It’s kind of refreshing to be doing hardware reviews this year. Following my review of the HORI Joy-Con D-Pad for the Switch, I’m also getting the chance to talk about another product I saw at E3, French company Lexip’s PU94 Pro Gamer mouse. I was invited to check it out a couple of days before the show proper, and after an hour-long appointment, I was very impressed with what I saw. Their new mouse basically bunches up three different directional pointers into a single device, giving this electronic rodent the capability of controlling three axis.
My demo showed two practical uses for the PU94, starting with Elite: Dangerous, an online space game where you control a spaceship, normally needing a controller or a joystick, along with a keyboard in order to mind all of your vessel’s capabilities. Instead, we handled all of the movement with the mouse, which differently from most similar devices around, has the option to tilt back and forward along with the usual sliding. This means that the directional keys on the keyboard can be subbed for these subtle mouse movements, and it worked quite well during the demonstration.
There’s also an analog stick that’s placed on the left side of the PU94 that was programmed to control the ship’s speed, but it could also be used for any other function, depending on the user’s needs. Next, came a quicker demo of the scrolling and camera controls that could potentially be used on a slower paced game, such as a strategy title like Anno 1800. The spacial movement this time was instead used to scroll up and down the screen, which alongside a combination of button presses, would also move the camera. It felt admittedly weird to not combine the mouse movements with a directional key on a keyboard, but given time, I assumed, it would become second nature.
I was able to pick up a test unit to bring home and try out for myself, and since arriving back from Los Angeles, I’ve been using the PU94 daily as my main computer mouse. As a first-time adopter of a fancier kind of input device such as this — my previous mouse was a ridiculously budget model that cost me the equivalent of $3 — I was immediately impressed with how easy it was to get it going, even without installing any drivers. Feel-wise, the PU94 is pretty much in line with what I was used to holding while working on my computer, aside from the fact that it sits slightly higher than my usual mouse. It’s designed to slide well on top of a mousepad surface, thanks to the ceramic titles that are attached to the bottom of the device, which according to the Lexip reps, supposedly lasts for way longer.
The PU94 was put to use in a variety of applications. I use Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator on a nearly daily basis, so having precise pointer controls is crucial for my job, and in that regard this mouse did not disappoint. In its base form without the Lexip control panel installed — more on that later — the analog stick that sits on the left side of the top of the mouse functions the same way as the normal wheel scroll, but since it’s placed in a place I’m not used to functioning, I didn’t have much use for it while editing images. The same went for the spatial movements. But the overall feel of the mouse was good as I worked with it in the weeks following E3.
Lexip’s support page made it a little tough to find the control panel download for the PU94, but after patiently scrolling through, I got that going and installed it on my Windows 10 machine. The panel itself is pretty straightforward: it gives you the option to customize the button and analog functions of the mouse in order to emulate whatever input you need. You can also pick from a few different presets, and from what I tried testing out, even the spatial movements can come into play while just navigating around Windows. There are even some neat cosmetic options too, like tweaking the lights and what colors they can be while using the mouse. I ultimately stuck with keeping the PU94 relatively common in terms of controls, in order not to get in the way of the shortcuts I’ve grown to muscle-memorize over the years.
Game-wise, I was able to test Lexip’s mouse on a few different titles, with ranging degree of success. My favorite first-person shooter, Overwatch, was the first one I attempted to use the PU94 with, since I was looking forward to seeing how it would behave as a one-handed controller. It was a little mixed in that regard. While I was able to configure it in order to replace the directional keyboard controls, it felt weird to control both my aiming and movement on a single device, not because of what I’ve gotten used to using, but simply because of the ergonomics. Aiming while moving at the same time rarely felt natural to me, and even after repeated online matches, I was not able to do as well as I would have otherwise on a normal control scheme. Given that Overwatch is a pretty intense game, it’s tough to train my brain and hand not to feel like I was about to lift the mouse off of the surface it’s running on while simply trying to walk back or in circles in-game.
The same can’t be said for a slower game like Tropico 6, where I chose to make similar use of the PU94 as my demo givers did with Anno 1800 before E3. The more easy going pacing of that game allowed me to have a much better time using the PU94, and just like my time testing it in LA, I was able to eventually get pretty in tune with using it as a single input device. In fact, for less intensive games moving forward, I’ll probably try to use it as it’s designed instead of simply a mouse. As for stuff like shooters, I’m tending on sticking with more traditional setups, really.
I came out of the Lexip demo in LA excited by the prospective use of their PU94 mouse for movement-impaired players who might not be able to hold a controller or even use a keyboard and mouse at the same time. In that regard, I really believe that their mouse might be useful in order to allow for particular cases to be able to have more control over the games that they might be interested in playing.
Still, given the difficulty I faced keeping up with a more intense game like Overwatch, I’m not 100% sure the PU94 would suit every one of these cases, but it’s definitely a strong start for giving special needs users another option for gaming, and for that I’m positively looking forward to future developments by Lexip and other tech companies in this area. As it stands, the Lexip PU94 is a product that I would recommend trying out before buying, in order for you to have a feel as to whether or not it will suit your personal computer use. As a gaming device, it’s certainly useful and works as intended and advertised, but it’s up to whoever is planning on picking it up how it feels for them to play games with.
According to Lexip, their products, including the PU94 mouse, will be readily available in US retailers like Best Buy later this year, and they may also be found via their website.