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Steelpad 4D and Steelpad S&S
(hx) 08:42 PM EDT - Sep,26 2004

There are numerous mouse pads on the market that are specifically targeted for the gaming community. Soft Trading (Denmark based distributors of Steelpad and Icemat products) was kind enough to send over two versions of the Steelpad for evaluation, the 4D and their latest offering, the S&S. Today I am taking a look at these two "Pro Mouse mats" that are supposed to improve you mouse response and of course accuracy.

First off, I will take a look at Steelpad 4D, the only double surfaced mouse pad made for both ball mice and optical mice. Steelpad 4D comes shipped in a nice box, and inside you will find the Steelpad 4D itself. The first thing you will notice right off is the Steelpad 4D is made from a special durable plastic compound. The pad looks to be extremely durable and easy to clean. The Logo is in the material, so there won't be any part of the pad that you can't use. The logo gives the pad a nice contrast and makes it look very stylish (but it is still a mouse pad). Also included is a set of "padsurfers", which if you haven't heard of before are 10cm (4" ) Teflon based strips placed on the mouse feet in order to improve slickness. They also reduce the noise. Be happy they included them for you.

Speaking of a list of features, here is what it says on the box:

- 2 Sided surface - all in one
- Super non-slip base
- Provides perfection in accuracy and precision
- Compatible with all mice
- Dimensions: 290 x 267 x 2,5 mm - 11" x 10" x 1/10"


It is really hard to get a sense of the different textures in these photos, but you can tell that one side is smooth and shiny and the other side is rough and dull - just turn it around. The smooth side is made for ballmice only (worked fine with my old Genius Mice), and vice versa with the rough side. It's for optical mice.

To put the pad through its paces I played various first person shooters (with MX 300 and MX510), such as DOOM 3, Far Cry, Painkiller, Call of Duty, UT2k4, etc over a period of a few weeks. In my opinion, the Steelpad without the Padsurfer feet was a little bit disappointing. It was still a fine pad, no better or worse than most of the mouse pads I've tested before. But, with the padsurfer feet installed the 4D really took off!

Pros:
- big surface
- great style, thin, durable
- excellent tracking
- two different surfaces (one for optical, one for ball mice)
- easy to clean surface
- padsurfer tape is fantastic

Cons
- requires padsurfer tape (included) to be applied for decent performance
- only one side is effective (hardcore gamers don't use ball mice anymore)
- price

Conclusion: For around $24.95, you can have this great mouse pad. Great tracking (with padsurfers installed) coupled with the large surface area make this mouse pad a buy.

Update: A couple days ago, Soft Trading ApS sent us a press release announcing that from October 1st they will begin delivering all Steelpad 4D with the new surface for the same price. The new surface will improve performance for _optical mice_ and increase the durability.


The second mouse pad I've tested was SteelPad S&S - the first product in a new line of professional gaming gear by Schroet Kommandoz (a major gaming community / multigaming clan) in association with Steelpad. Here are specifications:

- dimensions: 320 x 270 x 2 mm or 12 2/3" x 10 2/3" x 1/12"
- improved surface, for highest accuracy
- compatible with all mice
- cool sleeve included in the box
- big size - your mouse will never slip off
- approved by clans such as Team 3D, 4Kings, MouseSports, D-skyline and Titans. .

There is not much you can do with the packaging of a mouse pad, but the Steelpad S&S comes in a flimsy but professional looking box which is wrapped with a plastic foil. Inside you find the S&S itself, and a nice carry case with a zipper, which also has additional room for your mouse to be carried. Needless to say this is pretty useful feature for all travelling gamers. The package also contains a set of S&S Padsurfer. They adhere to the feet of your mouse and become the only surface that contacts the S&S mouse pad.
When you first take it out of the box, you'll notice that the pad is huge - much bigger than the 4D - 32x27cm!. This is the type of pad that you need a big space for. Another thing that I noticed besides it being so big was the thickness of it. It is very thin. I really like thin pads because I didn't feel my hand straining as much to rise above the table rest.

Despite the name, the Steelpad S&S is made out of plastic material. I would say the surface is very smooth and solid providing an excellent surface for the mouse. The plastic also seems more than sturdy enough to resist any scratching it may otherwise receive during daily use. The entire bottom surface covered in little rubber droppings (see pics #3) which allows for maximum contact and holding power to the surface of the desk. You can be 100% sure that the whole pad won’t move around while gaming.
 

As mentioned above, I spent several weeks gaming using two optical mice (MX 300 and MX510) and one ball mouse (old Genius NetScroll). To be honest, testing the pad in a FPS was really a blast! For that, I've launched Unreal Tournament 2004 and started fragging. From what I observed, both of the mice drag pretty smoothly on this SteelPad S&S mouse pad and it's very comfortable for gaming. I have no complaints about performance. In one word: performance is top notch!
Again, I recommend to attach included Pad Surfers - it will improve the performace a lot.

Pros:
- huge surface area (it's the largest Steelpad)
- pretty cool protective carrying case
- great feel, accuracy and precision
- responsive surface with optical or mechanical mice
- only 2 mm thick

Cons:
- high price

Now the question on everyone's mind, why should I pay $40 for a mouse pad? Well, the Steelpad S&S isn't a mouse pad for the casual gamers. It's a pad developed by professional gamers for professional gamers. So, if you are an occasional gamer or even a moderate gamer, I would say stick with a simple mouse pad :) But, if you are a keen gamer and looking for a new mat, I would certainly recommend looking at this one!



developer: Steelpad
publisher: Soft Trading

last 10 comments:

Gaz(09:54 AM EDT - Sep,27 2004 )
I think you missed the the sUrface1030 http://www.func.net/ mouse pad
It is double surface one 4 optical other for ball mouse and is around for ~2 years...

wka0(02:00 PM EDT - Oct,05 2004 )
thats alot of text for a mear mouse mat, wat a world we live in, i just use my mouse on a table. each to their own

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