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Alienware TactX Laser Gaming Mouse Review

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: October 4, 2010
Product Name: Alienware TactX Laser Gaming Mouse
 
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Choosing the “right” mouse is never an easy undertaking nor is reviewing one a walk in the park either due to the highly subjective nature of most peripherals. What may be perfect for one person could very likely prove to be uncomfortable and nearly unusable for another. Nonetheless, in this review I’m going to try to convey my experiences with the Alienware TactX gaming mouse which just happens to be one of the more popular peripherals currently on the market due to its frequent price drops to the $39 mark. Its regular price however is around $100. Recently, I took the risk of buying one of these TactX mice without my usual “try it before you buy it” peripheral purchasing mentality.


Packaging & Software

Along with the flashy, devilishly hard to open packaging which is colourful enough to garner notice if it were sold on store shelves, Alienware hasn’t really included all that much in the way of extras. Actually, there’s nothing in the clear plastic box other than the TactX mouse, a quick start guide and a CD for installing the whopping 342MB worth of control center software.

The software is really quite good and is broken up into two distinct programs: the Command Center and the TactX Mouse CI. The Command Center allows for some basic modification of the mouse’s colors (called AlienFX) and that’s about it. There are some additional controls which allow the mouse to change its LED colours based on the program being used but since your fingers cover ninety percent of the illumination, the actual usefulness of this feature is a bit questionable.

The Mouse CI on the other hand is where all the fun happens. It allows for absolutely everything your heart could possibly desire in terms of macros, button customization, sensitivity adjustments and the ability to upload profiles directly to the mouse’s on-board memory. Honestly, the only thing missing is the integration of both pieces of software into one cohesive whole.

For those of you who have used a G9, the screenshots should be familiar since this is basically Logitech’s SetPoint software with an Alienware theme plastered over it. There are both positives and negatives to this approach. The SetPoint software that shipped with the G9 still boasts one of the most user friendly and complete interfaces around but it is more than three years old and Alienware hasn’t done a thing to upgrade its functionality.



A Tour of the TactX


Alienware went with a top shelf OEM and used the legendary Logitech G9 as a basis for for the TactX's design and integration. The resemblance is actually quite striking even though the Alienware product doesn’t quite have the same profile as its next of kin. Both the grippers and palmers of this world will likely find things to like about the TactX but due to this “one size fits all” mentality, it won’t be considered perfect for either camp. It may also prove to be a bit small for those of you with larger hands.


The overall design of this mouse isn’t anything to write home about but with its three button scroll wheel and two customizable thumb buttons, it should be more than functional enough for the vast majority of gamers. These are supplemented by on-the-fly DPI adjustment buttons which allow for up to four different levels to be selected with literally the flick of your finger. The positioning of these buttons may seem awkward at first but after a few hours using them will become second nature.

Unfortunately, Alienware based this mouse off of the G9 but didn’t include a number of its features. Don’t expect the interchangeable grips that Logitech’s flagship mouse comes with or the absolutely excellent Logitech customer support service. One other thing which many gamers will immediately find lacking is the interchangeable weights that come with many of the higher end mice available today. Honestly, this came as a disappointment considering the TactX normally retails for $99 and really doesn’t weight all that much at 116 grams. This is perfect for those of you who enjoy a lighter tactile feel, but I load a sumo’s worth of weight into my rodents and could never quite get used to this product’s feel when gaming. The same can’t be said about using it as a workstation pointing device since its weight coupled with highly maneuverable Teflon glides and an ultra long braided cord feet make it nearly perfect for prolonged Photoshop and AutoCAD use.

For people who take their gaming peripherals seriously, the TactX will likely be a love it or leave it type of product. It’s ability to quickly change DPI settings on the fly can become a huge tactical advantage in FPS games where switching from slow and steady sniping to twitch-style machine gunning is a necessity. Alienware’s decision to use a high grip finish will also come in handy for those sweaty palmed gaming sessions that last well into the night. The only problem is that for every good point encountered, the lack of weight customization comes up again and again.

The TactX’s underside takes a page right out of the G9’s play book with the aforementioned Teflon feet in addition to the high precision 5000 DPI optical laser engine and two small buttons. One of these buttons allows for switching between five presets which can be customized from within the included software. The other switches the scroll wheel between a more tactile gradual scroll and a frictionless scroll that sends the wheel effortlessly spinning. Uses for both of these may not seem all that apparent but the Microgear scroll setting is perfect for quick zooming or long pans through a document and the ability to quickly select a profile means less time spent fiddling with software.



Final Thoughts


Many people roll their eyes at the mention of Alienware but I have quite a bit of newfound respect for the direction they have taken under Dell’s watchful eye. Their lineup is still rife with boutique-priced PCs but there are now also offerings for budget-conscious buyers as evidenced by the insane popularity of the M11x. The TactX Gaming Mouse on the other hand sits firmly on the fence between far too expensive and providing just the right amount of gaming grade performance to satisfy almost anyone.

This is a good mouse that sadly misses out on star status due to its run of the mill feature set not meshing well with a cost of $99. For those of you with this kind of money to burn on a mouse, there are much better options out there which all offer higher levels of customizability. To make matters even worse, the G9 which the TactX is based on has been replaced with the G9x; a mouse that is better in every conceivable way and costs a whole lot less.

However, if you happen to catch the TactX on sale for under $45 there are very few similarly priced products which even come close to its level of comfort, accuracy and quality. I’d even go so far as to say that if you find it on sale, there should be no hesitation about picking it up.



 
 

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