Zowie is a relatively new brand that focuses on making gaming mice for avid FPS fans. Their most recent mouse is dubbed EC2 and features a 2000 DPI infrared optical sensor. This might not sound like much, but it is actually more than most people need even for gaming on 1900 x 1200 px screens. The tricked out part about the EC2 is that has a really low lift-off distance of around 2 mm.
Interestingly enough Zowie produce their gaming mice in two different sizes and two different feels. The white mice from Zowie feature a normal smooth surface whereas the black models have a rubberized feel to them according to their site. The sample we received was of the white livery with the smooth finish.
- Frames Per Second: 6,500
- Inches Per Second: 40
- Dots Per Inch: 500/1.000/2.000
- Max. Acceleration: 15G
- 1,000Hz USB report rate
- Connector: USB
- Buttons: 5
- Dimensions: EC2: 120 x 40 x 58~65 mm / 4.72 x 1.57 x 2.28~2.56 inch
- Length of cable: 2m
The Zowie EC2 comes in a thick cardboard box. You can actually try the feel of the mouse without opening the box.
The bundle is anything but extraordinary. You get the mouse and a sticker! This is of course made up for by the fact that this mouse does not need any drivers in order to perform its best.
The Zowie EC2 looks just like the Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 (IME 3.0) if you look beyond the difference in color. The fact that its shape is almost identical to that of the renowned IME 3.0 is really great. The IME is known as one of the most ergonomic mice ever created so anything that bears a striking resemblance will most likely perform similarly in terms of handling.
From the side you can clearly see that this mouse is created for people who use a palm type grip. Size wise the mouse is same as an IME 3.0 which means it is a little wider than Logitech MX-type mice. The white EC2's surface looks great but in terms of performance the lack of grip on the sides is a slight draw back. The smooth top cover is alright, but the sides should be grippier.
This mouse has two side buttons which are placed alright for a medium sized hand. For people with larger than average hands they will be a bit too far to the back.
The mouse feet dominate the back side of this mouse. They are huge which means that the mouse can be used on all types of surfaces without bottoming out. You can only hope that Zowie will offer replacement feet on their website so that a ruined set of feet will not render the mouse unusable. Fitting generic ones to the bottom of the EC2 will surely impair the gliding performance of the mouse.
Cable wise the Zowie mice are well off. They feature a PU coated cable that is really soft and slides nicely on all types of surfaces. The strain relief on the mouse looks sufficient without sticking out too much. Compared to the cable featured on Microsoft and Logitech mice it is quite a bit softer.
The scroll wheel is not of the highest quality which is shame. It lacks a little tactile feedback and occasionally you get tactile feedback without it registering the “click”
See "Update"!. It has come to our attention that the registration issue is only on number with serial numbers with this number sequence in it x10001000. Those mice with serial numbers in x10002000 range should be unaffected, once we manage to secure a sample of the x10002000 stock we will make an update to this review.
We recently got a mouse from the x10002000 serial number range and the mouse does not suffer from the scroll wheel issues that plagued the first sample we accquried.
The sensor used is a 2000 DPI infrared optical sensor which is similar to the one featured on the Abyssus gaming mouse from Razer.
The mouse was put to the test in a variety of games and applications. In order to test the sensor's performance we tested the mouse on many different types of surfaces right from a plain wood desk through ultra soft mats to our benchmark hard mat the 9HD from SteelSeries. The mouse performed well on all the surfaces, there were minor changes to the lift-off distance, however, it was under 2 mm the whole time so it did not pose an issue.
Since it is a driver less mouse you will have to go into the Windows mouse control software if you want to change the general sensitivity. One of the neat features of the EC2 is that it will automatically set the USB rate to 1000 Hz. This was verified via Mouse Rate Checker. Like most of the other high performance mice the sample rate is constantly above 800 Hz when you move it around quickly.
The fact that the 1000 Hz hack is implemented in the mouse is a unique feature. On Windows XP changing the polling rate is easy, however, on Windows 7 it is a pain in the back side.
The sensor itself is more than capable of producing coherent tracking at all sensitivities. We were not able to get it to stall. Like Razer Abyssus the infrared sensor in the EC2 is able to track on pretty much all surfaces so no matter what mat you get you can get close to optimum performance. The extra large mouse feet perform well on both soft and hard mats. On soft mats the size of the feet gives the mouse an edge over those equipped with small ones. This is due to the fact that the mouse distributes its weight over a larger surface thus reducing pressure and mat deformation.
The only sensor related issue is that it has a little prediction which means that it does not feel totally precise for one pixel moves in games, this could pose a major issue in competitive FPS gaming.
The only serious performance issue with the EC2 and I suspect also on the EC1 is the scroll wheel. It does not have enough tactile feedback so you cannot really use it in games for weapon switching. Another issue with it is that it skips one tick every now and then when you go from forward to backward scrolling. It has come to our attention that the scroll wheel issue might only appear on the earliest revision of the mouse see "Closer Examination" for updates.
Another minor performance related issue is the surface which is a bit too smooth. I think the one with a slightly more rubberized surface is the better option but I guess it is up to preference. Also the side button mounts seem too soft giving the buttons an odd feel. The structural integrity of this mouse is not good at all.
Value & Conclusion
- The Zowie EC2 is available online for € 59.99
- Driver less design
- Three DPI settings
- Excellent performing sensor
- Ergonomic design
- Available in two different surface textures, and sizes!
- 1000 Hz USB Polling rate, driver less!
- High price
- Dodgy scroll wheel - Might be an issue with first revision EC2s, Update: Problem solved on mice with a serial number ending on 2000 and higher.
- Sensor has a little prediction
The Zowie EC2 features a nice ergonomic design, however, the finish is not on par with that of similarly priced mice. At a retail price of € 59.99 you would expect the mouse to be seriously well built, but the EC2 has a few severe build related issues with the most serious one being the inferior scroll wheel.
The sensor performs quite well and the 1000 Hz USB polling rate trick is really neat. The fact that the mouse is completely driver less is a real turn on for any avid gamer. That combined with good ergonomics means that the mouse is ideally suited for those looking for a mouse with aesthetics like an IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0, but need a higher resolution sensor, that is less sensitive to the surface quality.
The Zowie mouse has a lot of potential, but with both the scroll wheel problems and slightly flimsy shell quality it is not able to rival the other high end mice. If it had been priced more aggressively like say € 40 this mouse would be a good alternative to the Razer Abyssus but at the high price of € 59.99 it is simply not a viable alternative.
The Zowie EC2 shows a lot of promise but ultimately fails to deliver. If all the issues we have pointed out were fixed this would surely be one of the best mice on the market today.