XTracPads Ripper XL v2 Mouse Mat Page: 1
Introduction

How many times have you heard often cliched phrase..."size doesn't matter, it's how you use it"? Well, the lads at XTrac Pads believe that it certainly does, and girth for that matter...And their debut entry into the OC3D Labs is certainly testament to the fact! I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to road-test the Ripper XL v2 mouse mat, and not being familiar with XTrac' range of mouse mats I was certainly eager to give it a thorough workout. For those of you not familiar with XTrac Pads, let's hear what they have to say about themselves:

Started in March of 2002 by a group of hard-core pc gamers, our mousing surfaces and accessories have won countless awards. We offer an expanding variety of surfaces and optical mouse pad sizes. Not only are our products used in computer gaming, they are equally efficient for many other applications such as digital animation, desktop publishing and more. The medical, military, gaming, art, scientific and aerospace industries all benefit from the high quality, speed and accuracy found in all XTracPads optical mouse pads. XTracPads is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

It certainly seems that XTrac are held in quite high esteem for producing a quality product that can compete with the best when gaming, but its apparent popularity with vocations requiring a high degree of mouse accuracy for day-to-day work is also reassuring.

And here's what they have to say about the Ripper XL:

The XTracPads Ripper XL™ v2 is one of the largest gaming mats available today! Measuring a whopping 14 inches high and 17 3/4 wide, there's plenty of smooth surface to get your game on. After all, why should you take a chance on running out of mouse surface?

So will the XTrac Pads Ripper XL have what it takes to make the grade in the Labs? Let's have a closer look at the Ripper XL in detail...

XTrac logo

Specifications

The Ripper XL's specifications were taken directly from XTrac's web page:

XTracPads Ripper XL™ v2

*14" x 17.75" x 1/8" (356mm x 451mm)
*Sure Grip rubber backing
*Cloth mousing surface

*Designed in the USA
*Made in USA USA flag *mouse not included

Tested and 100% compatible with the following mice:

Logitech:
MX300/500/510/518/700/1000 G5 & G7

Microsoft:
Intellimouse Explorer 3.0/4.0 Laser Mouse 6000

Apple:
Mighty Mouse

XTrac Ripper XL specifications

Some may find it interesting to note that I could find no mention of any warranty information for the Ripper XL on XTrac' website, nor the included packaging. Speaking of packaging, let's head over the page and take a look...

XTracPads Ripper XL v2 Mouse Mat Page: 2
Packaging

The Ripper XL's packaging can be described in one word - minimalist. Sporting nothing more than a red and black card insert that includes the specifications on the rear and bundled in a lightweight plastic cylinder, it certainly makes a change from overcrowded packaging themes like we are used to from Razer. The included packaging would not offer any protection from overzealous couriers, but considering that we are discussing a rubber-backed mouse mat, I think you could expect it to arrive safely and in one piece.

XTrac Ripper XL

XTrac Ripper XL spec



After removing the mouse mat from the cylinder XTrac have further packaged the Ripper XL in a clear plastic bag...presumably to eliminate the risk of dust/lint from being attracted to the cloth surface on the face of the mat. In order to keep your Ripper XL in tip-top condition, XTrac has also included an 'How to' on their website here

You'll also find a small sticker included in the packaging which makes for a nice touch.

XTrac Pads sticker

XTrac length

Let's head over the page and see the Ripper XL in a little more detail...


XTracPads Ripper XL v2 Mouse Mat Page: 3
A Detailed Look

For the sole purpose of assessing the features of the XTrac Ripper XL I will be using my 'current' mouse mat - the Razer Mantis, to illustrate. Images of both mouse mats will be included where poignant to reinforce the point at hand.

XTrac and Mantis

Looking at the two mouse mats side-by-side there doesn't appear to be a whole lot of difference size-wise between the two. But the Ripper XL is larger lengthways by almost an inch.

XTrac and Mantis width

The Ripper XL is very thin by comparison to the Mantis. However, this may be considered as an advantage in that it allows the mat to fully sit flush on top of your desktop surface without risk of it gathering or holding shape. Our members who frequent LAN's would more than likely appreciate this feature more than someone who has their mouse mat permanently attached to their desk.

XTrac and Mantis side view

Razer Mantis edge

XTrac edge

The Ripper XL's rubber backing feels a little less 'quality' than my Mantis and the 'Sure Grip' rubber used on the reverse side isn't as textured. The Ripper XL does sit perfectly on my polished faux-timber desktop and despite my attempts to get it to slip , move or gather it hasn't yet done so.

XTrac and Mantis rubber backing


The major difference between the Ripper XL and my Razer Mantis is the cloth covering on the face. The Ripper XL face is very smooth and exudes a sheen like appearance, it also looks and feels fast. The Mantis, on the other hand has a highly textured cloth.

XTrac Ripper XL cloth

Razer Mantis textured cloth

However, I do have some reservations with regard to the Ripper XL and possible quality issues. Now I'm not sure as to whether this a one-off isolated incident, but it appears that the cloth on the edge of the XTrac Ripper XL is already starting to lift away from the rubber base. To clarify; the cloth hasn't seperated from the glue holding it to the rubber backing, but it is like the fabric is almost starting to fray. And it only sems to be doing it where my forearm/wrist rests on the edge of the mouse mat. Perhaps XTrac could look into what I have brought up here today and perhaps look at implimenting measures to stop it happening in the future. I have tried to get a clearer image for you to see but for some reason the macro feature on my camera didn't want to play nice.

The Ripper XL also seems to pick up lint and dust particles very easily.

Frayed edges

I'm sure that this fraying issue is more than likely an isolated one, but it certainly is cause for concern and detracted slightly from what can be considered a very capable mouse mat overall. Further, the subtle approach to advertising on the Ripper XL also makes a nice change from the in-your-face style that we have come to expect from Razer.

Anyway, enough of the detail...let's see how it actually performs. Will the Ripper XL provide accurate tracking and a smooth, fast gaming surface when needed? Will it perform as admirably during simple desktop browsing or a bout of Photoshop? Let's head over to the next page and see what we can throw at it...


XTracPads Ripper XL v2 Mouse Mat Page: 4
Test Setup

For the testing part of the review today I will be using my current rig - AquAus

AquAus is currently running dual boot Microsoft Windows XP/Vista and is fully patched and using the latest available drivers at the time of review. Components included are:

*Intel Core 2 Duo e6850 Rev. G0 (L723A)
*Asus P5B Deluxe WiFi
*ASUS EN8800 GTS Core:663Mhz/Memory:1014Mhz
*2GB OCZ PC2-6400 FlexXLC Cas 3 (5-4-4-15)
*2 x 250GB SATA II Seagate NCQ 16Mb cache 7200.10 - RAID 0
*1 x 200 SATA Seagate Barracuda (Storage)
*Pioneer DVR-A11XLB DVD
*Silverstone Strider ST60F 600W Modular PSU
*Black Silverstone SST-TJ-07BW Full tower case
*Scythe Kama Meter fan controller
*Custom water-cooling

All testing will be conducted from within Windows Vista.

Testing Method

In order to try and give our readers an holistic idea of how the XTrac Ripper XL mouse mat performs, I will be testing under conditions that the 'average Joe user' would more than likely encounter.

For the first phase of the test I will throw myself, my Logitech G7 and the Ripper XL into first person shooter-ville. I will be using Valve's Counter Strike:Source; idsoftware's Quake 4; infinity ward's Call Of Duty 2 and for good measure some MMORPG courtesy of World of Warcraft.

For the second testing phase I will be looking at how well the Ripper XL allows for user control when browsing the internet, along with some image manipulation courtesy of Adobe Photoshop CS3.

Because my Logitech G7 allows for adjustable dpi 'on the fly', I will be using it for making speed adjustments when/if necessary.

Logitech setpoint

Setpoint advanced settings tab

For the record my gaming style is predominantly that of a 'twitch gamer' as I usually play first person shooters as a preference. However for the gaming test phase I shall attempt to report as objectively as possible for those who aren't.

Let's get gaming...


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Gaming Phase

Wow, what can I say...the Ripper XL provides an extremely fast gaming surface for those who thirst for it. I found myself having to turn down my Logitech G7's speed and sensitivity quite substantially to get a handle on getting my accuracy back without overshooting the mark. Once I found a setting that provided a happy medium it was a 'twitch gamers' paradise. The additional real-estate that the Ripper XL provides over some of the smaller mouse mats on the market will thrill gamers with the desktop space to house it.

One thing that I did encounter with the Ripper XL was that if the mouse were moved too quickly, it appeared to dance around. This was an issue brought up by our own Chris [Ins] Buer during his review of the SteelSeries SX Mouse Mat. Here's what Cris had to say about the issue:

When testing in Windows, the pad was a joy to use. Very smooth, extremely quiet (for an aluminium surface) and absolutely no complaints. Out of curiosity, I moved the mouse very quickly in Windows again to see if the cursor jumped about erratically and it did. Again, I must stress that this only occurred when moving the mouse as quick as I possibly could, so would put it down to the mouse rather than the pad. The SX is probably just too good for current mice to track against.

Once again an adjustment to the sensitivity control negated the effect.

By comparison, my Razer Mantis mouse mat just doesn't feel as fast. Admittedly it's a mat designed for absolute control which it does very well, but pales slightly when pitted against the Ripper XL.

The Ripper XL enabled my Logitech G7 to track with incredible accuracy all over the mat surface (again once speed and dpi settings were adjusted). During my World OF Warcraft testing, mouse movement from the field of play to browsing 'action bar' icons were both fluid and accurate. Attacking, interacting and adjusting the camera in play were also made a breeze by the Ripper XL.

Browsing and Control Phase

Although I have had the Ripper XL for about 5 days now I must admit that it was a little different to get used to. Initially I found myself overshooting buttons in my Firefox web browser, and expanding windows instead of minimising or closing them. Now that I'm used to the fast surface that the Ripper XL provides it must be said that it is a joy to work with.

Again, Photoshop was interesting to say the least. Once I had found a sweet spot for my G7, working around the Photoshop workspace was a breeze. Selecting various tools from the toolbar or customising colour swatches and tool presets, which can at times be fiddly, was an absolute doddle albeit with a lower sensitivity.

Now that we've seen that the Ripper XL is more than capable, let's head over to the conclusion page to see how it scored overall...

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Conclusion

So how do we sum upXTrac Pads Ripper XL mouse mate? Well it's certainly large enough for those who crave extra real-estate and it certainly provides a fast surface to game on. For such a cheap mouse mat it's a no-brainer decision.

To be honest there's not a lot of negatives about the Ripper XL. Admittedly there is the issue that I alluded to earlier in the review with regard to premature fraying/lifting on the end of the mat itself. Plus the fact that the the Razer Mantis feels like it's going to last longer. But for a mere US$13.95 from Sidewinder you really cant go wrong, especially when you're almost paying twice that amount for a mouse mat like my Razer Mantis.

Budget conscious gamers will do well to look at the Ripper XL.

For those looking to find the Ripper XL, XTrac Pads have a list of resellers available here

Pro's

+ Exceptional value
+ Provides larger gaming surface than other mouse mats on the market
+ Provides fast and accurate tracking
+ Easy to clean surface
+ Non-slip rubber backing
+ Simple and unimposing looks

Con's

-
Feels a little cheap
- Attracts dust and lint like crazy
- Review sample edges frayed/lifted too easily
- Slight problem with tracking at speed.

Value For $$ Award Recommended Award

Thanks to XTrac Pads for providing the Ripper XL for review

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