I’ll level with you: normally mouse pad reviews are pretty-much rubber stamp affairs. There’s only so much to discuss – dimensions, materials, comfort – and if the basics are done right, everything else is a matter of taste. But today, writing up my thoughts on the €35 Speedlink Orios LED, I’ve found an alarming amount to discuss.
Before I get into my annoyances, let’s talk about what the Orios LED gets right. The surface feels pretty good under(mouse)foot, with minimal friction to allow for an effortless glide. This characteristic is good for heavier mice and large movements, but less ideal for fine adjustments with ultra-light mice as you may find it difficult to stop your mouse in precisely the right position.
The size is a little modest at 350 × 260, but I would say it is adequate for most mouse users, especially those at higher mouse DPI settings. The 4mm thickness is also on the small side of medium, which is perfectly fine for people using a flat surface (like a desk) rather than people perching their mouse pad on something uneven (like a desk with holes).
The overall appearance of the mouse pad is nice too: the Orios branding is relatively subtle in person, while the grey geometric design provides an interesting appearance that should mesh well with other peripherals. The usability of the RGB lighting is also good, with a simple button allowing you to switch between eight different colour modes (including seven set colours and a rainbow effect). The strength of the lighting effect isn’t the best I’ve seen – there are zones of intense colour and the rest is mostly white – but it’s festive enough.
Unfortunately, all of these good points are overwhelmed by a couple of notable flaws. The first (and lesser) transgression is that the edge of the mouse pad is very rough, with prominent stitching that scratches and irritates the arm. Compared with a SteelSeries RGB mouse pad of similar design (the QcK Prism XL), the Speedlink mouse pad is far more abrasive. Hopefully, this scratchy material will dull and soften over time – but I’m not waiting to find out.
That’s because this mouse pad seems to possess a critical design flaw, at least for a user like me: the small plastic box clipped onto the top centre of the pad. This box controls the lighting effects and provides a place for the Micro USB cable to be inserted. On most RGB mouse pads, this is located to one side – where it will never interfere with the movement of the mouse. This placement was used by Speedlink themselves on an earlier RGB mouse pad I tested, and yet here the position is top-centre. Just where the mouse cable normally lies. So instead of the cable smoothly moving back and forth, there’s all this extra noise and friction as the cable hits the control box and bounces off, or gets caught.
Given the modest size of the mouse pad, there’s also the very real possibility that if you quickly move the mouse up – say, to shoot an enemy above you – you’ll smack right into that darn piece of plastic. The plastic box also serves to elevate the top of the mouse pad by a few centimetres, so your mouse is travelling (very slightly) uphill if you want to aim up, and (very slightly) downhill if you want to aim down – it’s madness.
What can be done in future? I’d recommend a thicker pad, moving from 4mm to around 6mm, so that the pad can be compressed a little around the control box so the entire mouse pad remains level. The control box itself should be moved, preferably to the left side, to ensure it remains as far away from the usable mousing surface as possible while also not interfering with the movement of the mouse cable. The strength of the RGB effect could also be improved, as the amount of white or grey areas in the current iteration is disappointing.
Speedlink have proved they can produce nice, competitively priced mouse pads in the past, so I hope that we’ll see a better follow-up to this product that fixes its major issues. Until then, I wouldn’t recommend the Orios LED unless you’re using a mouse bungee or wireless mouse – and even then, this is far from the best gaming mouse pad out there.