OK, so after months of sitting on the fence I finally took the plunge and sprung for an Artisan mouse pad to use with my Razer DeathAdder Black Edition. I should say I am not a serious or even occasional gamer, however I wanted something that would perform well and last a long time. I had originally intended to buy a Shiden-Kai, but changed my mind after reading some reviews and deciding I wanted something softer; I ended up buying the Hayate Soft M, which arrived in the mail yesterday.
According to Artisan's website, the Hayate is only available in "dark violet", which could fool me, since even in a bright room, sitting next to a black RealForce keyboard and a black DeathAdder mouse, the Hayate surprisingly looks very black. At first glance, I thought the Hayate looked somewhat thin and unassuming, which gave me pangs of remorse since it cost just over $50 before shipping. However now that I've been using it for nearly 24 hours my opinion of the Hayate has changed completely. I can't directly compare it to the QCK, Zowie or Razer since I've never used another pro gaming pad, but based on my own limited experience the Hayate is by far the best mouse pad I've ever owned. The surface feels great on my hand, it's just soft enough that it doesn't make my wrist sore and it appears easy to clean and not attract dirt. The DA glides on it with (what feels to my hands like) zero friction, but without being at all slippery, a possible weakness with a glass pad such as the Shiden-Kai. The backing of the Hayate pad has a very dense honeycomb pattern, made from some kind of rubber or foam, which sticks to like glue to the smooth surface of my desk, preventing any ripples or sliding.
Hayate Soft M
Pros: impressive materials and build quality (better than implied on Artisan's website); zero friction, zero resistance, zero slipperiness; surface/core are soft enough that they're comfortable without feeling squishy; backing prevents sliding and bunching.
Cons: pricey; only available in Medium and Large sizes.