The Mad Catz R.A.T. Air is a confusing, unreliable gaming mouse that attempts to stand out with its use of short-life capacitors powered by a powered mat rather than a battery.
- Braided cable included
- Good tracking at typical settings
- Non-stop wireless usage if included mouse pad is plugged in
- Tracking issues at lowest CPI
For many, Mad Catz is known primarily for making low-cost controllers meant for siblings, friends and other people who had the misfortune of not being able to use a console’s official gamepad. But the company was also releasing an array of gaming mice and other PC accessories for several years before filing for bankruptcy in 2017. A year later, its trademarks were acquired by a new company, which decided to refocus on PC peripherals instead of gamepads for console players.
That brings us to the Mad Catz R.A.T. Air, an attempt at the best gaming mouse for wireless use. I’d like to make a joke here about how even Mad Catz doesn’t seem to know what R.A.T. is supposed to stand for, but rather than poking fun, I’ll let the company’s mouse stand on its own merits. But spoiler alert: with an MSRP of $199 and a litany of design, comfort and basic functionality issues, the Mad Catz R.A.T. Air is one rodent you won’t want to catch.
Mad Catz R.A.T. Air Specifications
|Sensor Model||PixArt PMW3360|
|Sensitivity||Up to 12,000 CPI|
|Polling Rate||25, 250, 500 or 1,000 Hz|
|LED Zones||1 RGB|
|Cable Length||5.9 feet (1.8m)|
|Measurements (LxWxH)||4.5 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches (114.3 x 88.9 x 38.1mm)|
|Weight||Without cable and Wireless Activation Board: 3.5 ounces (100g); With cable and Wireless Activation Board: 24.2 ounces (685g)|
Much like the company’s older rodents, the Mad Catz R.A.T. Air doesn’t look particularly comfortable to use. It’s covered with sharp angles, inexplicable doodads and oddly placed buttons. Nobody I’ve shown the mouse to — my friends, my wife, my toddler — has said a nice thing about it. But what matters most isn’t how the mouse looks, but how it feels, right?
Unfortunately, the Mad Catz R.A.T.. Air doesn’t feel any better to use. It’s supposed to be somewhat ergonomic, and Mad Catz even included an adjustable palm rest to accommodate different hand sizes, but there’s simply too much going on for it to feel good. The plastic itself feels okay, but at no point during my time with the R.A.T. Air did I find myself liking the way it felt in my hand. Besides its odd shape, the mouse is short. There are just 2.5 inches from the mouse’s bottom to the the part that touches your palm, compared to the 3.5 inches in the Roccat Kain 200 Aimo and Corsair Dark Core RGB Pro wireless mice.
But let’s set aside comfort as well. How about the mouse’s features? The usual features (two side buttons, a scroll wheel and a DPI switch) are all present. Mad Catz also equipped the R.A.T. Air with a bi-directional “thumb barrel,” a “precision aim button” by the side buttons and a bi-directional “tilt wheel” on either side of the scroll wheel. There’s a lot going on here.
The Mad Catz R.A.T. Air is also equipped with a PixArt PMW3360 sensor that supports up to 12,000 CPI. It connects to the Wireless Activation Board (mouse pad) used when the mouse isn’t connected to a PC via the included micro USB cable. To Mad Catz’s credit, the cable is at least braided. The polling rate can be set to 25, 250, 500 or 1,000 Hz whether you’re using the mouse with or without wires.
The Wireless Activation Board’s surface can be removed to accommodate a different 320 x 270 mm mouse surface. While that’s a nice touch, I’ve found the mouse pad to be far too small, especially when it comes to vertical movement. People with higher effective CPI settings will probably fare better.
The most problematic issue in my time with the Mad Catz R.A.T. Air was the frequent wireless connection issues. The mouse can be used with a wired connection, sure, but Mad Catz only included one microUSB-to-USB 2.0 cable that can either be used with the R.A.T. Air itself or the Wireless Activation Board. The board doesn’t light up if it’s not connected to a PC, of course. Being a true gamer, I want the best RGB mouse pad, or at least as much RGB as possible, so I left the Wireless Activation Board plugged in. Plus, the wireless aspect is one of the key features of the pricey peripheral.
But rather than equipping the mouse with traditional batteries, Mad Catz uses short-life capacitors that stay charged when the pad is in physical contact with the mouse, but are only designed to work for a few seconds during times when you lift the mouse off the pad during gameplay. The idea is novel, and the aim is to reduce lag or the need to ever recharge the mouse, so long as you’re using it in tandem with the Wireless Activation board.
In my experience, the mouse would turn off if disconnected from the mat for about 10 seconds. If it was constantly leaving the mat, however, that figure would drop to about 3 seconds. It usually took about 1-2 seconds for the R.A.T. Air to power back on once returned to the Wireless Activation Board.