The first thing that jumps out about the Sensei's aesthetics is the shiny metallic finish that covers the upper surface. It's one of those items that must be seen to appreciate, as it's difficult to photograph how it looks in person (we tried to show different lighting to give a more realistic feel for its appearance). The mouse has a rather generic form-factor in that it's ambidextrous, is medium-sized in both length and and height, and accommodates both a claw-grip and a full-palm grip. I have larger hands, and tend to hold it with a more claw-style girp whereas our testers with smaller hands used it with a more full-bodied grip with their entire hand over the mouse. The surface is very smooth, but not in a way which makes it blatantly slippery if your hands are sweaty, but not as "grippy" as it could be.
Each side has two buttons which protrude slightly, which make them very easy to feel and press, a gripe I've had with mice before when the buttons are hard to feel and/or press because they were flush with the mouse body. The top of the mouse has a scroll wheel, and just below that a DPI-adjustment button, which allows switching between two DPI settings for the activated profile. We'll discuss profiles and DPI settings in greater depth in the "Software" section. The scroll wheel has a firm feel to it, and scrolling is very smooth and accurate, which I'm happy to see, as sloppy scroll wheels can be very frustrating.
SteelSeries tends to take a "business in the front, party in the back" approach when they design their mice and other peripherals. What we mean is that the exterior is generally very simple and clean, and they place the utmost focus on the hardware which makes their products perpetual performers. SteelSeries did put a bit of pizazz with LEDs around the scroll wheel, above the DPI selector, and an illuminated SteelSeries logo on the back, with 16.8 million colors available to choose from.
The bottom of the mouse has three large teflon feet which glide very smoothly due to a very large contact area. We also see the LCD on the bottom (which we'll also discuss more in a bit), and the dual laser sensor which are the eyes of the Sensei capable of 5700 DPI, with the onboard processor capable of digitally increasing that number to 11,400 DCPI (Digital CPI).
SteelSeries may not spend their time obsessing over menial aesthetic "upgrades," but they certainly pay attention to the details where they really matter. Gold-plated USB cables and high quality cable braiding ensure a low latency connection, and that the cable will be durable for many hours of gaming and transport to LANs.
The left image shows the illumination which SteelSeries has given the Sensei for a bit of subtle flash. We'll discuss how colors are selected for each light on the next page. The colors are nicely diffused, which means they aren't distracting or painful on the eyes in low-light settings. The light above the DPI button changed color depending on the current DPI setting, and the other lights are integrated smoothly into the body of the mouse, giving it a very clean appearance. Similarly, the right image shows the LCD on the bottom which allows a Bitmap image to be loaded, and also allows selection of up to 5 onboard profiles without the use of the SteelSeries Engine software or additional drivers.
The profile selector is opened on the LCD on the bottom of the Sensei by holding down the CPI selection button for about 2 seconds.
The 5 onboard profiles can be scrolled through and selected, and then each setting within the profile may be changed.
Here, we've highlighted the ExactAim setting to modify it without the SteelSeries Engine software.
Here we can see the current setting for "ExactAim," the settings can be changed with the scroll wheel, and are selected with the scroll wheel. It's very intuitive and easy to use, and a great feature, although it isn't exactly quick. It's great, but not the most ideal for very rapid changes, but is plenty adequate to quickly change profiles in roughly ~10 seconds, which is perfect for respawn times in games like Battlefield 3.