First off I would like to thank Kim Rom from Steelseries for providing this mouse for review. He went out of his way to get involved with OCN and thought it would be a good idea to provide a few of us with mice to review for everyone here on OCN. Much respect .
Here's a link to the product page for specifics that I didn't cover such as exact measurements. http://steelseries.com/products/mice/steelseries-sensei#header
As I have already mentioned in my other reviews, this is the most important part of a mouse in my opinion and I'm extremely sensitive to unwanted tracking bugs. The Sensei uses the same A9500 laser sensor as the Xai which I have owned for about a year now so I wasn't expecting anything different tracking wise. I'm not sure if Steelseries tweaked the sensor or if my Xai was defective but this Sensei has no problem tracking at high speeds on my cloth pads while my Xai and my G500 (same sensor) display large amounts of negative acceleration during fast swipes. Even on my worn Puretrak Talent from 2009 the Sensei was able to achieve a much higher perfect control speed than the Xai at the same CPI and polling rate. I don't think Enotus mouse test is accurate because the results are all over the place but if anyone is interested the highest speed I was able to reach on the Talent was 4.45m/s (AKA more than anyone needs ). (1800CPI @ 500hz)
Unfortunately since Steelseries decided to stick with the same A9500 sensor, the small amount of inconsistent positive acceleration is still there taunting me as the only true flaw of this mouse. Is it so much acceleration that it destroys my aim? No. Does it bother me? Yes. Will it bother you? Maybe, but after trying to convince countless users of the acceleration present in the sensor I really doubt it. I believe everyone has a higher potential with a sensor that is consistent and this sensor simply isn't. Everything else about the sensor is flawless though, no strange tracking bugs (see my Mico review) no jitter and a very low and adjustable lift off distance.
Every aspect of the sensor is adjustable through the Steelseries Engine software or you can just adjust everything from the mouse without the need for drivers. The Xai had the same feature and I'm sure it's a life saver at lans.
The Sensei shares the exact same size and shape with the Xai and I firmly believe it to be the best shape out there because of how flexible it can be to either a palm grip or a claw grip. The Sensei weighs 102g and even though I would prefer a lighter mouse the weight is acceptable and not excessive. The feet are teflon but are not rounded so glide is a bit slower than usual out of the box but I expect them to round themselves out with use.
The build quality of the Sensei is the same as the Xai which is top notch. Everything feels solid and well built. The Sensei and the Xai really do stand out compared to other mice.
The new mirror coating (its plastic btw) on the top of the Sensei is a new change from the Xai but it's not my preference because it does gather grime from my freshly washed hands after a few hours. Yes, it's easily cleaned but I can use the Xai for about a week straight before the mouse gets dirty enough to need a cleaning.
The scroll wheel is another change from the Xai and even though I thought the Xai's scrollwheel was great I think the Sensei's is even better. The wheel has a very soft rubber that grips my finger well and scrolling through each tick is perfect, not too stiff and not too loose. The added LED's look nice and classy but who sits down at their desk after work or school and starts staring at their mouse? Not me, my hand covers the pretty lights and my eyes are on my monitor.
Even though most mice use the same microswitches, different mouse designs cause each of them to feel much different. In the case of the Sensei it falls into the perfect amount of pressure requires to activate each button. More than some mice like the CM Storm Spawn and less than others such as the Zowie Mico.
The cable is the same stiff braided cord found on the Xai. I just can't understand why anyone would ever want the cord of their mouse stiff and braided instead of flexible and rubber. Sure it might add durability but what exactly are you doing with your mouse? I have been playing games on the PC for many years and I have never had a cable fail on a mouse from any company. This is just a small annoyance/preference though.
The Sensei is a good mouse with only a few flaws that might not bother you in the slightest.
Would I buy this mouse? No. I prefer 1:1 movement out of my mice and this mouse does not fullfill that requirement.
Should you buy this mouse to replace your working Xai? No. I consider most of the features the Sensei has over the Xai such as 11k CPI and adjustable LED's as gimmicks.
Would I recommend the Sensei? Maybe, it depends on how sensitive you are to acceleration and how deep your wallet goes because $90 for a mouse is pretty expensive. The Sensei does offer features that other mice don't so I think Steelseries has an excuse to charge more than normal but you need to be sure that you would even bother taking advantage of those features. If you're thinking about buying the Sensei just remember that you can always try one out and return it for a refund if it doesn't work out for you.
Edited by Derp - 11/11/11 at 11:46am