Razer Naga MMO mouse (and Megasoma mat) unboxing and hands-on

Razer's got a knack for cranking out the unusual, and from the First Edition Boomslang, the outfit has also had a thing for developing gaming mice that demanded respect. The recently announced Naga (which is now shipping out to customers, by the way) is one of the most bizarre mice yet, boasting no fewer than 12 buttons on the left side and a promise of making your MMO gaming a more enjoyable experience. Alongside the wired USB critter, Razer also introduced a patently gigantic gaming surface, the $49.99 Mesasoma. We were able to spend some time with each of these peripherals, so hop on down to the gallery for a closer look and on past the break for a few impressions.


For starters, this $79.99 instrument of mousing greatness doesn't come cheap, and it certainly isn't for everyone. It's tailored for those who find themselves frequently occupied with all-night raids and something called "leveling up," so if you spend the bulk of your computing time surfing TMZ, struggling through that next level of Call of Duty or just penning your next dissertation, there's probably no reason for you to sink your hard-earned dollars into the Naga. However, if you're a World of Warcraft freak or just can't get enough of whatever massive multiplayer game it is that you play, there are actually quite a few reasons to give this a look. 12, to be precise.

12 is the number of dedicated hard keys slapped onto the left side of the Naga, and by default, they replicate the number pad. In other words, if you fire up 'Calculator' on your computer, you can actually do your math homework by using the grid of numbers on the side of the mouse. A flick of the switch underneath changes the grid from "number row" to "numeric pad," enabling the keys to substitute as up, down, left and right. The magic of these keys, however, is really only felt when you enter the MMO of your choice. On a Windows desktop, you'll probably never use them. The current software suite doesn't allow for customizations within Windows (say, if you wanted to make your '1' key act as 'Paste,' you couldn't -- and if you're listening Razer, this functionality wouldn't hurt), but the options are near limitless once you're on the digital playground.

Most every major MMO will play nice with the Naga's ability to adjust, giving the user control over which keys enable what commands. But even then, the question remains: are these keys easy / convenient to mash? To be totally frank, it takes some getting used to. At first, you'll feel as if the 12 keys are smashed too close together, but after awhile you'll get the feel for it. We were never able to feel completely comfortable with the layout (look, the side of a mouse doesn't have much surface area), but Razer did a commendable job with laying 'em out in a way that best takes advantage of the space that is there. In short, hardcore MMO players won't have a tough time getting used to the grid. They're already used to using myriad keys to get things done; having everything within thumb's reach should actually feel like an upgrade.

As for everything else about the mouse? It's a Razer, through and through. The build quality is top notch, the non-slip feet work as advertised, and the left / right mouse buttons have the perfect amount of travel. The scroll wheel is a joy to use, though the inability to convert this to a wireless mouse will certainly nag the anti-cable crowd. Amazingly, the high arch present due to the grid of keys didn't bother us in the least; we moused with the Naga in a desktop environment for a few hours and it never grew uncomfortable. Naturally, the blue accent lighting was a real treat if you're into that kind of thing, but thankfully Razer provides an option to disable the glow for those too old (or too square) to enjoy it. Razer claims that the Naga has a 5600dpi sensor, and while our hands aren't nearly steady enough to really put that to the test, we can safely say that it was absolutely precise enough for us. We can't imagine anyone actually needed to take full advantage of what this sensor can offer, but the snipers in attendance won't have much to gripe over when picking folks off.

Finally, the Megasoma gaming surface is probably the best mat we've ever had the pleasure of laying our mouse on, but unless you're a hardcore gamer with cash to spare, we could never justify spending 50 bones on a mousepad. We mean, it's a mousepad. A huge, wonderfully grippy (on the bottom), incredibly slick (on the top) mousepad, but a mousepad nonetheless. As for the value in the Naga? For MMO junkies, the $80 asking price is completely warranted. You'll put those 12 side buttons to use immediately, and even on the off chance that you find yourself doing something other that gold farming, you'll still enjoy a precise, comfortable mouse. Oh, and it's worth pointing out that while Razer has a history of catering to southpaws, the lefties in the crowd will probably have a tough time navigating 12 new buttons with their pinky finger. If you do manage to master it, however, kudos to you.