Zowie S2 Review
Zowie's newest S line of mice initially only came out as a sort of limited edition release as part of their Divina line, and while that's an admirable initiative people were obviously clamoring for this new design to become part of their regular lineup so that it would be purchasable everywhere and be available in the regular matte black coating. Zowie has listened, and has now released the 'regular version' of the S1 and S2.
Now that the S line is becoming widely available and thus more accessible for a lot of gamers we thought it was time to look at this newest version so we gave a copy over to our reviewer. He'll inform you guys about the differences between the Divina version and the regular version, as well as give you a full rundown about the S2 as a whole.
Enjoy the read!
"The S Series is designed to have a shorter overall length, allowing users to easily wrap around and hold the mouse so users can move freely during vertical movements."Zowie
Zowie S2 - First Impressions
One of the first things I noticed when I unboxed this mouse is that the coating has changed, not only when compared to the Divina version (which is quite obviously a different coating) but also when compared to newer Zowie models such as the EC2-B. I will get into more detail about the coating later on in the review, but since I know that a lot of people are wondering about this I thought I'd address this first.
A lot of people (myself included) weren't really fans of the glossy/matte mixture that Zowie were using on their newer standard models so it's good to see that they have improved on this coating. I included a picture comparing the S2 almost fresh out of the box to a barely used EC2-B to illustrate this difference. With both coatings in mint condition it's clear to see that something has changed.
Aside from that (spoiler alert!) I didn't really find any major differences so if you've already read my S2 Divina review this might all seem a bit familiar to you.
As you may or may not know, the S2 is a small to medium sized mouse with an ambidextrous design. Apart from the coating there are no changes between the Divina version and the regular version, so if you've had the chance to play with that then you already know what to expect here.
If you haven't you can compare the S2 to Zowie's FK model in the sense that it's an ambidextrous model with a rather safe shape, though the S is taller and just a small touch wider than the FK. In addition to that, the FK is also a bit longer. Summarizing: the S is a small and slightly more filling ambidextrous mouse, and while comparisons the FK will constantly be made (which is part of the reason I've included said comparison here) it's really a rather different shape that stands on its own rather than some iteration of the FK series. You can check out the differences between different Zowie mice for yourself here.
The unboxing experience is pretty much your regular Zowie affair: inside the subtle looking black box you're gonna find the mouse, the usual documentation, a Zowie sticker, and a pair of replacement mouse feet.
I always mention this in any Zowie review that I do (and any review of other brands that do this) but I love it when companies include replacement feet in their standard packaging. It adds to the longevity of the mouse, and it's nice to be able to slap a fresh pair of feet on your mouse straight out of the box if you feel like the feet are getting worn after many, many gaming sessions.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
Zowie are famous for their amazing shapes (among other things) and the S2 and S1 absolutely deserve to wear the Zowie logo in this regard. The S2 is an ambidextrous mouse with a pretty compact design and they really hit the mark once again with this shape. It's a safe and super comfortable ambi shape and I find it hard to imagine that anyone would actively dislike this design. No shape is perfect for everyone obviously, but Zowie really do pay attention to the design of their mice and the S continues that tradition.
One of the things Zowie emphasize in their marketing for this product is that they made this mouse shorter to make vertical aiming easier. That's a bit of an odd thing to single out to me since that entirely depends on your grip style, but this shorter design does allow for some space between the mouse and your palm (unless you're a palm gripper obviously) which can make micro adjustments on the vertical axis easier to do so I can kind of see where they're coming from. Vertical aim or not: I personally think that this is one of their best shapes yet and I like this shorter, more boxy design better than that of the flatter FK if I had to choose.
As mentioned before the Zowie S2 comes with a matte black coating. Most people will be pleased to know that Zowie has gone back to their old style of coating and has done away with the glossier type of coating that they've been using on their regular mice in recent times. This particular coating is still a bit of a fingerprint magnet but it performs great and, perhaps most importantly for someone who gets sweaty hands when gaming, it doesn't start to feel dirty/sticky as quickly as used to be the case with their glossy/matte mixture coating. I still prefer a slightly more rubbery feeling mixture myself, but the coating has undoubtedly been improved over their recent regular black efforts and I had absolutely no issues with this, even when using it for long and intense gaming sessions.
On the bottom of the mouse there are two large mouse feet which provide a nice, smooth, and controlled glide with virtually no break in time. I like this large feet setup so I'm glad that they haven't touched this.
Buttons and scroll wheel
Zowie always put Huano switches in their mice and that hasn't changed with the S2. They're a bit heavier to press, but whether you prefer Huano switches or Omrons (which are generally lighter) will be a matter of preference. What's more important is the implementation and the overall quality of the clicks, and I must say that that's done wonderfully here.
As I noted in my S2 Divina review the buttons on the S series feel a bit lighter than those on other Zowie models. Both main buttons provide a pleasant and crispy click with no sideways travel, and while I've never had any issues at all using Zowie's buttons I do have to say that I feel like these are the best buttons that Zowie has produced so far. They won't ever be the lightest clicks on the block (due to the Huano switches underneath them) but unless you're after the lightest buttons you can find you probably won't have any issues using these.
Continuing on with the 'Zowie has been improving' trend I can also say that the side buttons have very little travel and give you a nice and tactile sensation when clicked, making these very easy and comfortable to use with all sorts of grip styles.
The basic principle of Zowie's scroll wheel philosophy remains the same with the S line; it's a 16-step wheel which was chosen because having fewer step makes it easier to switch weapons or what have you (whereas a wheel with more steps increases the probability of scrolling too far) and that's great for gaming where you want to be as precise as possible with your mouse wheel, but not so great for intensive browsing. The S2 is a gaming mouse though, and in that context it's a perfectly fine wheel. It's pretty loud and rigid feeling, but I feel like Zowie has made steps forward when it comes to the overall feeling of it: the scroll wheel on older Zowie models could sometimes feel a little rattly and flimsy, but that's not the case here.
This type of scroll wheel will always be a bit polarizing (some people absolutely love it while others hate it entirely) but I can't say that it's badly implemented or anything like that.
Quality and cable
There's no rattling, squeaking or any give to the shell when doing the usual 'shake and pressure' tests so when it comes to build quality the S2 is as solid as can be.
The cable is Zowie's standard rubber cable, which is pretty flexible and thin. It's not a shoelace-style cable like some other companies have been putting out recently but I honestly cannot say that I was annoyed by this cable, even after having used multiple of these shoelace mice. It's not the absolute best cable out there (those lace style cables are undoubtedly more flexible and lighter) but it's definitely more than decent so you won't have any real issues with this at all.
As with the S2 Divina the cable comes out of the shell at a bit of an angle which might seem like a gimmick at first, but it really does aid with keeping the cable off of the pad if you're using a bungee, so there is less cable drag by virtue of this addition. It's a small and mostly inconsequential feature in the grand scheme of things but it does show how Zowie pays attention to details, and a lot of these little touches combined can and will make a difference for the overall feeling of a mouse.
Speaking of attention to detail: the S2 is completely blank on the bottom, except for the DPI and polling rate buttons. On older Zowie mice there used to be an information sticker there (with the model number and so on) but since Zowie noticed that it could possibly interfere with the glide they moved that information to a tab at the end of the mouse cable. Again: not something that most people will notice, but a nice touch regardless.
Performance and sensor
Inside of the Zowie S2 you're gonna find the 3360 sensor. That's a flawless sensor and Zowie have implemented it well, which means that it's gonna register everything that you do on the pad with perfect precision without adding any smoothing or acceleration.
Zowie's credo when it comes to their gaming products is 'performance over everything'. The S2 therefore doesn't have any RGB lighting (except for tiny indicators on the bottom) and it doesn't require any software at all to use. Everything is done on the mouse itself, and that's great news for people who are often gaming on the go. Just plug it in and you're good to go.
This does mean that you won't be able to customize the precise DPI settings or anything like that, but the included DPI steps of 400, 800, and 1600 (there's also 3200, but that's far less common) are by far the most used DPI settings so the vast majority of gamers won't need anything else.
The S2, as I said before, has a very safe and comfortable grip so it should be good to go for a very large variety of grip types.
If you've got larger hands (or you are a palm gripper with smaller hands) you can always go for the larger S1 so there's plenty of options out there for basically any grip type and hand size.
Due to the shorter overall length and smaller size I wouldn't necessarily recommend this mouse for palm grippers with medium to large hands, but most of this obviously comes down to personal preference so take this section for what it is: a rough guideline.
All in all the S2 is yet another great feeling and fitting Zowie mouse so if you feel like the FK line is perhaps a bit too long and flat for you it can be a great idea to try out the S1 or S2.
Conclusion & Recommendation
The S2 Divina got a well deserved Staff's Choice award, and since the regular black version doesn't change anything except for the coating it's only natural that this mouse also gets that same honor.
There seems to be some kind of misconception that this is a reiteration of the FK line (click here to go to Zowie's mouse comparison webpage) but that's not the case. When it comes to the shape they might both look similar at first glance but the S has plenty of differences to set it apart and claim its very own spot in Zowie's lineup of mice and if you're asking me (bear in mind that this is just my personal opinion) this is their best shape yet.
Some people seem to forget it, but you don't need holes in a mouse to have a great gaming mouse. Couple the amazing shape with Zowie's improved clicks and coating and you've got what is the company's best effort yet if you're asking me. That's obviously down to personal opinion, as shape plays a huge part here and shape is entirely subjective, but I have to say that I'm impressed.
The S might not be a revolutionary entry in the world of gaming mice, but it has an amazing shape, flawless sensor, great build quality, a nice set of buttons, and a decently flexible cable so it's definitely one of the better gaming mice out there at the moment. Definitely one to keep an eye on if you're shopping for a gaming mouse.