The Razer Firefly: The Firefly's lighting effects are bit more understated than Razer's promo shots made it seem. The Razer logo in the top-right lights up, as does a strip of LEDs around the left, front, and right of the mousepad. And I should be clear--the side lighting is on the facing edge, not on the top. You actually barely notice the lights when you're sitting up close to the mousepad. It's more stylish from far away.
It's also single-zone lighting, meaning you can't have a different color for the logo and the sides, or different parts of the sides. It also means you can't turn off a part of the lighting, so if you want the sides to light up you're forced to light the logo also.
Colors are vibrant, but accuracy is middling when using Razer's Synapse software to configure. I've had greens register as a brilliant shade of turquoise on the Firefly, for instance, and it's sometimes hard to tell if you've made any difference at all when switching between similar hues.
Like other Chroma devices, you get Razer's standard effect presets--breathing, spectrum cycling, static, and wave.
Piece of Cardboard: There are no lights. It is a piece of cardboard. On the other hand, you could buy one of these rolls of LEDs off Amazon and stick it to the cardboard if you so desired. You could even use the LEDs to tape the cardboard to your desk instead of using cheap masking tape like me.
Advantage--Razer Firefly: I mean, I assume you're buying the Firefly because it has pretty lights. The cardboard (surprise!) doesn't have lights on it.
The Razer Firefly: The Firefly does include one special "Reactive" lighting mode that only functions if you have a compatible Razer mouse plugged in. In this mode, the Firefly's lighting flares on whenever you click. It's by far the coolest effect on the Firefly, but you'll need to be all-in on Razer's ecosystem to take advantage.
Piece of Cardboard: ...Still doesn't have lights.
Advantage--Tie: It's cool this mode exists, but the fact it's restricted to people who own both the Firefly and a compatible Razer mouse means the potential market is pretty small. And for everyone else, the Firefly is pretty much on a par with the piece of cardboard.
The Razer Firefly: Holy hot damn, for a second I almost forgot the Razer Firefly costs a whopping sixty dollars. Yes, a sixty-dollar mousepad.
Piece of Cardboard: I guess technically this cardboard also cost sixty dollars, considering I tore it off the Firefly's box. However, I feel confident you could use pretty much any old piece of cardboard lying around your house with similar results. You could even print this article out on paper, tape it to your desk, and use this article as a mousepad.
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