We knew Microsoft wouldn’t forget about us gamers. Yesterday, they debuted a new mouse-tracking technology in the Explorer mouse, which is targeted toward “productivity” users. We were a little skeptical of Bluetrack’s application for gaming, since the Explorer only has a 1000Dpi sensor. Well, Microsoft has assuaged all fears with the announcement of the Sidewinder X8, a BlueTrack mouse which has a sweet 4000 dpi sensor. This high-end gaming mouse is a step up from the original Sidewinder (which will remain in production), and retains features we like from the series: a Dpi adjustor (250 to 4000 dpi) with LCD indicator, vertical thumb buttons, and customizable weights (features which were omitted from the lower-end X5 model). We got some hands-on time with the X8, and was able to put it side-by-side with its non-BlueTrack siblings.
The X8 is larger than the X5, and about the same size as the original Sidewinder (which was a pretty hefty mouse). As you can see from the photos, the thumb buttons have been improved so you can hit them by just rocking your thumb up and down, as opposed to moving the entire finger to hit the circular buttons in the old model. The pre-production model we saw didn't have the same awesome blue glow as the Explorer mouse, but it did radiate a little of both red and blue, which looked cool in a dark room. The X8 is also powered by a single rechargable AA battery (rated for 30 hours of use), which can be refueled with a detachable magnetic cord which adheres to the front of the mouse. When not in use, this cord recoils back into a handy storage wheel, which also conveniently holds the extra weight and mouse base pads (for different grips, in case you're actually playing on carpet or plywood).
Other details: It runs on the same 2.4GHz wireless tech as other Microsoft mice, has tilting scroll wheel (horray!), seven total programmable buttons, and a macro record button. Overall, the X8 is definitely looks to a technological, functional, and aesthetic improvement to the Sidewinder series. We can't wait to get a final model to test in-game.
The X8 is available for pre-order now for 99.95 and will ship in February 2009 (*sigh*).