There are mice of all shapes and sizes, wireless and wired, and with varying numbers of buttons. Microsoft's SideWinder takes things one step further by allowing you to customize its weight, sensitivity, and glide ease.
The Microsoft SideWinder at first glance might seem like any other mouse, but underestimating it would be a mistake. The SideWinder is an optical mouse that connects to your computer through a USB cable. It has a mouse wheel and five main buttons (left, right, mouse wheel, two side buttons). The SideWinder's settings are all controlled through Microsoft's IntelliPoint software. This software is very simple and is incorporated into the normal Windows 7 mouse settings window.
From this screen, each button's function can be chosen from a long list of actions. If none of these options are sufficient, you can create macros and link them to one of the mouse buttons. The macro edit screen is very simple. You can name it whatever you like and then create a sequence of button clicks, keyboard presses, and time delays.
Using the IntelliPoint software, different macros can be assigned to the buttons based on what program is running. This can be helpful in a lot of games, but often you don't know what you need until you are playing. The SideWinder has a special button in front of the two side buttons that allows you to record macros as you play.
The SideWinder's customization does not even come close to ending there. There are three buttons underneath the mouse wheel that are used to change the sensitivity of the mouse on the fly. Each one can be set from 200 dpi to 2000 dpi. This functionality is particularly useful in first person shooters. When I pick up a sniper rifle, I can instantly switch the SideWinder into a slower mouse speed, giving me the extra precision I need. When using a machine gun, I then switch to a much faster speed, allowing me to turn around and aim with great alacrity. In case you don't remember what you set each button to, there is a small LCD screen that says what setting the mouse is currently on.
Even the feel of the mouse can be changed. The Microsoft SideWinder comes with a set of weights and set of mouse feet. These come in a handy little box, that can also be used to anchor the mouse's cord out of the way. I'm not sure if it is clear in the picture below, but there is a small channel at the top of the box that the cord can run through. When the box is closed over the cord, it is secured in place and helps prevent the cord from becoming tangled.
I like my mouse to be a little heavier as it evens out the movement and allows me to control the mouse with greater precision. To change the weight, you simply open up the mouse and add or subtract weights.
The mouse feet, that come in the same box, allow you to change how much friction your SideWinder has. I personally like the white feet the best as it allows my mouse to slide quite smoothly. Replacing the feet is very easy. You simply flip the mouse over and pop out the old feet. The new feet click into the slots left by the old feet. They are designed in such a way that you cannot place them incorrectly, so there is no chance for a mistake.
Though I have only been using it for about a month, it is clear that the SideWinder is designed to last a while under hardcore gaming abuse. The main part of the mouse is made of a fairly hard plastic. The side buttons and the mouse wheel are made of metal. Each of the buttons is designed to last over 9 million clicks. The sides of the mouse are coated in a slightly softer, more comfortable plastic. Luckily it is still strong enough not to rub away, something that has happened to me with other mice.
I think that the Microsoft SideWinder mouse is a sturdy, precise, and customizable tool. I feel that at ~$50, with a 3 year warranty, anyone looking for a new mouse should seriously consider the SideWinder.