SteelSeries Kana ReviewManufacturer: SteelSeries
UK price (as reviewed): £35.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $49.99 (ex tax)
If there is any area that best illustrates the development of the PC gaming industry over the last decade or so, it’s peripherals. Seriously, it’s not that long ago that most people playing PC games were doing so on the bog standard beige gear that came bundled with their PC.
Nowadays however, companies have cottoned on to the fact that people will part with a whole stack of cash for peripherals that purport to give them an advantage on the virtual playing field. Whether it’s macro key laden keyboards for MMOs, or surround sound headphones optimized for footsteps, everything always seems to be getting bigger and more feature rich.
It’s a brave company, then, that flies in the face of this ever developing arms race by going back to basics, but that’s exactly what SteelSeries have done with its Kana mouse. Designed to occupy the goldilocks zone between the excessively basic Kinzu V2
and the programmable-tastic Sensei
, the Kana is a slim and unassuming mouse when you first get to grips with it.
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The low profile, ambidextrous design is classic SteelSeries, and while it may not suit if you’ve got particularly big hands, we found it immediately comfortable and familiar. Less classic however are the deep scores that run down each side of the Kana underneath each of the side buttons. These feel a little strange at first, as the edges of them are quite severe, but after an hour or so we found them acting as a useful marker for the location of the side buttons they undercut, meaning we were never fumbling for them in the heat of battle.
The side gouges also add to the overall aesthetic of the mouse, which is very distinctive thanks to its black and orange colour scheme. This is further enhanced by the fact that the orange base of the mouse emits a subtle glow that creeps out around the mouse, giving it a stylish orange halo when in use.
The body of the mouse is made from a tough, subtly grained matt plastic, which does a good job of allowing air circulation and stopping things get too sweaty. This isn’t something we can say for the white version of the Kana that is also available however, as that comes with a shiny, non grainy upper, which we imagine leads to a few more sweaty palms (though, in fairness, we’re not testing that model here).
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The four buttons located around the body of the Kana all feel suitably crunchy when pressed, giving a nice burst of tactile feedback to let you know they’ve registered your click. This is a good thing, but unfortunately throws the slightly anonymous nature of the mouse wheel into focus - we’d appreciate a little more clunk from the wheel so we can tell exactly how many weapons we’ve scrolled past if you please SteelSeries.
The traditional on the fly sensitivity is present of course, with two settings available. The precise dpi of these settings can be set via the simple downloadable software suite, as can the function of each of the buttons and the intensity of the onboard light show.
As you can probably tell, we’re fans of the Kana. It’s well priced and its lack of frivolous features makes it feel grown up and serious. It also looks great, tracks accurately, and is comfortable to use, just as long as you’re not got some kind of saucepan sized Hodor hands. The fact that it’s ambidextrous is also a bonus.
It’s not a tough decision to give the Kana an award then, with only its slightly weak mouse wheel a mark against it. If you’re in the market for a new mouse, the Kana should definitely be on your shortlist.