[Review] Steelseries Kana V2 Black & White * NEW *
YouTube Review Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYpY__MJXIs
The Kana v2 seems to have flown under the radar in terms of announcements or what not. Traces of it were first picked up by people in the engine updates sparking speculation of what the mouse could potentially be. Though there have been no official announcements, Chinese reviewers seemed to get their hands on some early retail releases of the mouse and revelaed the specs accordingly.
In terms of the price, I expect them to price it at $59, however I did purchase mine for $64 US in Hong Kong, somewhat more expensive than usual.
In a quick nutshell, refreshed the surface, upgraded to an A3090 optical sensor, switched to Omron switches, and the good old Kana chassis remains. Are all these redeeming factors for the ever so badly released Kana V1? Let’s proceed to find out
The box is a very straight forward one, similar to that of many other companies out on the market. Simple is better, yes in my opinion.
– SteelSeries Kana v2 Mouse
– Instruction Pamflet
Weight & Shape
If you’ve ever used the Kana v1, you’ll instantly recognize the familiar shape to the Kana v2 as it retains the exact same chassis. Interestingly, the mouse seems to be ever so slightly heavier than the original Kana with the weight coming in at 88g without the cable. The shape is an ambidextrous one with the size just in between the sensei and the Kinzu.
My hand is around 19cm from the tip of my middle finger to the base, and I claw the mouse with the base just touching the palm of my hand. My thumb rests slightly below the front edge of the side button, with my fourth finger gripping the very front edge of the bottom right of the mouse. The shape is slightly narrower than the sensei raw and doesn’t feel as fat at the base.
For me, the Kana always has had a very comfortable shape to it. However, due to the incompetent specs that came with the first kana, I decided to abandon it. With this renewed sensor / switches, I really can’t get enough of the shape and the size and its fit in my hand. Definitely a more nimble fit than the sensei with its’ slightly narrower shape and chassis.
They seemed to have refreshed the surface of the mouse compared to the first Kana. Notably I’ll be drawing comparisons between the black Kana v1 and V2 since I did not purchase the white Kana v2 for comparisons. Contrary to popular belief, I do dish out my own money to do reviews .
The matte surface resembles that of the older xai but with a slightly smoother glaze over the top. The original black Kana had some sort of a light hollow plastic feel to it is the best way I can describe it. The surface is revamped with the Kana v2 and feels more comfortable on the skin, almost akin to that of the Deathadder Black Edition, however no where as slippery as the DA BE though.
The side grips have also been upgraded with matte surface similar to it’s outer shell. It’s not a tacky kind of matte as seen in the earlier kinzu / xai mice. It’s still relatively smooth but does have very very small grains to it which gives it a light smooth grip, again not tacky or sticky in any way. Does it become hard to grip and slip out of your hands? Not exactly. However I can say it very silky on the palms of the skin rather than grippy. Please forgive my use of weird adjectives if any but hopefully that’ll give you a good sense of what this mouse feels like.
The cord has been somewhat changed as well. Even though it looks exactly the same as the original braided black / orange cord, it’s much softer out of the box which means that when you move the mouse, the cord some what glides along with your mouse rather than being hard and bumping into other items on your desk. This is a very small, but nice change to the mouse.
The side buttons also feel somewhat similar and spots a smooth matte surface. Nothing really much to add here but it does feel extreme tactile, and rebounds well once depressed and released.
Another major upgrade over the original Kana are the switches. Upgraded from the original TTC white dot micro-switches, the Kana v2 spots the new D2FC-F-7N Omron switches rated at 5 million clicks. This is a very familiar switch to hardcore mice addicts seen in many other mice. It provides a light depression with a soft feedback and bounce as seen in really most of the major gaming mice. This does seem to the be the go-to switch for most gamers and myself included. If I had to compare this to the Huano’s in the FK, I think I would prefer this over the Huano’s. In this sense, (comparing stock to stock), I would prefer the Kana v2 over the FK if we’re talking about the click depressions.
Sensor / Performance
This is where the sensor really makes the Kana v2 shine over the original. The original Kana v1 employed the PixArt PAW3305DK-H optical sensor, which had many bugs of its own – jitter / pixel skipping / unstable tracking. The fact that it took SteelSeries this long of a time to get a decent optical sensor in one of their mice is quite remarkable, but thank the lords they finally have done. Due to the fact that I personally extremely like the ambidextrous mold of the sensei / kana / kinzu, this really feels like a gift to me.
Now the mouse sports the A3090 from Avago and performs fairly fairly well as many of you know. Here are just some simple test pictures of the mouse. All tests were done on the PureTrak Talent.
In general, very little to no jitter at all settings. No prediction – No acceleration – polling rates seem to be fairly stable at all settings. No input lag was felt and the sensor didn’t really feel particularly cooked at any setting.
In terms of the software itself, the Kana v2 now sports 8 different DPI settings accordingly with on the fly DPI switching allowing you to switch between two different DPIs. These respectively are the 400 / 800 / 1200 / 1600 / 2000 / 2400 / 3200 / 4000. This is definitely a great upgrade over the original Kana as the original only had somewhat 3 – 4 DPI settings (from memory, correct me if I’m wrong). Accordingly, this will allow users to better find a DPI setting suited for them.
However, it is noted that the DPI settings listed may be slightly off from the actual DPI settings. When using enotus, it seemed to me that the 4000 dpi register felt like a 3600, and the 1600 registry felt like 1400 in testing. Possibly they did this in order to subjectively obtain 8 different DPI settings through interpolating up or down. Users will have to adjust accordingly to what they’re usually used to and game a bit before allowing the subjective difference to set in.
Regarding saving of profiles, the mouse does seem to have on-board memory which saves whatever profile you set your mouse to. This was tested by setting a particular profile with 400 DPI with lighting to 4000 DPI without lighting. Mouse was taken to another computer and the settings were still saved. Indeed this is very convenient as you can take your saved profiles onto another computer or a LAN and still retain the same settings as before.
Scroll Wheel / Lighting
More of a miscellaneous note but still worth mentioning. There isn’t that much of a change in the scroll wheel between the v1 and the v2 of the Kana. Still feels pretty smooth with minimal indentation but features relatively quick stops in each scroll. However, you can quickly go through all the nodes.
In terms of the lighting, there are now 4 different intensity levels that you can adjust with the mouse – High / Medium / Low / None. This is a relatively cool feature and you can set the different intensities with different settings. According this can be changed on the fly using the middle button.
The mouse does bleed light ever so slightly from the bottom from the optical sensor.
So far, everything I’ve described has been quite wonderful with the Kana v2 and it looks to be my primary. However, the biggest downside is the lift-off distance that it suffers from. Notably the A3090 is a fairly strong sensor. What this means is it results in a high lift off distance which makes it almost unbearable for gaming. With the stock feet, the LOD is around 0.4 – 0.45 cm (my own estimates using CDs, tested with 3 CDs and 1mm worth of addtinal feet), which is quite frightening to be frank and almost unplayable for me to begin with. It reminds me of the A3060 sensor found in the Ikari Optical with it’s frightening LOD.
Only by attaching 3 layers of 0.5mm mouse feet (totally 1.5mm) was I able to reduce the LOD to a more comfortable level. However, the problem that this causes is that it lifts the mouse up way too much to the point where I can feel the gap created between the mouse and the surface. My thumb would almost be feeling the gap if I let by thumb rest naturally on the side of the mouse.
UPDATE: LOD can be reduced using the tape trick. On the stock feet, it reduces the LOD to about 1mm +- 0.5mm
The optimal setting seems to be attaching 1mm worth of feet onto the bottom of the mouse. This ensured that the LOD was not too terrible, however, the gap between the mouse and the surface was still quite bearable and ok.
When it comes down to it, the mouse is only as good as the gaming experience that it provides. I crash tested the Kana v2 through 3 – 4 games of DOTA 2 (the main game that I play) and I have to say, I’ve never been happier testing out a new mouse as I have with the Kana v2. My primary used to be the Zowie FK. The transition was definitely a lot smoother than I thought it would be. As they both used the A3090 sensor, I felt minimal difference in terms of the tracking and the smoothness of the mouse (even though there is a difference in the DPI). However, I’ve always really liked the Kana shape and the single side button never really bothered me too much. With the new sensor and switches, I must say the Kana v2 feels like a complete different beast to the Kana v1 and is definitely a significant upgrade over its predecessor. Unlike the G series refreshes from Logitech, this refresh seems like a very legitimate and timely one and I really have to give it to SteelSeries for finally giving the mouse what it deserves. Why they didn’t do this earlier… well… for business and monetary reasons I’d expect.
Overall, a very well built mouse through its refreshed sensor / switches / and surface. I’m not too sure of it’s official price but even at $65 for me, I think this mouse is still very well worth it. Compared with its kinzu / sensei counterparts, I think many would much rather switch to the 3090 optical sensor than be stuck with the Pixart or the S9500 / 9800 laser sensors.
The Kana v2 will probably become my primary for a while to come, until… I start feeling bad for my IE3 whose been benched for a while now… Poor thing.
LIFT-OFF DISTANCE – Can be reduced using the Tape trick. On the stock feet, it reduces LOD to about 1mm +- 0.5mm. So for those of you who are concerned with this, your problem of a high LOD I guess is now solved.
PCB pictures have also been updated for your viewing pleasure.
Side Buttons: Kalih White Dot Switches
Profile Button / Scroll Button: TTC White Dot Switches
UPDATE 2 – Kana v2 White Version
Honestly, I did enjoy the Kana v2 enough to get the white version to test out. Main differences between the white and the black, the surface is glossy instead of matte. The color is white instead of black (duh). The side grip is actually slightly different in that it’s actually the same material as the top surface of the black matte kana v2. The side grip on the black kana v2 resembles that of the xai. In terms of grip, the side grip of the white kana v2 is slightly smoother.
Overall impressions of the glossy Kana v2, after substantial gaming with it, it seems like it is quite slippery similar to that of the sensei glossy edition. If your hand sweats alot, I would definitely not recommend this mouse as you’d find it very hard to grip.
However, with the white one more than the black one, I found myself clawing the mouse much more using my thumb / fourth / fifth fingers to do the controlling. Additionally, I found myself lifting the mouse less than the black due to the surface being more slippery. Is this worse of a grip? Perhaps. I would say that it does come down to personal preference though.
Personally I do enjoy the cool slick feel of the glossy surface against my palm. In terms of raw performance in game, I would say it does lose some of its control compared to the matte version though because of my adjusted grip. However, do I like the mouse for what it’s worth? Sure. It provides a cleaner look to my mouse / mousepad combo (if you’re into that sort of thing), and its softer on your skin in general.
I’ll probably be keeping both mice just as a reference as I do enjoy the kana v2 enough to do so. Enjoy the updated pictures below!