Itís been quite a few years since high quality mouse pads came onto the market. Though companies and products have come and gone, like Everglide or the Logitech Wingman, and others like Ratpadz have stood still over the years, there still has been development and competition. The whole mouse pad revolution began with the old 3M PMS, or Precision Mousing Surface, and if there could be a less fortunate acronym we could not tell you. Pretty soon competitors to 3M sprung up, as did companies that licensed the material. This was a wonderful development for gamers who could finally have pads that matched the quality mice that were appearing on the market, pads that gripped better, surer, and were cleaner and easier to maintain.
And yet, is there room on the market for fancy mouse pads nowadays? Surely, with optical mice there isnít the need for fancy surfaces? That may be true, but the mouse pad business continues to roll. We try to answer the reasons why with our head-to-head comparison between the SteelPad 5L
and fUnc Industries Archetype
The SteelPad 5L has a somewhat more traditional mouse pad design than the Archetype. While you may be tempted to assume that the 5L stands for ď5 largeĒ due to its incredible dimensions of 15x11Ē (280x380mm), the fact if the matter is that 5L refers to the 5-layer design of the pad. At the top is a plastic coating designed to maintain the integrity of the second layer, the cloth surface. Below that is a layer of foam for comfort, and it lies on top of a hard plastic board that gives the pad rigidity and strength. At the very bottom is a wild spattering of hard rubber that, despite its random pattern and relatively thing contact surface, actually grips better than the Archetype (though the Archetype is a smaller pad too).
What does the 5L have going for it? For starters, comfort. The Archetype isnít uncomfortable at the least, but it is somewhat cold and the hardness is noticeable. Having used each pad for roughly a week, arguing that either performs better is an exercise in futility but for sheer feel, the 5L is more friendly. Perhaps not as clean and sterile as an Archetype, but definitely softer to the touch.
Secondly, the 5L is huge. This is both a boon and bane to the design, since not everyone has the desk space to park a jumbo jet, but those that do, and use lower sensitivities, may enjoy the considerable room the pad gives you. Perhaps gamers with high-sensitivity mice and settings wonít quite find a use for all that room, but when fiddling around with image editing in my spare time, with my Razer Copperhead set to the lowest DPI settings possible, it made pixel hunting in Photoshop less of a strain than usual. The 5L comes in a standard design with a single image, not unlike the neuron firing sequence in the X-Men movie opening credits sequence.