Fans of multiplayer action games on the PC know that a fast trigger finger and quick response will help determine the last man standing, and while everyone's been trying to build a better mouse, little has been done to innovate the pad unless you consider adding photos of Carmen Electra a major leap forward. Well, if you've been waiting for mouse-pad technology to advance so you can get that extra edge for your F.E.A.R. or Battlefield 2 gameplay, you're in luck. Razer has introduced the first gamer-friendly mouse pads, the Razer Mantis Speed and Razer Mantis Control (razerzone.com, $24.99 each). At roughly 14 x 17 inches, the Razer pads look like small flags dedicated to the art of PC warfare. Their size is definitely overkill for spreadsheets and word processing, but it might attract legions of gamers who are looking for a wider berth.
Bumping up the size on a mouse pad is something so simple that you have to wonder why no one thought of it sooner. Sure, if your desktop (that is, the physical top of your desk) is limited on space, a plus-size pad might not be for you, but it's a great idea for those who can dedicate some extra room for gaming. The larger surface area is a bonus when you're in the heat of battle on a PC. Nothing is worse than having the mouse slide off the pad, and these offer plenty of room for those who like to swish their hands around like they're the Karate Kid.
Both Mantis mats feature a high-tech cloth-weave surface dubbed Fibertek, which was developed by EverGlide with gaming in mind. The Speed version is smooth and let's you practically whip the mouse across the surface, while the Control version adds just a bit of texture into the weave, which makes mouse movement slightly slower than on the Speed. On both, the Fibertek fabric covers a rubber base material, making for a fairly thick pad that won't slip off your desk (unless it's made of ice). While the texture may be simply a matter of preference, I felt the Speed version was better for shooters like Quake and Doom where a split second can mean the difference between fragged and fragger, while the Control version was good when used in real-time strategy or simulation games where you're making less precise movements but vastly more of them.
The Fibertek was designed for optical mice (the ones with a light coming out of the bottom), but it plays well with old-school track-ball mice too, and its cloth covering doesn't attract much dirt. However, it does absorb liquids and this includes the sweat you're likely to generate while getting your game on. And watch out for mouse-pad burn from extended play lazy wrists will no doubt experience some irritation from rubbing against the cloth for too long, especially on the textured Control pads. On the plus side, the rubber padding is thick enough to make for a springy and soft surface, yet it can still be rolled up to take on the go.
While a slightly smaller version of either pad would be welcome something not as big as these but larger than the average pad I really appreciated the size when I was in command mode in Battlefield 2 where I had to make fast and precise strikes and didn't have time to re-center the mouse on the pad. As a bonus, both the Speed and the Control feature Razer's interlocking snake logo, so either one would make quite a striking flag for your next gaming Jihad. For those who want an added edge when gaming, Razer Mantis is the banner to follow.