Good Question: Smart-Looking Optical Mouse Pad?

Good Question: Smart-Looking Optical Mouse Pad?

Jan 15, 2008

Unplggd Reader AH wrote to us, asking:

I usually don't use a mousepad, but my new desk is nearly black and my optical Mac mouse won't work directly on its surface. Right now I am mousing around the back of on an old Urban Outfitters catalog, which is obviously not ideal.

I don't like product branded mousepads, and I want this to blend into a warm yet fairly minimal home office space. Do you have suggestions on good mousepads that are relatively small, classy, and good for optical mice like mine?


PS How do you keep a white mouse clean??

Optical mice work by reflecting LED light off of a surface to find their location. If the surface is too reflective, it won't work--there's even a bit of info about this on Wikipedia:

"Optical mice have the problem of not working well on transparent or reflective surfaces (such as glass or highly polished wood). These surfaces, which often include desk and table surfaces, cause jitter and loss of tracking on the display pointer as the mouse moves over these reflective spots. The use of mousepads with precision surfaces eliminates spot jitter effects of modern optical mice."

So, what options exist? There are two paths you could take from a design perspective, either something that basically blends into your desk or something that compliments the colors and style of your desk. As for the performance, look for a mouse pad designed for an optical mouse, because it's either made of special plastics, or out of a high-tech fabric. These are often marketed to gamers because of their fast performance and battery-saving ability when the mouse is wireless.

This silver one, above right, from 3M is only $10, and there are a couple of other colors available. Also, 3M offers these mouse pads with wrist rests.

Another option that's mentioned a few places we looked was Everglide's gaming mousepads, on the left, which come in basic black. The start at $15, but are out of the cheapest one; a slightly larger model is available currently for $20.

Although this won't solve your reflection issue, if you want even faster-moving performance, check out Everglide's after-market mouse feet that improve performance even further.

As for the white mouse issue, we haven't experienced that problem ourselves, but we're guessing our Mac-fanatic readers will know what to do!

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