Roccat recently released the Roccat Leadrits now-venerable Tyon mouseRoccat Kone XTDKone Pure, and Kone[+], among other models, all bear witness to major changes in the brand. In fact, if you’re already familiar with the line, take the Tyon’s feature set, mate it to the Kone EMP’s design, and you’ve got something enough like the Kone AIMO to pass for it in a police lineup.
Let’s start off with a quick glance…
Similarities to the Kone EMP are prominent, detailing aside. The right mouse button isn’t as long as on the EMP, but the prominent mouse wheel, the pair of buttons placed vertically beneath it, the logo placement, and the extension to the lower right pressing into the palm speak to the Kone AIMO’s EMP ancestry.
Roccat’s latest mouse is definitely chunkier than the EMP, in the sense that it bears a number of blockish, nonfunctional styling elements. This isn’t a criticism, even if it sounds like one, because tastes about such matters differ. Suffice to say that it has its share of sharp angles and shiny, reflective surfaces, if not as many as the mecha designs that the late Mad Catz loosed in its R.A.T. line.
Let’s get closer to the meteor’s surface…
The mouse wheel is relatively wide, with a good, bumpy tread. The two buttons beneath it are set by default to DPI Up and Down. Those are good choices, and easily better than a single, unidirectional DPI Cycle button (which means the only way to get from the third to the second of five stored DPI settings is to move through the fourth, fifth, and first). We are partial to a two-way DPI toggle switch as well, however.
Another point of note is that what appears to be a salient black diagonal bar outlining the AIMO on the left actually has a pair of buttons, which you can see to better effect here…
(The corresponding bar effect on the right is just a short design element. Sorry, lefties, there are no buttons on the right. No Kone AIMO for you.) You should be able to make out the sharp planes of the buttons, though this view is even clearer…
They’re placed relatively close to one another, but are very easy to distinguish.
Here they are again from a side view that emphasizes a seldom-seen ergonomic feature…
Some mice offer support for the thumb via a ledge or rest, as the AIMO does, but few provide a contoured, concave area in which to place the thumb ball itself. This makes for a slightly more secure grasp, though we’d have liked to see a roughened texture to the mouse sides for a firmer grip.
Ergonomics figure elsewhere in the AIMO’s design, too. As that side view shows, the mouse has a strong vertical arch, with considerable dropoff both at the front and the rear. This creates a good supportive cup for the hand, as does the horizontal arch, cresting under the index finger. At 5.1 inches long, though, it’s just a bit of a reach for a mid-sized hand using an ergonomic palm grip, but not too much so. Larger hands will find it easier to maneuver this rodent around.
Let’s return briefly to our side view, and take a closer look at that thumb rest…
Extending just beyond the ledge by an eighth of an inch is a third button. It’s linked to a feature called Easy-Shift, which Roccat has offered in its Tyon and Leadr—and which Razer offers as Hypershift in its Razer Atheris mobile mouse. Press and hold it, and your buttons gain a second action. We’ll go into this in more detail in our Features section.
There’s nothing to see on the Kone AIMO’s underside, except five rubber pads and the optical sensor…
Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that the mouse comes with a 70.5-inch, lightly braided cord. It’s sturdier than rubber-coated ones, protecting the wires inside better, even if it sacrifices a bit of flexibility in the process.
check it out for all the details. Here, though, we’ll summarize it.
This is the first screen you see, and it’s named Settings…
Aside from several things you can already do in the mouse area of your Control Panel, it also stores up to five DPI settings. Unfortunately, you can’t separate the X and Y axes, as you can using the Logitech Gaming System, Corsair Utility Engine 2, or Razer Synapse 3. It’s a helpful control to have if you’re playing on a widescreen monitor.
The rest of the screens, unfortunately, feature dim gray text on black backgrounds, which makes for eyestrain. Button Reassignment is typical in that respect, but it is admirably straightforward…
The two columns on the right are for standard and Easy-Shift button assignments. The latter have a separate, user-assigned series of actions, which are invoked by holding down the pedal under your thumb plus a second button. By default, for example, the button directly under the scroll wheel is DPI Up, but with the Easy-Shift button pressed at the same time, it’s set for Next Profile.
The Button Assignment screen lists 13 buttons, of which 11 are re-programmable. (Try clicking either the left or right mouse button, and you get a stern popup stating, “Left and Right Click Must Be Bound!” with angry exclamation point. Fortunately, Roccat forgot to turn on the siren effects.) Four of these are probably all you’ll want to use: the two side buttons, and the two scroll wheel tilts.
Props to Roccat for populating the list of reassignable actions so handsomely and in such a well-organized fashion. They include Advanced Functions, Basic Functions, Multimedia, Internet, Assign a Hotkey, Assign a Macro, Open (Swarm, Website, Application, Document), and more.
Advanced Settings is your usual dumping ground for controls that don’t fit elsewhere in a configuration utility…
Two are important to note. We’d have preferred Angle Snapping implemented as it is in the Mionix CastorMionix Avior 7000, on a linear slider with 15 gradients, but having it as an on/off switch is certainly useful. Though some gamers don’t care for it, others like the ability to auto-correct for visual misjudgments caused by aiming along a straight line at a moving target. The other useful function is Calibrate. It’s a lift distance wizard: just click, run your mouse around for 15 seconds on its current surface, and a new lift distance takes effect. We could wish for the ability to store these, however, so that if, for instance, you move frequently between two or three surfaces, these could be accessed immediately as needed.
The Illumination option brings us here…
There are five lighting zones, the scroll wheel, and the two diagonal stripes on either side on the top. Roccat supplies five lighting effects: Fully Lit, Colorwave, Snake, Heartbeat 2.0, and Breathing 2.0, along with the by-now expected 16.8 million colors. You can also customize the diagonals for shading, change speed, and adjust brightness.
One of the ways in which Swarm shows its age is its Profile Manager, selectable at the bottom of the screen…
That’s right, just five stored profiles. You can give them individual names and link each to launch with a specific program, but we don’t understand why Roccat has yet to wise up to the fact that most gamers play a lot more than just five games. This isn’t a killer issue by any means, but if Joe Gamer is hunting up a new mouse and sees that Razer and Corsair support unlimited game-linked profiles, it’s going to make a difference.
Finally, we have the macro editor…
One interesting feature is that it comes preloaded with a range of macros for different games. Some of the entries, however, are in fact blanks, such as Crusader Kings 2, and you may well want to customize your own in any case. Outside of the macros Roccat supplies, it’s a decent but basic editor, lacking in the kind of sophisticated logic-building that the recently reviewed Swiftpoint Z supports, or the wide customization the Corsair Utility Engine offers.
The switches are Omrons, rated for a lifecycle of 50 million clicks. We mention this, although there’s a perception in at least some of the gaming community that switch quality in general is inconsistent. On the other hand, as with the Leadr, so with the Kone AIMO: it uses a PixArt 3361 optical sensor, a variant on the very well-regarded 3360.
The Kone AIMO weighs in at 4.6 ounces, heavier than we prefer in the fast, real-time combat common to MOBA, RTS, and action RPG titles. That’s not to say this mouse couldn’t be used in those games, but if you’re in a multiplayer match against someone equally skilled but with a lighter mouse, arguably you’re at a disadvantage. To the other side, this mouse conveys a sense of firmness, along with some solid ergonomic advantages, such as a thumb rest and a concave spot on the left side for the thumb ball. We found it too heavy for sufficiently quick responses in DOTA 2, but we have to say that after a few longer sessions our right hand remained in pretty good shape. These aren’t issues with pause- and turn-based titles such as Dead Age or Nobunaga’s Ambition 13, but you really can’t afford to get a thumb cramp or tired wrist in the middle of a multiplayer tournament.
One ergonomic issue we do have with the Kone AIMO is its absence of side grips. Some might argue that this contributes only to a sense of control rather than truly adding more control, but a psychological edge is still an edge. And whether true or not, it made this relatively heavy mouse seem just a bit more cumbersome in rapid real-time gameplay. The PixArt 3361 optical sensor, however, delivered just as promised. It’s a variation of one of the finest sensors on the market today, the 3360, and goes exactly where you send it: no more, no less. It never failed us.
While the Kone AIMO, like the Leadr, takes some of its DNA from the Roccat Tyon, the AIMO’s looks come from the other side of the family. Like the Roccat EMP, it doesn’t sport a wealth of buttons—but it’s still reasonably generous. Assuming you don’t want to reassign the scroll wheel or DPI Up and Down buttons, that leaves you with the two scroll wheel tilts and the two side buttons. On top of that, you have Easy-Switch, which turns those four buttons into eight. We admit that we don’t find wheel tilting in realtime games attractive, since it takes your index finger away from its home on the left mouse button, but in pausable titles it’s a useful feature to have.
Hardcore gamers usually put a lot of emphasis on a good configuration utility to help tailor their playing to individual titles, and here, Roccat isn’t at its strongest. Swarm’s dark grey text on a black background compares unfavorably to the Corsair Utility Engine’s white on black, and Razer Synapse’s green and black text on a white background. Some common features are surprising in their absence—such as unlimited game-specific profiles, separate X and Y axes in the DPI settings, and a really top-notch macro editor. Still, Swarm has an excellent series of actions for button assignment, and is extremely well organized. If you only play a few games, don’t use a widescreen monitor, and don’t need much more from a macro editor than record and playback, there’s little to criticize—assuming you have a flashlight handy to make out the text on most of the screens.
Basically, we like the Kone AIMO, but we find it too heavy for fast-paced gaming. Others may differ in their views, but for us, it’s an excellent mouse for turn- and pause-based games. It’s got a great optical sensor, fine ergonomics, and four easily reassignable buttons—which yield eight actions when you use Easy-Switch. Keep in mind, two of those buttons, left and right scroll wheel tilting, require moving the index finger off the left mouse button, which just isn’t possible in high-tempo gaming.
We’ve stated our issues with Roccat Swarm, but if these don’t affect your gameplay, and you don’t really go in for fast-paced action titles, the Kone AIMO would make an excellent purchase. Its MSRP is high, but not impossibly so, and this mouse comes loaded with some truly attractive features.
Its heaviness and lack of unlimited game profiles detract, but the Kone AIMO’s physical design, PixArt sensor, and Easy-Shift programmability help it shine.
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