There was a knock on my door the other morning, heralding the delivery of a parcel from Japan. Inside that parcel were three new mouse pads from the Artisan Kai.G3 range.
If you haven’t heard of Artisan before they are a new manufacturer of gaming gear, based in Japan, and they pride themselves in using the best of Japanese materials and technology. So can they transform the humble mouse pad into a more serious bit of kit?
Introducing The Kai.G3
The Artisan Kai.G3 mouse pad is the third evolution of the Kai range and is available in three different sizes, two different colours (red or blue) and a choice of either hard or soft rubber on the backing. That makes a total of twelve possible variations so Artisan are certainly aiming to appeal to as many gamers as possible. The sizes are:
- 250 x 210 x 3 mm, retail $18
- 320 x 250 x 3 mm, retail $25
- 420 x 300 x 3 mm, retail $35
At first glance the Kai.G3 is a rather plain mat, completely devoid of any logos or patterns, but at least they’re not plain black. Personally I think the mat should include the Artisan logo, particularly as Artisan are a new brand and it would help to get the name out there. However, I prefer a plain mat to some of the more extravagant patterns that other manufacturers are introducing, but hey, each to their own tastes.
So what makes the Kai.G3 so special? Apparently it’s all in the weave, with Artisan claiming to have a much tighter weave pattern in their polyester cloth than that of other manufacturers. Looking carefully at the surface of the cloth and the weave does seem very fine, although the surface feels slightly rougher than you might expect. Apparently this is part of the design as it improves response from the mouse sensor.
Being rubber backed the Kai.G3 sticks nicely to the surface of a desk. Artisan have tested the grip of the foam by putting the mat on a smooth surface and tipping it up until the pad slid off – they managed to get to an impressive 84 degrees incline before gravity took over. Perhaps all makers should try similar tests to prove the stickiness of their mats.
Another example of Artisan’s attention to detail is in the making of the foam for the backing. You might think that it’s ‘just foam’ but to Artisan this is an area riddled with imperfections. Their special foam forms a smoother layer with none of the voids in the material that you’d find in a lesser foam pad.
Overall the quality of the Kai.G3 pads are excellent. The surface feels very well made, as does the rubber backing. You don’t get the feeling that the cloth will start peeling away from the foam within a few weeks as you do with some cheaper mouse pads.
But enough of the descriptive stuff, what’s it like to play with? Well, I thought I’d try something a bit different to the normal FPS action and downloaded the RUSE demo from Steam. The demo is great fun and occupied me for hours, but more importantly it showed that the Kai.G3 is a perfectly capable mouse pad. At no point was there a stutter from the mouse sensor, it tracked consistently and accurately throughout the game. Just to be sure I switched back to L4D and had a few rounds and the same again – no hiccups at all.
One thing I should point out is that I much preferred the soft pad to the hard. I like a little padding from my mouse pad and the unrelenting foam on the hard pad was nowhere near as nice as the soft version. However, some may prefer that harder pad as the rigid surface will be less likely to trigger any false inputs as the surface deforms – something that serious FPS players don’t like when they’re searching for 100% accuracy.
I really like the Artsian Kai.G3 range. They’re a well-made collection of no-nonsense mouse pads that do exactly what you want of them without any of the hype that you could associate with some other brands. The variations in size and hardness mean that you should be able to find one to suit your particular playing style. Highly recommended!
Oh, and if you’re wondering where to get one then look no further than Amazon.
More pictures to follow!
Update – it would appear that the mouse pads I received were an early production run and the Kai.G3 now features the Artisan logo. So that answers my only criticism!