I’d been interested in the Ballista MK-1 since CCL first got it in stock a few months ago, but it wasn’t until I was able to get my hands on it at a demonstration last month that it really got my attention and I thought a more thorough test was in order.
The Ballista is the second mouse by the Shogun Bros., a fairly small company based in Hong Kong. Their previous mouse, the Chameleon was… interesting, but was not particularly well received. The Ballista drops the gimmickry of the Chameleon however and is intended to be one thing only, a gaming mouse.
So, I’ve temporarily retired my trusty many year old Logitech MX 5000 mouse and spent a week with the Ballista instead for every task, work and play. How does it fare?
The Ballista MK-1 has an adjustable DPI ranging from 200 to 8200, with 9 usable buttons and a scroll wheel. It also has several configuration and mode buttons, allowing for the on the fly changing of settings, and five different independently configurable modes.
Plastic / Rubber / ‘Military Grip Surface’
Pro Gaming Grade HD Laser Sensor and Image Processor
The Ballista comes packaged in a sturdy windowed box. Released as part of Shogun Bros. ‘Commander Series’ (and is being joined by the Cross Blade mechanical keyboard) the packaging features a fair bit of military styling, with the army stencil font used for a most of the text as well as a sniper scope effect around the window.
Front and Back
The window of the box is open, allowing you to get an idea of the feel of the mouse, however isn’t open at the bottom so you can’t hold it properly which is kind of a shame as you have no way to get hands on one before deciding to buy.
The rear of the packaging shows multiple pictures of the mouse and a basic description of its features, but does not contain any in depth specifications, and the sides are all plain apart from logos. The serial number label on the bottom indicates that the mouse is in the Knight Black colour, with a deep red and military olive drab coloured version being pictured on the website so hopefully these are variants that are due to follow in future as currently it is only available in black.
Side and Manual
Also included is a slim manual with a glossy cover which is fairly well presented. A quick skim of it however made it apparent that it could have done with a little more care in localisation as the English used is a little sloppy in places but never so much that you can’t tell what is meant.
So, the mouse itself. The Ballista is not a small mouse, so would definitely not be a good fit for those who prefer the compact or travel sized mouse. Due to the button layout it is a right hand only mouse that is designed to be held in a palm grip.
The physical buttons on the mouse are all vacuum metallised, and these to me seem like a couple of years down the line they could become visibly worn so I do wonder if a solid plastic may have been a better bet, especially considering the specifically hard wearing design of the rest of the mouse.
The main surface of the mouse is rubberised, giving a slightly softer feel to the mouse than one made of just plastic. The left side thumb rest has a thicker rubber coating, while the right hand side uses a ‘military grip surface’, presumably similar to the material on the grip of a gun, and has ridges for both your little and ring fingers to rest on.
The military styling from the packaging continues on the surface of the mouse itself, with the military stencil font again in play noting some of the key features in a similar style to the warning labels found on weapons and equipment.
In addition to the standard left and right mouse buttons, the scroll wheel has a click function as well as left and right scrolling by tilting it side to side. The back and forward thumb buttons are both quite long and slim, and give a reassuring click when pressed. The gaming keys on the right of the mouse (labelled alpha and beta) are in line with the top of the mouse and can easily be pressed by your middle or ring finger.
There are three buttons on the mouse that do not have a Windows function and are for settings only. Firstly, the largest of the buttons is the mode button, which is right next to the breathing mode LED. This switches between the five configurable modes the mouse has, which visually changes the LED as well as the scroll wheel light to indicate which mode the mouse is in. Mode one is coloured red, which is the default colour for the mouse and visually my favourite. The other modes are green, blue, pink and cyan but I found aside from the blue (as the DPI LED is already blue) added one colour too many to the lighting and made the mouse look a bit too busy.
Just above this is the configuration button. Holding this down for three seconds allows you to change the X and Y axis DPI independently using the scroll wheel. The current DPI is indicated on the top left of the mouse with a light indicator. Clicking the button switches the display between showing the individual X and Y DPI as well as the scroll acceleration.
Finally, at the bottom of the mouse below the thumb rest is the DPI switch. This moves up and down between DPI settings 1 – 4, the current setting being indicated by the number of blue bars lit at the other end of the thumb rest.
The underside has the serial number sticker and the Teflon mouse feet. There is no visible laser light.
The mouse cable is a braided cable, mostly black with red accents. Continuing the theme this is apparently a tough military fabric cable.
Included in the packaging is a little note acknowledging that it is not environmentally friendly to include driver discs and directing you to the Shogun Bros. website to download the driver. This is perfectly fine by me as I always prefer to get the most up to date driver anyway so most discs go completely unused. The installed software is very light, with the installed application clocking in at a little under 6 MB, so downloading this should cause no issues for anyone.
When you first open the software you’re presented with a screen that allows you to select the Button Function, Macro or DPI & Tool menus. I’m not quite sure why this was necessary instead of just opening on the Button Function screen, as all three have selection buttons for each other down the left hand side, so this seems like an extra step that isn’t needed but it’s only one extra click so is hardly a big deal.
Firstly, the Button Function screen allows you to change the button layouts for the eight mappable buttons as well as the scroll wheel. The only buttons that cannot be mapped are the left mouse button and the various mode and config buttons. The five modes allow for five completely different button layouts, and these can be set to various Windows commands, keyboard buttons or even macros.
The Macro screen allows you to create multiple macros, from anything as simple as CTRL C up to complex commands. These are stored on the internal mouse memory, so would travel between machines with the mouse if necessary.
Finally, the DPI & Tool menu allows you to completely customise the four DPI presets. By default these are 1600, 3200, 5600 and 8200 DPI and are the same for the x and y axis. You can manually set these to anything you like however, as the axis sliders can be changed independently so you can tweak the sensitivity to be exactly what you would like, which Shogun Bros. call their ‘Precision Sniping System’
Oddly quite a few functions on the software require you to drag and drop the required key or macro and I kept trying to just click on them as that felt more natural but I soon got used to it.
The design of the software doesn’t match the design of the packaging however as I expected it to be black and red, but is in the black and orange colouring of the Shogun Bros. website, and has a honeycomb background.