Page 2 - A Closer Look
The family portrait of the XTracGear Carbonic line up
Out of the box, you can see the XTracGear Carbonic XL fits in between the Carbonic and the Carbonic XXL. In the photo above, you can see all three of the Carbonic verions. Measuring in at 451mm x 356mm x 3mm (L x W x H), the Carbonic XL actually fits right in between the other two in terms of area. On the other hand, the aspect ratios are completely different. While the XL version is not as long as the XXL, it takes up more depth on your table space. Being an XL size, these are the exact same dimensions as the previously reviewed Ripper XL. As with the XXL version, the sides are covered with what XTracGear calls an overlock stitched boarder. This covers all the edges of the mouse pad, ensuring there is no fraying on the sides, while maintaining an easier feel on your wrist or arm. The top of the Carbonic XL is the same smooth fabric found on the other Carbonic pads, with a grippy rubber surface underneath. The corners are rounded rather than straight. In terms of aesthetics, the Carbonic XL is no different from its fellow brothers, with a diagonal pattern going from the bottom left to the top right corner. A shine is also seen on the surface, but it is by no means distracting. The smooth pattern is supposed to enhance the mouse cursor tracking, while keeping a nice glide. We will see if this holds true in our performance tests later on. Otherwise, in the bottom right corner is the company's logo and the product name.
Before we continue on to the surface inspection, let me quickly go over the advantages and disadvantages of a cloth-based mousing surface. On the positive side, cloth-based surfaces provide better comfort and control, are easier on mice feet, generates little noise during use, can even out some imperfect surfaces, and is more portable. Even with a mousepad as large as this, it can be rolled up and ready to go. Unfortunately, it comes at reduced glide performance, and is inherently bound to attract and accumulate dust, dirt, and liquid. This can include human liquids too, such as sweat from your hands. Plastic, aluminum, glass, or any other solid surface can easily be run under the tap to restore it to original condition. You cannot do the same with cloth surfaces, and if you are thinking about the washing machine right now, please do not try this. Unfortunately, it does not do too much about the absorption issue, but we have yet to really see any cloth-based desk mat do as such. However, the Carbonic XL has a nylon-like surface to emulate the glide performance of a hard surface mousepad. We will only know if it actually pays dividends when we get into our tests. Now, we will take a closer look at the front surface.
Rather than using my standard photography equipment, I threw the Carbonic XL onto a scanner, and ran it through at 600dpi, just to get a better, more detailed image. Taking a closer look at the top surface, the XL looks similar to the other pads in the same series, with a few slight differences. The diagonal lines are visible going across the entire picture, but the previously seen dimples are not as visible here. The diagonal lines on the Carbonic XL are also farther apart compared to the other two Carbonic mouse pads. I will say however, they are present, and feel similar to other Carbonics. These dimples and diagonal lines are what XTracGear refer to as their carbon fiber finish. In terms of feel, I would describe it closely to a satin-like finish, which is extremely smooth, but still cloth. The lines are pretty consistent, despite a very slight weaving back and forth. Finally, you will notice this surface is not as shiny as the previous Carbonic surfaces, but I can only assure you they are very close. This is done to combat the glide issue found on cheaper cloth mousepads.
On the back, XTracGear has provided a very similar solution for most of their cloth mousepad undersides. In fact, comparing the recent XTracGear mouse surface undersides will make you wonder if they really changed anything, especially since they both have the same pattern. This means an interweaving underside of rubber lines. Unfortunately, my scanner was not able to pick it up as clearly as I would like, but you can see this pattern if you look at the darker lines rather than the lighter spots. XTracGear calls this a Sure Grip rubber backing, and it holds up quite well. The rubber is quite consistent in the zig-zag pattern, which means there will be no weak spots or slipping points. Combined with the decently sized area, the Carbonic XL stays in place very well. Our next step in the review is to go to our performance tests, so let us head on over!
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look
3. Subjective Performance Tests