Leadr of the pack
While the lapboard itself isn't wireless and doesn't include a mouse, Roccat was kind enough to send its wireless Leadr mouse to be used with the Sova. The Leadr, like the Sova, is made of durable black plastic. The mouse feels as solid as a brick. There is a slight rattle if you pick the mouse up and give it a good shake, but it isn't noticeable during use. I think Roccat really nailed the Leadr's shape. It feels similar to the old Logitech MX510 in the hand. While it is quite heavy at 134 g, the weight is well-balanced and feels like a perfect 50/50 distribution. The Leadr is five grams heavier than the squat SteelSeries Rival 500, but it feels lighter during use thanks to the excellent weight distribution.
Nine wonderfully clicky buttons sit on the top of the mouse. Even the scroll wheel clicks pleasantly when pressed down, rather than dully bottoming out. The scroll wheel has a fairly pronounced scrolling action, as well. I could go for slightly more resistant detents, but at least each step is distinct from the next on this mouse.
Gaming mice often have a single button positioned behind the scroll wheel to act as a CPI or mode switcher, but that isn't the case with the Leadr. The protrusion behind the scroll wheel is actually used to actuate two different buttons by tilting it left and right. The two buttons are used for side-scrolling by default, which seems like a strange design decision since that feature could simply be built into the scroll wheel. Regardless, the two buttons themselves are well-placed. Tilt-left, in particular, is super easy to tap with the side of my middle finger from its position on the right mouse button.
The four outer buttons on the top of the mouse are also quite well-placed. They're raised and sloped out of the way to prevent accidental clicks, yet they're still easily accessible. The two buttons on the left feel completely natural to use, but the two on the right took a bit of getting used to.
Fortunately, if you'd prefer not to set up your custom button functions on the top of the mouse, the side of the Leadr is tricked out with its own collection of clicky buttons. Thankfully, Roccat has been careful to ensure that there is enough space on the side of the mouse for you to comfortably rest your thumb without activating any of the buttons. The buttons themselves are positioned well to accommodate different grip styles and hand sizes, though if you have large mitts and grasp the mouse far forward with claw grip, you may have to stretch a bit to reach the two buttons farthest back from the front.
An analog thumb-paddle, a mechanism I've never seen on a mouse, juts out the side of the mouse right above two of the buttons. The default function of the paddle is vertical scrolling, which is a bit redundant considering the scroll wheel, but holding down the paddle rather than actively scrolling a wheel is nice when navigating lengthy webpages. The analog nature of the paddle also means you can modulate how fast you scroll.
Roccat's Swarm software can be used to configure the thumb-paddle to act as various analog controller inputs. When the paddle is set to act in such a manner, Windows recognizes it as an Xbox controller. Windows seems to be able to handle analog input from the thumb-paddle alongside standard keyboard and mouse inputs without conflict. I was able to use the thumb-paddle set as an analog input in Warframe and Rocket League in conjunction with keyboard and mouse controls. The paddle can be activated with a quick flick of the thumb, but it has enough resistance to perform as a decent analog controller. However, I don't think the throw is long enough for use as a dedicated analog controller for gaming, outside of some very specific and creative applications. I've primarily used the paddle in-game to activate abilities and switch weapons.
The bottom of the Leadr is outfitted with a few things that you probably won't find on a wired mouse. An on-off switch is accompanied by a pairing button, though I have never once had to use it. I have used the on-off switch, though. The mouse automatically powers down after sitting unused for extended periods and can be woken up by pressing a button. However, the mouse does not shut itself off when you turn your computer off, so I manually switch it off before I get in bed. Otherwise, the LEDs will dimly light the room until the mouse decides to power down.
There are two ways to charge the Leadr. The first involves two metal prongs on the bottom of the mouse, but we'll get into that shortly. The second is to just plug the mouse right into your computer with the provided cable. A locking mechanism holds the cable in place, so you could use the Leadr as a wired mouse if you really wanted. If you don't intend to use the Leadr's wireless magic, though, I suggest you look at the Roccat Tyon, which is simply a cheaper, wired version of the Leadr.
The last component on the bottom of the mouse we should talk about is the sensor. The Leadr comes equipped with Roccat's Owl-Eye sensor. You may be wary of that name at first, but if you scroll down on the Owl-Eye webpage, you'll find the sensor listed as a PixArt PMW3361. Presumably, this sensor is a version of Pixart's tried-and-true PMW3360. Given the PMW3360's glowing reputation and my past experience with it, I was primarily concerned with the Leadr's wireless performance, rather than that of the sensor itself. Thus, I ran all my tests with the mouse in wired and wireless mode.
The Owl-Eye consistently produces smooth curves in MouseTester when plotting xCounts over time. Mouse sensors aren't perfect, but the occasional hiccups occur at the millisecond level. They aren't noticeable during use and shouldn't affect in-game performance. The Owl-Eye passes my one-to-one tracking test, which involves moving the mouse horizontally between two books. If the mouse pointer returns to the same spot every time it is pressed up against a book, the mouse tracks one-to-one. You want precise, one-to-one tracking that smoothly follows your mouse movements, so you can build muscle memory.
I've also used the Leadr extensively for gaming, work, and browsing the web, and I haven't had any problems with it. I honestly wasn't sure whether a wireless mouse could provide the consistent, smooth experience of a wired mouse, but the Leadr has convinced me that it can. It has performed just like a wired mouse throughout all my testing and use. However, if you acquire a Leadr of your own, make sure you update its firmware, or the sensor will occasionally spin out and lose tracking. Thanks to Rocket Jump Ninja for the tip.
Roccat advertises the Leadr's max polling rate as 1000 Hz, which the simple graph above confirms. The sensor updates about once every millisecond.
This drawing doesn't look pretty, but it confirms that the Leadr has no built-in angle snapping, which is good news, especially for gamers. Angle-snapping can seriously mess up your aim.
The mouse itself is accompanied by a stand that functions as both a charging station and wireless receiver. The Leadr can be docked on the stand for charging or showing off by hooking the two metal prongs on the bottom of the mouse into two corresponding slots in the small shelf protruding from the stand. Four LED lights on the bottom left of the stand indicate the mouse's battery level. Roccat claims the battery will last for 20 hours, which seems to line up with my experience. I used the mouse with the LEDs on for three days on a single charge, and the battery died partway through the third day. Thankfully, the stand makes it easy to keep the Leadr juiced up if you dock it before leaving your desk.
The mouse and stand share a single micro-USB to USB cable. If you want to plug the Leadr directly to your PC, you'll have to unplug the cable from the stand. The cable is nicely braided. It is flexible, but will stay in whatever shape you bend it.
Here's a table of the Leadr's key specifications for easy reference:
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||5.0" x 3.1" x 1.8"
(126 x 80 x 45 mm)
|Weight||4.7 oz (134g)|
|Max CPI||12000 CPI|
|Sensor type||Optical (Roccat Owl-Eye/)|
|Battery||1000 mAh (rated for 20 hours)|
|Wireless Connection||2.4 GHz|
|Max polling rate||1000 Hz|
|DPI switching levels||5|
|Cable length||5.8' (1.8 m)|