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James Donkey 007: Funky Mouse With A Weird Name, Hands On

It's a funky mouse with a weird name. The James Donkey 007 gaming mouse offers numerous external, swappable pieces that let you customize the feel and fit. That’s the elevator pitch, anyway. In real life, this is a thoroughly enjoyable mouse to fiddle with. It’s (mostly) well designed, the build quality immediately strikes you as superb, and it has several subtle features (such as its lighting) that offer additional small touches that make it that much more appealing.

However, it’s big, and it’s heavy, and it’s not for everyone. But it has 11 different pieces (three for the right wing, three for the left wing, three for the rear, and two for the base) that give you numerous configuration options. (I’ll dig into that a little further down the page.) 

Specifications

The most notable specs of the James Donkey 007 are perhaps the dimensions and weight. The weight range is listed as 100-150g; that 100g is the weight of the skeleton, with no armor attached. In any case, a fully-dressed James Donkey 007 (nope, still not tired of writing that) weighs in at 150g. For comparison, the flyweight Mionix Castor is a hair under 94g.

Because of the multitude of armor options, the dimensions will differ depending on how you have the mouse configured, but the maximum is 135 x 93 x 41.6 mm (which is large, but not ridiculously so).

James Donkey 007 Gaming Mouse
Sensor- Avago A9800 laser sensor- Up to 30g acceleration
ResolutionUp to 8200 dpi
GripsMultitude of options
AmbitextrousNo (right only)
Polling RateUp to 1,000 Hz (125, 250, 500, and 1,000 Hz)
Onboard Memory16 Kb
Programmable Buttons7 (or 8, depending on configuration)
Switches- L/R buttons: Omron (20 million clicks)- Three tactile switches (1 million clicks)
Lighting- 4-5 lighting zones (depending on configuration)- No RBG - Static white/orange/red default- 10 color options (rear piece only)
Max Tracking SpeedUp to 150 IPS
InterfaceUSB
Cable1.8 m braided
Dimensions135 x 93 x 41.6 mm
Weight100-150g
SoftwareJames Donkey v1.0.0.17
Price$69 MSRP

Premium Feel, (Mostly) Superb Design

The marquee feature of the James Donkey 007 is the customizability, but that should not overshadow the attention to detail here, for which James Donkey should be applauded.

For starters, the finish is beautiful. It’s reminiscent of metal flake, and it resists fingerprints and grime as well or better than any device I’ve used. The sparkled look is also, simply, quite attractive.

There’s also some unique lighting onboard. Depending on the configuration you choose, you get a pair of “headlights,” a pair of rear lights, a stylized DPI indicator, a funky string of lights across the palm rest, and one of the optional rear pieces has an illuminated “007” logo. This is no RGB, though, and the colors are mostly static.

By default, the front and rear lights are white, and the strip across the palm rest are, L to R, orange, white and red. The rear “tail light” is green for some reason, but you can change it to one of 10 preset colors (including white to match most of the rest of the lights).

However, the biggest design win pertains to James Donkey’s execution of the attachment and removal of the various pieces. The company opted for magnets to hold the pieces on the body of the mouse -- three for each part -- and they feel as secure as if they were glued on when you’re using the 007, but they pop right off with ease when you want them to.

Each of the three magnets is mounted into a post, and each post fits into a hole on the body (with an eight-pin data connector). Due to the strength of the magnets and the idiot-proof nature of the post/hole design (that makes it impossible to, for example, place a right wing where a left wing would go), you can almost throw a piece at its desired location, and it would snap right into place.

The DPI buttons -- located just behind the scroll wheel -- are a bit small, but they have a distinctive triangular shape, so you can find them easily with your finger. Behind the DPI selectors is a triangular light, within which are six triangular LEDs (noticing a theme here?). The six lights tell you which DPI stage you’re at.

Although I’m impressed with the level of detail here, the six lights are only so helpful. You have to remember (or set, and then remember) which configuration of lights matches which DPI setting, and you certainly can’t see anything at a glance. That, plus your hand covers them up, so at the very least, you have to take your hand off of the 007 to see where you are, DPI-wise. (On the other hand, this does give you a way to keep track of your DPI stages without needing to look at the software.)

The scroll wheel can click or scroll, but it cannot click left to right. It has a smooth rubber finish with sweeping contours that I found both comfortable and sufficiently “grippy.” However, the click sensitivity is problematic, and for some users, it may be a fatal flaw: When I scroll up, I can hardly do so without engaging the click. It’s terribly inconvenient. Perhaps you have a lighter touch than I, but I’ve never had such an issue with any other mouse I’ve used.  

The left and right click buttons are long and slightly concave, which I found eminently comfortable. The left-side forward/back buttons are arguably placed a bit high, but I like the placement. Because the buttons are fairly large, I found it an easy and smooth stroke to roll my thumb upwards slightly to engage them.

My Personal Journey Through The Process Of Selecting Pieces

One of the best things about the James Donkey 007 (besides the name) is also one of its most challenging: There are too many configuration options with all these parts. I could write you a tome describing each of the 11 different pieces you can stick on the mouse in loving detail, but I’ll spare us both. Instead, I will briefly describe the characteristics of each and then elaborate on my journey to selecting the combination of pieces that resulted in the ideal configuration for me.

Right wing

-J01 RG001 “General:” Less than ideal grip that makes it hard to lift the mouse.-J02 RG001 “Hook:” The hook makes sense for grip, but it’s at a weird spot for me--it’s too low for me to get my ring finger underneath it, and my pinky finger isn’t really long enough to “catch” the hook when I lift the mouse. -J03 RG001 “Finger Holder:” I have to rest my pinky either on top of it, which feels a little odd and makes my grip something completely flat-fingered, or it forces me into a claw grip; in claw grip, though, it’s actually not bad--my pinky finger tip has a nice notch to grab onto, making it easier to lift and control the mouse.

Right wings

Left Wing

-J01 LF001 (Triangular button): There’s a smaller area for the thumb rest, but it’s nice and snug; I feel like I have strong grip in this configuration. I found the button easy to reach, and I hit it with the tip of my thumb, which gives me a strong feeling of control.-J02 LF001 (No button): There’s a slight concavity for your thumb, and if you don’t love the larger thumb rest that extends out 90 degrees from the body of the mouse like the other two left wing parts, this is the piece you want. However, there’s no button. -J03 LF001 (Rectangular button): This piece has a nice, huge area on which to rest the thumb. However, I found that I had a hard time reaching the button -- I have to use the inside joint of my thumb, which feels a bit odd.

Left wings

Rear

-J01 RR001: This part was the “007 James Donkey” lettering all lit up, and it has a lip on the bottom right that aligns with the lip on the left wing parts.-J02 RR001: This piece has no lip at all. It is the most compact rear part, though.-J03 RR001: The longest of the three rear pieces, this one also has a lip, like the J01 RR001 part.

Rear pieces

Base Cover

-J01 BT001: This part is black, including the four small “feet” -- two near the front of the mouse, a wide one at the rear, and another small one on the right side, under the thumb rest.-J02 BT001: With just three “feet” instead of four -- the right-side foot is omitted -- this piece immediately felt slicker and smoother to me than the other. It also has silver feet instead of black ones.

Feet

Where I Landed

With 11 unique pieces of exoskeleton across four different areas of the mouse, the possible combinations are numerous.

What I did to choose my favorite configuration was to start with one section and rule out what I could. I determined straightaway that I didn’t like the right side “Hook” right wing, and I felt that the “Finger Holder” was just too bulky and made any type of grip uncomfortable. Therefore, I settled on the J01 RG001 “General” part.

So. Many. Options.

From there, I looked for a balance between the right wing and the left wing and rear. I’ve found that I have a penchant for mice with a nice big lip for my thumb, like the 600M, so I tossed out the lip-less J02 LF001 left wing from the get-go. Between the remaining two left wing pieces, I liked the placement of the triangular thumb button on the J01 LF00 over that of the rectangular button on the J03 LF001, so that was that.

Choosing a rear piece was the toughest decision. I’m a sucker for the sort of lit-up lettering that the J01 RR001 offers, but ultimately I found that the smallest of the three rear parts (the J02 RR001) gave me the most snug palm fit, which gave me the most control and allowed me a little bit of flexibility in my grip. (I’ve said before that I’m somewhat of a lazy gripper; I often maintain a loose grip that morphs from fingertip [when I’m going about my daily work] into a sturdier palm grip [when gaming].)

I prefered the slicker feel of the silver-footed J02 BT001 base cover immediately, so that decision was an easy one.   

The above is, of course, not to say that the configuration I landed on is the “best” by any means; it’s simply was I found worked best for me, based on the size of my hand and my preferred grip(s).

I will say, though, that those with smaller hands should probably look elsewhere for a mouse, regardless. Whichever parts you end up snapping onto the skeleton, the James Donkey 007 is a big, heavy mouse. It’s not easy to lift, because in addition to the weight, the body doesn’t give you much to grip, especially on the right side. In the heat of the battle, especially with a sweaty palm, you might find it slipping out of your hand all too easily.

However, if you have big, strong hands, this mouse will likely be fun to play with. And for some, the heft may be ideal.  

James Donkey Software

It took me a while to get my hands on the software to accompany the James Donkey 007. I was provided no link to download it, and a search turned up nothing. Finally, I finagled this link from a rep (scroll all the way down to the bottom to find the Dropbox link). A second issue is that the software is in Chinese, although I did manage to find a button in there that let me toggle the language to English.

The GUI is designed with multiple sections, but no tabs. When you mouse over a given section, it will “animate,” and you can change the various settings. The software allows you to set and store up to six profiles on the mouse itself, which I was told has 16 KB of onboard storage.

When you hover over the image of the mouse, you can see the names of the various programmable buttons. To the right of that is the Custom Button area, where you can easily add a variety of functions to a given button, including numerous mouse events, keyboard events, media controls, and more, including a whole macro creation dialog box.

Below that is the Effect area, where you can control the lighting. As described earlier in this article, there’s only so much you can do here, but you can choose between two preset “themes” and how they act; set the color for the optional rear piece and assign a behavior (Constant, Breathing, Color Breathing, Disabled).

Two kind of neat but completely unnecessary features under Effect are “Jitters” and “Sound.” You can set the left-click button or the fire button (that’s the extra button present on two of three left wings) to vibrate (or, I suppose, “jitter”) when you press them. There are also two sounds you can set -- “The Buzzing” and “Lightning Fast” -- on the adjust DPI or fire buttons.

These are just sounds of car engines revving. Seriously. It’s unclear if you can add your own imported sounds to this feature.

Jitter and Sound work only with the rear J03 RR001 piece attached.

The other primary area of the software is Performance, where you can set the DPI in five stages: 600, 1000, 2000, 3600 or 8200. At each stage, you can use the slider to granularly dial the DPI up or down (and set it), and you can unlink the X and Y axis and adjust them individually, too.

There are four stage to the Acceleration slider, from Off to Max, but the software does not display any data on the in-between settings. Under Performance, you can also adjust the polling rate (125, 250, 333, 500, 1000 Hz) and adjust the scroll speed in four stages.

Below the Performance area are Save As, Load File, Restore, Reset All (for when you’ve screwed with the settings so much that you have to bail yourself out) and Apply (which doesn’t seem to be necessary, as all the changes you make take effect immediately).

At the lower right corner, you can change the language, too.

For Gaming: Yes; For Work: No

The James Donkey 007 has plenty going for it. The quasi-metal flake finish is as perfect as you could ever expect (OEMs the world over, take note), and the overall build quality feels superb. Having so many options for customization is probably more “fun” than “useful,” but it does allow you a great deal of flexibility in determining your ideal setup.

However, no matter how you configure this mouse, it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s only for right-handers, for starters, and the thing is rather heavy and somewhat large. Further, you have to keep track of all the extra pieces, which can be a slight annoyance. A possible dealbreaker for me is the scroll wheel; it’s simply too sensitive to be useful for day-to-day use.  

In a gaming environment, the scroll wheel issue didn’t bother me; I was able to toggle between weapons easily, and any incidental click was inconsequential. Further, I found the tracking to be clean and smooth in a first-person shooter, such that I felt that I had excellent control whether sniping targets or running and spraying enemies with gunfire. The heft of the 007 felt tedious to me in my day to day work, but in a game setting, I actually preferred it to a lighter mouse.   

It was also fun to set the left click button to vibrate for some haptic kick when shooting, and I found myself celebrating victories with the sound effects. (“Vroooom,” you are vanquished, sir!)

With an MSRP of $69, the price isn’t bad for a mouse with these features and this quality. Street prices are a little better at $58.99, and you can find it here, too. Personally, I wouldn’t be inclined to use the James Donkey 007 for productivity, but I would certainly consider snapping one up for gaming.

______________________________________________________________________

Seth Colaner is the News Director at Tom's Hardware. He curates and edits the news channel and also writes on a variety of topics. He would have become a professional ultimate Frisbee player, but he was born 15 years too early. 

Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

  • Flying-Q
    Peugeot was successfully sued by the IP owners of James Bond to stop them using '007' as part of their car naming policy (Peugeot now uses a rounded infinity symbol to look like the '00'). Standby for a similar suit regarding the naming of this mouse.
    Reply
  • Avus
    so many useless feature and useless for my left hand....
    Reply
  • zthomas
    Dang I like the molded pieces to fit the hand.. oh yeah already have a gaming mouse.. my fourth, best built one I have seen.. the undercarriage is what I look for in a good mouse.. one that can take a beating.. I get a little ticked off at times.. and slam the mouse..Utechsmart Uranus MMO is what I recommend.. also has all the bells and whistles .. tons of buttons.. I got most of them turned off.. muting sound is the only I care about.. comes in handy when someone calls.. or knocks at the door.
    Reply
  • Diverse
    So a customizable G502, in essence. The default state of this mouse looks like a clone of the Logitech offering.
    Reply
  • Dr_b_
    The haptic feedback on click sounds compelling, as you mentioned, it would be great for gaming to provide some sensation/immersion for weapons. That may be a first for a desktop PC mouse.

    Hopefully some other peripheral manufacturers like logitech are looking at this mouse for ideas before James Donkey 007 gets sued out of existence for using that name. And it does indeed look a lot like other mice out there, not saying its a direct rip off, but some similarities abound.


    Reply
  • Achoo22
    The haptic feedback on click sounds compelling
    Logitech briefly sold mice that used licensed force feedback/haptic tech. They were AWESOME. Rolling your cursor over icons or hyperlinks felt like driving over tiny speed bumps, shooting in fps games gave subtle but very awesome feedback, etc. Sadly, the tech was licensed from a third party and the driver support was relatively weak. It's a shame that the tech. never took off, because it was wonderful.

    This 007 mouse doesn't interest me because it isn't wireless. Once you've used a wireless mouse, it's very very hard to accept wired again.
    Reply
  • Lkaos
    My experience with this kind of mouse (Mad Catz R.A.T. 9) is that it's not worth the price tag...
    Reply
  • rugrat
    You're saying it wrong,...it's: "Donkey,...James Donkey."
    Reply
  • thor220
    So a customizable G502, in essence. The default state of this mouse looks like a clone of the Logitech offering.

    Perhaps on the outside they may look similar but the G502 still has the best sensor on the market.
    Reply
  • AnimeMania
    I think the James Donkey 007 really missed an opportunity to create a mouse that could be switched between a general/sniper (0 to 1 extra left side buttons) gaming mouse and a MMO (up to 12 extra left side buttons) gaming mouse. Not to mention the left/right handed mouse possibilities. Are there any left handed MMO gaming mice?
    Reply