A Closer Look, part 2
The Hien Kai.G3 series is marketed at gamers, and is especially tailored for those who are dissatisfied with the qualities of hard pads. The soft surface has a very high-friction feel to it. The company’s web site describes the surface as being like apple skin; personally I’d think there was something wrong with any apple that was this rough. At the same time, though, the surface is very even—if I had to put a name to it, I’d say it feels like sandpaper that’s been covered over with a thin layer of resin. As a result, while glide is still smooth, stopping friction is quite high. If you’re one of those people who games by moving the mouse around with your fingertips, this pad is very well suited for that style of play. Those that get their whole arm into the motions might well find the inside of their wrists reddening over time, due to friction.
As with the Artisan Classic, the middle layer is a dense, thin foam that lies extremely flat. If you’ve ever felt your mouse skip or snag due to a dent in the mouse pad, you’ll appreciate how important this is. The bottom layer is the same grippy rubber that will not slide around at all; I had to pick the pad up to reposition it. The two blue pads we were sent are identical in every respect save size; they could have been cut from the same sheet for all the difference I can tell.
The medium size pad we were sent is red, and features the harder of the two surfaces, but is otherwise identical to the other Kai.G3 pads. While the glide is just as smooth, the static friction is even higher on this surface than on the soft pads. If you play with your mouse sensitivity on ultra-high (4000+ dpi), then you’ll want this surface.
With a products like this, benchmarks are useless; with mouse pads, it comes down to experience. So, I used each of these three pad types for a week, in a variety of tasks ranging from photo editing, to web browsing, to first-person shooter gaming. Here are my impressions, in no particular order:
- The foam in these pads is very solid and very stiff. I had one stuffed in my laptop bag overnight, and it retained the bent shape it had acquired there. Weighing it down with heavy books for a day or so returned it to its proper shape.
- Maybe my bear-paw hands are to blame here, but the Classic pad feels tiny! The surface on it is probably the most comfortable of the lot, it’s a shame they don’t make a larger version.
- After using a SteelSeries QCK Heavy for so long, I’ve gotten in the habit of resting my forearm on the desk as I mouse. That’s not a good idea with the Kai.G3 pads, I had a red mark on the inside of my wrist after a particularly intense frag session.
- Speaking of friction, I seem to have left my mark on the pad as much as it’s marked me; there’s a pale spot near the bottom left edge that matches the color of the skin on my forearm. A bit of scrubbing with soap and water seems to be clearing that up, though.
- Note to self: keep chips away from the computer! One stray grain of salt is enough to make the mouse catch and drag.
So, are these pads worth it? Really, it comes down to your personal preferences on friction, glide and texture. If you’ve been looking for a happy medium between the slippery slickness of hard pads and the textured softness of cloth pads, the Kai.G3 series is worth looking into. I can’t really recommend the Artisan Classic except in rare situations; the small size and obtrusive leather edging detract from what would otherwise be an excellent mousing surface. Overall, I’m quite impressed with the care and attention to detail GrowUp Japan has put into these products. It will be interesting to see what they come out with next.