Mouse pads are one of those strange products that most people look at and decide there is something far more important to spend their money on.
Maybe because you're an older gamer and remember the days when mouse pads came free with almost anything and usually were about the same quality as you'd expect from a childs DT project. They rarely had edging, usually were produced for about tuppence and were guaranteed to be curled and frayed at the edges within about a week. After all, it had a picture of a can of Coke, or an Amiga logo or, if you were really rebellious and daring, Linda Lusardi, so what did the quality matter.
As time moved on and mice went from the joy of a taking a ball out every two minutes, to the magic of optical, a mouse pad appeared an even sillier investment because you are getting a perfectly good response from the back of your book/sofa/dog so what possible difference could an expensive surface with a logo on it make?
We here at OC3D never understand this mentality. After all, if you're willing to spend 30 or 40 of the Queens finest on an all-singing mouse, why put it on the back of an envelope? You wouldn't put your latest i7 rig in a biscuit tin would you.
PureTrak agree with us and have given two of their mouse pads to review that cover fans of both the soft and hard surfaces, whilst being priced in such a manner that you really can dip your toe in the waters of mouse paddery without feeling that it's the kind of purchase that could leave you sleeping on the sofa.
Founded in 2007 PureTrak mantra is to produce robust, high performance mouse pads that will withstand years of wear and tear without wearing or tearing and unlike some competing products, don't require you to sell a kidney to own it. The most interesting thing about them is that they make mouse pads. That's it. They don't make mice or headsets or inflatable chickens. PureTrak do precision mouse pads, and that's it.
So let's start with the PureTrak Deluxe.
The PureTrak Deluxe is what we refer to as a hard mouse mat. Whereas some mouse mats are cloth and therefore soft, some are a hybrid of a soft style but with a hard coating, this Deluxe mouse pad is hard and that's that. You receive it flat packed because it just wouldn't roll up and this is something I always like to see in a mouse pad. Too often we've received pads that end up unwilling to remove those curves from the edge, or because they need some settling time you can't use straight away.
I'm sure you're all much like us in that when you get a new toy to tinker with the last thing you want to do is hang around for a day or two waiting to use it.
Probably the first thing that strikes you is the design. If ever there was a "Marmite" design we think this is it. Some of us here at the OC3D bunker felt it was delightfully quirky and unique, making a lovely change from the rather austere blacks that have passed through here. Whilst others think it's eye-catching in all the wrong ways. Before you decide for yourselves we do have to point out that the photographs make it look a lot busier than it appears in the flesh. I'm not the biggest fan of it but even I'll admit that the photos don't do it full justice.
Whichever camp you fall into there is no denying that you wont miss it on your workspace. Measuring a robust 13.5" by 10.5" PureTrak have it available with either a 1/8" deep back or, if you prefer to rest your wrist upon something about a credit card in thickness, a 1/16" back. Mouse pad height is important in comfort and reducing RSI and so it's good to see Puretrak giving us the choice. We've got the 1/8" one with us and it definitely isn't a noticeable height on your wrist.
Robust is a great word to describe the surface too. If you're one of these people who use their mouse somewhere that requires a certainly sturdiness to it, then the the PureTrak Deluxe should definitely fit the bill.
Moving to the rear we can see the PureGrip rubber backing in all its glory. PureTrak advertise this as providing huge grip to prevent movement on even the shiniest surface. It is certainly sticky but also has a lovely opulence to the rubber than helps cushion your wrist as much as is possible for something with such a rugged top coating.
Made from 100% recycled materials and designed and built in the USA the Deluxe is the fastest surface that PureTrak make. We'll see if it lives up to all these claims later on.
But first, let's take a look at the most expensive mouse pad in the PureTrak range, the Talent.
The PureTrak Talent is the top of the range, in price terms, mouse mat that PureTrak produce. It is the complete antithesis of the Deluxe. Where the Deluxe is designed as an exceptionally hard-wearing, fast, mouse pad, the Talent is soft and squidgy. The Deluxe has a hard coating, this is cloth. Fair play to PureTrak for really covering all the bases.
The mat comes in packaged in a very stout tube that will definitely protect it from even the most reckless delivery person. The most impressive thing is that upon removing it from its stronghold it very swiftly reverted to a flat shape with none of the ironing flat that most rolled soft-mats require, enabling almost instant use.
Design wise the Talent echoes the Deluxe in having the unique hexagon patterning to it, but because this is a cloth mat it is nowhere near as chalk and cheese as it was on the Deluxe and even those of us who felt the Deluxe was rather too much didn't mind the Talent at all. A lot softer in colour scheme to nicely match the much softer mouse pad itself.
The second thing you notice after the more subdued colour scheme is the size. If you're a bit of a size king and feel that bigger is most definitely better, then have I got a mouse mat for you. To call the PureTrak Talent a behemoth is doing it an injustice. It measures a considerable 19" x 14" and has 1/4" of depth. This most definitely isn't a mouse pad for those with limited desk space. It's huge.
Moving to the back we can see the thick layer of rubbery backing that provides not only the huge grip available to ensure you aren't slipping and sliding about, but also gives the mat it's glorious cushioning. This is the double-thick feather mattress of mouse mats.
Finally we'll take a look at how they perform and come to our conclusion.
It's difficult to test mouse mats without repeating myself in the conclusion, and therefore I'll be combining the two to save you all a little reading. In the current climate I can't imagine any of us want to sit still for an inordinate amount of time. OC3D, an all around service.
The PureTrak Deluxe is billed as the fastest mouse mat that PureTrak sell. However they make it clear that whilst it is the fastest one, it by no means compromises control to achieve that speed. The mat has a very hard plastic surface ensuring huge durability. It's waterproof, stain-proof and pretty indestructible. We've been using it in the secret shed which isn't the most delicate of environments and it has coped admirably with everything we've thrown at it.
Despite it's hard surface and acclaimed speed factor, it definitely is a control mat. We tested it with our usual combination of the Logitech G9 and the CM Storm Sentinel and with both of them it was very easy to make fine controlled adjustments to the cursor or cross-hair position.
Moving the mouse across the surface it's possible to feel the slight indentations that help to give the feedback necessary for good control, but they aren't bothersome and nor do they actually affect the usability. They are more of a tactile feedback assist than anything and certainly no different to many other hard mats we've tested.
One of the downfalls with some textured hard mats is that over time they can start to smooth out in the areas of heaviest usage but in our, albeit limited, testing we never felt this would be the case. It might not be the best looking mat in the world, it might not be the fastest or the biggest, but if you want a mousemat that will outlive your mouse whilst providing great control, this definitely is the one to choose.
Currently available from PureTrak themselves at an excellent $15, this is worth more than a second look. Please note the presentation receives a 0 although really it's not available because we received it without packaging and therefore it would be unfair to give a score based solely upon the looks of the pad rather than the whole item.
Ahhhh the PureTrak Talent. This is indeed the cloth mat to end all cloth mats. Initially it feels a little too squidgy. Indeed it reminded us of a slightly stiffer gel wrist rest. However this initial impression was both accurate, and way off the mark. How so I hear you cry. Well indeed it is as comfortable as a gel wrist rest and hour upon hour of usage didn't provide even a hint of discomfort. It's off the mark because it isn't too squidgy at all.
Actually it's pitched perfectly. It's just soft enough to support your wrist and ensure that you don't end up having to ice your wrist, but at the same time firm enough that the softness doesn't interfere with the tracking accuracy.
The cloth coating itself is a special type of PureTraks own design and it absolutely works. Moving the mouse around is effortless, even without any Teflon or similar feet. It's slick, smooth and accurate and an absolute joy to use.
As with nearly all cloth mats the PureTrak Talent is definitely a mat for those who require accuracy and control over and above pure speed. But even with this taken into account it is by no means sluggish, with the surface providing fantastic gliding ability.
If you're the type of person who feels that a glass mat wouldn't be hard enough for you, then this naturally wouldn't fit the bill, but for anyone who values a bit of comfort or has maybe stuck with harder mouse pads because of their poor experiences with previous cloth mats, PureTrak has the answer.
The Talent is their premium priced mat currently retailing at $25. Given the quality and comfort this is a bargain. It is a high-end price-point for a cloth mat, but it's a high-end product. There is an old adage that sums it up neatly, you get what you pay for. Sometimes this isn't the case, with the PureTrak Talent it is. I'd go so far as to say it's the best cloth mat on the market today.
Thanks to PureTrak for providing todays review samples. Discuss this in our forums