The Razer Firefly has me thinking about the role of the mousepad in modern computing. Why do we use mousepads?
Sure, I know why we used to use mousepads. I still have nightmares about cleaning the fuzz out of a ball mouse, or trying to get a half-broken sensor to read correctly on a coffee table. And some people still use mousepads like coasters, to protect their desks, but I'm using IKEA furniture so...
By and large, the mousepad is an irrelevant affectation. It's a fashion statement. Its job could be outsourced to any decent-sized piece of cardboard. And so when Razer sent over a Firefly review unit--yes, even after reading my article on the announcement--I decided to test my theory. I took a piece of cardboard off the Razer Firefly box and compared it to the Firefly. Here's what I found:
The Razer Firefly: The Razer Firefly is easy enough to pull out of the box and slap on your desk. And if this were a normal mousepad, you'd be done.
But the Razer Firefly is no normal mousepad. It demands power, in the form of a six-foot USB cable sticking out the rear. This necessitated my routing the cable behind my desk, crawling underneath, and trying to find a free USB slot--a harder task than you might think, considering the number of peripherals I have plugged into my computer.
Piece of Cardboard: This was much easier. Even with muscles atrophied by years of video games I managed to rip a hunk of cardboard off the Firefly's box and put it on my desk. No wires necessary.
I did end up taping the edges down at some point because the cardboard kept moving around, but that also didn't take much time or effort.
Advantage--Piece of Cardboard: While taping the piece of cardboard to my desk was a bit of a hassle, at no point in the process did I need to bend over or crawl under a desk. Also, it doesn't take up one of my precious USB slots.
The Razer Firefly: The Firefly looks pretty much like a standard matte-black mousepad--a 14-inch by 10-inch rectangle of hard plastic, with the Razer logo in the top-right corner.
Oh yeah, and a big honking piece of plastic welded to the top where the USB cable exits.
Piece of Cardboard: "Hobo chic" is how I would describe this piece of cardboard, if I were desperate to explain to someone why I'd taped a piece of cardboard to my desk. I am not that desperate, so I feel comfortable saying it looks like trash. Which it is. I literally taped trash to my desk.
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