[ Review ] Razer Atheris – Ready for Work and Play

[ Review ] Razer Atheris – Ready for Work and Play

Razer has always been on the trailblazing edge of innovation when it comes to crafting gaming gear as they constantly seek to make hardware that would be of actual practical use for gamers rather than something dinky with piddly features for the sole purpose of being shoved onto store shelves to make it for the holiday season. No surprise seeing as their motto is ‘For Gamers,By Gamers’. While the vast majority of their gaming hardware caters for hardcore gamers, they’ve just issued a mouse that panders, surprisingly enough, to weekday desktop jockeys who want to sort out their spreadsheets and get some casual gaming in on the go. Enter the Razer Atheris.

Designed for both work and play, the Razer Atheris is an ultraportable wireless gaming mouse that comes in a matte black finish. Unlike Razer’s recent Chroma offerings, the Atheris eschews the bling and ditches the brand’s signature chromatic LED lighting in favour of extended endurance in the field with only a few indicator lights at most to illuminate its status. Razer’s triskelion logo is subtly emblazoned on the upper base of the mouse and can only be seen at certain angles, which is somewhat unusual but fitting its nature as a device intended for both business and entertainment.

The Atheris is fairly small as a gaming mouse, which requires a claw type grip to wield. The mouse comes with two side buttons on the left side and a clickable scroll wheel that bisects the obligatory left and right  mouse button for a grand total of five customisable buttons which can be tweaked via Razer’s Synapse 3 software. The sides of the Atheris come with a ridged, rubberised finish for a better grip while the base is lined with a smooth coating, an optical sensor capable of up to 7200 dpi and a toggle to switch the mouse off or have it pair up with a device via Bluetooth or the 2.4Ghz dongle.

While it’s mentioned that the mouse is ambidextrous in nature, it works best with right handed users as the two side buttons are awkwardly positioned, requiring southpaws to use their pinky and ring finger to get about. Of note is the textured scroll wheel that comes with tiny studs and a pleasantly clicky feel that allows for precision scrolling; extremely handy when going through large reams of text. In terms of build quality, the Atheris does not disappoint with an even heft and sturdy build quality while its matte fingerprint resistant finish and understated design makes it very presentable even in the most austere corporate settings.

Work and Play
On paper, the Razer Atheris offers up to 7,200 dpi, has a polling rate of up to 1,000Hz and is capable of pairing up to any of your kit via a low-latency 2.4GHz connection using a bundled USB dongle or through Bluetooth Low-Energy connectivity. The former is handy for hooking up to PCs but the latter will see more use as it’s able to pair with many other devices, especially those that lack a USB port like your phone, slate or whatnot. Of particular note is that the Atheris sports Razer’s proprietary Adaptive Frequency Technology (AFT) that effectively works to ensure that there is minimal to no lag from radio interference on the 2.4GHz connection which may make the difference between winning a match or finishing your spreadsheet on time. It does this by constantly scanning frequencies and picking the optimum one that offers the least interference to ensure optimum performance.

Power is derived from a pair of AA batteries that are rated to last you a good 350 hours or so of use before needing replacement. Razer has even thoughtfully included a pair of AA batteries with the box so you can get started using it straight out of the box.  Recessed in a narrow compartment within the mouse is a bundled 2.4GHz dongle. This storage placement for the 2.4GHz dongle is a stroke of genius that precludes it from getting lost, as externally mounted dongle storage slots are wont to do. Getting the mouse up and running is simply a matter of popping the top of the mouse open, inserting the batteries and then connecting it with your gear via either of the two aforementioned methods.

In our field tests, we paired it with everything from a desktop PC, a gaming notebook to a host of smartphones from multiple manufacturers. As a portable mouse to tackle paperwork, the Atheris is a wonderful asset with smooth tracking, responsiveness and sensitivity that allowed it to churn through weeks worth of spreadsheets, documents and emails over the course of our review period in a very comfortable fashion despite the writer having fairly large paws. The scroll wheel helps to page through larger documents with both speed and precision on account of the excellent tactility and stepped clickiness. When needed, the Atheris’s DPI was adjustable on the fly with the top-mounted button from 800 all the way to 7,200 dpi.

Using Bluetooth LE, the Atheris was more than ideal for crunching paperwork though it’s only limited to a 250Hz polling rate via this method which precludes it being used for competitive gaming. When paired to hardware using the 2.4GHz dongle, the Atheris performs with expected alacrity without any noticeable jittering. In Supreme Commander, the Atheris performed in an able fashion with enough precision to pick out a single tank in a continent spanning army and swift enough that you can scroll in and out of the global and tactical view in seconds. When taken on the road, the compact nature of the mouse and gaming oriented features meant that it proved easily deployable and did a bang-up job in an impromptu Diablo 3 hackfest while waiting for a flight.

Across the span of two weeks swapping between Bluetooth LE and the 2.4Ghz dongle, the Atheris barely registered a noticeable drain and continued running at full tilt. Unfortunately, the lack of a built-in battery indicator means it’s often a guess just how much juice it has left; you’ll need to install their Synapse 3 software to get an actual indication of remaining battery life which is not always a viable option in the field.

Price and Conclusion
The Razer Atheris represents a unique direction for the company as it’s made for both for both work and play.  On the gaming front, it’s more than sufficient for all but the most demanding gamers; most mainstream users will find there’s more than enough responsiveness for normal non-competitive gaming.

There’s unfortunately a few niggles. Despite its ostensibly ambidextrous design, it’s clearly not optimised for left-handed users. It also lacks a built-in battery indicator which is a bit of an annoyance to heavy users though this can be avoided by swapping out a fresh battery pack before going on a major trip. Pickier gamers who need an entire arsenal of customisable switches and higher DPI may take umbrage at the Atheris’s modest limit of 5 customisable buttons but this mouse was meant to tackle both work and play so it’s not a major quibble. At US$50, the Razer Atheris is reasonably priced for the quality and performance offered and its portability, understated design, solid performance and battery life make it a sound addition to any digital nomad’s arsenal.

What we liked Well built, comfortable to use, phenomenal battery life
What we didn’t Not optimised for lefties, lacks a built-in battery indicator
We say Razer’s latest productivity cum gaming mouse is a digital nomad’s delight with the ability to handle both work and a modest amount of gaming with equal capability

Specifications
Price US$50
Connectivity Dual 2.4GHz and Bluetooth LE
Buttons 5 (programmable)
Sensor 7,200 DPI, optical
Power 2x AA batteries (350 hours – quoted)
Size/Weight 99.7 x 62.8 x 34.1mm / 66g
*Review unit courtesy of Razer
*Distributed in Malaysia by Ban Leong Technologies Sdn Bhd. For more details visit www.banleong.com.my

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