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SteelSeries SteelPad 5L Mouse Pad Review

hardnrg    -   July 6, 2006
Category: Mouse Pad
Price: $39.95


Introduction

The SteelPad 5L is the newest mouse surface offered to gamers by SteelSeries. I received it directly from their headquarters in Denmark within a few days and I was eager to see what the SteelPad 5L had to offer over basic mouse surfaces and other gaming mouse pads.

SteelSeries is one of the brands operated by Soft Trading. The other brand is Icemat. Two names that I'm sure most gamers and tech-savvy people are familiar with. SteelSeries is the younger of the two brands, launching the original SteelPad in 2001, and has expanded its range of products to gaming headsets, mouse accessories (like padsurfers, the stick-on anti-friction "feet" for mice), and clothing. They are also close to releasing a suite of security products, SteelSecurity, in Q3 this year.

Mousepads are an almost essential weapon in any gamer's arsenal today. Let's take a closer look at this gaming mouse surface and see what it has to offer to its intended user, the gamer, and whether or not it gives a better mousing* experience than other alternatives.

* : The term mousing will be used throughout the rest of this review in reference to operating a mouse, akin to typing. It does not mean I am talking about chasing mice, hehe.

Closer Look

The SteelPad 5L arrived wrapped in plain brown paper and I wondered whether the mousepad they sent to me was not suitable to be seen by the feint of heart!


After tearing open the paper wrapping, I found the SteelPad 5L safely held behind a see-through plastic package housed in a heavy corrugated card frame. No wonder it only needed paper packaging, the retail packaging is sturdy enough to keep your new mousepad immaculate and unscathed by knocks and bumps in-transit on its way to you.


And it turns out to be more visually exciting than the brown paper package had made me first think! What a beauty! My eyes were transfixed on the incredibly striking design and were drawn to the intense glow behind the organic, inter weaved structures. I was truly gobsmacked! I would quite happily have the same design as a print/poster up on display on my wall, or as a desktop background. I really think this design will appeal to most gamers, judging from experience of what is deemed to "look cool" and it shows that SteelSeries really did their homework when they decided on this particular design. Fantastic.

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The reverse side was also a surprise, reminiscent of abstract impressionist paintings by Jackson Pollock. Certainly not what you'd expect to see on the bottom of a mouse pad. This white spattering serves as a non-slip material to stop the mouse pad sliding around on your desk.



Contrary to the name, the SteelPad 5L is actually constructed from cloth and plastic. This struck me as slightly odd that they named it a "SteelPad" because that makes me think of their steel or aluminum mouse pads. As you can imagine though, the SteelPad 5L is no ordinary cloth mouse pad. It is a composite of 5 layers, each precisely designed for a specific purpose.

Here is the explanation of the layers from the SteelSeries website: Detailed information about the 5 layers 1. Plastic coating Thin plastic coating ensures durability and maintains the texture of the underlying cloth material. 2. Cloth A highly durable and extremely strong cloth material provides a smooth gliding experience. The texture of the plastic coated cloth surface allows for minimal mouse movements and maximum precision. 3. Soft polyisoprene Specially treated soft polyisoprene provides softness to the touch. The softness of the rubber foam is very easy on the users' wrists, even for hardcore gamers and others who use their mouse for extended periods of time. 4. Hard plastic A hard plastic compound maintains the stability and the shape of the mouse pad, and helps ensure a consistent gliding experience even on uneven surfaces. 5. Rubber elements Small soft rubber elements ensures complete non-slippery steadiness. So you can see that the surface, the most important part of the mouse pad, is made from a thin layer of plastic over cloth. To the touch, it feels somewhere in between canvas and rubber. It reminds me of waterproof, technical fabrics like Gore-Tex® and the smooth materials used on running shoes and other outdoor equipment.


The SteelPad 5L is both a visually stunning work of art, and is highly technical in construction. The question now is: does this pad give a mousing experience suitable for games and indeed other tasks? There is only one way to "test" a mousepad, and that is to play games! Let's have a look at the specs of this mousepad before I reveal the results.



  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Specifications & Testing
  3. Conclusion
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