The Mouse That Called Home


The Mouse That Called Home

Razor Orochi
My Razor Orochi mouse - at least I think it's mine.

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 is 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 that they're able to collect for the retail sales of their products on a global scale. It's the kind of information marketing and sales execs would die for. 

Despite 'offering' 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.