In the moments before I sat down in the office to write this review, Wes and I wrestled with the web of cords that we hide behind the monitor. Given the opportunity, I think any user would jump on the chance to eliminate even one from that mess. Attractive of a thought as that is, wireless peripherals aren't always the friendliest, in cost or performance. We visited Gigabyte's Ghost engine last year with the M8000Xtreme, and today we sit down with the newest addition, one that is designed to cut down the clutter of cables.
Product Name: Gigabyte Aivia M8600
Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte
Review by: Adam
Pictures by: Wes
|Tracking system||Twin-eye Laser|
|Resolution||100 ~ 6500dpi ( Hardware: up to 5600dpi)|
|Maximum speed||150 inches/ second|
|Certificate||CE/ FCC/ BSMI/ NCC|
|Cable Length||1.8m nylon braided / Gold-plated USB connector to mini USB|
|Weight||148g with battery; 110g without battery|
|Accessory||Charging dock, Li-ion battery*2, USB to mini USB cable*2, Driver CD, Quick guide, Spare feet pad|
|Support OS||Windows 98/2000/ME/XP 32bit/Vista 32/ 64bit/ Win 7 32/ 64bits|
One of the major functions of packaging, aside from protecting the product, is marketing. While gaming mice in general have become an item known for flashy boxes, the Aivia's will stand out even in the crowded shelf space. Gigabyte has packaged the M8600 not in a box, but a tube.
This cylindrical home breaks into three parts, the Aivia resting at the top, the mini-CD installer in the bottom, and reference information to finish out the middle, along with a packet of replacement feet.
The Aivia is equipped with right- and left-click, a scroll wheel that features both a standard click as well as right- and left-click, two programmable buttons on both sides of the mouse, and DPI adjustment buttons on top. The M8600 is designed to be ambidextrous, a feature than can be switched between by using the included software.
Mentioned above, the Aivia is a cordless option mouse, achieved over a 2.4GHz wireless connection. A charge base is not an unusual accessory, but in addition to being able to mount the mouse via an induction charge on the base, there is also a slot in the back to insert the included spare battery.
The scroll wheel has a very defined switch, and is even uniquely designed to mimic that of a car tire. The Aivia has an LED glow similar to its M8000Xtreme brother, used both to indicate the current DPI preset and also which setting is currently selected. The profiles are color coded and can be customized in the software suite. There is no button dedicated to switching profile, however, and no action is available to assign to a key to do it on-the-fly. Therefore, the only way to switch between profiles is to do it within the software.
It didn't even occur to me that in order to make changes to the onboard 32kb that stores customization, the mouse would actually need to be plugged in. Therefore, when the Aivia is in wireless mode, no changes can be made, and the two side tabs which are usually trays of available actions are locked out. I tried re-installing, installing the non-flash version, installing the flash version, and ultimately the Konami code before common sense kicked in.
The software is laid out very similarly to that of the M8000Xtreme. Basic functions for each key are available to the left, and can simply be dragged and dropped onto the button you want that action assigned to. The left-click button can be re-assigned, but only if you have assigned the left-click action to another key.
Macros work very much the same way, but are housed in the tray to the right, and need to be created via the Macro Editing tab, which launches a separate window to operate in. Also available are tabs to alter the sensitivity, scrolling, and even a button to launch the Windows-based customization, for things such as double-click speed.
I did find a few issues with the software during use. The first is that the program often times becomes unresponsive, for some reason especially so when you start altering the action assigned to the left-click button. In one case, when trying to switch profiles mid-game (again, since there is no on-the-fly option) an error message popped up and flooded the screen, ultimately resulting in me ending the process to get it to go away.
My last grief with the Ghost engine on the Aivia is that though the software automatically applies any changes (which I suspect may be part of the reason the program becomes unresponsive so often), the entire program lags while an animation plays in the center graphic, which is equivalent to the computer freezing for about four or five seconds. Keep in mind however that the software can always be updated in the future to fix these problems.
The Aivia is an attractive design, and includes several intuitive features, such as the inclusion of a second battery pack, and the ability to plug it into the charge base. However, the charge base is not large enough to fit both the mouse and the extra battery pack at the same time, due to the V-shaped design of the pack. I'm no engineer, but it seems as though this could have been easily avoided if the battery pack was simply flipped 180 degrees.
The generosity of the package shouldn't be overlooked though. Not only does Gigabyte include that extra battery, but they also included an extra braided USB cable so you don't have to switch out between the base and the mouse if you want to go corded. The two methods actually act as two devices as well; instead of just charging the mouse through the USB and still being wireless, the M8600 becomes an actual corded mouse.
One of my main complaints with the Aivia is the physical design of the mouse. While it does have that enthusiast look, the aforementioned V-shape ultimately converges into a spine that runs along the back of the mouse. I tried to use every grip style I could imagine and was unable to find one that didn't eventually become uncomfortable. The spine runs directly in the middle of the mouse, which translates into a protrusion directly into the middle of palm. The design is so close to being a great fit for those fingers to the right of the index, but because of the ambidextrous need to not favor one side or the other, it cuts uncomfortably between the index and middle knuckles.
Perhaps the most frustrating, however, is the surface material used, especially in the area that the thumb and pinky rest. Instead of using any kind of anti-slip material, Gigabyte has a hard plastic with rivets that does nothing to increase traction once sweat starts to accumulate. Since the thumb and pinky are largely what keeps a hold of the mouse, this hinders in-game performance quite a bit. In just a short session used to test out the DPI in Modern Warfare 2, I found those two fingers sliding while trying to move the mouse.
The sensor used is the twin-eye laser that we've seen with issues before, and the Aivia suffers from the same Z-tracking problem of other similar. Lifting the mouse slightly off the surface and replacing it causes the cursor to jump diagonally towards the bottom-right hand corner.
Despite not including an action for profile swapping, Gigabyte did include some really cool basic functions to program to keys. Things such as double-click, close program, and 8x speed are interesting ways to customize the mouse. That last option is especially fun, for instance, if you assign that action to the right-click, and set DPI to the max, it multiplies that DPI speed rediculously in-game.
Gigabyte has designed the Aivia with a lot of great ideas, but in execution they seem to lack a bit of the polish you'd expect to see from a package that MSRP's over the $100 mark. There are several hot fixes that can be applied to the software, but there are a few issues, such as the spine and the lack of anti-slip grips that are still going to hold the M6800 back.