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Old December 12, 2010, 08:24 AM
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Default Artisan Gaming Mouse Pads

Expensive mouse pads are really only for very picky people. Using the desk itself or a cheap pad is really all most people will ever need. But if you are like me, and do not feel comfortable unless everything is just right, you need a good mouse pad. Until now I have not found a pad I could live with. I've had the razer exact, razer Goliathus, razer destructor, steelseries 9hd, steelseries qck heavy & qck+, icemat (glass), and others I can't remember. But I really did not like any of them, so I've been using my bare desktop.

I knew nothing about the company who makes the pads (Growup Japan), or the pads themselves. The English part of their website (ARTISAN Online shop | KAI.g2/KAI.g3 is gaming mouse pad from Japan has obviously been created using an online translation tool and isn't particularly compelling. However, I have always had great experiences with anything made in Japan, and when possible I will buy Japanese products over anything made in any other country, except possibly Germany. So I bought a couple of their mats based on the made in Japan factor alone.

Both mats I recieved have very high quality closed cell backing backing which you never see on mouse pads.
  • Uniform hardness
  • Uniform repulsion elasticity
  • High vibration absorbency
  • Uniform surface
And since the top layer is bonded to the backing, those characteristics help create a quality top surface.

Currently, they only have 2 surfaces available: ARTISAN KAI.g2 & ARTISAN KAI.g3 HIEN. Unfortunately they didnt have the ARTISAN KAI.g2 UT when I ordered; that one apparantly is "Suitable for almighty play styles. IE 3.0 is NOT compatible" Not being compatible with Internet Explorer 3 is a bummer though. The kai.g2 u is avaialbe in one stiffness (soft), two sizes, but only one color (charcoal). The kai.g2 hien is also available in two stiffnesses (soft/hard), two sizes, and two colors (red and black).

1) ARTISAN KAI.g2 U













2)ARTISAN KAI.g3 HIEN








My faith in Japanese products continues to be justified as these are the two best mouse pads I've bought. Each surface is completely defect free, and the high quality backing is fantastic.

The g2 is very slick, and the g3 gives you a bit better control because of the increased friction. Neither surface transfers any vibrations to the mouse, so when I say friction it is not anything you can feel except that it takes a bit more effort to start moving the mouse with the g3, and it stops quicker. I personally prefer the g3, as I have a tenancy with the g2 to overshoot things and the g3 is therefore more precise. But if you want a fast mat, the g2 is great.

I love the g3 and so my search for a mouse ends here. If you have yet to find a mat you can live with, you really should give an Artisan mat a go.

Post Script:
The g2 is $23 for the small, and $28 for the medium.

There is a promotional sale on the g3 right now. I paid $28 for the large, and but they've dropped the price to about $10. The sale is nice, but imo if they really want to attract international customers they really need to work on the English part of the site.

EMS shipping for two mats from Tokyo to Calgary was $23, and it took 7 days. The mats cannot be rolled or severely bent, so the packing had to be really good and it was. Neither mat was damaged in transit.
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Old December 12, 2010, 05:01 PM
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Thanks for the review and informing us about the sale. I ordered soft and hard Kai.g3 Hien pads. I look forward to trying them.
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Old December 19, 2010, 03:38 PM
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I'd just like to add to this review, these things simply reek of uber high quality.

I ordered the Kai G3 Hien-Soft in navy blue medium size, courtesy of the heads from the OP. ($7.80 for the pad, $12.80 shipping and handling, USD) It was ordered on the 12th, processed on the 13th, shipped on the 14th and arrived on the 17th. NCIX has it for $27 before taxes/shipping, not to mention Markham takes forever to ship/process. It probably would have taken them twice that time.

When picked it up from the post office, the guy who took it out for me (who I've also known for a long time) just said to me, "Holy crap, what kind of crazy mouse pad did you order?" The packaging, like most Japanese products, probably cost more than the product itself.

The Kai G3 Hien-Soft, IMO isn't the perfect pad for me, but it's still worlds beyond anything other gaming peripheral companies can offer, and will put all my Razer and Steelseries pads into retirement.


Pros:

-Before I used this pad, I always had to have angle snapping enabled in Setpoint, (I use a G9X) now with the pad, I simply don't need it, tracking is PERFECT, a straight line is a straight line, a mild parabola is a mild parabola. I simply cannot express with words the PERFECTION of the tracking.

-The surface of the pad also provides incredibly smooth glide for my mouse, sometimes a little too smooth.

-The mouse pad bottom is incredibly "sticky," it doesn't shift or move out of place at all.

-After a quick chaffing test, the edge of the mouse pad does fray a tiny bit, but the stitching along the edges is so tightly knit that the pad will never deteriorate past the edges.

-The soft pad feels like an expensive mattress, there's a bit of softness and give at first, but it's very firm at the same time.

-Each pad is inspected individually THREE times before shipping out. (that's what the seals on the packing list appear to say at least, I'm not Japanese though, could be wrong)

-Packaging is pointlessly well done, 3 layers of packaging material. (bubble wrap and stiff cardboard)

Cons:

-The surface, as advertised, requires a fairly low initial motion to move the mouse, so it takes some getting used to. I often have issues with making the mouse physically jump backwards after a horizontal swing, but this is due to my habit of overcompensating for poor tracking.
More weight/pressure placed on the mouse reduces this issue significantly though.

-It's a real pain shifting the pad into a different position without lifting the entire pad, it's just that "grippy."

-The stitching on this pad is so tight, that the outside edges of the pad curve up a little. (at least on my pad) It's not an issue unless you need to use the entire mousing surface all the way to the corners though. In which case you should have bought the large pad.

-This specific pad seems to be designed solely for FPS gamers, the horizontal and diagonal movement is fairly frictionless, while the vertical movement creates audible friction. (a quiet scratchy sound) It's still very good for RPGs, but might be a bad choice for serious RTS gamers.
However, after some thought, vertical sensitivity is the same as horizontal sensitivity on most mice. It's adjustable on some products such as my G9X, but with widescreens or "shortscreens" dominating the market, it does make sense to increase vertical friction on the pad. However most RTS games won't benefit from this feature as they typically use a bird's eye view. It would seriously benefit any first person/third person view though.


Overall, this specific pad really hits the spot for most gamers and even some professionals, I can't wait to see what this company comes out with to fit all the different market niches. (after their glass pads that is)

Thanks again to David Milch for the great deal and for Gup Japan (or Grow Up Japan) for making such an amazing product.
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Old December 19, 2010, 07:36 PM
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bestdirect is selling the pad for $16.xx
PM with NCIX
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Old December 20, 2010, 04:20 AM
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@ilya: Glad you liked it. In this era of Chinese manufacturing, it's always good to run into a quality product, even if it's just a mouse pad and I'm glad I could share it.

OT: I was talking with my gran a while back when I took her to the mall cause she needed a purse. And she was telling me that products used to be made to last; and not just the stupid expensive things either. Quality was something that was expected. Shoes were made to be resoled, furniture was made to be handed down, etc. When I got home, some of the crap my wife and I have accumulated really stood out. (Ikea Besta entertainment centre, I'm looking at you).

btw, after looking through a bunch of different stores all selling the same cheap industrial stench ridden bags, my gran finally bought a tribal leather handbag from Roots, which was made in Canada. It looks like something that will outlast her.
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Old December 20, 2010, 09:36 AM
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How long do gaming pads last? I have one from Alienware and it appears worn out. The surface is not as sooth as it was after only six months.
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Old December 20, 2010, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tragd View Post
bestdirect is selling the pad for $16.xx
PM with NCIX
Why wouldn't you just buy it through bestdirect? Their service is fine.
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Old December 20, 2010, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Milch View Post
@ilya: Glad you liked it. In this era of Chinese manufacturing, it's always good to run into a quality product, even if it's just a mouse pad and I'm glad I could share it.

(Ikea Besta entertainment centre, I'm looking at you).
The Chinese manufacturing is honestly the lesser of many evils, at least a few of them put out quality products, like the new Seasonic facility. Things could be far worse, like those Mexican slave child made Sony's.

Don't even get me started on IKEA, I had an IKEA bed that collapsed while I was sleeping in it. (I'm only ~125lbs, total lightweight)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slik View Post
How long do gaming pads last? I have one from Alienware and it appears worn out. The surface is not as sooth as it was after only six months.
My Razer cloth pads (the Goliathus line) began to fray and wear down after less than 6 months. Steelseries cloth pads were better, lasted well over a year, almost 2. I prefer the Razers though.
I have a feeling these Artisan pads should last MUCH longer. (it took some sandpaper and a bit of effort to get some invisible fuzzies to show)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BootlegUsher View Post
Why wouldn't you just buy it through bestdirect? Their service is fine.
BestDirect is a subsidiary of Compu2000 which is a sister company of NCIX. That said, Direct Canada, which is another sister company of NCIX has it for a few cents less. (they use the same address for their main office if that isn't a tell all)

Reasons to buy from NCIX:
-The PM will be approved very quickly. (since it's the money goes to the same people anyhow, the approval happens in minutes in my experience)
-More ways to get to the same quality customer support, even on non working days. (ticket system, callback, email, phone, forums, etc.)
-NCIX points system. (if you actually want them)
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Old December 21, 2010, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilya View Post
The Chinese manufacturing is honestly the lesser of many evils, at least a few of them put out quality products, like the new Seasonic facility. Things could be far worse, like those Mexican slave child made Sony's.

Don't even get me started on IKEA, I had an IKEA bed that collapsed while I was sleeping in it. (I'm only ~125lbs, total lightweight)
Geez, that would give some people a heart attack.

And yes, Chinese manufacturing can produce quality equal to anything from any other country. I love my Seasonic psu, btw.

The main problem is that many (most) Western companies whose only real asset is a copyrighted brand name, contract out to Chinese firms for production as only Chinese can own the factories in China. The western companies want products made as cheap as possible, with a bare minimum of quality. The Chinese firms have no long term stake in the success or failure of a foreign brand name, so they cut as many corners as they can so that they can make more money. What do they care if in 10 years, a bunch of western brands like Maytag are damaged beyond repair? It is not like a Western company can sue for damages.

And infact, it might even help Chinese manufacturing long term, once they start developing their own worldwide brands based on quality, and that is coming. I will only buy Seasonic psus now because I trust them. I dont trust companies that contract out their psu production to Chinese firms like cosair, evga, ocz etc, however.

I find China truly amazing. I mean, 35 years ago it was a virtual wasteland because of Mao. And now, China is a juggernaut. It wouldn't surprise me if in another 35 years, they are the new USofA, and Mandarin is the new lingua franca.
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Old December 22, 2010, 09:12 PM
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Jumped on these as well. I ordered a G3 Hard (red) and G3 Soft (blue) because I wasn't quite sure which one I'd prefer. I paid for them in the evening on December 16th which was $32 USD. Didn't receive shipping confirmation until December 20th, which was Monday, although the pads had shipped out on the 17th. I received them the next day, the 21st. Very impressive.

I thought I'd decided I liked the Soft version better but I just tried the Hard one again to make sure and LOL now I'm thinking I might like IT better. I guess I'll have to keep trying them for a few more days and see which I prefer in the end. Either way, tracking has definitely improved over my aging and worn Razer eXact Mat.

Last edited by headsh0t; January 2, 2011 at 02:14 AM.
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