A little over a month ago, Cougar sent me both a keyboard and mouse to review. I set my older duo aside, and I worked, gamed and casually used the Internet exclusively with these two inputs for more than four weeks straight.
Suffice it to say, the 700K (keyboard) and 700M (mouse) have become part of my daily routine. You know, when you use these devices long enough, your hands seem to form around them instinctively? I'm at that level of intimacy with this fantastic duo, and I'm ready to give you my impressions.
We'll start with the mechanical keyboard.
Cougar 700K Keyboard
I'm still fairly new to mechanical keyboards. I've had another before this, though I didn't use it too long as it broke down fairly quickly. I wound up back on the keyboard I picked up from Razor when Starcraft II released. That one wasn't mechanical, though it featured a really nice typing action.
Let me tell you this: if you're on a standard keyboard and you're considering the switch to mechanical, do it. If you have the scratch and you like what you read here, I'd even say the 700K is a great place to go.
The Cougar 700K features Cherry MX Red switches, and the movement, response and action on every single key with the mechanical switch feels great. There's a nice, seemingly metallic backing below the keys, and that coupled with the orange light behind them creates this really nice hard look and feel that goes along with the typing perfectly.
This is a full keyboard, not one of those that removes the individual arrow keys and places them with the numerics (I hate that!). It also features multimedia buttons, dimmers and memory configurations. Those aren't on mechanical switches, but they don't really affect the use of the board as they're more single tap and ignore.
I suppose the only genuine complaint I have with this keyboard is the decision to split the space bar in two in order to add an additional unique custom key. The standard space bar is on the left, and the G6 key is on the right. The split is like a backslash right down the middle, and the G6 button does not work as a space when the unit arrives.
So, when you first start working with the 700K, you might need to readjust your hand positioning in order to hit the space bar. For someone who logs more than 12 hours a day typing on a keyboard and has done so for a very, very long time, old habits die hard.
Which brings me to the solution and into the UIX that supports both the 700K and 700M. Cougar has their own software that you can (and should) download if and when you get this keyboard. You'll find it on their official site (or right here), and installing it is a must if you want to get the absolute most out of these products.
I'll detail the UIX a bit more in its own section, but you'll be able to solve the split space bar problem by programming the G6 key as a space hit. Stupid, I know, but it's the only way I was able to really get used to and, thus, like this keyboard. You can program three separate configurations onto the M1, M2 and M3 keys on the 700K. Since the unit has onboard memory, you'll be able to program it and close the UIX. The keyboard won't forget your settings once the application is closed, and I really appreciate that.
The 700K also features a headphone, mic and USB input. I didn't make use of these as I hate have wires grouped near my keyboard and mouse, but they're there and exist as an option if you like them.
Finally, the 700K also offers a great removable set of palm rests. The bottom piece extends the length of the board, and is made of a matte finished plastic. There's an additional rubber piece that sits on the left side, providing a non-slip and raised rest for your WASD pressing fingers. I actually really wound up liking this, and being able to quickly remove it (it's magnetic) made typing and gaming an easy change.
Cougar 700M Mouse
The Cougar 700M mouse is easily the lesser of the pair, though I still like it as a decent high-end mouse. It features 8200 DPI and half a MB of onboard memory for setting storage. There are plenty of configurations here, and it, combined with my friction-less mouse pad, is crazy smooth and precise.
We'll start with the good. The right and left buttons have a nice click action and fit the fingers well. The scroll wheel is big and independent, and it too has a solid response. The thumb rest is made, seemingly, of the same material as the WASD palm rest on the 700K, and it's a nice nonslip that really feels good during FPS play.
You can switch between four sensitivity levels on the mouse with a button click (each level can be tweaked in the UIX, too), and you can even add and remove weights from the center of the unit.
Every single button on the 700M is programable and changeable. You want to swap right and left click? Go for it. You want to map the Page Up key onto a scroll wheel click (you monster), you can do that.
Finally, the Cougar 700M features two different palm rests which can easily be clipped on and off. One is small, and one is rather large. The rests, once on, can be raised and lowered to your comfort with the twist of a nob on the base of the device.
There's no shortage of customization methods with this mouse, and I really liked it once I got used to it. However, my big problem with the device is that Cougar almost went too far with the mechanical design.
The thing looks like it belongs in space. Hey, that's cool with me, I can dig the vibe. However, the sharp angles and break in the unit at the palm make for this really odd cornered feel when in use. My hand subconsciously twists and contorts when I use the mouse in order to get away from the edges, and that sort of stinks. A mouse should be rested on and naturally fit the ergonomics of its user, though I found that I had to get used to this thing a bit more than I wanted to.
All the potential tweaks and adjustments made that hurdle easier to leap, but the fact that I even had to sort of flies in the face of ergonomic design.
This is a great mouse, make no mistake, but it doesn't feel in line with the 700K in terms of quality. The keyboard is the better made device, plain and simple.
Cougar UIX System
What ties all this together? The Cougar UIX System. If you pick up these devices, head to the Cougar site and download and install the drivers. You'll also need the Cougar UIX, though I believe that download comes with the updates to the hardware.
The UIX at first blush is rather confusing. There are multiple configuration pages for each accessory, and they feature crazy subtle tweaks and changes. It can be daunting, and I recommend you spend time fiddling with each toggle on each device as you slowly find the setup you love.
That said, it's all here. Button mapping, brightness, LED color control, DPI control, response rate, memory. You can change pretty much anything you want, and I really adore that level of customization here.
For instance, you can actually turn the backlight off for individual keys on the 700K. You can easily create on both the keyboard and mouse. You can even reprogram single keys.
Is the UI as plain and simple as it should be? No, but once you get the learning out of the way, it offers a robust set of options.
Between the software and the hardware that Cougar has created for the 700K and 700M, I could see this trio making a gamer very, very happy. With the exception of the space bar's split and the mouse's ergonomic design, almost every single frustration I had with this pair was solvable with the UIX.
The keyboard has an idle LED animation, by the way. It comes on really fast and in a pattern I didn't like. Guess what… You can change the pattern, remove it completely or set it to start after longer periods of wait.
There's a setting for almost everyone here, and I applaud Cougar for making strong hardware and backing it up with an incredible robust and customizable UIX. The union is great, and I can easily recommend this series to those on the market for new inputs.
Cougar 700K Keyboard
Cougar 700M Mouse
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