Closer Look: R.A.T. M
As is common for a $129 peripheral, the R.A.T. M is displayed encased in an acrylic shell. Thankfully, this case does not double as a puzzle, and it is easy to extract the mouse.
A series of stickers helps you along, and after separating the shell you gain access to the R.A.T. M itself. You can see the included AAA batteries below the mouse, and the information booklet and fliers (don’t forget the stickers!) are contained in the blue box.
Mad Catz also includes a simple drawstring carrying pouch for the R.A.T. M, which is a nice addition (and almost mandatory for a mobile mouse in my opinion). I couldn’t help but get the feeling this was more of an afterthought though – given the price this thing retails for, I feel that Mad Catz is really missing out on an opportunity to get fancy on the case. If you’re going to ask for $129 for a mobile mouse, you might as well do what you can to cement in that “wow” factor. A hard-sided molded case would have made me feel better as a consumer. I only say this because I have a Logitech NX80 mobile mouse that has similar mesh material for a carrying case but uses a zipper and is just nicer overall; all that included with a $20 mouse. Something to consider… A mouse this expensive almost needs to deliver on every front, and the included accessories are no exception.
Of course, the case is secondary to the main event anyway: the R.A.T. M itself. Promising a year of battery life, Mad Catz includes two AAA size batteries to get you started. They fit snugly in this battery sled, and are secured nicely in the rear of the mouse. I didn’t experience any issues with fit here – in fact, once snapped in, this part does NOT move until you press the release button. There is no doubt this particular rodent is well built, and the overall fit and build quality is impressive.
Much of that build quality and solid feel stems from the foundation – in this case (as well as other R.A.T.s) a solid piece of metal. This is more of a base than a skeleton, as it doesn’t appear to extend up into the body of the mouse like other R.A.T.s. Still, it provides a stable platform for the rest of the R.A.T. M, and results in a sturdy mouse that feels lighter in hand than even the Razer Orochi (with its two AA batteries). You can also see the Bluetooth 4.0 dongle embedded underneath the Phillips Twin-Eye laser sensor and power switch. This is a nice addition from Mad Catz, and pairing using the included dongle is simple (and in my experience, automatic – just plug it in and the mouse will find and pair with its own receiver).
One of the benefits of Bluetooth is its ability to operate with a large number of different devices, and there I ran into some issues. I was simply unable to get the R.A.T. M to pair with anything other than its own receiver. Mad Catz states on the R.A.T. M product page that it is compatible with all Bluetooth Smart Ready devices, which means it uses the Bluetooth “Low Energy” specification. Synonymous with “Bluetooth Smart”, Low Energy devices are not backwards compatible with previous Bluetooth generations. It is possible to have a dual-mode device that works in Classic or Low Energy modes, but the R.A.T. M apparently is not one of those devices. If you’re expecting to free up a USB port on your laptop with on-board Bluetooth, make sure it’s Bluetooth Smart Ready!
The left side of the R.A.T. M shows the 5D button, along with the customary forward/back buttons above. These two have a nice ridge built into them, making them easy to locate and press without pressing additional buttons along the way; an important quality in a small mouse. Just forward of that button cluster is where the “wing” button is located, giving the user access to an additional button. Mad Catz has managed to fit an impressive total number of buttons on such a small device (twelve total, including the DPI switch – ten of which are programmable).
The right side of the R.A.T. is comparatively bare, but the textured hard plastic on the side provides a solid gripping surface and really rounds out the overall solid feel of the R.A.T. M which is something these series of mice are known for. It’s nice to see the tradition continued in this smaller, more mobile version.