Page 2 - A Closer Look
Pulling it out of the tube, you can see the XTracGear Carbonic XXL is as the name implies, and is much larger than the original Carbonic. In the photo above, I have placed the original Carbonic on top to show the size difference. Measuring in at 914mm x 330mm x 3mm (L x W x H), the Carbonic XXL is just huge. While it is the same length as the XTracGear Ripper XXL, it is not as deep as the extra-large cousin mousepad. Despite the 15cm difference, you might not notice it, considering mouse movement is generally more horizontal than vertical. Other than the size, the first thing I noticed different from the original Carbonic was the sides. The edges of the smaller mousepad are quite sharp, but the new XXL version is covered by what XTracGear calls an overlock stitched border. This is definitely felt on the wrist, as it maintains the same function of removing fraying, but feels much better than the original edges. The top of the XTracGear Carbonic XXL where the mouse sits is a smooth fabric, with a grippy rubber surface underneath. The corners are rounded off, as many mousing surfaces are. In terms of aesthetics, you can see the diagonal lines going from the bottom left side to the top right, which shows the same shine. In comparison with the smaller Carbonic, the diagonal lines are closer together on the larger version. I quite like these diagonal lines, but of course, this is more subjective. However, the smooth pattern is more importantly designed to enhance mouse cursor tracking. While it does not really change my opinion on aesthetics, we will see if there are any differences in performance later on. Otherwise, the only other part to note is the logo in the bottom right corner that shows the company’s logo, the product’s name, and the website for XTracGear. I should mention XTracGear used to be called XTracPads, hence the interchanging name. The company is formally known as XTracGear, but I guess these are still referred to as XTracPads.
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, much like the original Carbonic, the Carbonic XXL 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 XXL onto a scanner, and ran it through at 600dpi, just to get a better, more detailed image. I have to say, the large size really made it a bit more difficult to get it scanned. Taking a closer look at the top surface, the XXL looks exactly like the original Carbonic. The diagonal lines are visible going across the entire picture, with the similarly many small dimples everywhere. This is probably what XTracGear was referring to as their carbon fiber finish, as well as the diagonal lines. You will notice these dimples are consistent in terms of spacing and sizing. In terms of feel, I would describe it closely to a satin-like finish, which is extremely smooth, but still cloth. The lines are not as consistent, however; with it slightly weaving back and forth, but for the most part it is straight. Overall, I there is only one defect, with some of the carbon fiber pattern missing at a certain spot. XTracGear has generally shown good quality in the past, so this is probably just a small abnormality. Finally, you will notice this surface is a bit shinier, and once again I think 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 Carbonic XXL and Ripper 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 large size and heavy weight, the Carbonic XXL holds in place and does not shift very easily. Our next step in the review is to head to our performance tests, so let us head on over!
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look
3. Subjective Performance Tests