Manufacturers of PC peripherals are always expanding their line-up to include exciting new products to tempt you with. Of late, their has been a trend towards flashy, glowy, lit items that can brighten up your system. Vantec are one such company expanding their Spectrum line-up with items like the Fan Card, and now also a mouse pad. This Spectrum Mouse Pad has an integral blue CCFL in the base to light up your desktop, so let's take a closer look and see what else it has to offer.
Outline Dimension: 258x230x12 mm
Output Voltage: 350V
Output Current: 1.86mA
Input Voltage: 5V
Input Current: 300~500mA
Mouse Pad Material: PVC
Cable Length: 140cm
Safety Agent Approval: CE & FCC
Package Includes: Spectrum Mouse-Pad and USB Power Adapter
Excellent response and traction
Ultra Bright Blue Cold Cathode Light
Powered through USB
The packaging for the Spectrum Mouse Pad is designed to be very mainstream, sealing the mouse pad in a clear, heat sealed flat package that shows off exactly what you are getting at a glance.
Once inside you are presented with quite a heavy item for its size although it isn't overly heavy; just surprisingly heavier than it looks. On the face of the pad you can see the circular and in my opinion very small area to be used for mousing. This area is made from black PVC and features a fine texture that has proven to be a very nice material to use either ball mice or optical.
Around this area the rest of the pad is shaped in a sort of "rounded point" that has a curved area at the lowest point to place your wrist. I personally found this made the desktop below too low to rest comfortably upon and I was forever pushing my hand forward to compensate. The surround is manufactured from a blue translucent plastic that as you will see helps to diffuse the glow from the internal CCFL.
Turning the pad over we can see a textured rubber like plastic covering pretty much the entire base which aids in gripping the desk under some quite vigorous movement. You can also see towards the top the clear area showing off the inverters internals. The inverter does get warm under use but not overly so; it's enough for you notice a definite difference in temperature from the rest of the pad and the area around the inverter but it’s still in the warm category rather than hot.
Now I just have to point this out as I wrongly commented to the wife when this arrived, "I bet they didn't add a switch for the light."
Well there it is, just off the inverter and next to the power in point. Speaking of which, the Spectrum Mouse Pad is powered from a USB port and does feature a pass-thru, so don't panic about losing a port.
This is a very subjective part of the review but hopefully I'll be able to include enough information to help you make your own minds up. To test the pad I've been using it in both every day normal tasks such as web browsing or just clicking icons etc, as well as an intense few days of non-stop gaming (woe is me). Games of choice have ranged from Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy to Call of Duty (specifically the last level). What I've been looking for here is to see the difference in the feel of accuracy both from my own sensory feedback as well as how I felt it affected my gaming and general use.
Weapons of Choice here have been the Intellimouse Explorer V3.0 and the Rotokiller RTR-720 rotary ball mouse. In comparison I've used a cheap laminated mat (urgh), and the desktop surface itself as well as the Steelpad4S. The precision was determined in the following ways:
1) Sniping in Call of Duty
2) Sabre attacks in Jedi Academy
3) Pixel by Pixel drawing in Photoshop
4) Moving the mouse from lower left of screen to close a window
I've said it before and I will say it again, the laminated standard pad is awful; full stop. It's too small, drags on the mouse feet to much and frankly ruins my gaming and any precision work in Photoshop.
The desktop has one big benefit to it and that's space. The amount of room doubles that of the laminated mat and provides a nice flat open surface. Accuracy with just the desktop using the optical mouse is good, with a bit of polish and some silicon spray the mouse simply glides across the surface. Whilst the ball mouse moves around easily enough, the desktop doesn't provide enough traction for the ball itself and I often found myself stuttering or not moving at all despite my frantic movements with the mouse. I'm the sort of person who likes low friction and low sensitivity (meaning I need to make big movements with the mouse to make small movements in game) so being able to move the mouse fast is a necessity to me, and the desktop coupled with it's extra room allows me this.
The SteelPad 4S reduces the amount of space in comparison with the desktop but it isn't something you can't get used too. A little more room probably wouldn't hurt but it certainly doesn't compare to the cramped feel you get from a standard size mouse pad. Mice glide very nicely across the SteelPad but it is noisy.
The Vantec Spectrum Mouse Pad is good with both ball and optical mice from a traction and friction point of view but gamers are going to instantly detest the small area of mousing; it's less than half that of your regular mouse pad. I found it difficult to use properly in general windows use let alone gaming. Precision work such as art programs is fine as long as you can deal with having to continually lift the mouse to give yourself more room to move.
From a looks standpoint, it no doubt stands out more than the others, and if you have a blue themed system then it will be an attractive addition. The blue isn't overly bright as the plastic diffuses the glow nicely but it isn't enough with the small mousing area to make the pad usable for all end users.
Vantec have created an item in the Spectrum line-up that certainly looks good with its diffused blue glow, but in actual use the small mousing area detracts from the appeal almost completely. It is nice with the traction and friction for both ball and optical mice, but the small mousing area just lets it down.
If you're someone who uses a high sensitivity this will be less of an issue for you, and if you're a non-gamer as well it probably won't affect you at all, but bear in mind this small mousing area before you buy, and if like me you want a large area to swing your mouse around, looks elsewhere.
Pros: Cool looking blue glow, Low friction, Quiet, Just enough traction, USB port powered, USB pass thru, On/Off Switch, inverter is cool running.
Cons: Very small mousing area.
Bottom Line: If you like the look of the pad and are wanting to brighten up your desktop this pad will suffice. If you're more interested in its performance then look elsewhere, because the small mousing area will detract from the overall appeal. You can get this Spectrum Mouse Pad from our friends at .
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