When I find something that fits just right, I tend to stick with it. With running shoes, it's New Balance's 1060, whose model number has reliably ticked up once a year since I started wearing them. After five years, I'm now onto the 1064. For jeans, I have a few pairs of Levi's Straight Loose cut. They sit nicely on my hips without needing belt, the crotch doesn't hang around my knees, and there's enough room to pedal my fixed-gear bike around town comfortably. On that and just about all of my steeds, I have seats made by Wilderness Trail Bikes. What can I say? WTB's designs fit my undercarriage, and that's a crucial point of contact for someone who thinks a six-hour ride is a perfectly relaxing way to spend a Sunday.
A proper fit is crucial for comfortable or competitive cycling, and I love that bikes offer all sorts of adjustment potential. Over the years, I've been able to tune my riding position carefully, settling on just the right seat height, stem length, handlebar angle, and grip tape. Such meticulous fiddling might seem obsessive, but it makes a big difference given how much time I spend perched on the pedals.
So, how much time do you spend with a mouse in hand? If you're a PC enthusiast, probably quite a lotif not at work, then certainly at home. Wouldn't it be nice to have a mouse with a custom fit? That's what Cyborg Gaming, a subsidiary of Mad Catz, has created with its Rat 7 gaming rodent. The Rat has all the fixings one might order with a premium gaming mouse, such as an insanely precise sensor and loads of programmable buttons, plus one very special trick: users can modify the mouse's size and shape to suit their hands.
As someone whose own apish mitts are notoriously difficult to fit, I was immediately intrigued. Then I saw the Rat and, well, I had to give it a try. I think you'll understand why:
Meet the Rat
Just look at it. Never before have I seen such a distinctive mouse. The exposed screws and sharp lines give the Rat an air of mechanical stealthiness. From some angles, the it's barely identifiable as a PC peripheral. I half expect one day to hear the iconic Transformers sound and look down to find a tiny Decepticon perched on my desk. Presumably, it will then attempt to strangle me with the mouse's nicely braided USB cable. The Rat looks entirely too menacing to be a friendly Autobot.
A black, almost satin finish nicely complements mouse's radar-deflecting surfaces. The matte treatment is smooth but not slippery, and unlike a glossy or polished coating, it won't pick up fingerprints and smudges. Excessively greasy fingertips will leave behind some residue, and you'll definitely want to keep this puppy away from the Cheeto guy who seems to show up at every LAN party. The Rat's blacked-out aesthetic and exposed internals make it easy to see the little flecks of dust, food, and dandruff that are sure to accumulate over time.
Certainly, it would be a shame for bright orange particulate sully the Rat's brooding exterior. This mouse has lived on my desk for more than a month now, and there are still times that I pause for a moment just to admire it. I'm not just lusting after its brutally gorgeous lines, but at the function that defines this mouse's striking form. The Rat looks like the combination of a bunch of different pieces because that's very much what it is, and you can swap and adjust most of those individual elements.
To illustrate the range of adjustment options, I've put together a handy side-by-side image of the mouse in its most compact and expanded forms. The palm rest can be extended aft by up to 15 mm, and there's 10 mm of forward-and-back range in the thumb rest. Users can also change the angle at which the thumb rest pivots out from the main body.
Over on the right, an optional wing provides a resting place for one's pinky finger. I didn't find this particular attachment to be all that comfortable, perhaps because it's home to some of the mouse's most aggressive edges. Fortunately, the Rat comes with a couple of flat panels for the right side. You can't move the thumb rest to accommodate wrong-handed lefties, though.
A second palm rest is 4 mm taller than the standard unit, allowing users to add a little arc the mouse's profile. When combined with the front-to-back adjustment range, the Rat can easily grow to cradle larger palms and provide extra reach for lengthy fingers. Users are limited to moving the palm rest between four notches along the mouse's spine, though. There are no such restrictions associated with adjusting the thumb rest, whose angle and position can be tweaked less than a millimeter at a time.
From this angle, we get a nice look at the Allen bolt that holds the mouse's side panel in place. If you don't want the pinky wing, you can choose between smooth and rubberized side plates. Similar choices are offered with the palm rest: the taller module is only available with a smooth finish, but shorter palm rests are included with the same surface treatments as the side plates.
The rubberized coating offers a little cushioning and extra grip, and I prefer it for gaming and general desktop use. Although it doesn't seem like much, the hint of extra padding does make a difference, especially after a long day.
Despite loads of exposed edges and angular surfaces, the Rat 7 is remarkably comfortable to hold once you've got the fit dialed in. I've yet to use a more comfortable mouse in day-to-day desktop tasks... even when those tasks extend well beyond the normal working day and into 10- and 12-hour territory. That said, during multi-hour gaming sessions, I did develop a bit of a sore spot where my hand touches the bottom-left edge of the palm rest. For what it's worth, the fingers on my other hand felt considerably more crippled after hammering away at the WASD keys for the same amount of time.