The humble mouse mat is a much undervalued item of computer kit. Many of us just use something cheap we got bundled free with a another product and covered in manufacturer logos or 10 year old crumpled cloth mat which is fraying at the corners. Yet the thing is, it makes little sense to have top of the range hardware and spend no money on a product which massively determines the quality of your main input device. So let me educate you on the subtleties of the 21st century mouse mat.
First of all outstanding contenders are rare on the ground as it seems it is not just the public which undervalues a good quality mouse mat, but the industry too. Consequently, we have seen just one outstanding contender so far this year. The Ulti-mat appeared back in June and raised stakes by introducing a super smooth Teflon surface and some beautifully simple styling. Well now we have a product which could go to the next stage: the 5L from Steelpad.
Unlike any mat I have seen before, the wide 380 x 280mm 5L takes the unique approach of mixing five different layers of material into its design, each of which it claims contributes to the overall precision and feel of the pad. Think of a sponge cake thought up by NASA or – depending on your scepticism – Aquafresh. Let’s break each one down.
Starting from the top we have a thin plastic coating aimed to ensure durability yet maintain the texture of the underlying cloth layer beneath it. The cloth itself is said to help with precision and enable a smooth gliding experience. Under this is a layer of soft polyisoprene rubber foam, included to give the mat a softness of touch normally missing from hard topped mouse mats and also to make it a more comfortable when used for extended periods. Second from the bottom is a hard plastic compound to maintain the stability and shape of the mat and also provide some rigidity should it be used on an uneven surface. Rounding the whole thing off are rubber elements to stop the mat from moving around, even on slippery surfaces.
So marketing gimmick or genuine step forward? It’s hard to tell from a preview but I’m never going to damn a company for trying to be different. I also have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be rather good…
Like any cutting edge product the 5L doesn’t come cheap, but if you want the very latest and greatest you already know that. 36 euros is the RRP and you can pre-order it from the Steelpad website now.