eXactMat Review

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Company: Razer
Platform: PC

Official site: www.razerzone.com

Every PC gamer knows the he or she needs a decent video card and plenty of memory to have games run well on a PC. Many gamers have even gone so far as to experiment to see how much difference varying mouse models make to their play. But even those folks may not have given much thought to their mousing surface. As the technology of PC games gets ever more sophisticated, professional-level (as well as competitively minded) gamers need every edge available.

Kyle Ackerman

In early shooters, hit detection was often as simple as a box around a pixilated character. Now, games detect where shots strike your opponents on a location (or even per-polygon) level. Likewise, real-time strategy games have reached a refined state in which a player's ability to economically manage mouse movement is as critical to victory as a good build order. A good mouse is important, but so is a good mousing surface. For gaming at a high-level, a sheet of notebook paper or a flimsy, promotional mouse pad just won't do. Plenty of companies have tried to step in and provide a stable and precise surface, ranging from products like the Steelpad to 3M's Precise Mousing Surface. Now, Razer, a manufacturer of gaming accessories, has stepped into the fray with its own mousing surface, the eXactMat.

Frictionless Insight does not have a Materials Science and Engineering department to run thousands of hours of tests on the Razer eXactMat, so this evaluation is, necessarily, subjective. Keeping that in mind, of all the precise mousing surfaces that I have used, this is my favorite, and given its construction, it's priced surprisingly competitively (at just under $30).

Personal preference plays a much larger role in mousing surface selection than in your choice of video cards, or even of mice themselves, so let me describe why I felt the eXactMat to be superior. The eXactMat is large. 10.4" by 13", to be precise. While some people may enjoy using small mouse pads, I don't want to have to lift the mouse in the midst of a heated exchange of gunfire just because I'm trying to turn my view all the way around. Even at high sensitivities, small pads can require you to lift your mouse at an inconvenient moment.

The eXactMat's surface is rigid. Even a thick pad or semi-rigid surface (such as those from func.net) can ripple, catching the mouse and breaking the flow of intense gaming. This surface has an aluminum core, and so is very rigid and doesn't slide thanks to rubber feet at each corner.

Two-sided mats are becoming common in high-end mousing surfaces, and the eXactMat is no exception. The eXactmat has both a "Speed" side and a "Control" side. The Speed side is designed for large and quick movements, and is preferable for gamers or designers who like to move the mouse a lot. My preference is decidedly for the Control side, which is designed to work well with an optical mouse, even when making very small, high-sensitivity movements. The raised feet also ensure that the side of the pad you aren't using doesn't abrade against your desk and wear down either your desk or the pad.

For both first-person shooters and real-time strategy games, I spent a lot of time with the Control side, switching between the eXactMat and a variety of different surfaces. Again, the evaluation is subjective, but whether the game was Doom 3, Battlefield 1942, Warcraft III or Far Cry, the eXactMat made it feel like I had more control. The advantage was considerable when compared to a conventional, fabric pad, but the Control side left me feeling more in control than did competing high-end pads.

I'm also grateful that there is no attached wrist-rest or pad. While some prefer this feature to be attached to the mousing surface, it restricts the possible positions for your hand, and can be difficult for users with particularly large or small hands.

After extended play with the eXactMat, I don't want to return to another mousing surface. It's large, solid, and makes me feel more in control of my mouse input than any other surface I have used. Having spent a great deal of time with both Razer's eXactMat and its Viper optical mouse, I can only conclude that Razer has gaming peripherals down to a science.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 18, 2004 4:48 PM.

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