Sidewinder used to be Microsoft's brand for joysticks, back in the days when joysticks weren't limited to purely flight sim enthusiasts. Now the name is back, this time applied to Microsoft's flagship gaming mouse.
Looking like it escaped from Batman: The Animated Series, the Sidewinder certainly defies all expectations as far as mouse design is concerned. A red glow lights it from the back, a semi-gloss black finish in the middle and moulded rubber on the side to help maintain grip. Despite this, it looks and feels cheaply made.
A weight cartridge system can be ejected from the right hand side, which allows up to three cartridges to be installed -- unfortunately this limits the adjustments, with three 10g and one 5g weight cartridges being included.
The silver thumb buttons on the left side are, for the first time, actually usable. It's dead easy to know which you are hitting at any time, and both are within reach of the average thumb -- after years of missing the jackpot, mouse designers have finally stumbled on a working solution.
The whole mouse gives the feeling of being overly long and wide though -- even this reviewer's large meat hooks felt like they were being stretched too far, even with the additional rest area for the pinky finger. The scroll wheel is nothing special, with slightly larger detents than usual. This is fine in game, but can be a right pain for application and browser use. One problem is that only the centre of the scroll wheel has grip, the outer sides are silky smooth -- causing our finger to slip off more than once during frantic gaming action.