XTracPads Pro Mousepad and Mad Dotz
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 12-10-2007
Provided by: XTracPads

I wasn't expecting a huge improvement out of the XTracPads Pro Mousepad and Mad Dotz, especially considering the low cost of both items. Aside from the difference in switching from a hard plastic mousepad to a soft cloth one, I basically just hoped for a little more room and one that didn't slip. The Dotz were really more to protect the new mousepad from the worn out old feet (or lack thereof) rather than any expectation that they would greatly enhance my mouse movement. But I was in for a surprise on both fronts.

In addition to resolving the problems stated above, the combination of XTrac Pro and Mad Dotz has literally changed my whole computing experience. The hexagon and random pixel pattern on the Pro mousepad allows the optical sensor to track movement with much greater precision, yielding an incredible improvement in pointer control. It is so good in fact, I can lift the mouse a full " off the surface of the pad and it will still register every subtle move. Gone are the jumps, skips and drag of the pointer that I used to get with the old pad. The difference is night and day, like switching from an old ball mouse to an optical one. It really is that good.

The smoothness you get from the cloth Pro pad and PTFE Dotz is pretty surprising as well. I find that the heel of my hand also slides easier on the cloth Pro than it did on the hard plastic pad, especially when gaming and your palms start to get a bit moist. Speaking of gaming, I found a big adjustment necessary, especially in first-person shooters, as it was far easier to whip the view around than before. The better tracking along with increased width allow for complete 360 turns without lifting the mouse and re-centering it. In fact I had to basically "relearn" how to game all over again because I would catch myself lifting whenever a big movement was required, and not only is that not necessary anymore, it is largely negated by the fact that the mouse will still track even with a " gap.

Aside from the slight difficulty in peeling the Dotz from their backing sheet, there were really no problems with the XTracPads products. A sharp knife or razor works much better than fingernails when trying to lift the edge. Only time will tell how quickly the Pro mousepad surface wears out, but hopefully the Dotz will help to prolong that. I am also unsure as to the life expectancy of the Dotz themselves, and how often they should be replaced. I can foresee the cloth getting dirty over time, although according to the XTrac website the soft cloth pads can be cleaned with a lint free cloth and some water, with a drop of laundry detergent used for a more thorough cleaning.

For the low, low cost of the XTrac Pro pad and Mad Dotz (roughly $10 and $5 respectively) I would be happy just to get a year or two out of them. With the huge improvement I got in mouse performance I am kicking myself for not spending that money sooner.

The XTracPads Pro Mousepad and Mad Dotz easily earn the coveted OCIA.net Seal of Approval.

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