~~An Initial Lack of Support~~
I spend quite a lot of time on the computer both at home and at work, but using several below par mouse mats over the years, and not supporting my wrists meant that I started to get a strain in them, particularly my right hand which is the one I use a mouse with. After picking up the kettle and feeling a stabbing pain shoot up my hand and wrist, I decided to get myself checked at the doctors. A few tests later and I was diagnosed with mild Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, an injury where the Median Nerve of the hand/wrist becomes compressed through pressure on the wrist.
I was advised to reduce the amount of time I spent working at the computer, which can cause and then worsen Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but with this not being practical - I need to be on the PC for work - I decided to purchase a supportive mouse mat, and chose the Fellowes Argento mat.
I bought this several years ago from Tescos for £4.99; I'm not sure if they are still available at this supermarket, but they are readily available online. Mine has worked well and lasted me years with no problems so I can recommend it...
~~Great for Opticals~~
The area where your mouse goes is silvery grey, and despite being a solid coloured design, I have had no problems whatsoever in using an optical mouse with this mat. I'm not sure whether that's because my mouse is very sensitive, or the mat is very good, but I always prefer optical mice so the fact that this mat is compatible with them is great for me. This area is made of a plastic-coated solid foam material, and is easily wiped down for cleaning purposes.
At the back of the mouse mat there is a black cushion made from memory foam but covered in a fabric layer on top to make any movements of your wrist over it smoother. When you rest your wrist on the foam cushion, it gives way a little, comfortably supporting your wrist as it lays there. When you take your wrist off, the memory foam slowly returns back into it's original place. This isn't a quick process, it doesn't spring back up into place, but 20-30 seconds later it will be back to normal. I found this has stayed the same for a few years, since it's first use.
The bottom of the mouse mat is made from a rubbery, very shiny black material, which makes it non-slip. This aspect works very well, as sometimes I've literally had to peel the mouse mat off my desk to give it a clean! In warmer weather this is even more apparent, but there's no harm in this, it just means it's doing it's job well and the mat doesn't move around when you're using the mouse.
Over the first month of using this, although there wasn't an immediate improvement in my wrist condition despite the good level of comfort the mat provided, the deterioration stopped. A few months later, the discomfort of using a mouse was minimal, and now, I find that I only have the odd twinge of pain if I use the mouse constantly for several days at a time.
Compared to other mouse mats I've used, the Fellowes Argento is very good. It offers comfort and support for my wrist, it lets me use an optical mouse, it's non-slip and it was cheap to boot, so I'm impressed with the item I bought.
Fellowes Mousepad Non-skid Memory Foam Silver Streak
I bought this about a year ago when I was finding it increasingly painful to spend all day at that computer. I develop a sore pain in my hand when I when I spend too much time typing and using the mouse. It was my husband who suggested that I should try something like this mouse mat. Up until then I didn't own or use a mouse mat as I prefer the optical mouse which you can use on most of any surface.
The memory foam wrist cushion is rather quite comfortable and it moulds to my shape but importantly it returns to its previous shape when I am done using this. I am sure most people will be familiar with memory foam you can get it in a whole range of products from pillows to mattresses, it is a spongy like material that when you press down on it, it will support you (in this case your wrist) while conforming to your shape and then return to its previous size and form when you take away the pressure. It makes for a comfortable and supportive rest.
It's not the most attractive mouse pad available, this is definitely a case of functionality beats beauty. It is a black memory foam cushion and a grey mouse mat area. It is a slightly rounded shape and the size is perfect, more than big enough for moving your mouse around yet not too big that it needs too much extra room on your desk.
The bottom of the mouse pad is made from a non-slip material, this does attract dust and it does need to be cleaned quite often. However, it is really easily cleaned all over with a damp cloth and I give mine a squirt of dettol from time to time. The non-slip surface does the job just fine, it's not the best product for this and if you do try and push it around it will move, but for normal mouse use then it works perfectly, keeping everything where it should be.
I paid closer to £10 for mine from a staples store, however, when I was doing a quick search online you can buy these from Amazon for a very fair £4.99. I doubt you will need to buy another one of these anytime soon as mine has survived coffee spills and nibbles from over excited guinea pigs and it still looks nearly new.
Overall, I am going to give this four out of five stars. Since I have been using this I have definitely noticed that I have less pain in my hand. If you spend long hours at your computer then I would recommend thinking about getting one of these or at least trying one out for a while and see if it makes any difference to you.