gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

SteelSeries NP+ Gaming Mouse Mat Review

As any PC gamer knows, the best possible accuracy isn’t just a function of your mouse, and how well it’s configured, but is also heavily dependant upon the right mousing surface. In my case this is particularly important, as a bare, glass desk isn’t the best of friends with gaming mice.

A good mousing surface not only offers a consistent, even and sufficiently detailed surface to achieve optimum tracking accuracy, but must also be smooth, durable and, above all, big. Bigger is always better, if you’ve got the desk real-estate that is, as there’s nothing quite as annoying as having to pick up and re-position a mouse multiple times to complete a scoped sweep of a battlefield- you have got a low-sensitivity setting for accurate sniping, right?

The SteelSeries NP+ checks all the boxes when it comes to a mousemat. Which is hardly surprising. From a company that makes gaming mice as good as those that SteelSeries churn out, it would be positively embarrassing for them to not follow up with a decent mousemat. Fortunately, however, decent mouse-mats are what they excel at, far more so than certain Microsoft-owned competing brands named after mens’ shaving consumables.

Over the years I’ve tested a handful of gaming “surfaces”, as they prefer to call them, from SteelSeries and found them to be consistently brilliant. The tough, plastic, indestructibility and good looks of the SteelSeries SL is, by far, my favourite. But, in retrospect, if there’s one thing the SL is lacking, it’s in sheer size. The NP+ certainly makes up for this, but it takes on a more traditional fabric-bonded to some-sort-of-foam approach that, in my experience, doesn’t make for the most durable of surfaces.

The SteelSeries NP+ has held up, though, for the months that I’ve had it, biding my time to make an accurate review. It has become the mainstay of my desk, sitting beside the iMac and playing host to the Magic Mouse, SteelSeries Ikari and SteelSeries Xai mice, all of which glide effortlessly over its surface. Indeed, the SteelSeries NP+ has certainly helped me achieve far more than my fair share of headshots in Left4Dead 2, a game not particularly forgiving to anyone taking more than a millisecond to aim. Similarly, it’s helped me get a fair edge over competing snipers in Battlefield BC2 and, I dare say, flee many an angered creep in Minecraft. Okay, perhaps a gaming mouse isn’t so necessary in the block-based spelunking adventure, but it’s nice to have a responsive input device in all walks of computing.

The NP+ is water and stain resistent, although one would argue that it’s somewhat difficult to stain anything that’s black. It’s also chew resistent, chunks don’t seem to come off easily, but the teeth marks seem to stay put. Don’t feed it to your toddler!

It’s hard to keep focussed on something as simple as the NP+, it’s virtues are oft taken for granted and the additional accuracy and smoothness it provides can be all too easily attributed to the gaming mouse itself. But I’ve scraped a mouse over enough wooden desks to know that, despite its apparent simplicity, a gaming surface of the NP plusses caliber is absolutely essential in any gaming armada. Just make sure you’ve got a good mouse to use it with!

Just a quick note on size. The NP+ is so big it ships rolled up. That’s a good thing. But if I’m honest, I’d like something bigger- a whole desk cover, in fact. You can pick up the SteelSeries NP+ for a pretty reasonable £22 from Pixmania.

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, Computer Gaming, PC, Personal Computing.