The Mouse That Called Home

Razor Orochi

In the photo included in this post you can see my new Razor Orochi mouse. It's a pretty cool mouse, but I confess I'm not entirely sure if it actually belongs to me - or at least which parts of the mouse belong to me.

In the photo you can see that there's a light in the mouse wheel. It's on at the moment, but to turn it on I had to first download the Razor Synapse software, register with the company that made the mouse [Razor], 'log in', and then change the settings of the mouse so that the light would turn on.

I wasn't impressed. Nor were a lot of other people as you can see here, and here. Razer Creative Director Min-Liang Tan attempted to respond to the criticism in a Facebook post. Sorry Mr Min-Lian Tan, but I'm calling bullshit. The opportunity for Razar wasn't about giving gamers' an online profile and cloud-based settings. It was about the incredibly useful data they're able to collect for the retail sales of their products on a global scale.

Despite claiming to offer an offline mode for the mouse you still need to create an account in order to make changes to the settings of the mouse - in particular, to turn the light on. Even after that if the mouse is unplugged and my notebook rebooted I have to 'log in' again in order to turn the light back on.

I'm not a lawyer, but I believe I am the bona fide purchaser of this mouse. It is now my personal property - including the light that's inside the mouse. Why, or more importantly, how exactly is it that am I being denied access to something that belongs to me?  If I bought a fridge, would the manufacturer force me to register my product before turning on the compressor? Or if I bought a car, would the carmaker force me to hand over my personal details before allowing me to start the engine? 

The light inside that mouse now belongs to me Mr Min-Lian Tan, but your company is denying me access to it and I'm not happy about it. Welcome to the 'Internet of Things'.



I had a very frustrating series of e-mails with Razer last month after upgrading my computer from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and finding that their legacy non-Synapse drivers (which don't require registration) weren't working. They had me re-install and de-install a few times, run as administrator, etc., before finally telling me that they had no intention of supporting non-Synapse drivers on Windows 8:

"The legacy drivers are older drivers and Razer does not support them for any newer versions of windows. When your mouse was purchased in 2011 windows 8 was not released yet. However we will continue supporting them for windows 7 and below."

I'll never buy another Razer product, even if they back off on forcing Synapse registration. Why would I trust them not to impose more conditions or restrictions down the line?

Belatedly, I kind of thought that I was the only one disturbed by this development. I had an old Pro|Click that has worked well enough for many years. I purchased it after seeing it reviewed somewhere, probably in Macworld. Eventually, I wanted a wireless mouse and since I was satisfied with the Pro|Click, and local retailers offered various Razer mice, I thought I’d start with them. I’m always paranoid about driver support for peripherals with a Mac so I started reading the box to confirm functionality. I don’t remember what it was about it but something in the ambiguous way they wrote their pitch made me worry. I couldn’t really tell whether I needed to use the software to do basic setup. So I went online and started searching for material on the new Synapse software. I found a number of forum posts that told the story, similar to the post and comment above.

So, finding that the company/product as well as the documentation seemed sleazy to me, I bought a Logitech G500S instead. It works great and I’m satisfied with the purchase. I can’t see myself purchasing anything from Razer again.