Reviewed: August 10, 2004
Type: Mouse Pad
With the Icemat being featured in our Ultimate Gaming Rig article and the Steelpad 4s only recently being retired from my desk, it is safe to say that the people at Soft Trading are making fans here at GameChronicles. These glass and metallic mouse pads provide excellent gliding movement, allowing gamers to take full advantage of their high-resolution mice.
Of course, as well as these mouse pads have treated us, there has always been room for improvement. Mark and I both have noticed that the Icemat and Steelpad 4s have a tendency to slide mid-game. Also, the feet on my Steelpad 4s forced the mat’s early retirement by refusing to stay on.
Now, with the qualified input of multi-gaming clan, Schroet Kommando, the next in the Steelpad line is hitting the market. The Steelpad S&S looks to correct its predecessors’ flaws, while retaining their strengths and succeeds.
Aesthetics - 10
As with the 4s, there is little to go wrong here. Both are a shiny black and have an inward sloping groove where the arm rests. Coming in at 32x27cm, the S&S is a bit larger, but the two are almost identical at first look aside from a small, white logo on the S&S’s bottom left corner.
Durability - 10
After that first look however, the S&S comes of its own. Made of a somewhat pliable plastic, the S&S is quite light while still feeling sturdy. I somewhat nervously bent my Steelpad S&S back and forth for some time only to have it snap back into place perfectly. The plastic also seems more than sturdy enough to resist any scratching it may otherwise receive during daily use.
Better still, the S&S has no feet to have falling off mid-game. In terms of longevity, I can’t see any real threat to the S&S other than the natural aging of plastics.
Performance - 9
As mentioned, the Steelpad S&S has no feet to come loose. I am more than happy to see them go as they were also a major detractor in the 4s’ performance as they allowed the pad to slip. The bottom of the S&S however, is covered in – for lack of a better description – a sticky, bumpy substance.
This substance leaves no residue on the desktop but does an excellent job of keeping the S&S where it is placed. I did initially get a bit of slipping but found that this issue was resolved by pressing down on the pad after situating it on my desk.
As for gaming, the Steelpad S&S is perfection. With the included Pad Surfers attached to the feet of a mouse, the mouse glided along the surface of the mat like a hockey puck along ice. This means that all of the little bumps and snags a mouse normally encounters are removed.
The results are immediately apparent. There is a very tangible ease with which the mouse moves. Even a slight tap lets your mouse glide along the Steelpad S&S with unparalleled grace.
Once in a game, aiming is dramatically improved, and the entire gaming experience is slightly improved. Overshooting a target, having the pointer stop short of a button and countless other irritants vanish. Essentially an annoyance that most gamers have resigned themselves to is completely removed, allowing you to better enjoy your game.
Value - 8
There is no arguing that the Steelpad S&S is for hardcore. Priced at $39.95, many casual gamers will find the cost needlessly high. However, for those of who have paid out for a decent mouse, knowing that much of its resolution is wasted if it is skipping over bumps, a little extra cost for the performance because tempting. It is these gamers who will find that the S&S is worth its weight in gold once they play their first game using the Steelpad.
Overall – 9.5
Part of me can already hear people saying, “Its just a mouse pad!” However, with the Steelpad S&S on my desk, I wouldn’t give it up and would happily fork over forty dollars for it. As small as an annoyance as missing a target due to mouse snags may be for some, completely obliterating this irritant is, for me, priceless. The Steelpad S&S is a highly recommended product all around.