As a cloth mat but with a pseudo-hard surface, if ever a mat was going to be an all-rounder it would be this one. Using my trust Logitech G9 and CM Sentinel I ran through the usual battery of tests. The Zowie TF showed its class by performing equally well with both mice, and the cloth surface should ensure that even if you have just woken up from a 20 year coma and only have a ball mouse, it will work fine.
Because the Zowie TF are endorsed by the Counter-Strike World Champion, it would be foolish to not try a few FPS games out first.
Starting with the game that is probably one of the most anticipated and popular of recent times, Modern Warfare 2. Two things became quickly apparent. The water-repellent coating hasn't affected the ability of the mat to track well. Secondly although it's not as fast as a dedicated hard mat, the extra precision really helps rack up the frags. Comfort never became an issue and the design input of "SpawN" definitely shows here.
Moving to Photoshop in which response is almost a non-factor compared to the control and accuracy needed for those pixel-perfect edits the Zowie TF performed with aplomb. If you are, like me, someone who uses Photoshop regularly but cannot afford a Wacom tablet, then the support and comfort the thick sponge base provides will be of huge benefit. Although it isn't strictly marketed as a control pad the Zowie surface tracked accurately enough for nearly every task.
In general desktop use again it proved its worth as an all-rounder. No matter whatever it was I had to do at the time I never felt like I needed a more specialist mat for the occasion.
The one over-riding impression of the Zowie TF series mousepads is the comfort. The combination of a cloth mat, but with the Zowie special coating, ensures the pad was very comfortable to use and yet gave the precision and speed you'd hope for from such a hybrid.
It certainly isn't as insanely fast as a hard gaming-surface and if you are at the extreme edge of performance and like your mouse to feel as though it is on ice regardless of the cost in accuracy, then perhaps this isn't for you. But the benefits from the comfort of the cloth base, allied to incredible Zowie coating the mean that this will absolutely cover all your needs. Sometimes a product can be, as the expression goes, a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. That's way to derogatory though. This certainly is an all-rounder, but a very very high-standard all rounder. The only surfaces that are better at control or at speed are so extreme on that end of the scale that they are not very good at much else.
The only real downside is the price. Currently on the US market it's available for around $30 and it has come to the UK at £20 for the large mat and £17 for the small. That's a serious amount of money for a cloth mat and up against some very stiff competition. Whether you feel the price is justified is largely down to how you feel about the water-proof nature of the coating. If you're slightly clumsy or game in a tin shed, it's a bargain. If you're a neat-freak it's pricey, but the high performance nature shouldn't dissuade you.
The Zowie TF series is a water-resistant, comfortable, hard-wearing, multi-purpose mousepad and an easy recommendation. Very good indeed and if this is a sign of things to come from them, Zowie will quickly become a major player.