As noted on SteelSeries' website, "Kana" has a variety of meanings in different languages. We find its meaning in Japanese culture to be most fitting, as it represents a pair of Japanese syllabaries (like phonetic alphabets), each containing 48 characters. The SteelSeries Kana incorporates design elements decided on by two parties: professional teams and SteelSeries' Facebook community of over 300,000 gamers. All that market research has paid off, and we can certainly say that the Kana is speaking our language when it comes to comfort and quality materials. It occupies the middle of SteelSeries' line of ambidextrous mice, offering a very similar feel to the Kinzu and Sensei with a chassis that's ±4% different in size. The matte soft touch finish featured on the Black 1.1 version of the Kana is very comfortable under the palm and adds grip, although prospective buyers may want to question its long term durability. The Kana is also available in White 1.1 colors for those who desire a glossy shell with no coatings. SteelSeries chose to replace the traditional dual side button layout with oversized buttons on either side of the mouse. These buttons occupy aggressive cutouts in the sides of the mouse that add to its sporty appearance. The layout might not provide enough options for some, but it certainly accommodates a wide variety of grips. Being able to actuate these buttons with a light "bump" of the thumb or pinky finger is a serious boon to players who might be fumbling or reaching for side buttons mounted farther forward than their thumbs can reach, without adopting a claw grip. We fear that the placement and size of these buttons could lead to some unintended actuation, but we'll leave that to further testing. With regards to the Kana's feet, SteelSeries received a great deal of negative feedback by initially fitting the mouse with plastic feet. Luckily, anyone who purchased a mouse equipped with these less than optimal feet can now request a set of UPE Teflon pads free of charge via SteelSeries' website.
Orange trim has become a signature feature on many SteelSeries products and the Kana wears its colors well. While some might say the White 1.1 version of the Kana has a more premium appearance, the Black 1.1 version definitely puts on a better light show. An orange tinted bottom plate diffuses the light emitted by an extremely bright LED to give the impression that the Kana is floating on a pool of magma. The scroll wheel also illuminates under one of the two DPI settings. Gaming in low light is much more fun when it looks as though you're palming a hot coal. The 6.5 ft double braided nylon USB cord lends added style points and durability while remaining tangle free.