Rating: ★★★★½

Huge franchises depend on merchandising. It doesn’t matter what the franchise is, and Activision would be remiss if it didn’t take advantage of the latest Call of Duty, Black Ops. Working with Mad Catz, who has recently released a number of high-end computer peripherals (some of which we’ll be reviewing in the coming week), they created with the RAT 7 Stealth Edition, complete with a Black Ops paint job and special functions specific to the game.

The RAT 7 is a unique mouse already because it’s adjustable. I passed on reviewing the standard model, namely because I’m also testing out the RAT 9, which is identical except that it’s wireless. The Stealth Edition is not entirely adjustable – the thumb slab can’t be adjusted whatsoever, compared to the standard RAT 7, which can. Instead only the length can be adjusted, but in its place is a special button that may make a world of difference for gamers.

What this special button does is cut the sensitivity of the mouse 50%, 75%, or any amount to slow the laser for more accurate aim. It’s quite the brilliant function, and spares gamers from having to switch between previously set DPi load-outs. Sadly, the usefulness is diminished due to poor placement. As someone with exceptionally long thumbs (a thumb-war champ, many have said), I have trouble reaching the sniper button. And because the Stealth is not fully adjustable like the standard RAT 7, users will have a hard time using this cool feature.

That placement is a real shame, because there are many uses for an instant sensitivity button like this, such as making quick adjustments when photo editing, text selection when web browsing, properly placing the cursor when scanning through long videos…the list goes on and on. I keep my mouse’s DPi setting at 2000 and rarely change it, but a single button to change it for just a moment is far more convenient than scanning through various pre-installed settings.

To be clear, the RAT 7 does come with this button, the PrecisionAIM, but on the RAT 7 it is not programmable. The Stealth Edition does not have adjustable sides.


The RAT 7 and Logitech G700 side by side, respectively

The Stealth is surprisingly comfortable. Even without the moot available adjustments, it’s clear that the design is very well thought out. The thumb piece goes down the side and flattens parallel the table, so players don’t need a claw grip on the mouse. Thumbs can rest easy flat, as they would on a table, but on the mouse instead. Buttons are well placed, though the thumb buttons are too thin.

The RAT 7 comes with all the bells and whistles expected from top-tier gaming mice: 5600 DPi sensor, 5+ programmable buttons, weights, and software that’s so easy, even Mac gamers could appreciate it. It also comes with a rarely seen horizontal scroll wheel, just above the thumb buttons, which appears more like an adjustment wheel to change something on the mouse than an actual scroll wheel. For gaming, it’s a great addition on the mouse to have, and proves to go hand in hand with the vertical scroll wheel. For standard computing it’s mostly useless, especially for those with larger screens (on my 1920×1200 I’ve yet to find a need to scroll horizontally, except once in Photoshop).


The RAT 7 with included weights, up to 30 grams total

Great software is not usually a given with gaming hardware, and depending on the company, is often hit or miss. Since Mad Catz took over Saitek’s Cyborg gaming line, the software has improved dramatically, and the available drivers for the RAT 7 are fantastically simple and intuitive. Get in, get out and play.

Bundle the whole thing with a stunning paint job and USB dogtags, the RAT 7 Stealth Edition is a great mouse that any gamer can appreciate, and even non-gamers can enjoy. The laser is highly sensitive, and PC gaming is a blast thanks to its high level of comfort and many functions. My only regret is the PrecisionAIM’s placement, which is too far up the mouse to use regularly. Considering the whole slab dedicated to a resting thumb, I see no reason why it can’t just rest directly under the center of the thumb. In any case, the Stealth is a great mouse, and interested buyers will definitely be happy with their purchase.



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.