Date: November 1st, 2003
Article by: Roger (Hardware
Product was donated by: Steelpad
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PRODUCT COMPOSITION & PICTORIAL (cont'd)
One of the great things about this pad is that it is made
for both optical and ball mice. The rough texture is for optical mice
and the smooth surface is for ball mice. Optical mice go flaky when
you try to use them on this surface, so don't waste your time.
The rubber mat is fantastic. At first sight, you may not
be able to appropriately understand just how good it works. I have been
testing this SteelPad for the last couple weeks, and it has not moved
once (with the obvious exceptions of when I moved it for testing purposes).
The mat clings to the desk as well as the underside of the SteelPad
and assures you that you can be as wild as you want without worrying
about your mousepad traveling across your desktop.
Which brings me to the Teflon tape. Oh, it's just tape,
you say. Well shut up and listen. It isn't just tape. It is unbelievable
sticky goodness, that's what it is... developed especially for SteelPad.
I had been using my IBM optical without the tape for a while, as I was
so incredibly impressed that I didn't think I needed the tape.
Finally, I took the time to cut the strips and apply it
onto the mouse, and the difference was literally night and day. It was
amazing. Cutting the tape was a little tricky, but not that huge a deal.
SteelPad suggests you cut strips a little bigger than the mouse feet
so that the tape can be seal under the mouse. This way, no dirt can
get under the tape. FYI, if your system is turned on while you are doing
this, cover that laser when working under the mouse. Gah, that was annoying.
PRODUCT WALKTHROUGH & TESTING
Before I get into my tests, let me talk a little more
about the SteelPad 4D. I really like how it is constructed. It is hard
plastic and doesn't buckle, which means you always have a nice flat
surface to work on. Because it is made of plastic and not aluminum,
the mouse slides across it quite silently.
The other advantage of this model versus the aluminum
model (the 4S) is that it works with practically all mice. The 4S is
limited, particularly when it comes to Logitech mice.
So, what did I think of its gaming performance? Well,
let's start with gaming, since that will be something that most people
will be able to relate to.
I play a variety of games, but one of my favorites is
Warcraft III (with the Frozen Throne expansion). I can just see some
readers rolling their eyes saying, how the hell can you review a gaming
mousepad using an RTS (real time strategy)? Well, what a lot of people
don't realize is that to be a good RTS player, you must have incredibly
fast hands. You have to tech, micro and battle via your keyboard shortcuts
and mouse clicks. When they talk about clicks per second, that includes
mouse clicks. It is so important to be able to mouse your characters
quickly and effectively in this game.
I have to say that I noticed the difference right away,
and I was able to make amazing use of higher resolution play. Micro'ing
Night Elves had never been this much fun. I also like the occasional
first person shooter (FPS), although not as much as my 17 year old son.
He runs a very high ranking Soldier of Fortune II clan, and plays nightly.
I asked him to test out the SteelPad, which he did with his ball mouse.
Immediately he commented on how smooth the camera movement became. He
noticed a huge increase in accuracy and loved how he was able to quickly
control his character. He also appreciated the size of the pad. It afforded
him a lot more luxuries in terms of playability.
Finally I wanted to talk about how this pad can help graphic
professionals. My wife is an artist and we enter her pieces into the
computer via one of two ways; scanner or digital camera - depending
on size. Often, I have to digitally alter these images. Now, we're talking
about huge files which require very intricate work. These pieces of
art are very important to us, and we don't want to destroy the digital
I also do a fair bit of graphic design, either for clients
looking for websites, or doing photo restoration. Now, anyone who has
ever tried to restore a fifty year old wrinkled photo can attest to
the fact that precision is a must. This mousepad is all that and then
some. It has made my Photoshop work so much more enjoyable. Honestly,
nothing is worst than a mouse jittering when you are working on a 10MB
PSD file, magnified to the max.