E3 2017: Swiftpoint Z gaming mouse is the coolest, craziest mouse ever

The Swiftpoint Z gaming mouse is definitely a game changer in every sense of the phrase, and it is hands-down the coolest, most innovative, and craziest gaming mouse I’ve ever seen in nearly a decade of reviewing PC gaming mice and peripherals.

Don’t just take my word for it either. Earlier this year the SwiftPoint Z won the Best Computer Peripheral Innovation award at CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the largest consumer electronics show in the US.

spz_unbox_1

[Note that this is not a formal review—not yet. But I came away from E3 2017 so excited about this mouse that I wanted to offer a preview/sneak peak to those that may not have heard of it yet. ]

Read on for a brief overview of the features that set the Swiftpoint Z apart from other gaming mice. The Swiftpoint Z does so much more than just increase DPI or provide fancy lighting.

Swiftpoint Z feature overview

Before diving in to what makes the Swiftpoint Z so innovative, here’s a basic overview of all the Swiftpoint Z’s features and specifications.

Swiftpoint Z features and specifications

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Credit: Swiftpoint
  • Right-handed ergonomic
  • Sensor: 200 – 12,000 DPI, 5G Pixart PMW3360 adjustable in 100DPI increments
  • 1000hz polling
  • 1.8 meter braided USB cable
  • 16 total buttons with ‘deep click’ and tactile feedback
  • 12 buttons under finger tips with two thumb
  • Pivot and Tilt sensor to provide 6 Axis In-Air Control of Pitch / Yaw / Roll
  • 4 analog force / ‘deep click’ buttons (left and right click, and the left and right fingertip buttons) for speed / throttle / power:  (Left/right click, & left/right fingertip)
  • OLED screen for adjusting settings on-the-fly
  • Replaceable Hand Grips
  • Dimensions: 5.12″ x 3.54” x 1.57” (13 x 9 x 4 cm (L x W x H))
  • Weight: 4 ⅛ ounces (117 grams) – without cable
  • Supported OS: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.x or later ← take note Apple Mac fans!)
  • 3 year limited hardware warranty

The Swiftpoint Z rocks and rolls

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E3 2017: The Swifpoint Z and it’s ‘rock-n-roll’ cradle. The cradle securely snaps onto the underside of the Z via magnets to enhance the Z’s range of motion for tilting. (Credit: Bryan Edge-Salois)

One of the key features setting the Z mouse apart from the competition is its gyroscopic motion sensor, which gives the Z mouse basically the same ‘orientation awareness’ that a smartphone has. More importantly, the Z’s motion sensors enable it to be customized for gaming-specific functions.

As a basic example, because the Z knows when it’s picked up and tilted it immediately activates the OLED display on the side of the mouse, which you can use to quickly change DPI and other settings using the Z’s auxiliary buttons.

Changing settings on the mouse through an LCD screen isn’t new. Some SteelSeries mice have had this basic capability. More interesting is how you can assign specific game functions through the Z mouse software to its motion awareness. For example, in an FPS that uses Q and E to lean left and right, you can easily assign that functionality to the tilt-left and tilt-right movement of the Swifpoint Z.

Perhaps most importantly, the Z mouse’s added motion sensors enable a more intuitive level of control for certain game functions with minimal re-training of your gaming habits.

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Swiftpoint Z drivers provide an extensive array of options for customizing virtually every aspect of the mouse, including its buttons, tilt behavior, pressure sensitivity, and more. (Oh, and you can change the LED color for the logo too…)

This is also very useful for vehicular controls in games, where the Z’s tilting can be used to help steer cars or fly aircraft more intuitively and precisely than standard keyboard+mouse controls allow for.

The Z includes magnetically attached accessories to enable 3 levels of tilt, which are basically no tilt, slight tilt, or full tilt, the latter of which covers the mouse sensor and basically converts the Z mouse into an analog ‘palm joystick’ of sorts.

At E3 2017, Swiftpoint’s founder and CEO Grant Odgers demonstrated the use of the ‘full tilt’ cradle to use the Z mouse to gracefully and fluidly fly a jet in one of the Battlefield games. After landing the jet, he simply detached the cradle to return the Z to standard operating mode. I took the jet for a spin as well and found it to be smooth and relatively easy—especially compared to the first time I tried to helicopter some troops to the frontline in wholly other game, which ended in tragic, fiery doom.

Installing or removing the ‘full tilt’ cradle is quick and painless.

Perhaps most importantly, the Z mouse’s added motion sensors enable a more intuitive level of control for certain games and game functions with minimal re-training of your gaming habits.

Often, re-purposing buttons with macros or new functionality to improve your performance requires a lot of practice to retrain yourself, and your game skill takes a step backwards in the meantime while you retrain your habits. The Z’s motion awareness capabilities seem to alleviate a lot of the pains of retraining.

The Swiftpoint Z is pressure sensitive

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Credit: Swiftpoint

Another interesting feature of the Swiftpoint Z is that the main mouse buttons and the 4 auxiliary fingertip buttons (located on the primary mouse buttons but closer to the middle of the mouse) are pressure sensitive, meaning they can tell how hard they are pressed. In addition, you can assign different functions to the button based upon customizable pressure thresholds, i.e. function A happens on the initial press, and function B happens when the button is pressed (or held down) harder.

This was demonstrated using the Zoom on a sniper rifle: Right-clicking (and holding) activated the first level of zoom, and pressing (and holding) slightly harder activated the next level of zoom–effectively 2 mouse button functions wrapped into 1 button.

This can also be customized to your own usage characteristics, i.e. how hard you like to click. At its most basic level it allows the button to pull double-duty, without having to press a SHIFT button or assign another button. It could potentially be configured to do things such as initiate a light attack with a standard click or a harder attack for a harder click if you were so inclined.

Feel the Force

The Z is also equipped with force feedback to provide tactile feedback in conjunction with the pressure sensitivity. This eliminates guesswork so you know for certain whether you’ve activated the primary function (in which case there’s no vibration) or the secondary function (which provides modest force feedback) for a pressure-based action.

In the sniper zoom example described above, pressing harder on the right mouse button to activate the next level of zoom also generated a slight vibration in the mouse to let me know it was activated.

Customizable buttons

Similar to some highly and physically customizable mice like the Mad Catz (R.I.P.) R.A.T. 9, the Swiftpoint Z includes 4 sets of buttons to customize the shape of the fingertip buttons (i.e. the 4 pressure sensitive buttons located near the top-middle part of the mouse).

Take it all with you

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While perhaps not a groundbreaking feature, the Swiftpoint Z includes a nice travel case for the Z and all its peripherals.

If all these crazy features aren’t enough for you, Swiftpoint Z includes a very nice travel case to carry it all in. Take it to a LAN party or competition and blow them away. At the very least, you’re almost guaranteed to have the coolest mouse at the party.

Obviously, with so many new and innovative features, the Swiftpoint Z doesn’t come cheaply. You can currently pick one up off of Swiftpoint’s Web Site for a cool $229.

I’m working up a full review of the Swiftpoint Z for the coming weeks, but even after just a few days with the Swiftpoint Z I can say the following:

  • I am digging the Swiftpoint Z. It’s comfortable and the clicking action is excellent, i.e. the mechanical switches are excellent.
  • It probably does more than I could ever ask of it.
  • The driver software is good but could use a little UI/UX improvement.
  • I can’t wait to see what Swiftpoint does next.
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