- EverglidePrice - £15
Under The Gun
The humble mouse mat; hardly the most exciting part of your computer, yet in its own way one of the most important. Without a decent surface for your rodent to roam over your accuracy will be impaired, and the unfortunate mouse will find itself gathering up dirt and grime.
In recent years the mouse mat industry has seen something of a boom, no doubt largely thanks to the advent of first person shooters and competitive gaming. Serious action gamers want to make the most of their skills, and are willing to spend however much it takes to nurture them. Having dropped anything up to £100 on a specialist mouse, it seems stingy not to give that rodent the best possible surface to play on.
Amongst the forerunners at the moment are Everglide, who make a whole range of tough, durable mouse pads which won't break your bank. All of them share the same basic design - a hard plastic surface about 5mm thick, with little plastic feet on the underside which hold the pad firmly to your desk, even under attack from the most violent of mouse users.
The upper surface is textured to give your rodent's ball (if it has one) the best possible grip as you move it around the pad. Optical mice also work fine on most of the pads, although the plain white ones obviously don't give much for the sensors to work with, and are best avoided if you have an optical mouse.
For the last few weeks I have been using one of Everglide's "Large Attack Pads" which, despite the name, is actually one of their smaller surfaces, giving a welcome boost in clear space on my somewhat cluttered desk.
With a smooth curvaceous design that looks like it escaped from the set of a Batman movie, it is certainly stylish, as well as functional. The rounded dent in the near edge of the pad nicely accommodates your hand, and if you hold your wrist still the mouse sweeps nicely around the curved "wings" as you move it from side to side.
There's not much room for moving the mouse up and down on the pad though, and it seems to be designed for twitch killers who have their mouse sensitivity settings very high. Luckily that includes me, and the pad also makes an ideal partner for my highly accurate (and bloody expensive!) Razer Boomslang 2000 gaming mouse.
If you prefer to play with a very low mouse sensitivity, rolling your mouse violently backwards and forwards as you play your games, you would probably be better off going for one of Everglide's aptly named "Giganta" mouse pads. Those are more rectangular and give you more surface to play with, although they don't cost any more. At the end of the day it comes down to whichever suits your playing style best.
The mousing surface itself is excellent, offering low friction to the under-side of your mouse but still giving good grip for the all-important ball. The result is a joy to use, with your rodent gliding smoothly across the pad.
While it might not turn you into the next Fatality or Thresh, this certainly should improve your mouse movement's accuracy and smoothness, particularly in action games. It can also come in handy for precision pixel pushing for those of you with an artistic streak.
Using the pad, even for long periods of time, is generally very comfortable. The only real problem I have had with it is that the fairly narrow raised surface left my wrist sitting on the hard surface of my desk, which could get quite painful after a while. The solution came, strangely enough, in the form of a cloth beer mat. Folding it up and putting it under the pad gave me a soft surface to rest my wrist on, and I haven't had any problems since.
If you have the same problem and want a slightly more high tech solution, Everglide also sell a lycra wrist rest filled with polyurethane gel, which you can buy for £8.
Of course, plain black might not appeal to everyone. For those of you who are fanatical about your favourite games, Everglide also offer Large Attack Pads with logos printed on to them.
Unreal Tournament, Quake 3 Arena and Half-Life attack pads are currently all available, and only cost £1 more than the plain versions. The paint doesn't have any obvious effect on your movement when you move a mouse across it, and it successfully resisted all of my attempts to scratch it off.
If you want something a little more individual, you can also order customised pads from Everglide with your own choice of logo on them. You have to buy at least 25, but if you want a funky mouse pad for your clan or company it's a good choice. A basic run of 25 black pads with monochrome logo will set you back £342.50 (£13.70 each), and the more colours you use the more expensive it becomes - a four colour logo would cost you around £450 for 25 (£18 each), but the more that you buy, the cheaper they become. Check this page for more details.
Buying a precision surface for your rodent is something of a no-brainer if you are a hardcore gamer - it will certainly improve your accuracy, and will probably reduce the amount of grime that your mouse picks up during use.
The Everglide mats are also easy to wash and almost impossible to wear out or destroy, so regardless of whether you play action games or not, if you spend a lot of time in front of your computer it might be better to splash out on an Everglide mat rather than keep buying new "cheap" mats every few months.
If you have your mouse sensitivity set high, then the Everglide Large Attack Pad is the perfect choice - it's small, compact and stylish. If you prefer to use low sensitivity settings and move your mouse around a lot, the bulkier Giganta might prove to a better choice. Either way, for just £15 you can't really go wrong...