We have to admit that the process of setting up Roccat's flagship wireless mouse, the Leadr, wasn't as effortless as we'd have liked. After a bit of faffing around, however, we were able to get the mouse linked to the verticle charging stand that came in the box, get Roccat's Swarm software installed on the old desktop, and we were up and running.
In terms of design, we were instantly reminded of the Kone, another line from the same manufacturer and one that we were impressed with back when we reviewed it for the GR print magazine. It's got the same fulsome body which made the Kone well-suited to a slightly larger paw, and we have to say that we found it very comfortable to use (it's great if you've got a palm grip, for example). There's a nice weight to it too, but then again we don't have a need for a particularly lightweight mouse, so that worked out fine for us.
The Leadr feels squarely aimed at the MMO crowd, largely thanks to its wealth of input options. The buttons feel great and they're positioned in some really innovative locations. There's one button underneath the curve of the thumb rest, and two more directly above. Above them is a paddle that performs like a mouse wheel in the sense that it lets you effortlessly scroll up and down. Either side of the left and right buttons there are two more buttons (the ones on the left let you tweak your DPI settings on the fly, the ones on the right let you switch between profiles), and there's another in the middle of the mouse behind the wheel (the wheel itself is fine, btw).
Cleverly, by pressing the button positioned under the thumb on the left side of the mouse, you can program all of the buttons to have a secondary feature using Roccat's Easy-Shift[+] mode. For those players looking to map lots of shortcuts to their mouse, they'll be well covered with the Leadr in this respect. Again, it'll speak to the MMO crowd who like to have a range of tactical options at their literal fingertips, although if you're after something more streamlined the wealth of inputs here might feel like overkill.
The Swarm software is reasonably intuitive once it's up and running, and you can tweak your preferences there, mapping buttons and tinkering with the DPI settings to give you the performance you require. You can store several profiles on the mouse's internal memory, and a number of recent games have preset options available. The wonderfully named Owl-Eye optical sensor seemed very responsive during testing and a high polling rate ensured fantastic reliability. In fact, considering the fact that this is a wireless mouse, we have zero complaints about performance and reliability. It has to be said, the latest generation of wireless devices are so close to their wired counterparts that there's very little to choose between them.
The high polling rate and RGB lighting mean that the battery life isn't extensive, and after a couple of days of extended use, you'll have to pop it on the charging stand for a few hours. One thing that left us confused about the Leadr is the fact that you can't seem to charge the thing when your computer is off, or even on standby, even if you've got the charging stand hooked up to a powered USB port. That means you'll have to either leave your rig running while you're not using it, or you'll have to unplug the fabric covered chord from the stand and plug it into your Leadr, which can be a bit of a fiddle. Given how good Roccat's mouse is in other areas, it's a slightly odd design choice.
It's not helped by the fact that the feedback with regards to battery life isn't the clearest, and while there is a four-light indicator on the charging stand, a way to precisely see the amount of time you've got left would have been helpful if only to save you from the inconvenience of having to unplug the wire from the stand and attach it to your mouse. That, however, is our only complaint of note, and everything else about the mouse comes down to personal preference and whether or not it's what you're looking for; despite the Leadr being an extremely competent mouse, there are a lot of things to take into account when deciding whether it's worth buying.
The size of the mouse is a good example of Roccat's purposeful design, as is the number of buttons and their placement. If you're after something with a more compact setup you may well be put off by all the bells and whistles, however. Of course, its wireless nature is going to divide opinion, but in our experience, the wireless connection is extremely responsive and reactive thanks to its 1000Hz polling rate and 2.4GHz data transmission. The charging stand is bulky and takes up a lot of desktop space, but it looks pretty cool and it's simple to use. It's not cheap, but it's certainly competitive when compared to similarly high-quality competitors.
When deciding on whether to invest in a mouse like this, it's all about weighing up the pros and cons. We really liked the Leadr, and the "cons" are more "caveats" in this case, because the overall design isn't dominated by negatives, but rather the mouse has been built with a specific type of end user experience in mind. The question isn't then whether the Leadr is a good mouse because it absolutely is - the question is whether the Leadr is the right mouse for you, and that's not a question we can answer.