By: Herbert Lui (Debut Review)
October 30, 2007
When my ears first caught mention of the word "Fat Mat", I immediately thought of a mousepad similar to the size of the XTracPads Ripper XXL but with a gigantic width. Personally, I don’t prefer to have such a large mousepad, especially since I started using my laptop as my main computer. To my delight, the XTracPads Fat Mat was closer in width to the XTracPads Hybrid, but was also very nearly two thirds thicker - wow! It definitely sparked an interest in me to see how it performed when compared to the current APH King of Mousepads, the XTracPads Hybrid. Just a slight shock as I received the package -- who the heck is Herbert Nui? No hard feelings though, it actually cracked me up somewhat!
Immediately upon discovering that this parcel has reached approximate delivery time through regular mail, I decided to get out to the mailbox as soon as possible. My excitement mounted as I opened my mailbox to check what's inside; I was pretty satisfied to find the key to the parcel bin. I quickly inserted the key in, opened the slot, and slid the parcel out. I deposited the key into the outgoing mail slot and then returned home full of anticipation.
Grabbing my exacto knife, I split apart the pieces of tape sealing the package together. As I opened the box, I was met with an army of biogredable pieces intended to keep the mousepad safe - which is an excellent standard that we at APH Networks have almost grown to expect from XTracPads.
Wait, did you read that correctly? Biodegradable packaging peanuts? You certainly did. I've been notified that the material costs around three times as much as regular styrofoam, but the people over at XTracPads as well as myself think that it's definitely worth it. Gotta give them some respect for such responsibility!
Contrary to what its name would suggest, the Fat Mat is actually very flexible – hey, it fit into the retail packaging tube, right?
Speaking of the retail packaging, it promotes the "Gaming" aspect very well. The font the Fat Mat uses is pretty similar to the ones on cartoons. In fact, I think it almost resembles Family Guy. Also, the name itself - the Fat Mat, gives it a very relaxed vibe. Perfect for gamers. (Editor's note: Especially those drinking Mountain Dew ;) )
As I took it out of the packaging, not only did the mousepad itself appear - so did a rubber-ish smell that accompanied this mousepad. I found it sort of unpleasant; although to an extent this is a subjective matter. I realize that many newly manufactured products in this category have this slight fragrance to it, but it grew to be pretty strong. Thankfully, it took a mere couple of days to nearly completely air out -- or did I get too used to it? That does not matter, but not that King Hybrid was all dandelions either - in fact, it was slightly rubbery smelling at times too. Not a worry though, this smell completely disappears after a few weeks of usage. I would say this because I flipped over the Fat Mat and discovered the source of the smell -- whereas when I wafted in the Hybrid's grip-side, it was odorless.
Being a cloth pad, less experienced users may expect it to perhaps feel similar to those 'value oriented' generic cloth pads available at retailers like Staples. I can definitely assure you that the XTracPads Fat Mat uses much higher quality cloth; on arrival, not a single stitch was loose, nor were there any patches or frays on the side as commonly seen on free or low cost mousepads. Besides, this isn't just any type of cloth; its surface is made of semi-glossy nanofiber textile - which suits it quite well, I must add. Also mentioned in the previous paragraph was the backing of the Fat Mat which the smell originated from - which is composed of sure grip rubber. Explains the "rubber-ish" smell, right?
I realize that I have mentioned that the XTracPads Fat Mat was not as large as I expected it to be. This might have misled you to believe that the Fat Mat was small – which isn’t exactly the case. It features dimensions that are 305mm x 406mm x 6.35mm – it’s actually the same width -- as announced on the XTracPads site -- as the XTracPads Hybrid, but approximately a ten centimeters longer and 1.58 mm thicker. It may look small on paper, but it really makes a difference!
XTracPads' website states that the Fat Mat comes with ergonomic benefits, acting as a wrist rest when you maneuver your mouse. I definitely noticed a much more cushioned feel on the Fat Mat as opposed to the cooler and flat plastic surface topping of the XTracPads Hybrid.
I do have a couple of scratches on my desk, which I used to particularly test this mousepad out. Although they weren't all that deep, I definitely felt a difference when I ran the mouse over it as opposed to when I ran the mouse over the Fat Mat mounted over the scratches. Also, I planted a plastic wrapper underneath the Fat Mat to simulate a typical uneven surface - and it's actually surprisingly smooth and flat despite the plastic wrapper underneath. There is a difference between a straight desk and one with the plastic wrapper underneath it, but it's actually been smoothened out thanks to the XTracPads Fat Mat. I must also mention that the Fat Mat covers the groove of the sloped desk very well, which is great (although the desk alignment is a bit skewed - dang Ikea).
Worth mentioning is the fact that it doesn't have what I would like to call the "Pillow Effect", meaning it doesn't sink into the nanofiber and it still can move pretty well. I actually pushed the G5 against the Fat Mat, and to my delight there were no grooves found nor felt during our tests.
Ergonomic? Check. Accurate? We'll see. Soft? Certainly! And flexible? Most definitely.
Glide - For quick and effortless mouse movements across the mousing surface.
Control - For precise and accurate cursor/crosshair handling.
Grip - The mousepad's ability to stay in the same position on the desk without undesirably relocating itself.
Noise - Will this mousepad generate noise when the mouse is being used?
Typically speaking, APH Networks has discovered the pros and cons of cloth mousepads.
+ More resistant to permanent scratches
+ Quiet during usage
+ Easier on your mouse feet
+ Usually excellent control
+ Usually great grip
+ Usually more comfortable
+ Does not always accumulate dust or dirt on the surface
* Usually flexible (Cannot be rolled up - depending on your preference)
- Might be hard to clean
- Glide is usually not as smooth
- Guaranteed hard, flat surface
A Logitech G5 laser mouse was used for obtaining the following test results.
+ More resistant to permanent scratches: I'm ashamed to admit it, but to test this I had to actually try scratching the XTracPads Fat Mat. To my surprise and delight, the scratch was made, then when I wiped it over it disappeared - as though it was just a rustle in the pattern of the cloth. Impressive!
+ Quiet during usage: A lot quieter than the XTracPads Hybrid. Although during normal usage, I hardly realized that sound was being generated, when I paid attention I clearly heard a distinct difference. The Fat Mat has a barely audible sort of hoarse sound when moved, and the Hybrid, despite that it doesn't generate much noise during usage, it objectively generates more noise.
+ Easy on mouse feet: Since the XTracPads Fat Mat's layered composition is so soft on the wrist, it'd be weird to expect the mousepad not to be soft on the mouse either. Worth mentioning is the fact that it doesn't have what I would like to call the "Pillow Effect", as mentioned earlier.
+ Excellent control: As far as cursor and crosshair handling, it's definitely got it. For the first time, I could draw a straight line in Photoshop using the pencil tool - whenever I used the XTracPads Hybrid, the glide would bring about a minor lack of control; in which the handling on the XTracPads Fat Mat truly stands out. It's great! However, I also have to mention that the XTracPads Hybrid is a hybrid-plastic pad, which has different pros and cons to it -- especially in the glide area in which we'll get to shortly.
+ Great grip: Wow, I had to actually try to push the Fat Mat to get it to budge, where it extends an excellent amount of traction between my desk and the pad itself. This feature is perfect for the Fat Mat, as it's intended to fit over uneven surfaces -- which can also tend to move mousepads. In fact, I'm kind of scared - when the sun's through bleaching the wood of the desk, I think there might be a slightly lighter spot I finally move the Fat Mat over the course of time.
+ Extra Comfortable: The comfort level on this is similar to the La-Z-Boys of chairs, except this one's ergonomically enhancing. XTracPads was genius in implementing that aspect of the mousing surface.
+ Flexible (Can be rolled up): Not only that, it is more flexible than a gymnast. As I mentioned already, it fit in its cylindrical retail container, right? After a few minutes, those first-time kinks were already worked out and it was rarin' to go. This allows easy transportation as well as not vulnerable to damage due to bending.
+ Not too easy to get dirty: After examining it in the light, I could find a few pieces of dust and those weird cloth-ish particles landing on it on occasion. Frankly, I can say that the situation isn't that bad though -- although the XTracPads Hybrid doesn't really have this problem (due to it having a plastic surface). Kudos to the Fat Mat in this aspect, although it could be due to the fact I don't really do many tasks that could make the mousepad dirty. I mean, it's just supposed to be a surface for the mouse... right?
- Hard to clean: Some of those un-nameable particles are staying onto the XTracPads Fat Mat! This is kind of upsetting, but the particles are actually pretty darn small and I can't seem to get them off the cloth - I don't want to risk wrecking the nanofiber. I've been notified of the various ways to clean the Fat Mat - such as using a vacuum cleaner or an electrostatic sheet -- however, to be honest, I think that having to find such a means to clean the mousepad constantly is already a pretty daunting task. The Hybrid's stayed pretty clean most of the time though, which I've grown to appreciate.
- Glide is not as good as plastic pads: The glide is expected from a cloth pad. I guess the Fat Mat was just unlucky enough to have a single competitor, being the XTracPads Hybrid King of Glide for comparative testing. I've gotten very used to the great glide I had with the Hybrid, so it was a very noticeable step down when I started using the Fat Mat. I guess it's just a trade-off when it comes to glide and the gain in control and grip for a cloth pad.
The Fat Mat comes at a price of $28.95, I would say it arrives at a reasonable cost. It has a nearly vice grip on the desk and excellent control, perfect for gamers who need a boost in the aiming department. Remember, this still won't help you get those head-shots if you're just naturally bad like me, haha. However, there is a great sacrifice in glide, but I believe that the trade-off is worth it! Check out the now-infamous "Herbert Nui" picture as an example - the smudge effects were made with the mouse, which are pretty straight cuts to me. What isn't straight is just my hand twitching. Seriously. Also, it covers those random bumps on surfaces pretty well, but don't expect it to go over those desk alignment issues (It doesn't work miracles). The boost in the comfort department makes for a great side-benefit as well. My final verdict is the Fat Mat definitely gets thumbs up from me!
Special thanks to Christopher over at XTracPads for making this review possible.
APH equal.balance Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.6/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
XTracPads' Fat Mat is sure unique - it's much thicker than most gaming mousepads, which gives it a very unique advantage. It's much more comfortable than the average mousepad, and thus nicely ties in the Fat Mat together with great control and grip.