Computing

Mice Shouldn't Need An Internet Connection To Work

A mouse is a fundamental part of every desktop computer. It should just work, at all times.Oddly, Razer’s high-end Naga gaming mouse does exactly the opposite, requiring an internet connection if you’re going to stand any chance of using it.

Update: Razer has gotten in touch with us to explain:

The first time a player starts up Synapse 2.0, he/she is asked to create an account. Once registered, Synapse 2.0 works offline and never needs to be online again, provided users check the “stay logged in” box. Synapse 2.0 then works regardless of internet connection, as settings are saved on the client PC and are not synced to the cloud. We recognize that the offline mode may not be obvious to the user and will be taking steps to allow users to enable it manually.

You can read the full statement here.

A forum member over at Overclock.net has been explaining the problems he’s been having with his shiny new gaming mouse. From the posting:

This really took me by surprise. Just bought a new Naga 2012 mouse, installed the software and get greeted by a login screen right after. No option to bypass it to use the software to configure the mouse, set the options, sensitivity, shortcuts, macros etc.

So I go ahead and create an account and try to log in. Nothing. Try several more times, and still nothing. Try to make new accounts with different email addresses and it still wont work.

Finally call Razer who tells me the activation server is down, and I wont be able to use the mouse until it goes back up and will only be able to use it as a standard plug and play mouse til then. I ask about a workaround to use the mouse offline and they say there is none. Supposedly once the mouse is activated on the computer offline mode will work, but it needs to upload my profile and activate my account first and since their server is down its not going to happen. I ask for a supervisor to confirm this is the case and ask again for a workaround to use it offline. He said sorry theres nothing they can do, tells me the call centre is closing and hangs up on me.

In fact, it turns out that Razer is using a cloud-based version of Synapse to run some of the mouse’s functions. To use the online portion, you need to register the mouse online — which is impossible if Razer’s servers are down. Not just that: lose your internet connection and you lose the features powered by the online version of the software, including all the scriptable extra buttons and functions that are the mouse’s primary selling point.

Without that, a fancy $US80 mouse becomes a plug-and-play mouse, much like something you could pick up from an Officeworks clearance bucket for a few dollars. TechDirt suggests the same problem afflicts Razer’s new gaming keyboards, and that any workaround using a downloaded version of the cloud-based Synapse software is infuriatingly complex.

And there’s more! Turns out the mouse’s internet connection requirement might also be used to spy on and monetise users. The best bit? There’s no way to sidestep that: either sign up and let it happen, or continue using the $US80 mouse without any of its cloud-based fancy features.

A mouse that needs an internet connection to work properly — and then spies on you if it has one — is perhaps some of the worst tech design we’ve heard of in recent time. Bad job, Razer. [Overclock.net via TechDirt]