Posted: October 07, 2003
Author: Jason Kohrs
Source: Soft Trading
Precision mouse surfaces are now available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures to meet the demands of graphic designers and gamers of any skill level seeking every advantage possible. The Icemat mouse surface is a rather exotic offering in the field of choices for two reasons... Every one is shipped directly from Denmark to your door, and the entire mouse surface is constructed of glass.
The Icemat comes to BigBruin.Com for review from Soft Trading, the same company that offers the Steelpad 4S mouse surface, reviewed here back in June 2003. Soft Trading was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark back in February 2001, and one of their main objectives is to supply “high-end IT accessories and peripherals”, such as the Icemat and Steelpad mouse surfaces.
As mentioned previously, all orders (for customers in North America and most other destinations) are shipped directly from Denmark. Although the use of DHL as a courier provides quick delivery of any Soft Trading item, it does add even more to the cost of an item that many might find prohibitive on its own. The black Icemat currently sells for $38.54 US, which is considerably less than the Steelpad 4S ($46.28 US), but will still raise a few eyebrows from those with less “sophisticated” mouse surfaces.
The Icemat ships in the box pictured in the above left image. One of my knocks on the Steelpad 4S was that it shipped relatively unprotected in an envelope. The Icemat is protected much better, surrounded in styrofoam and then placed inside the cardboard box. With a product made of glass, it is critical to make sure it can travel safely. The image on the above right is taken from the upper right corner of the box, and provides some information about the Icemat.
Icemat features listed elsewhere on the box...
4Very comfortable to use
4Solid and steady
4It doesn’t bend or lose shape
4Looks damn cool!
More technical information is available on the Icemat website...
4Dimensions: 250 mm x 210 mm x 6.2 mm
4Material of construction: Glass
4Feet material: Polyurethane
4The Black Icemat has been tested and approved with the following optical mice:
4Wireless Intellimouse® Explorer
4Intellimouse® Explorer 3.0
4Optical Mouse Blue
Straight out of the box, the Icemat makes a good first impression. The surface is smooth to the touch, but there is a definite texture which will help with mouse tracking. The entire surface is opaque, and the black finish as well as the logo are printed on the bottom. The image below shows a close up of the logo seen through the glass, and a bit of the texture can be seen in the black areas around the text.
The image on the below left shows a top view of the Icemat, with the above mentioned logo seen in the lower right corner. As pictured in the below right image, the bottom of the Icemat features a total of six (6) of these small polyurethane feet which will ensure that the surface stays in place, even during the most animated of actions during your favorite game. A cross section of the glass surface is also visible, and even though I had concerns about the surface being fragile, the Icemat site has the following to say: “it is very difficult to break, but it is still important to remember that our product is made of glass, and therefore should be treated that way.” The glass is fairly thick (6.2 mm), and although I assume you could break it if you tried, it should be far tougher than you will ever need during normal operation.
The image on the below left shows the Icemat placed on top of the Steelpad 4S. The Steelpad 4S is noticeably larger, and features the rounded, ergonomic shape that many users might prefer. The Icemat is basically the size and shape of the old foam/cloth pad we are all familiar with, so if you are looking for an oversized surface, the Icemat isn’t the answer. The below right image shows the Icemat with a Logitech optical mouse on it, ready for action.
The Logitech mouse shown above had previously been outfitted with the Teflon tape provided with the Steelpad 4S, and although it made movement smoother and quieter, it seemed like it could have been better. The Icemat ships with a strip of a different kind of tape, called “Pad Surfers”, which can also be trimmed and adhered to the bottom of any mouse. The Pad Surfer tape is a bit thicker than the Teflon tape, and has a bit of a woven texture that make it seem to be of a much higher quality. I found it to be far superior in performance to the Teflon tape... Movement is even smoother, and I get the sense that the Pad Surfers will last considerably longer.
Complete installation instructions for the Pad Surfer tape are shown in the above left image, and my version of the final installation is shown in the above right image.
Now that the mouse was prepped for use on the Icemat, it was time to see how it fared. I definitely like the response I get from the combination of the Icemat and the Pad Surfers, and actually prefer the feel and response of the Icemat to that of the Steelpad 4S. But, after having used the larger Steelpad 4S for several months, I do find myself “falling” off the edge of the Icemat when I navigate too far to either side. A larger version of the Icemat would be a worthy offering to consider developing! Despite these two issues, the performance during the handful of games I play is top-notch, and precise movements are easy to make in graphical applications like PhotoShop 7.0.
Surface “maintenance” is a critical consideration with the Icemat! The slightest bit of foreign matter on the surface becomes very apparent... Something like a crumb of food or grain of sugar can easily get caught between the mouse and the surface, and besides perhaps altering the tracking, you get a sound and sensation not unlike fingernails on a chalk board. If you’re like me, and have food and drinks right there next to your mouse surface, be prepared to give the Icemat an occasional wipe with a paper towel (or as I now use... your shirt sleeve).
The Icemat is definitely a high quality mouse surface built to last (despite my initial concerns of breaking the glass). The Icemat is very attractive, and the use of glass gives it a distinct appearance you won’t find with any other mouse surface. If you like having unique components that can still provide the performance you demand, the Icemat may be worth consideration.
The major downside to the Icemat is the current price of $38.54 (US), which doesn’t include shipping from Denmark to the US via DHL. Other than the current price, the only other thing I would like to see addressed is the size... An Icemat sized like the Steelpad 4S would definitely be of interest.
4Extremely smooth and accurate mouse movement
4Inclusion of enough Pad Surfer tape for two mice
4Very attractive, and equally as functional
4High quality construction
4High price compared to most other performance mouse surfaces, except the Steelpad
4Surface is no bigger than your standard mouse pad, and bigger is generally better
4Mouse surface must be kept very clean... keep food, drinks, and dust away
Special thanks to Soft Trading for providing the Icemat mouse surface for review!
Please drop by the BigBruin.Com Forum and feel free to discuss this review.