The feature set of the Saitek Cyborg could be considered pretty much the saving grace of the entire device. Pretty much everything in and on the mouse can be tweaked, altered or manhandled to fit your needs.
Some of these tweaks are helpful and fairly innovative additions – like the scroll wheel for the mouse, which you can alter the resistance of via a threeway switch on the base of the device. Flicking the dial one way or the other makes spinning the wheel easier or harder, depending on your preferences.
Other features are disappointingly not as well thought-out though, and the sad fact is that the primary and defining feature of the Cyborg is actually quite laughable.
What we're talking about here is a motorised mechanism inside the mouse which you can use to either extend or shrink the main body of the mouse. It's a noisy process, but one we haven't seen before and which strikes us as being quite innovative.
Unfortunately, it's also a bit of a gimmick too. The thing about gaming mice is that they only come in two flavours and size doesn't really enter in the equation. Ergonomics is king, not length - and, just as my girlfriend always tells me, it's what you do with it that counts
Gaming mice should be judged on how well they fit a hand, not on how much they fill a hand and we've seen plenty of mini-gaming mice (like the OCZ Equaliser Mini) which can handle just as good as their big brothers purely because they were crafted so that they fit snugly into a palm.
The Saitek Cyborg doesn't fit comfortably and that means it doesn't matter how big or small it gets. In fact, the more you fiddle with the size then the more you'll probably end up hating the feel of it, because as you make the grip of the Cyborg larger you'll open up a large groove in the body. This will inevitably end up biting into your hand quite badly if, like us, you grip the mouse firmly when you start really getting into the game.
The ergonomics of the buttons aren't great either, but that's probably a side effect of Saitek trying to cluster all the buttons in the world
into one hand. There's the usual three mouse buttons up top, plus a D-pad on the thumb with an extra button function. There's a mode switch up above the D-pad too, plus a final thumb button on the plateau beneath the knuckle.
Not all of these are bad. The standard buttons are all fine and we especially like the fact that you can alter the resistance of the wheel. The mode changer too is out of the way so you aren't likely to hit it accidentally, which is another plus. Unfortunately though, the D-pad isn't all that easy to us and you can often end up flicking the wrong direction.
Where the Cyborg really falls down though is that these keys are all too many for too little a gain.
We took the Saitek Cyborg through a series of different gaming tests – using it in Team Fortress 2
, Call of Duty 4
and Age of Conan
among others. In all cases the mouse performed OK for the most part, but was let down by the general uncomfy-ness of the grip and the fact that the buttons outnumber the possible uses.
The Saitek Cyborg isn't a hugely bad mouse despite the issues we had with it and for the most part Saitek has put together a mouse that does the part, even if it doesn't look like it can. B-movie props aren't usually renowned for their usefulness in real life.
Looks aside though, there are two things which kill the Saitek Cyborg in our eyes. The first is the overcomplicated nature of the design. The way the buttons are positioned and the feature set in general are a lot more complex than they need to be and even the tweaks which are good are easily forgotten about after the initial “ain't it cool
” reaction has worn off.
The second problem with the Saitek Cyborg is the general ergonomic design of the body. The Cyborg just isn't comfortable to hold. If you lengthen the body of the mouse from it's fully collapsed form then you're just opening up a chasm to trap your hand-skin in. Meanwhile, your thumb is getting caught under the extended shell. That more than anything proves the downfall of the Cyborg.
What do these scores mean?