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Gearing up for WoW: The Razer Naga, Part II

Zach Yonzon

Configuring the hardware

After installing the Razer Naga software, which can be downloaded from the Razer site, the mouse can be configured through several ways. Windows users get a fancy Razer-themed interface while Mac users have to settle for the drab gray of the Control Panel. Mac users will also encounter a system prompt asking them to configure the new "keyboard" connected to the computer, which is because the system recognizes the Naga as a keyboard. The prompt should be ignored.

The first tab customizes the mouse performance, with default sensitivity settings at 1800 DPI. Even without further configuration, these settings work just fine, especially for World of Warcraft, which doesn't demand much of a mouse. That said, the Razer Naga's sensitivity can be adjusted up to 5600 DPI on two axes -- I personally set mine to 5600 x (horizontal) and 2800 y (vertical); high sensitivity because I prefer very little mouse movement and separate axes to accommodate a widescreen orientation. Acceleration can also be adjusted (I leave mine off), as well as polling rate (I leave mine at the default 500 Hz). The fact that there are no mouse controls for on-the-fly sensitivity (a feature found in other Razer mice) only highlights that Razer has done their homework -- MMO players don't need it.

The second tab is for Lighting and Maintenance, which toggles the mouse light on or off. I have no idea why anyone would want to toggle the glowing logo off, though, since it's about the coolest thing about the Naga visually. Keeping the keypad lit up also makes sense for obvious reasons. There are also buttons to check for firmware updates and restoring factory settings. The third tab is for AddOns, which actually only takes players to the Get Imba product page. World of Warcraft players are better off checking Curse or the AddOn page directly. As far as I could tell, the AddOn wasn't available through any other site such as WoW Interface.

Customizing the UI

Here's the tricky part. To maximize the use of the Razer Naga, players have to customize their UI by installing the RazerNaga AddOn, which has a steeper learning curve than simply familiarizing oneself with the 12-button keypad. Players aren't confined to using the RazerNaga Addon, though, as other action bar mods such as Bartender4 work equally well. The most difficult part in setting up is planning.

One of things players must decide when setting up the Razer Naga is determining how much control they want to shift to the mouse and how much to leave to the keyboard hand. The extra buttons on the Naga can either complement a player's existing action bar set-up or completely replace it. As I'd mentioned before, players can opt to move virtually all commands to the mouse. In my experience, I tailored my playing style to accommodate a combination of the Belkin N52te and the Razer Lachesis, which has nine buttons. Between the two and Bartender4, which allowed me to different states for my keys depending on modifiers, I already had more buttons than I had any use for.

My previous set-up in its default state (shown above prettified with ButtonFacade) already gave me 20 buttons, which could be combined with the modifier keys to grant even more options. Use of the Razer Naga expanded that to 26 buttons x modifiers. That's a serious overload of buttons. To ease myself into the Naga, I decided to cheat and skipped the RazerNaga AddOn and simply expanded my controls using Bartender4. I wasn't mentally prepared to leave my comfort zone just yet.

Using it with Bartender4 was easy and painless as it's what I was already used to. It doubled my mouse hand's button access without compromising mouse movement -- one disadvantage I had with the Lachesis' was that pressing the buttons below the scroll wheel (set by default for on-the-fly sensitivity) would release my left mouse button, halting mouse movement. No such problem with the Naga, where I had six more buttons literally under my thumb. By default, the buttons beside the left mouse button are for forward and backward movement. You can scrap these and bind them to spells or abilities.

One gripe about the Naga is the placement of the forward and back buttons, which are awkward to reach. You can either leave them as optional movement buttons or bind them to abilities you won't use in combat or in motion, such as Resurrection or Hearthstone. The scroll wheel button can also be bound to abilities, although I didn't bother to display it and simply used an AddOn such as Bindpad to bind it to a clutch spell.

The most accessible keys on the side of the mouse are from 1-6, with most players' thumbs on top of the 1 key in rest state. Personally, I found keys 1 and 4 to be the most natural, familiar buttons, followed by 2 and 3, then 5 and 6. If you don't want to make a mistake pressing the wrong button -- which can sometimes be the case with such a small cluster -- place your most important spells here. Buttons 7-12 require the thumb to arch back, so don't feel as natural or easy to reach. The ring and pinky fingers don't do squat, and can rest on or stabilize the mouse. This was a departure from the ambidextrous Lachesis, which had buttons on both sides. Even the 15-button World of Warcraft mouse from Steelseries had buttons all over the place. On the Razer Naga, it is all about thumb action. If you're used to texting with your mobile phone, the Naga shouldn't be too difficult to acclimate oneself with.

In the example above, I used the Razer Naga merely to extend my current UI, using an AddOn I'm already familiar with -- this goes to show that the Naga is adaptable to existing playstyles and in all likelihood elevating it with the addition of accessible keys. That's actually the easy part. The hard part comes next... using the RazerNaga AddOn -- which I have no experience with -- and shifting the balance over to the Razer Naga and away from my keyboard (or N52te) hand. In the next and final part of our review, we'll take a look at the RazerNaga AddOn itself and how it feels to play with virtually all commands on the mouse hand. Yikes.

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