Pros: Good tracking at lower CPI, decent tracking speeds, good build quality, great cable
Cons: Ridiculously stiff mouse buttons, a bit too small, a bit overpriced
What You Get
A Zowie Sticker
A pair of extra mouse feet
The box with instructions on how to change the CPI, polling rate, and button orientation.
The AM uses an Avago S-3090 sensor, also found in the CMStorm Spawn and shameful Puretrak Valor. Zowie claims to have gotten around the problems that the Valor and early FW Spawn had by not "hacking the sensor" and instead have opted to use a Kingsis lens with 1.25x magnification that Zowie not only claims to have lowered the lift off distance but also retain the tracking quality/speed of the sensor.
Prediction - None/Low, very similar to the Deathadder and newer G400 in this regard. Prediction is preference and if you like it then you'll probably not like this mouse.
Perfect Control Speed - This mouse seems to have much higher tracking speeds than the early-FW Spawn and the Valor, the average tracking speed for this mouse is about 3m/s. Lowering the polling rate of the mouse to 500hz seemed to increase the tracking speed of the mouse, the best results I achieved were at 450cpi and 500hz.
I did have some problems with the mouse randomly skipping on some high speed swipes and even low speed swipes in some situations. I also noticed that whenever it would skip, the mouse would continue to skip for a couple of swipes afterwards. I'm not sure if this is a result of dust buildup on the lens or if it's some tracking bug.
Jitter - One side effect of using a higher magnification lens is that the cursor quality is going to be reduced. It's especially apparent at its highest cpi level, the cursor is very jittery, it almost reminds me of a jittery Abyssus. 1150cpi displayed a little bit of jitter but nothing to substantial, 450 was fine. Changing mouse pads didn't seem to do much for the cursor quality and when I used a hard pad (4HD) it was even worse.
Lift Off Distance - As advertised, the lift off distance is very low, it may actually be too low for some people that are using lighter colored mouse pads. I didn't have any skipping problems on my Goliathus Speed or my Talent, I have read of people having problems on light colored pads like the Shiden and Hien though so you may want to stay away if you have a lighter colored pad.
Acceleration - Like the Deathadder and G400, this mouse has no acceleration at all.
Zowie may have achieved something that Puretrak and Coolermaster (newer FW has fixed most problems) weren't able to do but they didn't do it without compromise.
Weight and Shape
(Length:) 125 mm / 4.92 in x (Width:) 60 mm / 2.36 in x (Height:) 39mm / 1.53 in
The mouse weighs about 88g without the cable, it's around the same weight as the Intellimouse Optical 1.1 which is what the AM appears to be inspired by.
At first glance the AM looks like a Xai/Sensei clone, but it's actually more in line with the IMO 1.1 which is one of my favorite mice and is the main reason why I got the AM. The AM's profile is very similar to the 1.1 if you look at it from the back, the sides are sloped like this /_\ so it's thinner at the top of the mouse than at the bottom which might feel odd for some. The mouse is a little bit shorter lengthwise than the 1.1 and it's a bit taller height wise, however the mouse is much thinner than the 1.1 and that's where we run into some problems.
The mouse is incredibly hard to palm if you have even medium sized hands, the mouse feels cramped and feels nothing at all like the 1.1 which felt very natural to palm and felt much fuller than the AM when palmed. The front of the mouse sits lower than the 1.1 as well so this makes things even more cramped if you choose to palm the mouse, it isn't impossible to palm grip it but it's not going to feel as good as the 1.1 does. The AM feels a lot more suited towards a claw/fingertip grip.
I personally haven't used the mouse long enough to comment on the quality, my initial impressions were pretty good though. It felt pretty solid for the amount of time I used it for, I have read of people having problems with the mouse buttons failing pretty quickly though so be weary. The side buttons did attract quite a bit of dirt though as they are glossy and my hands do not take well to a glossy finish. The rubber coating seemed to be higher quality than the stuff on the Deathadder but I didn't use the mouse long enough to find out if that was true or not, I'll be picking up an EC2 EvO shortly so we'll see about that.
My particular AM was one of the early ones so it does have the "button touching" problem but I have never experienced it in game and I had to forcefully push the buttons together to make them touch each other.
The cable is fantastic, it's a very flexible and light rubber cable. I wish more mouse manufactures would use a cable like this, I never had to worry about the cable getting caught on anything and I didn't have to worry about it rubbing against my mouse pad and creating extra friction unlike braided cables.
Buttons and Scrollwheel
Oh dear, the mouse buttons, where do I begin? The mouse buttons on this mouse are an acquired taste, to a lot of people they will feel stiff and fatiguing, to some it will feel crisp and tactile. I personally hate the buttons, they make my hand hurt after about 30-60 minutes of use, they are indeed crisp and tactile but they're just way too stiff. I'd probably use the mouse if the buttons weren't so stiff, they actually affect my aim because of the amount of pressure I have to apply to use them. The side buttons are a lot better, they are much lighter and are still tactile.
The scrollwheel was actually very good, it was very responsive with nicely defined scrolls. It did require a bit of breaking in as the scrollwheel felt very slow at first, it only took a day to break in though. The middle mouse button is also pretty light, its actually lighter in actuation force than Mouse 1 and 2.
Zowie pride themselves on delivering that has no drivers but the ability to change all of the settings on the mouse itself. You can change the polling rate by unplugging the mouse and pressing and holding the side buttons while plugging it back in, you can also set the orientation of the mouse to left handed or right handed use by pressing and holding one of the mouse buttons and the middle mouse button and plugging it in. There is also a cpi selector button on the bottom with a led that changes colors depending on the cpi you're using. It's really nice if you're going to lans where you may not be able to install drivers or apply a polling rate fix, it's also very convenient.
The AM was a bit of a letdown for me, but that doesn't mean it's a terrible mouse. The AM offers good tracking at its two lower cpi settings and the fact that you change all of the settings on the mouse itself without drivers is great for those that attend a lot of lans. The shape of the mouse and the buttons on the mouse are definitely an acquired taste, some of those that like the shape but dislike the buttons could take out the Huano's for some Omron switches if they so desire. If only this mouse was just a little bit wider and had lighter switches, I'd still be using it.