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Reviewed: Razer ExactMat
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: September 1st, 2004
Page: 2
This is the Razer ExactMat, as it sits next to my keyboard on my desk.

The firs thing you'll notice is the size; the ExactMat is HUGE. When Razer advertises it as "oversized", they're not kidding at all. The grey pad sitting right below it is the gel-wristpad section removed from an older, already oversized Belkin mousepad via scissors. The Razer mat is nearly twice as wide, though roughly as tall.

The flanges on the left and right, far from being decorative, are actually functional. They ExactMat is a dual-sided device, with black rubber "feet" for each side to sit upon (so as to prevent the underside surface from rubbing on, and scratching, the desk surface). The flanges on the near-side right and left get the two lower feet out of the way, so as not to interfere with mouse movement.

The famed Razer sturdiness factor is in evidence as well; since it's made of anodized aluminum, the surface is much more resistant to scratches and dents than any cloth, plastic, or rubber device. The particular process Razer used allowed them to put quite a surface on it, amazingly consistent. To see how consistent it would be, I tried a variety of things that normally wouldn't be advisable - rubbing a penny over the surface (sorry, Abe), dropping it at various angles (which served only to put a dent in the linoleum), and subjecting it to marathon gameplay. Nothing so far, besides a scratched penny. Short of running my car over it or otherwise subjecting it to ridiculous abuse, I don't see any normal way that the pad could be seriously damaged.

The Control side of the mat is advertised as being for usage by mouse users preferring large motions, such as FPS players. It's the relatively coarse side, though not overly much so as the surface is roughly equivalent to several hundred grit sandpaper (thus the need for the rubber feet to keep it from rubbing on a desk surface). Even so it's already much, MUCH finer than the best plastic or rubber pads on the market like the 3M Precise Mousing Surface.

The Speed side is for those who want to have the maximum motion in the smallest space. Functionally, it's hard to describe. To the touch, it doesn't even feel like sandpaper, but more like rubber as it'd probably be in the thousands if one were to compare it to a sandpaper grit level. Beyond serving as a mere surface, it actually magnifies the mobility of a mouse, by eliminating slippage.

So there are the upsides: it works as advertised. The "speed" side actually DOES get every bit of speed out of the mouse, while the Control side appears to stop, not on a dime, but perhaps on a speck of dust. The design is well suited to just about any locale, provided you've got the spare desk space (and if you don't, you need a bigger gaming desk).

There are a few downsides, however.

First of all, it's aluminum. Rubber and fabric pads tend to channel rubbed-off skin and sweat away from a mouse. They don't do it perfectly, nor do they get all of it, but they do get some of it (especially if you occasionally clean the pad itself). With the Razer mat, those who have sweaty palms are going to hit mouse-ball cleaning issues a lot sooner than most gamers. Plus, since the pad's so exacting, the presence of dirt or grime on the mouse ball's tracking system becomes noticeable a lot sooner. Of course, users who have troubles with sweaty palms in general would be better off with an optical mouse to start with.

Secondly, Razer doesn't currently sell a "compatible" gel wrist-rest. An attached one obviously wouldn't work due to the double-sided nature of the device. Fortunately, this is cheaply overcome - one $10 gel wrist-wrest pad, one pair of scissors, and you've got yourself a compatible wrist rest. With luck, you can even find a silver or black gel pad and keep the color scheme together. Personally, I'd kill for a Razer-green one, but those aren't currently made.

Lastly, if you're using an optical mouse of any sort, a grip-surface pad is sort of overkill. The point of the ExactMat's surface is to bring out the full potential of mice in the Boomslang line, or to provide an overly large mousing surface for those who may not have one.

If you need a stylish oversized pad it's a good buy, but if you're looking for it to improve the performance of your optical mouse you're going to be disappointed. If you're a user who has a Boomslang mouse, this is THE surface to own.

Added:  Thursday, September 02, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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