Spectacles for your mouse?
What is it?:
Giganta Optical and Giganta Optical Smoke
Sample Supplier: Everglide UK
£17.99 inc VAT
Excellent mouse mat with looks to match.
I have reviewed Everglide mouse mats before and liked them. The original "Giganta" is here
. Today I am looking at two new mats to the Everglide range designed specifically for optical mice. The "Giganta Optical" and the "Giganta Optical Smoke".
Why should optical mice require a special mat...?
The way optical mice work is well documented but just in case you are not aware, put simply, optical mice work by shining a light, (LED), on to the work surface and "reading" back the reflection with a camera. The mouse takes a continuous series of "snapshots" and since the reflected "picture" will be different as the mouse is moved, movement can be calculated by the mouse's built-in processor. Thus it follows that the work surface must have a degree of reflectivity and some sort of irregular pattern for the camera to work with. Surfaces with zero detail and mirrors make very poor mousing surfaces.
Most modern mouse mats, including all the Everglide range, have some reflective properties and textured surface. Again, so why an optical mat?
Well, the reflectivity of most of these mats is not exactly impressive and the use of a textured surface to give the mechanical mice something for their ball to grip also makes the mat even less reflective. In other words, optical mice have a difficult time working on standard mats and can produce unpredictable results. To be honest this is really only an issue with older, early generation optical mice. The current crop of half decent products will work quite satisfactorily on most mouse mats, but since Everglide see a need for a special mat let us see if it is warranted.
These new optical friendly mats have a higher reflectivity than the original totally opaque variety by the addition of glitter. According to Everglide 4% of the mats composition is glitter. The other obvious difference is that the plastic used is translucent. (There would not be much point in adding reflective glitter if the mouse could not see it !).
The mat is made from a single piece of moulded plastic and is available in either a milky white or smoky grey.
Here is a close up of the smokey mat showing the glitter. The mats main "mousing" area is textured and the edge is rounded smooth which gives an attractive finish. Incidentally, the texturing on these new mats is less coarse giving the mouse a more detailed "image" to work with. This theoretically should help to improve accuracy.
Underneath there are five none slip feet to prevent the mat from doing its own thing on the desktop.
OK so it's a piece of plastic but does it improve the performance of optical mice? Well, no not really. I tested the mat with a variety of both optical and mechanical mice, such as the Logitech MX700, Microsoft Intellimouse Optical, Microsoft mechanical wheel mouse and a nameless generic mechanical mouse. Each mouse worked equally well on either version of the optical mat compared to the original opaque mat with the exception of the Microsoft Wireless Explorer which saw a slight improvement in tracking using the optical mats. Given the poor performance of this mouse anyway, a slight improvement really does not say much!
Another claimed benefit of the optical mat is because of the increased reflectivity, cordless mice, (those that support the power control feature), will use less power and hence improve battery life. To test this claim I rigged up each cordless mouse at my disposal to allow me to measure the current draw whilst using the mouse. Each mouse was tested on a range of surfaces and the table below shows the results. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.
The following tests were performed with a Logitech MX700.
Everglide White Optical - 83mA
Everglide Smoke Optical - 83mA
Everglide Original Black - 84mA
Mouse Maxx 100si - 84mA
White Paper - 85mA
Having read this far you probably think I am not impressed with these new optical mats. Well you would be wrong! Those of you who have read my previous Everglide reviews will be aware how much I like their products thus far and these new optical versions are the best yet. They offer the same slick, low friction surface as the standard mat but look so much better. The combination of glitter and translucent plastic really does look great. They will eek out every last ounce of performance your mouse can give. I'm sure there are some dodgy optical mice that would benefit from the "enhanced" optical properties of these mats, but frankly in those cases the money would be better spent on a purchasing a decent mouse.
The new Everglide Optical mouse mats are expensive for a piece of plastic but they will will bring out the best tracking/response of any decent mouse irrespective of it being optical or mechanical ball type. Personally I love them!