⌚ August 8, 2014
The keyboard, monitor, and mouse are the most important components of a typical computer system because they are the devices we interact with directly. Any discomfort with any of these devices can damage ourselves over time and even make us grumpy from discontent.
For example, a blurry monitor strains the eyes. A cheap-quality keyboard can harm the wrists and annoy others with its sound. And a mouse…well, that is a device that can make or break the whole computer experience for the computer connoisseur.
Since things often need things, even the lowly mouse needs love. For those who have invested in a high-quality mouse, such as the Mad Catz M.M.O.7 or the R.A.T.7, then the right mouse pad will show the mouse how much it is loved.
Seeking a better home for the M.M.O.7, I had the chance to examine the Satechi aluminum mouse pad. Is aluminum as noisy as reviews claim? Is mouse tracking reliable? Do the metal edges feel like razor blades? Is it compatible with Linux? (Okay, the last question is irrelevant, but yes, the pad works with Linux.)
Here are my thoughts…
The version I used is the silver aluminum Satechi mouse pad. A black version is also available. The pad is shipped in a thin box.
Unpacked, the pad is wrapped in a bubble wrap sleeve for protection against scratches. Mine arrived in pristine condition. No nicks or scratches.
The pad itself measures 25cm wide by 21cm high, and the Satechi logo is etched into the lower right corner. Other than that, there are no other advertisements or logo markings. This results in a clean, minimalist appearance.
In addition to the rounded corners, the edges are slanted and polished to a mirror-like reflective trim. This lends a stylish appearance. All edges are smooth, and no razor edges are present, so there is no way to cut yourself.
The surface is a smooth texture. Not perfectly smooth aluminum, but enough to feel smooth to the touch. Comparable to a smooth, marble counter top. It almost has a glittery appearance.
Gone are the rubber feet! The entire underside of the mouse pad is fixed with a single, large slab of textured rubber, so there is no danger of this pad sliding around on a desk. The pad stays in place well, unlike other pads that have small rubber feet only at the corners.
Almost every review I have read concerning metal mouse pads (any brand, not just the Satechi) involves the noise factor. An aluminum mouse pad is nothing more than a sheet of aluminum, and yes, it will make noise when the mouse slides around on it. To get an idea of the sound produced, take your mouse and move it over a metal sheet, such as the side of a metal computer case.
The sound on the Satechi is best described as scratchy. However, moving the mouse over a plain table top is also scratchy. Almost every hard surface I have tried has produced a scratchy noise of some kind, so the noise is not a major issue.
The only surface that achieves silence is a thin, glass sheet, but glass can result in “dead mouse time” with optical mice due to the thickness of the glass not allowing proper reflection back to the mouse sensor. This effect is especially apparent with the M.M.O.7. The Cyborg R.A.T.7 seems to have a more reliable laser that handles glass surfaces better, but even the R.A.T.7 encounters dead mouse time with glass. Just not as often as the M.M.O.7.
Reducing the Noise
Since the noise is the result of friction between the black plastic standoffs on the bottom of the mouse and the pad surface, an easy way to reduce the noise is to cover the black standoffs of the mouse with cellophane tape. Smooth packing tape, such as the kind used to seal shipping boxes, is perfect. The M.M.O.7 noise is dramatically reduced, and all that is left is a muted, subdued scratching on any kind of surface.
Different types of tape will produce different levels of noise, so experiment. I have found that the smoother the tape, the more quiet the mouse. The resulting noise will not be as quiet as a glass surface, but it does offer a significant improvement over nothing at all. Also, the tape trick reduces smudging.
I have used this mouse pad for quite some time with the Mad Catz M.M.O.7 and the R.A.T.7, and I like it very much. Tracking is 100% responsive, and I have never encountered “dead mouse time” when moving the mouse.
However, all is not perfect with the mouse loving. Over time, gunk and other residue collects on the surface where the mouse has seen much motion. This can happen with any type of mouse, not the M.M.O.7 alone. After all, dust and dirt collects anytime two surfaces rub together. The surface will be spotted with black flecks and residue whether that surface is a table top, cardboard, paper, or an aluminum mouse pad like this one. Frequent cleaning is required unless you use a glass surface since glass seems to be resistant to gunk buildup.
The Satechi also accumulates gunk, and over time, it results in black smears in the center of the pad where the mouse has seen the most frequent movement. It can be cleaned with soap, water, and metal brush sponge, but even then, faint smudge traces can remain. (Do NOT use sandpaper to clean the metal pad or else you will scratch it.)
One way to reduce smudging is to cover the mouse pads with smooth, cellophane tape. Not only does this help silence the mouse motion noise, but the mouse glides smoother, and gunk rarely builds up. Some pad cleaning is still required, but not as often.
It’s a slab of metal, so it cannot break! The Satechi is an excellent aluminum mouse pad that is serving its purpose well, and the price is far lower than expected. At first, I found the scratching noise of plastic on metal to be distracting, but after applying tape to the mouse feet, I was delighted with the result in addition to the cleaner surface.
- The aluminum pad is solid, so it will not bend easily.
- The massive, rubber backing forces it to remain in place at all times.
- The reflective, glittery surface looks good on a desk.
Stylish yet functional. Another well-made, cross-platform device that is 100% compatible with Linux.