A cursory look at the sales numbers on Amazon shows that most premium-priced mice and keyboards last for years and most of the time users end up wishing they’d found a cheaper model. So it’s really great news when a great company like Razer comes along and lowers the bar.
A few years ago it had a gaming keyboard. Then the company struck out on its own, with audio hardware. Then it went into personal entertainment, bringing a high-end sound system to Google Home.
Now, with the launch of the Razer Basilisk, it’s hoping to consolidate its market dominance. The Razer Basilisk is an interactive laser mouse that comes with a rechargeable battery and, as a companion app, has features like 100m of gesture range and a customizable field of vision. It works by using facial recognition to track movements and computer vision to process them. This gives the mouse a low latency of response and near lag-free navigation.
“One of the ways Razer is trying to outdo the competition is by making things more expensive but delivering better performance,” explains Michael Broderick, executive director of product development at Razer. “What we’re trying to do is integrate better the hardware, design and software into a first-class product.”
A recent $99 price-drop on the baseline Core series of laser mice, which had shipped for years and were a popular and well-regarded product, proved a catalyst for the company to re-evaluate its product development process.
“As we watched the market with Core, we were very conscious that Razer really, really, wants to stand out,” says Mr. Broderick. “We couldn’t iterate enough to keep up.”
With the new mouse, the company is giving up the balance between price and performance. Mr. Broderick believes the net result will be better performance. But it also, he says, could attract more casual gamers.
“You don’t really get into gaming unless you’re into putting your body through punishment,” says Mr. Broderick. “With a mouse you can put your body through no more than 10 or 15 clicks — you could take a couple of them off and it wouldn’t matter. You have to work a little harder.”
Razer says the mouse, which was officially unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles last week, is due for release in late 2019 and will retail for about $100. Though it’s very light at 2.5 ounces, the mouse does register six clicks per second — more than most pro-grade mice. The Intel Core i7 processor in the mouse also supports 60G. The mouse is certified for 8K gaming on the PlayStation 4 Pro and will be available for the Xbox One X by the end of the year.
The mouse also has a hidden feature that every gamer should love: a button to enable auto tracking when the mouse is in the same room as a receiver. The receiver is built into the mouse, and when the player drops the receiver, automatically goes into pairing mode and starts tracking.
Razer also says it’s working on programs that can transmit data from the receiver to a smartphone. Mr. Broderick says this could eliminate the current model of connecting a mouse to a computer. Rather than sending data to a computer first, Razer hopes that a phone would be used instead.
“It’s going to be a similar process to the cable and you’ll never have to fiddle with the mouse,” he says.
Mr. Broderick emphasizes that when it comes to peripherals, the performance can be improved at any price. “We want to make this a compelling product and when you have all the bells and whistles at $100, why not?”