R.A.T. M Detailed Features
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main features of the R.A.T. M.
This is the “5D” button, arguably the best innovation on the R.A.T. M. Allowing for four directional buttons and a button press, this “thumb-stick” manages to cram five buttons into a very small place. I want to applaud Mad Catz for this feature alone, even though I feel it can still use some improvement. When dealing with mobile devices, it gets increasingly difficult to include a large number of features due to the simple lack of space. This 5D button elegantly mitigates most of that issue – the problem I have with this button is it’s just too small! Personally, I think they should switch to a rubber covered pointing stick as one would find in some laptops. At the very least, rotate that button face 45 degrees; then the thumb can press against the larger raised surface rather than the portion that is split in the very direction you are trying to press! Using a larger or more textured surface would help in activating this button in the intended direction – as it is, the up and down motions are difficult to use fluently, as you’ll probably run into either the thumb rest or the back/forward buttons. However, as we’ll see later, this button seems to be designed more for productivity than for quick and precise gaming functions.
One of the other features of the R.A.T. line has been the ability to customize certain dimensions. With the smaller R.A.T. M, the only adjustable dimension available is the palm rest, which can extend up to 15mm in 5mm increments (for a total of four positions – 0, 5, 10, and 15mm). Again, a nice touch as many mobile peripherals are far smaller than their desktop counterparts. The ability to adjust a component to better match your personal grip is a great option. Moving parts always make for a possible tradeoff though, as it is easy to compromise structural integrity when integrating a portion that isn’t solidly attached. There is a slight wiggle in this palm rest in its fully extended position which is the only part that doesn’t share in the rest of the R.A.T.’s solid feel. However, a greater concern is it starts to act too much like a lever in that position, making it simple to lift the front of the R.A.T. when resting your hand on the device. This could be somewhat accounted for by adding a tilt adjustment to this portion, a feature which might be difficult to implement but would make a wonderful addition.
The palm rest has a positive tactile click for each 5mm position. A locking mechanism would have been appreciated – at the fully extended position, you may find yourself squeezing the grip to the point of “collapse” during a hectic game or other fast motion. Again, like the 5D button, it isn’t an issue in a productivity setting. The R.A.T. series has always been (and still is, according to the R.A.T. M packaging) marketed to gamers, and in that context this feature could be a little more secure.
Sometimes one of the best ways to highlight features or gain a little perspective on a product is to compare it to similar products. Since the R.A.T. M is labeled as a “Wireless Mobile Gaming Mouse” I thought it would be interesting to compare to another Bluetooth mobile gaming mouse; the Razer Orochi (the first edition is pictured, not the 2013 version out this year). While this isn’t a “head to head” article, nor will there be a winner (the market is better at deciding such things than I am), these are two of the most prominent mobile gaming devices you can spend your money on. As such, I thought it would be helpful to show them side by side.
I always find it fascinating to see different design approaches to the same problem. In this case, it appears mobile gaming mice end up with very similar dimensions. Of course, being mobile devices, this makes sense, but the Orochi takes the ambidextrous approach while the R.A.T. M uses a right-hand design. Both are admirably comfortable to use for such small peripherals. The R.A.T. M has that additional adjustability, but Razer’s Orochi is one of the most comfortable mobile mice I’ve used. Still, I grew to appreciate the “wing” on the R.A.T. M, as it made for a surface to easily lift and reposition the mouse. This action was harder to perform with the Orochi’s slippery gloss sides.
Both mice provide easy access to the buttons, with the R.A.T. getting a slight nod here with the larger back/forward switches which prevent accidental button presses (an increasingly difficult job on smaller mice). The scroll wheel on the R.A.T. M is unlike any other mouse I’ve used; the metal wheel with hard edges feels great on your finger and the button action is beautifully executed with a firm, tactile click (the Orochi’s familiar scroll wheel is also done well). Those curves on the Orochi feel great on your fingertips, along with that soft-touch rubber finish… While the high-gloss paint job on the R.A.T. M looks great and seems like it’ll put up with some use, it’s just too slippery for me. Honestly, I would have preferred more matte finishes on both mice, as glossy surfaces are easy to clean but just don’t have the same feel or grip. This is one of those things that is mostly user preference; Mad Catz accommodates for that by offering the R.A.T. M in many different colors including a matte black finish.