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December 21, 2013

Gamdias Apollo Extension Optical Gaming Mouse


It's been quite some time Gamdias popped up in the PC gaming industry. Heavilly themed around the Greek gods mythologies, the team managed to bring a unique line of products that is appealing, not only in name but design as well.


Thanks to Gamdias Malaysia, we have the Apollo Optical Extension for a session of unboxing & review. As the name implies, the Apollo features an optical sensor. Now Apollo is the god of music, poetry, plague, oracles, sun, medicine, light and knowledge. Quite a shoe to fill if you ask me, and being priced at RM169 (SRP), lets see if Gamdias manage to fill all the criterias of the Greek gods.

Specs

Here is the specs of the Apollo straight from Gamdias official website.
Weight SystemN/A
Cable Length2M
Keys5 Keys
Resolutionup to 3200 DPI
Polling Rate125 / 250 / 500 /1000 Hz
Onboard Memory64K
Dimension(LxWxH)118.6 x 69.8 x 40.3 mm(w/ back shell)
Tracking MethodAdvanced Gaming Optical Sensor
Switch Lifecycle10 Million
Graphical UIYes (GAMDIAS HERA)

Unboxing

The front of the overall white box featured the Apollo separated from the shell extension. Some highlights of the Apollo's features is found right below the Apollo name but at the same time not being excessive. The box is covered all over in the Gamdias triangular logo and in it's translucent etched form gives the packaging a nice premium feel to the packaging.


Behind, the design follows through the white overall and you'd find more highlights of the features available to the Apollo. In the multi-lingual description, Gamdias claimed that the Apollo will be suitable to be palmed, clawed and finger-tip gripped with the help of the removable extension shell. This I gotta see as in my experience, palm grip mice tend to be much larger than the Apollo in general.


And then there is the classic Front flap that opens up to reveal more features to read and a stylised-windowed panel to have a peek at the product. All is not lost though, thanks to this section, you'll see that Gamdias has a special feature called the Olympics where you could participate in a series of challenges to earn points that may translate to prizes, already it games without having to buy a game! This added value to any of their range should the feature is available to all their devices.


Taking everything out of the box, you'll get the Apollo mouse, the extension shell, an instruction manual and a set of stickers. 


Without the extension shell, the Apollo's shape is rather peculiar but it doesn't seem to affect the construction as it feels solid. The top is rubber coated while the sides is matte plastic which is fingerprint proof giving it a kinda premium feel overall. No issues with the grip though, being such a small mouse it's fairly light as well.


The back of the Apollo is curved inwards with the side buttons located further towards the back which kinda forces you to grip it in a certain way to use them. Bear in mind that this is an ambidextrous mouse so you have two of these buttons at the same place on either side. You'll also find the Gamdias logo at the back which supposedly glows when plugged in.


I like the minimalistic design at the front which has the Apollo emblem on the left clicker. The scroll wheel have a textured rubber coating as well as being tactile when scrolled which gives it a good feedback.


Attaching the extension shell to the back of the Apollo is just a matter of aligning the clips to the designated slots at both sides of the Apollo and it simply clicks on securely.



I'd say the extension shell makes the Apollo looks more "normal" now. However it only adds to the length, not so much on the height of the Apollo which made no difference to me as my palm doesn't really touch the shell extension, probably someone with a smaller hand will feel more "at home" with the Apollo.


Glad to see a differently shaped USB plug, I don't know how many Gaming mouse have those normal looking USB plugs that made it hard to differentiate your peripherals apart. Especially useful when you are packing after a session of gaming in the local cybercafe. Did I mention that it's gold plated as well?


The bottom part of the Apollo lies the optical sensor surrounded by two pieces of Polytetrafluoroethylene feet and the product sticker.


In the side by side comparison with the SteelSeries Ikari, the Apollo is somewhat the same length albeit being much slimmer.


It is also not that tall of a mouse being almost level in height with the SteelSeries Ikari.

Driver Software

Users are to download the software from the official Gamdias website as it doesn't come in the traditional disc inside the package. The name Hera for the driver software seems fitting as you are talking about the Goddes of marriage, woman and birth; a motherly figure that takes care of the inner workings in all Gamdias peripherals.


Greeting you is the key assignment screen in which I am also glad to say that every one of the 5 buttons can be programmed to do tasks other than the default settings, which includes the usual stuff like media controls and profile switching to the unusual triple left click and precision aim.

Having different profiles, I was ecstatic to see that Gamdias implemented "Profile Match", which launches the selected profile whenever it detects the assigned software being launched. This saves you the hassle to go into the driver software to switch profiles every time you want to play games. Gamdias is also generous enough to provide a "Profile Hotkey" at the bottom just in case you wish to switch the profiles with a keyboard short cut. It's not without it's hiccups though, the profile doesn't revert back to default settings after the assigned software was terminated and you could only assign a single key as a Profile Hotkey.


The Macro Management, tab may be a bit daunting to new users with it's myriads of options, buttons and controls but once you get your grips on it, it is fairly easy to manage and create a macro to do that combo in a single click. One could also record mouse movements but I'm not too sure if that's useful for most people. And finally with the 64K onboard memory, the Apollo will remember all the assigned keys even if plugged into a different PC; Just keep in mind to set it to the correct profile before that or have one of the macro-able buttons set as a profile switcher.


Mouse Control Tab allows users to set speeds of the cursor, vertical scroll and double click. DPI level adjustments are a God-sent (Apollo = God, get it?) as one could adjust precisely each of the 5 available settings to your liking (between 200 to 3200 DPI) simply by dragging the golden bar while having the setting selected, would've been even better if you could have the option of switching off some of the selections but I guess I'm asking too much. Polling rate adjustments is also found on the same screen.


Glad to see that we could select the colour of the LED in Mouse Luminance, even the option for brightness levels and pulse-mode is present. Do note that only the LED on the scroll wheel is affected, the Gamdias logo will remain golden.


Assign sound & timer may be a bit strange to be present in a mouse but Hera (the driver software, not the God) is an all-in-one driver software for all Gamdias peripherals so this may be more relevant for their keyboard. Basically it allows one to assign a key or a button to play a recorded sound in-game or use the timer option.


You could even edit a sound file right on Hera, well recording it anyway.


Timer setting is yet another weird option to have. One could set the type of timer to go off once a button is pressed; on second thought, this would be a great application to have when your'e killing time while waiting for dinner to be cooked in the oven.


Muscle Memory displays the stats in real time of all the actions performed with the selected peripheral (in this case, the Apollo). Note that the keys will be represented in different colours according to the number of actions performed with it. Interesting feature but I'll let you decide if it's helpful or not.


Strangely, the olympics tab is greyed out so I can't access the challenges that Gamdias laid out for their devices, probably because that this is a sample unit. The final tab at the bottom is the update/support tab, nicely implemented with the options to update the firmware of the device and the Hera driver software. Product support and Product Forum is also accessible here should you run into any hiccups.

Usage and Testing 

Of course using the Apollo in everyday tasks doesn't do much justice as it is meant for gaming, but nevertheless, glad to report that it works well, buttons are responsive with a good tactile feel but like I said earlier, it's a small mouse.

Firing up TorchlightII, Battlefield 3 and later on Hawken, the Apollo is rather impressive to say the least. Tracking is accurate, the pointer doesn't drift coupled with responsive buttons makes it very easy to get headshots in Battlefield 3 and manoeuvring the mech in Hawken seemed a bit faster, probably due to the Apollo's small size. No issues in lift distances, which is good considering that you are not able to customise that anyway. In TorchlightII.... well lets just say that the mobs doesn't stand a chance.

Conclusion 

Despite all it's goodness, I sometimes have to switch back to my Ikari Optical as I get tired easily having to claw or fingertip the Apollo. Also I would love to see a dedicated button for the DPI selection, this would add to the value and some would think twice assigning one of the limited buttons on the Apollo for that function alone.

I was also disappointed with the Profile Match, as it doesn't switch back to the initial profile after the application is terminated. And it would help if the Profile Hotkey option could accept a key combination (e.g Shift+F1) so that users could still keep using their keyboards without launching the profiles accidentally. Honestly though, it's nothing an update couldn't fix.

Pros
  • Innovative extension design
  • Fully macro-able buttons
  • Customisable DPI level selection
  • Good driver software

Cons
  • A little too small 
  • No dedicated DPI button
  • Profile doesn't automatically switch back automatically

The Gamdias Apollo Optical Extension gaming mouse deserves the Tech Critter Silver Award and the Recommended Award.



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