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Steelpad S&S Mousepad

 

Making a better mouse…pad?

by Joshua Walrath

 

 

            I think that it has become well known that all mousepads are not created equal.  Gone are the days of the generic Allsop fabric pads and home made mousepads.  Today we have a handful of companies busy producing a wide range of products that address the non-generic mousepad market, some of these include Everglide, Ratpadz, Func, Belkin, and Razer.  Another company has recently made headlines with a series of pads actually made of aluminum and steel.  This of course leads to their name, Steelpad.

This rather beat up little box hides perhaps the finest mousepad currently made.  Note the Autumn motif for this series of pictures.  My wife went to a lot of trouble to get us all into the Fall Mood.

            The original Steelpad products were very well received by the industry due to their outstanding mousing performance, but there were a few drawbacks.  The first was the scraping noise that the pad gave off when being used, and the second was the sharp edges that could irritate a user’s wrist after extensive use.  While Steelpad continues to sell their metal based pads, they have decided to take a new approach to the market, and hopefully gain a bit more marketshare than they previously had.

            The Steelpad S&S is part of a new series of products from Steelpad that are based on hard plastics rather than metal.  This of course cuts down on the cost of manufacturing and shipping, since plastic is a lot easier to deal with than metal (not to mention the actual material costs are cheaper too).  How does the Steelpad S&S hold up to the competition?  Very well, as a matter of fact. 

Impressions

            When I had requested a Steelpad S&S for review, I was not really sure what to expect.  Very little was detailed on their website pertaining to the actual material used, how big it was, how heavy, and what other features it brought to the table.  All I knew is that it was a new product, it came with a carrying case, and it was black.  I was unsure if it was going to be metal or not, and several other reviews failed to mention anything of the sort.

The black nylon protective cover is a nice addition, and one that some LAN-goers might appreciate.  Of course, it is one extra thing to pack and possibly to lose...

            DHL dropped off the package, and I instantly knew what it was (since it was International Delivery from Denmark).  What I was amazed at was that it didn’t have any protective packaging whatsoever.  While a mousepad is hardly a complex piece of electronics, international shipping can be hard on anything!  I guess that Steelpad trusted the durability of its product to the utmost to have it shipped this way.  The brown paper wrapping came off and I was greeted to the site of the thin cardboard sleeve that contained the S&S and its carrying case.

            The carrying case is of heavy duty black nylon with a secondary pocket for anything a user might consider carrying in there (such as a mouse).  It also has some padding to protect the mousepad to a degree.  Overall it is a nice touch, but hardly necessary.

            The pad itself is black and made of a high density polyethylene.  It is very thin, but still very stiff and not easy to bend.  It lays flat when put on a desk surface, and it has a small indentation at the bottom for the wrist.  It is definitely an oversized pad, measuring in around 13” x 11”.  The rubberized bottom insures that it does not move no matter what kind of movements a user might perpetrate on it.

            Also included in the package is a small information pamphlet, as well as several Teflon feet that can be attached to a user’s mouse.  If the feet on the current mouse are worn down, then these will help improve the overall feel of the mouse.  I found on my Logitech MX-510 that the feet were in good working order, so I left them alone. 

A Question of Wear

            A huge problem for any plastic based mousepad is wear over time.  I have used pads from Everglide and Ratpadz, and every single one of them showed signs of wear and smoothing after several weeks.  In the case of the Ratpadz GS, I usually saw significant wear after a week of use!  These pads would not only wear away, but would also wear down the feet of the mice that were used upon them.  One exception to this is the original Ratpadz, which was made of such a durable plastic that even after several years of use it looks almost as good as new!

Once the pad is removed from its case, the user will start to get a good feeling about how it will perform.  It feels nice and heavy in the hand, and its surface promises a solid performance.

            With the wear performance of these new pads in mind, I was not expecting much out of the S&S.  Here was a pad that, while fairly stiff, was a thin and lightweight piece of plastic.  The surface texture was very similar to the products from Everglide and Ratpadz, and I fully expected the pad to wear down in a matter of weeks, if not sooner.  I was wrong.

            Currently I have been using this pad for the past six weeks, and it looks just the same as when I first placed it on my desk.  Even though I concentrate my movements on one part of the mouse, it is indistinguishable from the other parts.  Mouse movement is uniform across the entire surface, and there are no tell-tale “hisses” when the mouse hits a worn down section.  I have seen no evidence of wear whatsoever!  This is truly phenomenal.

 

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