Cooler Master is not a new company to our lab. We have had multiple items in from them almost all of them have been great products. Today we take a look at Choiix [Pronounced Choice], a sub division of Cooler Master. Choiix appear to be much more peripheral and style oriented than Cooler Master [not that CM does not have style]. They also seem to be aimed at the College crowd and also have a leaning toward female computer owners and users. I am sure that many of our female readers will be happy to finally be able to get computer peripherals that not only work, but have a little more style than the typical male oriented geek-wear. So with that in mind we are taking a look at the Choiix Cruiser. A stylish red wireless mouse with a blue laser and its own mouse pad.
The Box and Goodies
The box on the Choiix Cruiser is… well I have to say I like this style of packaging. After spending more than a few years reading and studying the way companies use product packaging to influence purchases I get a kick out of viewing the different styles and efforts. Here we see one that is inexpensive but effective. It moves away from the cheap feeling clamshell plastic packaging that conveys the message "I am cheap, buy me" and moves to a much more open "I am not hiding anything" style. The clear top allows a complete view of the Cruiser and the included mouse pad while the cardboard lower half conveys a sturdy product. The clear top also allows for features to be listed without taking away from the view of the product [like the Blue Trace Laser].
The back of the box is a little more traditional [with the exception of the orange color]. However again they depart from the norm and use two-tone imagery [White on Orange]. To me it brings images of technical drawings, blue prints and schematics. This same style may invoke other images to different people and is much less of an eye sore than many of the full color images out there.
Inside you will find everything you need to get up and running. There is the Choiix Cruiser, the wireless dongle, a pair of AAA 1.5V batteries, a small user?s manual and the Cruiser mouse pad.
The Cruiser and Mouse Pad
Well let?s start off with the Cruiser mouse. The Cruiser is very light. It is made out of what feels like flimsy plastic, but is really just very light weight plastic. It weighs less than many mice I have used that are much smaller [like most of the Microsoft laptop mice]. It appears to be constructed of three to four components. There is a top surface [which includes the scroll wheel], two distinct bands around the middle and then the bottom platform which hold all of the electronics.
This construction allows you to raise the upper half of the Cruiser to about a 20 degree angle. For some this could me more comfortable it also opens up a small compartment that you can store the wireless dongle in. Closing the mouse keeps this safely hidden away until you need it. Opening and closing the Cruiser is done from a small latch at the back of the underside.
To help conserve batter the Cruiser has an on/off switch so that the laser does not turn on with every little movement inside your laptop case [or while sitting on the desk]. The four pads are evenly spaces but in my opinion a little small for a mouse this size.
In the shot below you can see the Blue Trace Laser; this is supposed to allow for more efficient tracking on different surfaces and is something we will be checking out a little later.
Overall the Cruiser feels a little on the flimsy side, but that is just my personal taste showing. I like heavy mice with large bases. This is because I want them to fit comfortably in my hand. Remember that Choiix is aimed a little more at the female computer users, who tend to have smaller palms. This makes the Cruiser much better suited to a hand of that size and shape [smaller and more narrow]. This is also something we will be checking out.
The Cruiser mouse pad was even more flimsy feeling. It is amazingly thin and requires an adhesive to allow it to remain in place. The surface of the pad is white with multi-colored diamonds, but underneath this is a foil material that helps to reflect the laser properly.
The performance of a product like a mouse is more than "it tracked well" or battery life. It is a combination of things from how well it fits your hand, to how easy it is to change the batteries. As we mentioned some people prefer heavy and large mice [due to palm and hand size] while others may like smaller and lighter mice. This means that one person cannot properly evaluate a mouse on their own.
To cover this we use a minimum of three people each with a different hand size and each with a different "work mode". As you can imagine the hand sizes are large, medium and small. From there we further categorize them as workstation usage, casual, and gamer. Each person was given the mouse to use for an extended period of time and then asked to give their impressions of the Cruiser.
Large Hand/ Gamer use
If you have a large palm the Cruiser will feel small to you. There is just no way around this as it seems to get lost in the middle of your hand. You may also begin to feel some hand stress after a little while when using the mouse buttons. My usual mouse style is to allow the mouse to rest in the center of my palm and have my fingers just lying over the mouse buttons. With the Cruiser I felt like I was not able to do this so I had my finger crooked up so that the pads rested on the buttons. After a
bout 30 minutes I began to feel stress in my hand. This was further compounded when gaming; even 20 minutes of Modern Warfare 2 began to make my hand ache. I could feel the stress in the back of my hand and wrist as the much lighter mouse required me to over compensate for my movements. It was not the most enjoyable experience. Oddly enough the accuracy was still very good as far as the laser goes; I just had to adjust my style of use to compensate for the lighter weight. I would not recommend this mouse for heavy gaming.
Medium Hand/ Workstation use
Our user with the medium sized hand has a usage model that involves a lot of movement between spreadsheets, databases and other documentation as well as image manipulation. With the spreadsheet work it was also important to have accuracy in selecting and resizing cells, etc. However the flat surface of the mouse did not agree with their hand as after a while they noted an ache in their wrist. They also complained that the buttons were too stiff and the wheel was hard to use. With image manipulation the issues became even more apparent as the stiff buttons were hard to keep pressed when painting or outlining objects. The general impression was not good.
Small Hand/Casual use
Our user with the smaller hands felt that the mouse was too big for her hands. She liked the look of the mouse and did not have any issues with the buttons but said that it was not comfortable at all after browsing the internet and also with the light gaming [Viva Pinata etc] that she did. It was interesting as this user is probably the market that the Cruiser is directly aimed at.
In general none of the users that tested the mouse liked the included mouse pad. The mouse did work properly on it, but it was frustratingly small. It also requires that you stick it in place to use; if you do not do this you have to pin it down somehow or it will slide all over your desk. One other interesting item to note is that none of the users like the mouse while raised or open. At that point all agreed that the mouse was too tall and forced the hand into an unnatural position. Battery life [thanks to the on/off switch and the auto sleep], tracking and even control were good, but the overall feel and usability of the mouse was less than we would expect from Cooler Master and Choiix.
The Choiix Cruiser will run you about $19.99 from any online store. This realistically is not bad for what you are getting [a 2.4GHz RF laser tracking mouse]. However, even though the quality of the hardware and the accuracy/speed of the mouse is great; the overall usability of the Choiix Cruiser was not as good as we hoped. Still, at $19.99 it could be a great mobile mouse to throw into your bag and use on the road.
Choiix is usually a great brand. We have their Accumouse and it was an excellent product. However, while the Cruiser is excellent in terms of technology and hardware it fails slightly in terms of comfort for the user. This was truly not expected from Choiix and Cooler Master. After all this is the same company that created the Sentinel Advance and the Inferno [which we also have]. We think that the flat design was not a good design choice. It widened out the back of the mouse and makes it a little uncomfortable during extended use. As a gaming mouse it has the accuracy needed [and the proper click pressure] but again the feel and weight made it a less than stellar choice. For general and casual use we run into the same problems with feel, it just does not have the right shape for comfort. Still if you are looking for an accurate, portable, and small mouse for travel, this one could be the answer for you. We just would not recommend it for prolonged use as it can get uncomfortable.