Manufacturer: Mad Catz Interactive
Portable mice and my hands do not get along. As someone who tends towards a mid-point combination grip somewhere between palm and claw, tiny wireless mice irritate me greatly for being too uncomfortable to use for any decent length of time, particularly if I'm gaming on the go.
Until, that is, MadCatz new, impressively specced, R.A.T.M mouse came trotting along. Or so I hoped.
As with the M.O.U.S.9 that we reviewed a couple of weeks back, the R.A.T.M is part of the Bluetooth 4.0 family. What this basically means is that you can smoothly sync the mouse to any device currently considered Bluetooth Smart Ready . Hwever, given the relative paucity of those devices currently, there's a useful little USB nano dongle that works seamlessly. As with the M.O.U.S.9, though, you'll need to download the latest drivers and software, then just plug in the dongle, make sure there are batteries (2xAAA) in the back end of the mouse, and you're hot to trot.
The R.A.T. series is, of course, a brand synonymous with a certain gaming pedigree, and so one would expect the R.A.T.M to come packing a range of customisation features, programmable buttons, and an impressive sensor, and the mouse doesn't disappoint. Though there's no adjustable thumb rest for the R.A.T.9's baby brother, the adjustable palm pad means that gamers with hands larger than a cat's paw will actually be able to operate the thing in comfort.
Unfortunately, though, there's no distinct locking mechanism on the R.A.T.M, and in a heated game of Unreal Tournament (which I've been playing constantly since our podcast on the matter), the mouse suddenly shrunk as a decisive movement cause my palm to bump the adjustable rest in a few notches. It's happened three times since then in the last 14 days. It won't be a problem for claw fans, but something to note, certainly.
The sensor, however, is pretty damn capable. The R.A.T.M's Twin Eye sensor features a DPI range of 25-6400dpi, and you can adjust the sensitivity in 25dpi steps through the downloadable Smart Technology software, customising the two-way DPI toggle on the mouse itself. The mouse itself does a pretty good job of conserving power (again, MadCatz suggest that the mouse can survive up to a year on two AAA batteries, though obviously that'll vary), with a variable DPI LED sleep timer to determine when the mouse will shut off both lights.
Moreover, as you'd expect, the software will also allow you to fiddle about with the functions for the R.A.T.M's ten programmable buttons which, in the same fashion as the M.O.U.S.9's, can be easily arranged via drag-and-drop. There's a little 5D-button on the thumb rest, rather reminiscent of the hat switch on a joystick, designed to allow for five functions whilst saving space, but in all honesty it's really rather fiddly to use.
Packing a whole bunch of Windows 8 functionality , the software will also allow you to create custom profiles for individual programs, you can download presets from MadCatz directly, and the software will let you know when there are new patches and drivers available. In addition the Support section has documents and links to pretty much any information on the R.A.T.M that you could possibly want. Oh, and it'll tell you how much battery life you have left too.
The R.A.T.M is not a gaming mainstay, but it's not supposed to be, and when it holds its shape it's one of the most comfortable portable gaming mice we've come across. It's a nice little complimentary device for a home cinema setup if you've got a PC slotted in under the TV, and its little nylon bag and internal USB dongle storage make it a perfect item to take on the road , or round to your mate's house for a LAN party. We found the glossy versions to be a little unwieldy and slippery, but the matte mouse is excellent.
There are only really two main issues, that should make you stop and thin. The first is that the lack of a cabled USB option means that there's never a guarantee that you'll be getting the greatest polling speed that you absolutely can on a consistent basis. Moreover, we found occasional minor lag issues using the USB dongle. Nothing game-breaking at all, but a slight irritation nonetheless.
The second is the price. At £99.99 RRP, the R.A.T.M is not exactly the cheapest mouse on the market. If you're just looking for a portable mouse with a high dpi, then you might be better off plumping for Razer's Orochi. Ultimately, you'll have to ask yourself just how important the extra buttons are, and if it's really worth spending ninety-odd quid on another mouse. The Bluetooth future-proofing is a nice feature, but relatively meaningless at this stage with so few devices currently supporting Smart Ready. But this isn't a mouse for casual users. As a piece of high-end portable gaming gadgetry, the R.A.T.M performs very well indeed. It's comfortable, responsive, and versatile.
But you'll pay for it.
- Great battery life
- Incredibly versatile for a portable mouse
- Excellent software makes customisation a doddle
- Sensor outstrips the R.A.T.9
- Lack of USB cord option is a shame
- Some instances of slight lag
The Short Version: The R.A.T.M is one of the most versatile and customisable portable mice on the market, but it carries a hefty price tag because of it. If you can excuse the lack of a USB corded option, and are craving a high-spec feature set and the ease of access that those ten programmable buttons will provide, MadCatz's mini beast will be right up your alley.