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Oct 2009 09

Hardware Review: Razer Mamba -- What a piece of shit!

Rants!, Randomstrings Review

Razer Mamba

Update (Jan 23, 2011) :: So several months ago the mouse optics just up and quit.. Everything else worked, but slowly over the course of a couple days the optics got less and less responsive and then finally stopped all together..   I had put the mouse in the closet on the shelf which is generally where hardware goes to die at my house..  Today I went in there to do some cleaning and putter around only to find that the mouse battery cover had been forced off by a battery that had swelled to more than double its original size!!

My opinion on this thing is back to "avoid at all costs"..  The level of support being what it was and the number of other folks who have similar issues tells me that this thing sucks bad.  Add to that the random deaths, the number of folks who have similar optical issues, the battery swelling issue, the very short battery life and it's inability to work on some surfaces... yeah.. don't buy this mouse.

*Update (Nov 1, 2009) :: After all is said and done, I have the mouse back from Razer and it is working as I think it should.   It doesn't do the sleep-death thing it was doing previously which implies to me that the old firmware was horribly buggy and the newer firmware is required for sure..  That was the number one issue previously and it appears to be resolved..   The Razer management team that I dealt with were nothing but professional and courteous though I am still concerned about the "standard" support they are providing as those folks didn't give anywhere near the level of support that I got directly from the president and his main man (of course)..  My over all opinion on the device itself has gone from "avoid at all costs" to, "okay its not bad so long as you get the most recent version".  I still find myself occasionally using the G7 which I still find telling but I am not sworn off Razer products as I was previously..  And no they didn't pay me or make me say these things.. *

*Now on to the original post ::  I was pretty frustrated and angry when I initially wrote this.  The tone is a lot harsher than it should be and for that I apologize, but the message is still basically what I want it to be.. *

As I have said previously, I'm a pretty hard core Logitech fan.  I use a lot of their hardware, and am always very happy with it..  I have used several Logitech mice in my day (corded and cordless) and up until fairly recently was using a Logitech G7.   The G7 is one of their cordless gaming mice and I have used it for a while.   I really like it, it's a wonderful mouse and I highly recommend it.  My only complaint being that I wish it had 2 thumb buttons instead of one.. that was it.. my only complaint..  I managed to break the mouse wheel on mine though due to my own stupidity and being a bit rough with it, so it was time to replace it..

A buddy of mine has a Razer mouse and loves it, so when I was at the store and saw the Ferrari of the Razer mouse line; the Mamba wireless gaming mouse -- I went ahead and picked it up..

At $129.99 I expected this thing to perform like no other..  In fact, at twice the cost of my Logitech G7, I expected it to perform twice as well..  It came in a really nice box, with a lot of high and mighty claims on the box so I was thinking I had a winner..

Let me be clear here -- this mouse is the biggest piece of shit, I have ever.. and I mean.. EVER used..

I have been struggling and fighting with it for a while now, it's beyond the time for me to take it back or I would.   I'm going to compare it to the Logitech G7, which I now know to be a superior mouse in every way except possibly the three listed below which has nothing to do with how I use the mouse;

  • Packaging: The Razer folks took some queues from Apple on this one, the unboxing of the mouse is actually really impressive.  They use very high quality packaging.  Nice job.  I mean the packaging was so nice, I still have it all..(that's not normally for me.. I usually toss the box asap)
  • Dual Modes: The mouse can be used both in cordless or corded modes.  That's a nice innovation and frankly I think all mice should adopt this.  Again.. Nice job guys.. I seriously like this and hope all mice do this in the future.. Quick! Patent it!
  • 5600 DPI: The mouse has a very high resolution so I'll throw this in as a plus but I never used it.. Frankly 5600 is way too high to be useful in my FPS games.. It's twitchy as hell..  I usually used one click up from default.. (not sure what that resolution actually is)

Yeah.. that's really it.. I'm trying to think of other nice things to say but I just can't think of anything..  I have used this mouse from day one as a wireless replacement for my G7 and I expected it to perform as such.. Boy was I wrong;

  • Battery Life: Their packaging states clearly that this mouse has a battery life of approximately 14 hours of continuous gaming or 72 hours of normal gaming usage.  Horse shit!  I mean it doesn't even come remotely close to 72 hours of ANY kind of use.. 72 hours of sitting on the desk and it's dead..  it doesn't come close to 14 hours either..  If I get 8 hours of just "work use" I'd be happy..  14 hours of continuous gaming use?!  Bullshit..  This is just a marketing lie..  There is also only the one battery, and the only way to charge it is to put the mouse on the stand.   Fail.The G7 comes with two batteries, and you charge them via a charging station thats plugged into a USB port..  One G7 battery lasts a full day of constant gaming..  I would have to change the battery every day, but it takes a second to eject the old, and insert the new and have the old one fully charged again in no time.   Win.
  • Sleepy Mouse:  I have never had a mouse go to sleep as often nor as quickly as this one does.  If you stop using it for 30 seconds (or less sometims), it goes to sleep.   It then takes up to 30 seconds for it to recover, IF IT RECOVERS AT ALL!So you get up to go to the restroom.. Yeah mouse goes to sleep..  Getting a quick drink from the kitchen?  Yeah sleep mode..Most of the time when the mouse came out of its self imposed torpor the buttons would work but the laser optic wouldn't -- so you couldn't move the cursor.   I would be forced to turn the mouse off via the switch on the bottom, then turn it back on and hope it woke up.  Sometimes it would.. sometimes it wouldn't..  Fail.This was an extremely common occurance too, it really made me wonder if I had a broken mouse..The G7 never sleeps.. or if it is sleeping it wakes up the absolute instant you move it.. Win.
  • Responsiveness: Their claim to fame on the box is that the Mamba has a 1ms response time!!!  Further stating that other mice have 2ms and others have 8ms.. *gasp*Again.. Marketing shit.  Frankly the response times of this mouse mean nothing..   I am not sure exactly how long it takes my eyes to observe a targer, decide to react, tell my hand to move and my finger to click, and my muscles to actually perform that action..  but I'm pretty sure the difference of 1 or 2 milliseconds wont make a difference.More over, due to internet latency all that speedy mouse shit is completely lost in the noise of the intertubes..Further more, due to the sleep issue from above and the fact that it would take up to 30 seconds to recover half the time the mouse seemed incredibly unresponsive..  Epic Fail.Again, the G7 which might be one of those "other" mice and have a 8ms poll .. Bit it always performs perfectly.  And using it I still come in first on CoD Multiplayer more times than not.  Win.

Mouse Suicide!

I can go on.. The form factor took me a little getting used to but it wasn't bad..  The clicks sound good and feel good, and the mouse wheel is okay if a little "mushy".. (personal preference)  But its performance as a mouse left me wanting..  A lot.. And often..  The simple fact is the Mamba is extremely unreliable and quirky.. It may work fine as a corded mouse, but as a cordless it's almost worthless..

On one of the forums I visit they suggested I update the firmware of the mouse to see if that helps..  So I did:  At which point my Mamba committed suicide.

Yeah not kidding.  (Firstly; why the hell does my mouse have a firmware?!  It's a mouse!! )  I installed their firmware update software, followed their instructions to the letter.. And for my trouble got a paper weight.   The firmware updater erased the mouses brain completely, started its bootloader process then stopped working..  Now it doesn't even work as a mouse and nothing I do will fix it..  The best part is, there is no hardware reset.

Seriously?! I mean I thought it was telling before that I was forced to leave my broken G7 on my desk for when the Mamba decided to go off into the weeds, but now its completely shit the bed and I'm forced to use the G7 entirely..

I can't tell you how unhappy this makes me.. I'm so entirely and completely dissatisfied with this piece of hardware.. I'm seriously considering boxing it up and just sending it back to them with a letter to their president..  If this is the quality of their hardware, I will never ever buy a Razer product again.. Ever..  More over I will tell people of my experiences with it.. Ala this blog post, my forums and others..

At this point as my last ditch effort I have created a ticket with their technical support in the hopes that I get some help, but I'm willing to bet I wont get a response.   I also plan to call them tomorrow and see if I can get this straightened out.. I'm sure there is some way to reset the darn thing and I just don't know how..   But again my hopes aren't high..  I also seriously doubt the firmware update will fix the other issues this mouse seems to be plagued with..

I really wish I could write this as a personal letter to Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff..  He's the president and co-founder of Razer and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't make excuses for the experiences I have had..  So.. Mr. Krakoff, this is to you..

Your company  missed the mark by a mile on this one..  Now lets see what your customer service department does..  This can still be a complete win for your company if you do the right thing here..  Good customer service can still save my opinion of you, but at this point I'm frustrated with the Mamba to the point of not wanting it any more..

I'll keep ya'll posted.

Day 2 -- Razer Phone Technical Support -- (888) 697-2037

Razer email support did reply within the 24 hour period.. The response seemed somewhat canned but did ask relevant questions so it was just a way to start the ball rolling..  I wanted faster results so I decided to call..

It took me ages to find the damn phone number..   It isn't on their website at all.. I had to get it off a forum where someone else did a bunch of research to get it..

Bob answered the call and asked me my name... I told him and at the same time told him that I thought this mouse was a hunk of junk and it was also extremely frustrating and hard to find a phone number for them..

He then mumbled " 'ats by design " prior to asking at normal volume; "What phone number can you be reached at if we get disconnected.."

I stopped him and said "Wait, did you just say thats by design?"  He said "no no I asked for a phone number to reach you at..".. what a tool.. I'm not deaf..

I'm using a stereo headset to make the call so I can hear you in both ears with perfect clarity..  I know what you said..   You should never say something like that to a customer, even if its true -- which apparently it is..

Bob seemed nice enough if maybe a little snarky.. But as a Razer T1 Support monkey, I could tell he was just browsing the web looking for solutions and was out of his depth..

At one point he had me completely remove the drivers for it, then had me try to update the driver via the device control panel, to the driver installer.. Not the driver itself, but to the installer..   I told him that this wouldn't work and why -- he seemed completely confused and put me on hold..

I got put on hold 3 times over the course of the call, each hold period got progressively longer while he researched solutions.. (read the internet, or went to ask someone..etc..  I know how our support monkeys work..)

Later in the call I casually asked "So do you guys get a lot of support calls?"  He said "No not really.. "  I said, "Thats cause the phone number is so hard to find.. thats by design right?" to which he stated.. "Thats right! Its what we hope for..."

... Sure.. why bother supporting your products...  I can't believe you admitted that..  Saying things like that to a customer can get you fired..

Bob of T1 support knew nothing about this product or how to support it other than what he could read.. After 35 minutes on the phone with him he admitted that "he might actually have to escalate this call to T2"..  Stressing the word actually, as if he was shocked.. I wasn't..

In my own testing of the product prior to calling I did more trouble shooting and research than he did ..

At 42 minutes he came back and asked "Does the mouse light up?"  .. No it doesn't.. The lights stopped working the instant the bootloader firmware update failed.. I'm pretty sure I mentioned that early in the call, but maybe not.. I was thinking it if nothing else..

To which he said; "Okay we are done.. we have to get you a new mouse!"  I'm thinking, Yeah.. I knew this yesterday.. I certainly knew it 45 minutes ago..

So now I'm supposed to wait for RMA notice in the email..

Day 2 + 45 minutes -- Razer Email Technical Support -- RMA'ing this thing

So I got the email pretty much as soon as I hung up the phone..  I have filled it out and returned it..  One thing they wanted was proof of purchase.. well.. I have the thing don't I?  I have all the packaging too..

I stated on the phone that I didn't have that so I'm going to assume for the time being that it will be okay..

So far I'm not blown away by customer support here..  It was painful to find and the person I found wasn't all that helpful..

Lets see if they will RMA it without proof of purchase..

Day 2 + 3 hours -- Razer RMA Process

Fail.  It appears they are refusing to RMA this defective piece of crap without proof of purchase.   I have the product in its full packaging, with the Fry's Electronics label on the front.. but I don't have a receipt thus they are saying:

  • They can't verify that the product was purchased from an authorized seller of Razer products.
  • Can't verify that it wasn't previously "used", it isn't "counterfeit", and not "gray market goods".
  • Can't verify that the product isn't "defective".
  • Can't verify that the unit is still within the warranty period.

Wow..

1.  The product was purchased from Fry's Electronics in Austin Texas.  I still have the packaging, and at this point I have put the mouse back in the box entirely..  There is a label on the front that is the Fry's label.. I'm pretty sure their authorized to sell Razer products cause they have a lot of it..  So this is a BS excuse.

2.  I gave you the serial number of the product in the RMA request.  With that you should know if the product has been previously used, or if its counterfeit.. You should also know to which country the product was initially shipped..  Again.. BS.

3.  I can 100% guarantee you the product is defective.. Your software made it so..  That's the whole point of this attempted RMA..

4.  Your website states that the Razer Mamba has a warranty of 2 years.  Since it was unveiled to the world at CES in Jan of 2009, I'm pretty sure we are still win the warranty period..

This was a canned response letter and is very likely the first thing they do..   Deny first..

Never mind that their product is BROKEN DUE TO THEIR SOFTWARE..  Yeah you heard me.. THEY BROKE IT.. Their update software killed my product, but its my fault and I'm just out the money and now the mouse..

So apparently the only thing I did wrong was to buy a Razer product..

I could be coming away saying; "Wow, I didn't really like the mouse but their customer support was excellent.. they treated me really well and took care of me.. I'd do business with them again.."

Or, I could be coming away saying; "Wow.. what a bunch of asshats.. I will never ..ever.. ever.. buy from them again.. and now I'm going to tell everyone I know not to.. "

Based entirely on the experience I'm having, its clear to me they want me to do the second..

More as it happens..

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