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Steelpad 4D Mousepad

Before I get into the heart of this review I should introduce myself. I've been a lurker until now, but when I was given the opportunity to keep this sample if I reviewed it, I couldn't pass it up. My name is Debbie Adkins, Jim's wife. I've done a bit of research on other reviews to determine how best to write this. It's much easier for me to state my thoughts in spoken words; writing it down poses a bit of a challenge. However (knuckles cracking), I will attempt to make this as painless as possible.

The item up for review is the Steelpad 4D Mousepad, which was generously donated by Danny at Soft Trading. I have to admit until now, unless I'm doing some late-night surfing or playing a few hours of the Sims, I haven't cared a lot about what type of mousepad I used. My primary concern was whether it would fit on the table, and not interfere with the keyboard. I've since changed my opinion on mousepads after reviewing this one.

The Steelpad 4D arrived in an unassuming brown wrapping paper, and was encased in a form-fitted paperboard sleeve inside this. It was so basic and thin I tore one of the flaps when I opened it! While under other circumstances one would want more packaging to ensure the product is not damaged, this mousepad is very flexible. If you wanted to ruin it you might cut it with a pair of scissors, but I don't know why you would want to do this!

Steelpad Box Front     Steelpad Box Back

The Steelpad 4D, as I said, is flexible. It is made of plastic, and measures 11 inches long by 10 inches wide. This is comparable in size to a Ratpadz, which is 11 1/2 inches long by 9 1/2 inches wide. In relation to a standard mouse pad, like a Fellowes Mouse pad, which measures 8 inches long by 9 1/2 inches wide, you can see the Steelpad 4D has a few extra inches of surface area. The edges are smooth and rounded, but not tapered. The Steelpad 4D is consistent in depth from one edge to the other. How deep, you ask? It is no thicker than any given coin in your pocket. (We're talking quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies. NOT Chuck E. Cheese tokens!!!)

The Steelpad 4D arrived with a rubber backing mat cut to fit its shape. You can find a similar product sold in rolls as a shelf liner for your kitchen cabinets. So, if you ever need to replace the no-slip mat, a few dollars and a trip to a local department store will take care of you. Just for fun, I tried to use the Steelpad 4D without this mat underneath it. Ever used Armor-All on vinyl seats in your car? Just as the material keeps your dishes from sliding around in your cabinets, it keeps the Steelpad 4D from figure-skating across your desk.

Steelpad Comparison

The Steelpad 4D has two surfaces. One, the shiny smooth surface, didn't work well with my mouse, a Microsoft Basic Optical Wheel Mouse. During gameplay, the cursor hopped around the screen and it was difficult to control. The other side has a matte, textured finish. This side worked beautifully with all applications. I applied the Teflon tape that was thoughtfully included with the Steelpad 4D to the feet on my mouse and tried both surfaces again. The cursor wouldn't move at all on the smooth, shiny side, but worked very well on the matte textured side.

Steelpad Side A     Steelpad Side B

I, uh, borrowed a Logitech MX 700 Cordless Optical Mouse (Editor's Note; Hey, give that back!) and tried it with the Steelpad 4D. Naturally, it worked fine with both surfaces. No jerky, out-of-control movements from the cursor. Hmmm, maybe I need a new mouse? Of course, none of us eat in front of our computers, but if you happen to find mysterious crumbs or dust on the surface of your Steelpad 4D, the manufacturer recommends a simple glass cleaner--nothing that might leave a residue. I wipe mine off with a damp, lint-free rag, and plain tap water works just as well as Windex. So, clean-up is a breeze!

My computer desk is actually a round kitchen table, so it took a while for me to adjust to the size and shape of the Steelpad 4D. Since it has a wider surface area than most traditional mousepads, it kept getting in my way. I do have a smaller keyboard (Bytec Zippy EL-610 Mini) I tried with the Steelpad 4D and that seemed to help. If you have a larger desk than mine, the shape and size of the Steelpad 4D shouldn't be a problem.

The Steelpad 4D is flexible, durable, and the wider surface area means you don't have to keep lifting and repositioning the mouse. It did, however, take me a while to adjust to the few extra inches I could move my mouse before running over the edge; the last mousepad I used had a rim around the edge, so I knew when I ran out of space.

Until this point in the review, I haven't had any major issues with the Steelpad 4D. In a nice ironic twist, my primary complaint with the Steelpad 4D is also one of its strong points. The Steelpad 4D is so thin it can be uncomfortable with extended use. I had to do a lot of maneuvering, adjusting, and fiddling to get my wrist rest just right. If I'm planning to use the computer for more than just a quick check of my e-mail, I generally use the Steelpad 4D without a wrist rest.

The only other black mark on an otherwise perfect product would have to be the cost. Currently, the Steelpad 4D sells for 24.95 on their website. This is much cheaper than some of Soft Trading's other mousepads, but you can buy a generic mousepad and wrist rest combo in most stores for less than 20 dollars. If you're serious about your computer accessories, though, this would be a fine investment. As I stated earlier, I've changed my opinion about mousepads. After reviewing the Steelpad 4D, I won't be able to go back to a traditional mousepad without a fight. Overall, I give it very high marks.

Pros:

  • Lightweight, durable, flexible material
  • Wider surface area than a traditional mousepad--great for gaming!
  • Easy to clean
  • Two different textured surfaces expands compatibility
  • Flat, unobtrusive design
  • It looks cool sitting on your desk

Cons:

  • Its lack of height made it uncomfortable to use with a wrist rest

Added: April 4th 2004
Reviewer: DebbieAdkins
Score: 9  
Related Link: Steelseries
Hits: 9226
Language: english

  

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