A fair number of mouse mats on the market feature induction as their power source - one large inductive surface, and then a mouse with a small coil and perhaps a battery as well. These solutions have either multiple or flip-able mouse mats, providing both a cloth and a hardened surface area, but each system has its own unique eco-system.
The alternative is the Corsair MM100Qi Wireless Charging Mouse Pad. It's different, which has both positives and negatives. While most go for a frame or chassis, Corsair has opted for a one-piece solution where the frame and mouse pad is one and the same, and instead of having the entire mousepad being conductive, there is instead a designated charging area. Corsair has decided to forego the limitations of closed ecosystems, and have embraced the Qi Standard. That means that if your phone or tablet has Qi wireless charging, your mousepad is compatible with the product, and if it isn't, Corsair has provided a charger and different adapters, connecting to the USB port of your phone, tablet, or another device.
However, there are strict limitations to the system. First of all, you're stuck with one mousepad and only one surface, which is pretty annoying if you prefer cloth over plastic. It's "microtextured" too, and not as slippery as one would fear, but still with less precision than cloth. In all fairness, it increases the strength and durability of the construction immensely compared with the alternatives. Secondly, the small charging area means a lot of "getting used to" is needed before you're able to hit the right spot - given that you remember it.
The connection to the computer is rather bulky as it also serves as a USB 3.0 port to the receiver, which means two USB cables and therefore ports are used. We had hoped for one single USB C cable, to be honest, supported by most recently produced motherboards. The wires are thick, sturdy, and with a braided surface, and we also see the usual black and grey Corsair plugs. We're big fans of manufacturers giving cables a personal touch, marking the product and making the wire hell at the backside of our computer a bit easier to manage. The use of a separate receiver also makes it possible to use the mouse outside the designated pad, but we honestly preferred the built-in receiver within the frame of the product.
As mentioned before, this solution is sturdy. More importantly, the price is £70; close to half the price of the competition. The charging of other Qi devices isn't exactly fast, but what has to be taken into consideration is how powerful the batteries are that it has to charge, compared with that of a tiny mouse. The mat is also very firmly placed on your desktop due to a massive amount of soft-surface rubber.
The mouse is the Dark Core RGB SE Performance Wireless, and despite the price being lower elsewhere, the UK price is £86, which is still a lot cheaper than the competition, making the full system half the price of both Logitech's Powerplay and Razer's Hyperflux.
The Dark Core - what a fantastic name - is a right-hand mouse only, but with an exchangeable side panel to the right, either a normal side or a "fin" version for resting your pinky. The left side of the mouse has a sort of squared area that curves inwards, front half and back half for forward/backwards clicking, and a "sniper" macro button in the middle that - when held down - slows down your DPI, enabling quick and flawless DPI switching in the middle of a battle. It's by far the best integration into the design of a designated "sniper button" we have seen in a long time. The surface itself is extremely nice to hold and has a strange pattern edged into it, like a golf ball or the rear port of a pair of Bowers & Wilkins speakers. It enhances the comfort but also ensures that your hand never slips on the surface.
There are two extra buttons to the left of the mouse buttons, used for DPI settings by default, and with a small light beneath, indicating DPI level. The mouse wheel is coated with rubber and functions well without blowing the user away. Like the rest of the mouse, it's well-working without making a big fuss out of things.
Tracking works as expected, but not as well as the best premium mice from the main competition, which makes little sense as it uses the PMW3367 sensor. Cabling doesn't make much of a difference in this, and it basically comes down to the mouse pad surface. DPI can be configured in steps of just 1 DPI if you fully want to customise, and RGB is self-evident, four zones, but done tastefully. It does, however, zap the battery a lot faster (roughly 30% in fact) although you can still get 16 hours out of it.
Perhaps the least impressive element is the CUE2 driver. The user interface is cluttered, the back button on the side failed to work, and the slumber function that saves battery-life never worked as intended, resulting in an awful lot of "Battery critical" messages. The charging itself is also depended on a very precise alignment as mentioned earlier, and they really should have increased it. You will get used to it eventually, but what we didn't get used to was the occasional squeaking noises the mouse buttons made, which we doubt strongly is due to the Japanese Omron switches inside.
The Mouse is made with a lot of thought, but driver and build quality is not on par with the competition, and it felt like the final touch was missing, and that's too bad when you have a product that has a massive price advantage over anything else.
The very idea of a multi-platform charging system is brilliant, really thinking outside the box, but the execution is somewhat sloppy and turns impractical in everyday use, combined with a lack of premium build quality as one would expect from a premium product, and the same goes for the driver. Corsair had all the right ideas, now they just need to execute it just as brilliantly.