.

While it may look cool, though, the M.O.U.S. 9 is not a particularly comfortable device to use. Allow me to clarify: by no means is it uncomfortable or awkward, but at the same time it’s nothing special, it doesn’t feel that great to hold in your hand in comparison to other mice on the market. However, it does have two very nice touches: the first is a large wing for your thumb to preside over when not in use, a design I wish more companies would adopt and incorporate into their mice, although sadly the M.O.U.S. 9  doesn’t have the pinky rest of it’s bigger brothers in the R.A.T. range. The second feature is an adjustable palm rest which you can extend  so that you can get the mouse to better fit in your hand. By default the M.O.U.S. 9 is actually a fairly small beast, which suited me fine as I’ve got small hands and never even needed to use the palm adjustment, but the palm adjustment adds almost a whole inch to the length of the mouse when fully extended, so it should fit almost anybody’s hand. However, the back of mouse itself feels like it’s pressing into palm rather than my palm simply resting on it, making me think it needed a more rounded, curved design. Another thing that irked me was that on the left hand side of the mouse there’s a gap between the right-click  and the piece on the bottom of the mouse, and my ring finger would often rub alone the edges of the gap, which was irritating. Just overall the mouse isn’t as comfy as others I’ve used, and quite honestly I can’t explain why. Comfort is a hard thing to describe, and I’ve simply not got the writing skills at my disposal to properly explain. Again, though, don’t walk away from this review with the feeling that it’s somehow a horrendous mouse to hold: it’s not, it feels fine.

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Also keep in mind that the M.O.U.S. 9 is not ambidextrous, it’s designed specifically for those of the right-handed persuasion, rather than those heathen lefties. Sadly at the moment there’s no mention of a left-handed version of the mouse being released, though hopefully one will be made.

I’ve been finding the software powering the Mad Catz cyborg range a little inconsistent in its quality, but this time around they’ve nailed it with a system so utterly simple to use that I’m fairly confident a baboon could figure out how to use in within the space of 30-minutes or so, assuming of course you could persuade the local zoo to lend you a baboon for 30-minutes, and also assuming it didn’t try to eat your face. Every button on the mouse can be programmed via an easy drag and drop system. There’s an extensive list of pre-made actions for you – such as copy, paste, open new tab, magnify,  minimise, maximize, forward reply and a lot more – and you simply drag the one you want to the whichever button you want it mapped to and drop it.  The next tab over has a list of keys that you can assign to the mouse as well, and finally you can create a macro  and give it its own little logo, which is cute, I suppose. Keep in mind, gamers, that this is a limited macro creation system – you can’t set delays or anything else of the sort, you can only input a series of key presses and mouse activations. As a nice added bonus you can also link any of your profiles to any program or application that you have in your computer  so that when you activate one of the programs the mouse will automatically switch over to the associated profile.

I should also mention that while the software and drivers for the M.O.U.S. 9 don’t come in the box  it is plug and play.  Simply click  the Bluetooth Dongle (we’re getting to that) in place, flick the on/off switch on the bottom of the mouse and your computer will quickly sort itself out and you’ll be good to go. The only time you actually need the software is if you want to program any of the buttons.

Disappointingly the M.O.U.S. 9 does not boast any on-board memory, meaning none of your settings or programmed buttons will be carried over if you unplug the mouse from one computer and use it on another. Considering that it’s aimed for every day work I would have liked to have seen it have at least a small amount of memory capable of retaining the last settings used so that if you have to swap it over to another computer to do something  you’ll still have your preferred button layout and won’t need to go to bother of installing software to get it setup the way you like it again. Or of course you could just man up and do it without your fancy settings, I suppose. Nah.

Right, the BlueTooth Dongle. In case you hadn’t already figured it out allow me to part the metaphorical curtains of ignorance to reveal all: the M.O.U.S. 9 is wireless! Shocking, I know! It needs no wires! NONE! What sort of witchcraft is this!? Bluetooth. Bluetooth is the answer. Mad Catz big claim and arguably the main selling point with the M.O.U.S. 9 is that it uses the latest Bluetooth 4.0 tech and can connect to a variety of tablets and smartphones, as well as your computer, laptop or mac. Obviously as more and more products adopt the latest Bluetooth technology the mouse will become compatible with more and more things, meaning if nothing else it’s future-proof for at least a little while.  If you’ve not already got Bluetooth tech at your disposal then the M.O.U.S. 9 comes supplied with a handy little USB Dongle that you can plug in to any free slot. At this point I’ve got to mention a really neat feature, which is that there’s a tiny compartment for the Dongle located on the underside of the mouse for easy storage. No, it’s hardly a major selling point or anything, but you’ve got to love the little touches. Speaking of which, there’s also a little travel pouch that comes in the box. Again, the little touches.

At first me and this Dongle had some problems. You see, scattered around the house I’ve got a total of three computers: a decent rig downstairs which can sort of run most games (on low settings), and is therefore largely used in that capacity, a laptop and my trashy work computer which resides upstairs, gets around with a cane and complains about the weather a lot. Or, to put it another way, it’s a bit on the old side at this point. Still, since this mouse is aimed for everyday use, it made sense to try it out on my everyday work computer first. Now, the way my work computer is laid out is a little different: the case sits to the left of the screen about 2ft back and is raised a good 1ft from the desk. The Dongle didn’t seem to like this setup because after plugging it into the back of the computer the signal was pretty bad, to the point of being completely unusable. To solve the problem I hooked up a USB hub, clicked in the Dongle and moved it a good few feet to the right to try to get a better signal, which I did. I’m still not entirely sure what was causing the interference, but it’s working perfectly now. The signal is constant as well, which is always my main fear when using wireless gear. After that I used it on both the downstairs computer, which has a more normal setup with the computer right next to the screen, and on the laptop during travel, with no signal problems at all.

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As a side-note, I don’t seem able to replicate the problem I had by moving the USB hub behind the computer, next to USB slot it was originally plugged in to. As a result I can’t tell you what caused the problem, but feel that you should be aware that there was one to start with. However, I did spend a while moving around the room with the mouse and trying out different locations for the Dongle (though the wire wasn’t that long so my options were limited) and did encounter a few more moments when I had serious signal issues.  There didn’t seem to be a pattern to the signal deficiencies, though, and because of that I can’t come to any solid conclusion about the cause. it could be the Dongle, but it could also be anything in my house. As an example, my house used to be entirely wooden until it got covered over in cement, and because of that there’s nails everywhere which can play havoc with phone signals and the like. Regardless, I would confidently say that provided the mouse and Dongle aren’t too far apart you’ll be fine.

The new Bluetooth 4.0 tech also claims to be extremely energy efficient, and as such Mad Catz say that the included battery can power the M.O.U.S. 9 for up to a year, which is certainly an impressive claim. However, they don’t mention what the average usage is to achieve this stupendous lifespan. As of about 30-minutes ago The battery indicator within the software was saying that I have 294 days left at 80% battery capacity after nearly two weeks usage, albeit  pretty heavy usage of anywhere between four to eight hours a day, but it doesn’t seem able to make its mind up because literally as I put the finishing touches to this review its claiming the battery is at 89% and that I’ve got 317 days left. As such I honestly can’t tell you how good the battery life of the M.O.U.S.9 is, but at the moment it seems like it should do pretty well.

Another interesting claim is that the M.O.U.S. 9 will work on a variety of surfaces, including wood and glass. To my pleasant surprise this turned out to perfectly true and I was able to get good tracking on my wooden desk and on a piece of glass. Even more surprising I was even able to use the mouse on my t-shirt. Not very well, mind you, it was rather jumpy, but that’s still better than most mice can manage! Not that being able to operate on a t-shirt is a great selling point for mouse, I must admit. But hey, it was in the name of research! It was also happy to work on the plastic case of my laptop, the cover of Batman: City of Owls and more.

Finally we come to the ever-present question of money. Like always the actual price of this product won’t affect the score the end of this review too much, for two very distinct reasons: the first is that I get many of the games and products that I review on this site for free, and this I am not the best person to be judging value as I did not spend money on it, and second because I firmly believe that what I view as a good value for money may not be what you view as good value for money. For example me and a friend both bought the same mouse a while back and had exactly the same opinion on it, but while I felt it wasn’t good value for money he did. But anyway it’s still something worth touching upon. The M.O.U.S. 9 is currently selling on Mad Catz GameShark store for a hefty £99.99, which is pretty pricey, I feel, for anybody just looking for an everyday work mouse, though obviously a good mouse is a sound investment if you’re using it every day. For around £70 on Amazon you can pick up Mad Catz R.A.T. 7. But why buy a gaming mouse, which is what the R.A.T. 7 is, if you want something that’s just for working? Sure, its wired rather than wireless, but it also boasts considerably better technical specs making it infinitely better for gaming while retaining almost all of the practical benefits the M.O.U.S. 9 has for everyday usage, and it has a load of other cool features such as more adjustment, interchangeable parts and even little weights that can be added to it, all for considerably less cash. The only real benefits the M.O.U.S. 9 can offer over this is Windows 8 compatibility, Bluetooth and easy to use software. Keep in mind that I’ve not actually used the R.A.T. 7 personally – though I do hope to get to review it in the future – I’m just giving it as a quick example and can’t comment on how good it actually is, though the general opinion on that magical Internet thingy seems to be good.

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Ultimately, then, the M.O.U.S. 9 is a solid bit of kit. It’s got some great features and is indeed a good, everyday work mouse, even if the DPI is a bit low, but is pretty damn expensive with a price-tag that puts it into a  realm usually only inhabited by dedicated gaming mice which far outstrip it in terms of technology. In that context the M.O.U.S. 9 is overshadowed by its brothers over in the R.A.T. range, and by many other mice which offer far better specifications while still have plenty of practical features for everyday usage. The overall performance is pretty average and the comfort is okay. Ultimately it comes down to whether or not you want that Bluetooth functionality.  But damn does it look good!

Do I like it? Yes. Would I personally recommend it to a friend? Yes. But I’d also recommend they wait for a price-drop or a sale.

The Good:
+ Looks awesome.
+ Bar the initial problem the Bluetooth works like a charm.
+ Great functionality.
+ Intuitive, easy software.

The Bad:
– Poor specs.
– No on-board memory.
– Expensive.

The Verdict: 3/5 – Good
For general, everyday work this is an easy to use mouse that looks great to boot. There’s plenty of programmable buttons to make whatever you’re doing a little easier and the Bluetooth is handy, but the specs could have been a litte better for the asking price.

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