Peripherals Shouldn’t Require Internet Access, But Razer’s Do

Posted on November 8, 2012 7:00 AM by Rob Williams

When Razer announced its “Synapse 2.0″ peripheral software last fall, I was blown-away by the absolute lack of a need for it. In essence, the software replaces on-board memory with memory in the cloud. Your mouse at home will feel like your mouse at a LAN, once logged into the service. Given the fact that most people will never use their mouse or keyboard on any other PC than the one they bought it for, the overkill factor is high with this one.

But it gets better. It appears that if the Synapse server is down, your peripheral will behave like a simple plug-and-play device, meaning no advanced functionality. Your $80 mouse will feel like a $20 one. In this particular scenario, your only option is to wait for the server to come back up. Until then, you’re not going to be configuring anything.

I hate to say that it gets even better, but it does. In addition to that mess above, if you happen to lose Internet access for a time, or Synapse can no longer connect to its server, your mouse might lag until the software can adjust itself. It seems likely that at that point, your mouse would continue to function fine, but a reboot could screw you over if the server remains down.

The overall solution to this problem is to sign-up for a Synapse account, configure the software as you need, and then put it into offline mode. But if you think about it, that’s not much of a solution at all. It means you now have the added hassle of going back online just to configure your mouse further. Isn’t that a little ridiculous?

Razer is clear state that its peripherals don’t have DRM, but that’s in fact what it is. If you can’t gain full functionality of your mouse simply because you can’t authenticate with a server, that’s close enough to DRM for me. And sadly, it seems that Synapse is becoming the standard for all future Razer peripherals.

Something tells me that the company will be changing this implementation sooner than later, though.

  • Bilal Khan

    No more Razer for me! Its just they die just when they start to feel like an extension of ur hand! :(
    Now I have another reason for a no Razer policy!

    Logitech and Steel Series, thats what me is going for now!

    • Rob Williams

      Lately, I’ve realized we really haven’t taken a look at Razer products in a while, and myself, I’ve been wondering if I’d actually like to give one a test, just to see where things stand. But with this sort of functionality… I’m not even a little bit interested. Your hardware should not require the Internet to properly function. That’s just ridiculous.

  • Tharicnar

    The reduction in on-board memory is a growing concern of mine. Logitech has reduced the functionality of its on-board settings with peripherals, instead relying on a very extensive software suite. While an effective suite, it does mean that changing systems without the software installed, means you lose about 70% of the product’s functionality. Mad Catz has no memory at all. With Razer moving the software online, I would agree that this is more like DRM than a feature extension. Peripherals as a Service anyone?

    The internet may be ubiquitous, but reliable Internet… far from it.

    • Rob Williams

      On-board is still the way to go as far as I’m concerned. Let’s be real: how many people actually move their mouse to another PC, or happen to go to another PC (like at a LAN) that has their exact same mouse? It’s just truly nonsensical to me that this service even exists. I’d be fine with it existing if it could be opted out of, though. But to have it as a requirement… ugh.

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