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Date: November 1st, 2003
Article by: Roger (Hardware Reviewer)
Product was donated by: Steelpad
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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.



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 copies.

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.



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