Monday, June 24, 2013

Mad Catz R.A.T. M

Gaming mice are usually complicated affairs, and wireless gaming mice tend to be even more involved. Besides a cable, high-end gaming mice usually have a charging cradle and are designed to sit quietly on a desk when not in use. This is great if you have a desktop gaming system, but if you like traveling around with a gaming notebook, it feels a bit bulky. Mad Catz's mobile gaming mice offer an alternative. The R.A.T. M is a particularly small, portable gaming mouse with all of the extra buttons and laser sensor resolution (6,400 dpi) you could want, but at $129.99 (direct) it's very pricey and it's just a little too small to be comfortable, especially compared to the you-won't-notice-it's-much-bigger-in-your-bag M.O.U.S. 9, which costs the same and will cause less cramps for larger hands.

The R.A.T. M feels like a more compact version of Madcatz' other R.A.T. mice, and is dwarfed even by the M.O.U.S. 9, a similar MadCatz wireless mouse. The mouse takes Mad Catz' distinctive shape, with an angular, futuristic profile punctuated by a large thumb rest, an index finger button located to the left of the regular left mouse button, and a prominent, ridged metal wheel. Besides the additional index finger button, the mouse has two thumb buttons and a four-way directional nub on the thumb rest, plus a switch located just under the mouse wheel that toggles between high and low sensitivity.

Under the R.A.T. M, a small USB receiver sits in a spring-loaded hole, so you don't have to worry about losing it when the mouse isn't in use. A small switch under the optical sensor turns the mouse on and off. A battery compartment sits under the palm rest and holds two AAA batteries. The mouse comes with a drawstring pouch made of a black mesh material, for keeping the mouse safe when traveling.

While it's small, the palm rest can extend slightly to fit larger hands. Unfortunately, even with the palm rest completely extended, the mouse is too small to use comfortably under my large hand. With my fingers placed on the mouse buttons, the rest barely reaches the upper part of my palm, and the heel of my hand gets no support at all. It really feels like a mini-mouse. Everything feels smaller than the R.A.T. 9 or M.O.U.S. 9, and for my Herculean mitts that means wrist cramping after extended use. If you have smaller hands, the R.A.T. M might be a refreshing change of pace and a much more comfortable mouse, but for me it just felt far too tiny. Adding insult to injury, the palm rest has no locking mechanism, so it tends to push back into the mouse when in use.

The R.A.T. M measures less than 4.3 inches long with the palm rest fully extended, shorter than most gaming mice. For reference, the Corsair Vengeance M65 measures 4.7 inches in length, the Logitech Touch Mouse T620 measures 4.4 inches in length, a house mouse (mus musclus) can grow up to 3.9 inches in length not including tail, and a brown rat (rattus norveigus) can reach up to 10 inches in length not including tail. Incidentally, rattus norveigus make surprisingly good, intelligent pets.

Despite the size, the R.A.T. M feels responsive, like other mice in Mad Catz' catalog. It uses a 6,400 dots-per-inch laser sensor to track movement, and I had no problem with precision when playing games connected to a notebook.

The Mad Catz R.A.T. M packs some great design elements and a very good laser sensor into a tiny, pocketable gaming mouse you can take with you on the go. However, its small size can be a hindrance for gamers with large hands, and its $130 price tag is pretty intimidating for what you get. The small size doesn't quite justify the premium you pay, especially when the excellent Logitech G700s?is available for $30 less. If you're unwilling to compromise on the buttons and sensitivity of a gaming mouse, there's no reason to compromise on the size of the mouse and how it feels in the hand. If you just want a functional wireless mouse, the Logitech Touch Mouse?is available for half the price of the R.A.T. M, and the Mad Catz M.O.U.S. 9 offers a larger, more comfortable fit (while still built for portability) than the R.A.T. M.?


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