The Thermaltake Black Element Mouse

As someone who's been a fairly resolute Logitech user (and still enjoys the G500), I have to say Thermaltake has done a remarkably solid job with the Black Element Mouse. The Black Element uses a mostly ambidextrous design with a soft-touch plastic surface that isn't anywhere near as inducive to clammy palms as the material Razer uses (and by extension, the material used on the old Microsoft Habu). The ridges in the mouse buttons also don't feel quite as deep as the ones typically found on Razer mice, making the Black Element more comfortable in the hand overall.

The top of the Black Element features two plastic buttons beneath the mouse wheel that default to toggling laser sensor polling speed, effectively changing the sensitivity of the mouse on the fly. Above them is a mouse wheel that feels like it has just the right amount of resistance, both in scrolling and in pressing as a middle mouse button. On the left side, where your thumb would rest, are three buttons in a row. This is one situation where I think Logitech's G500 definitely has a smarter layout in having the third button beneath the two instead of between them, as it felt like my thumb had to slightly reach to hit the uppermost button. Meanwhile, the right side of the Black Element has a single long button that you should be able to hit with your pinky without too much trouble. Flip the Black Element over and you'll find a button for toggling profiles as well as user-adjustable weights.

The software for the Black Element is a little obtuse at first, but most of the simple stuff is easy enough to get a hold of. Each of the mouse buttons is programmable, and you can individually adjust vertical and horizontal sensitivity. The mouse also supports up to four different DPI settings, and you can change the LEDs that light up the mouse to one of five colors: red, cyan, green, magenta, and blue. You can also disable LEDs individually, but unfortunately you can't choose different colors. Finally, you can program macros and button functions directly into the mouse, which is nifty in and of itself.

And how did the Black Element work in practice? Very well, actually, although there are some snags in the design. The default sensitivity of 3200dpi (vertical and horizontal) proved to be just right for me, and that's good because the mouse sensitivity buttons feel like they're a bit on the chintzy side. The same is true of the programmable buttons on the sides. They just don't have quite the same feeling of resistance and quality that the buttons on Logitech's G500 or Corsair's Vengeance mice do.

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  • Belard - Thursday, June 28, 2012 - link

    LOL! I expected they bought something else.... Hence the 3 totally different keyboard layouts.

    For the most part, Logitech keys its keyboards the same, as does Microsoft.
    Reply
  • 6x9equals42 - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    I Just got a Das Keyboard S with Cherry MX blues and couldn't be happier. It's at my workstation so I haven't tried it for gaming, but I could definitely see the advantages of red or black switches for that. I would be interested to see a review of the Das Keyboard Silent or another keyboard with the MX brown switches for comparison. Reply
  • jgrnt1 - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure how they stack up for gaming, as I'm just a casual gamer, but I'm a big fan of Unicomp's keyboards. They are the direct descendants of IBM's Selectric typewriter keyboards.

    I had an old IBM keyboard for a long time and when it finally died, I found Unicomp. I have the Classic 104 in black. Also note that most of their keyboards come with a choice of USB or PS/2 connectors:

    pckeyboard.com
    Reply
  • sjc1017 - Saturday, June 30, 2012 - link

    I type at least 3000 words everyday on my lap top, can someone please tell me what are the advantages of these keyboards? Reply
  • cj145 - Saturday, June 30, 2012 - link

    Do you guys ever plan to review mechanical keyboards from companies that have been doing it for years (Deck, Filco, Das, etc)? I like that you started to review them, it's just I have not seen one keyboard reviewed that is built like a true mechanical KB should be; like a brick and designed to outlast everything else. All of these new TT, Corsair, etc keyboards feel flimsy and cheap in comparison. Reply
  • tinspinner - Saturday, July 07, 2012 - link

    I'm using a mech4 Levetron keyboard that uses cherry black MX switches. It's an interesting keyboard because the keypad can be removed from the right side and put on the left. It still has a solid feel and locks into place. It also has an additional 6 key macro add on that plugs into the spare usb port, yes it's usb, ps2 doesn't work. The addon slides on a rail allowing positioning over any part of the main keys, but covers part of the function keys when down in position. It's a flipup style addon. This keyboard is rarely heard of as it is rather unusual. The keys have a standard layout otherwise but the back space key is painted with an arrow(but is back space) and is the size of a standard key, which doesn't affect my typing though it might some)

    Anyhow when I first used the keyboard I liked the feel for typing better than my razer black widow ultimate (I believe cherry blue MX keys, don't quote me though). The higher actuation force doesn't bother me but I like the linear smooth feel in actuation. I almost always bottom out when typing on either keyboard. (Heavy hands, long fingers).
    Reply
  • burkeden - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I can only comment on my experience, but I had MAJOR issues with Razer's build quality and support process (i.e. - I strongly discourage others from making my mistake of going with a Razer keyboard)

    The only place you can buy Razer's BWUS keyboard is directly from Razer online. Let me summarize my experience and let you be the judge:

    May 8, I ordered the BWUS keyboard from the only place you can get it - the Razer store.
    It came to me with the backlit key feature defective. I immediately contacted support expecting a replacement to be shipped. I had to first take photos and send them in, wait several days, and then be told I need to return it and wait 2 weeks for the replacement. I was very unhappy but did just that.
    What I got back on July 2 (nearly 2 months after placing my order) was a dirty unit, in a bent and torn box, completely missing the left shift key. I thought this was a screw up of epic proportions, but I was sure Razer would correct this very quickly. Well, after relaying the story I was told to send pictures of the missing key!!!! Are you serious? You don't believe me when I say it is missing a key? Or even worse, you are trying to determine from the photo if you can send a new key and have my insert it. Forget the fact I ordered a new keyboard and have now been sent a used one.

    And finally I did get the email confirmation that they are going to send a key that I can hopefully just pop in, and that I can just clean the keyboard??? lol - I could not make this up.

    ps - they keyboard itself is decent if you get a new and working one. BUT IF YOU DON'T, YOU CAN ONLY CONTACT RAZER SUPPORT THROUGH EMAIL WHICH TAKES 2-3 DAYS TO GET A RESPONSE AND AS EVIDENCED ABOVE, THEY ONLY TAKE THE BARE MINIMUM STEPS TO GET YOUR PRODUCT FUNCTIONING.
    Reply

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