Mouse mats of recent have been moving away from boring black cloth to more exciting designs. A great example are the NO.ID pads, however today I have the SteelSeries SteelPad 5L in my hands which also combines a gaming surface with aesthetic awesomeness.
SteelSeries is all about gaming. Our mission is to create performance enhancing gaming gear, created for and by leading professional gamers. We continuously strive to better ourselves, and work with leading professional gamers from 3 different continents to create our products.
Our staff is distributed throughout the world, working from offices in Europe, North America and Asia.
The SteelSeries headquarters are located in Europe (Copenhagen, Denmark), and host the primary office facilities for the company. The headquarters handle all planning, production and partner coordination.
For logistical reasons we also have sales offices in Asia (Taipei, Taiwan) and USA (Los Angeles, California). From Taipei we can each the entire Asian market, as well as New Zealand and Australia. From Los Angeles we can reach North America, Canada and South America. All manufacturing is done by sub-suppliers from Europe and Asia, and then delivered to one of our warehouses for final processing.
A unique mouse pad featuring the durability and stability of a hard plastic, as well as the softness and smoothness of a cloth mouse pad. The SteelPad 5L is composed of five different layers, each layer contributing to the overall precision and feel of the pad.
Quick facts about SteelPad 5L
- Combines the strength of plastic with the softness of cloth
- Suitable for all mouse sensitivities
- Compatible with optical, laser and ball mice
- Dimensions 380 x 280 mm (14,9 x 11 in)
The surface of the SteelPad 5L is highly durable and offers consistent and precise mouse control.
The first layers consists of plastic coating on a cloth material, utilizing the strength and durability of plastic and the feel of quality cloth. The middle layer is composed of specially designed soft rubber foam to provide the feeling of softness. The bottom layers provide stability, as a highly durable plastic layer guarantees the shape of the pad, followed by small soft rubber elements offering complete non-slip steadiness.
The Hard Softy
The 5L comes packed in a plastic package with a loin-cloth of cardboard around the right of the box. The back is cardboard, and lists all of the features and the construction methods all in different languages. Obviously the sales of this product aren’t limited to the English speaking world.
Once out of the box, you realise that this isn’t your ordinary pad. It is made of several layers that all fit together to make for the perfect gaming experience. The top layer is a coating that is applied to the cloth layer beneath. Below this is a thin sheet of polyisoprene which is soft and pliable allowing for more comfortable gaming sessions. Underneath this soft layer, is the hard plastic part which makes the mat perfectly flat. On the bottom of the 5L are little bits of rubber which grip your desk; preventing the pad from sliding around.
Cloth has a major benefit over their solid counterparts, in that the cloth weave naturally has a pattern that the optical or laser sensor can easily pickup and distinguish, which means that you get much better tracking. A hard surface however either has to have a bumpy (3D) texture, or have a printed surface. The hard surface, especially if the manufacturer decides to use a 3D pattern (like the Giganta mouse pad reviewed here), will cause friction and noise when the mouse is moved. This means that you get quieter gaming with a cloth mouse pad as the surface is inherently soft; absorbing the sound. To get over this problem, hard surface pad producers print a random pattern on the pad to give the mat better tracking. This often looks ugly and very functional. This is the exact opposite of what a gamer wants; we want a great looking pad that performs well and, more importantly, to show off with.
The design of the pad is very different from any other that I’ve seen and combines the good points of hard pads – stability and flat gaming surface – with their softer counterparts with have a smoother, absorbent surface.
The graphics printed on the pad are grungy and dark. There is some futuristic text in the upper half of the pad in the centre which reads: ‘5L subj: SURFACE dfine: PRECISION’. In the bottom left of the pad is the SteelSeries logo which has also had the grunge filter applied to it to fit in with the rest of the design. The colour scheme consists of blue, white and black. The colours seem to lack vibrance and contrast compared with the NO.ID pads. That said the image is much better than looking at a matt black expanse of cloth.
The lower part of the pad is slightly concave allowing your wrist to arch over the edge, reducing the friction the edge of the pad could give. It also makes the pad look a little more interesting than the standard oblong type.
To test the 5L I used the following mice:
The first thing thatyou notice is how much SteelSeries have strayed away from their usual black cloth pads, this design really stands out. That said if the performance isn’t up to par, the ‘pimping’ is for a lost cause.
The top, treated layer provides a friction-free environment; when in Windows the pad was at least as smooth as the NO.ID pad and on par with the Razer Mantis Control Pad as a result.
I played a bit of all of the mice in the individual tests (with all of them connected it got rather confusing….). I ran through a level on Command and Conquer: Zero Hour, a quick game of Battlefield 2142 and generally used the pad in Windows.
In Zero Hour the pad was perfect and complimented all of mice in the test, apart from the roller ball which appeared to have problems gripping the surface. However, it’s more than likely that yesteryears technology was simply not up for the task of speedy movements. Whilst the 5L is apparently designed with roller ball mice in mind, it’s unlikely that a gamer would be using one.
All of the mice performed admirably in this test, and the smoothness of the Razer mice over the StarMouse or Reaper became apparent as Razer equips its mice with ultra-slick Telfon pads. It would have been nice to see SteelSeries package some mouse tape so that everyone can experience the smoothness this pad has to offer.
In Battlefield 2142 there were no problems and I can’t fault the pad. The soft 3rd layer sounds like a gimmick but really does help stop pressure pains in your wrists when gaming for hours on end. The cloth surface is also absorbent, which means that your sweat isn’t left to grease your pads surface, but sucked into the fibres of the pad itself. Sounds nasty but it does mean that you don’t have to stop every now and again to wipe off your gaming perspiration.
The 5L is the perfect size for most gamers; even with any of the mice on their lowest sensitivity, the 5L was big enough. And even with all this movement, the rubber bits on the back gripped my desk flawlessly.
Much like Starsky and Hutch or jelly and ice-cream, the 5L is the perfect partner to any high-end mouse; its hybrid cloth surface and solid back will satisfy both sides of the mouse mat world. Yet, as with most performance products, the price may be the deciding factor.
|Great aesthetics||No mouse tape included|
|Awesome playing surface||Price|
I’d like to thank SteelSeries for providing us with this mouse pad.
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