At nV News, we occasionally stray off the beaten path and review products that may not be indigenous to an NVIDIA fan site. This review is such an occasion as we evaluate the Sniper Boomslang 2100 mouse from BFG Technologies. nV News reviewed the first generation of the Boomslang mouse back in 1999 when Brian Gray checked out the Razer Boomslang 2000.
The underlying technology behind the BFG Sniper Boomslang 2100 mouse was actually developed by Razer, a subsidiary of the Swedish company kärna LLC. kärna specializes in light beam encoding technology that allows products to achieve unprecedented levels of speed, precision, and sensitivity. BFG has obtained the rights to manufacture a line of products in the United States using kärna precision technology.
BFG Technologies is the most successful add-in manufacturer of NVIDIA based graphics in the United States. What makes them special in this industry is that they have a staff dedicated to gaming. You can bet that any product bearing the BFG name is backed by a commitment to achieve the "ultimate" gaming experience. On top of that, BFG offers free and live 24/7 technical support and includes a lifetime warranty on their products.
BFG's Sniper Boomslang 2100
The debut of the Boomslang 1000 and 2000 took place in the summer of 1999. Today, BFG Technologies is bringing gamers the Sniper Boomslang 2100, which they proudly boast as being "the fastest, most accurate mouse available" and recognized the world over by professional gamers as "The Mouse of Choice".
The specifications of the Sniper Boomslang 2100 include the following:
Resolution of 2100 Dots per Inch
6 Million Instructions per Second (Controller)
36 Pulses per Revolution (Scroll Wheel)
5 Programmable Buttons
Designed for Right and Left Handed Users
Dirt-Proof Ball Holder
USB Connector with PS/2 Adapter
8 Foot Cord
HOW A MOUSE WORKS: THE BASICS
During the course of working on this review, I became familiar with several features that can differentiate one mouse from another. The qualities of a mouse include sensitivity, accuracy, precision, and smoothness. Sensitivity is based on the response of the mouse pointer to an incoming signal. The more sensitive a mouse is, the more the mouse pointer will move in proportion to the movement of the mouse.
The precision of a mouse is dictated by the amount of variance that occurs by moving the mouse pointer from one point to another. For example, take the case of moving the mouse pointer over a straight line that is displayed on the screen. The less the mouse pointer deviates from the line, the more precise it is. Precision also leads to greater success in being able to consistently reproduce the straight line.
Accuracy is similar to precision and can be used to measure exceptions. An accurate mouse provides the ability for fewer mistakes to occur while the mouse pointer is being maneuvered. Finally, smoothness is characterized by no lag or jerkiness in the movement over the mouse pointer as the mouse is being moved.
Now, to understand the points above, we need to know the basics of how a mouse works. There are several steps that occur while translating movement of the mouse to the movement of the mouse pointer.
A sensor is used to record movement - such as an optical sensor on an optical mouse or ball movement roller sensor on a traditional mouse. These sensors translate the X and Y movement of the mouse through a sensor encoder.
When the encoder registers movement from the sensors, a signal from the encoder is passed to the controller chip.
The controller chip compiles raw data into binary data communicates with the computer through a link such as the USB.
The driver converts the signals from the mouse controller chip into the movement or final position of the pointer on the screen relative to the physical movement of the mouse.
Those are the basic steps, although there are several technical challenges between steps 1 and steps 2 that determine sensitivity, precision, and accuracy. This is the area where the Sniper Boomslang 2100 uses a different approach than other high-end mice.
What Makes The Boomslang Different?
The main feature that sets the Sniper Boomslang 2100 apart from other mice is a dots per inch (DPI) rating of 2100. The DPI is the rate at which the encoder sends signals to the controller as the mouse is moved per inch. Optical mice from Logitech have an encoder resolution of 800 DPI while those from Microsoft have a 400 DPI rating. However, a more appropriate measurement is the CPI or counts per inch. A CPI of 800 means that there are 800 signals sent from the encoder to the controller. Therefore, the greater the CPI, the greater the number of signals the encoder will transmit to the controller. This provides the controller with additional data to use when calculating movement of the mouse.
At the heart of the Sniper Boomslang 2100 is an optomechanical sensor, which relies on kärna precision to detect movement of the mouse ball using an advanced optical sensor. Optomechanical sensors have been used in standard mice and rely on a phototransmitter, usually in the form of an LED (Light Emitting Diode), and a receiver. An index wheel, consisting of molded prisms, is positioned between the phototransmitter and receiver and allows light to be received.
The index wheel moves along with the mouse ball. As the index wheel physically blocks light being emitted from the LED, no signal is being sent to the encoder. However, when an open slot on the wheel is present, light passes through and produces a signal in the encoder. This process is similar to a shutter glass effect, and is also dependent on the size and number of open slots on the index wheel.
Along with a higher than normal CPI rating, a controller chip that's able to process incoming data from the X and Y direction encoders is a must. Otherwise, encoder signals are lost, which decreases the effective CPI. The average mouse controller chip processes approximately 1.5 million instructions per second (MIPS), while the controller chip on the BFG Sniper Boomslang 2100 is capable of processing 6 MIPS.
Another factor of mouse performance is the poll rate, which is the rate at which data is transferred to the computer. Although the poll rate is limited by the USB connection, most high-end mice connect through the USB port. The rate at which the mouse connects and sends information to the PC is 125 Hz for USB 1.0, which is adequate for BFG's Sniper Boomslang 2100.
Sniper Boomslang 2100 Poll Rate
A unique feature of the BFG Sniper Boomslang 2100 is the "On-The-Fly-Sensitivity" feature, which can be used along with a combination of the scroll wheel and a button to adjust the sensitivity level of the mouse dynamically.
The Sniper Boomslang 2100's scroll wheel is more sensitive than most scroll wheels and also has an improved encoder that provides a greater number of clicks per revolution to increase precision.