“ Brand: Ixos / Type: Mouse pad „
Back in the old days, when everyone used mice with roller balls, mouse mats were generally seen as vital accessories to any desktop PC. They kept nasty bits of dust and fluff away from the works, and as a nice by-product they added a little splash of colour to what then tended to be an overwhelmingly beige working environment. Now that optical mice rule the roost (apart from the cohort who has been lured off by the manifold charms of the iPad and its clones) many people are happy to use them directly on a desk surface, but they still play a useful part aesthetically, and it is probably this which accounts for their continued popularity.
This mat from Ixos is officially described as a "mouse pad", which turns out to be the usual American term for the things, and as such it's mildly surprising that it hasn't driven out the British term as has happened so much elsewhere. It harks back to older times in other ways, though, not least in its "blind them with science!" full name; I ask you, why else would you call a *mouse mat* the XC70-PM other than to make out that it was full of all manner of thrilling scientific innovations. You may remember "Here comes the science bit" from those dreadful old cosmetics adverts; this code name seems to fill much the same (perceived, by the manufacturers) need.
Of course, the "ultra grip" part of the mat's name is of rather more importance, and I don't have any quibble with that claim. The mat is a little bit thicker than some I've used, though not enough so to make a noticeable difference to the height of the mouse above the desk surface. This allows the black backing to be that little bit deeper and bungier than you'll find on most cheap mouse mats, and it does stay fast on the desktop. The front of the mat is, as usual, much shinier, and unfortunately as with too many mouse mats it's a bit *too* shiny; a little very (very) gentle stickiness is actually useful for precision work, and here the friction is so low that the mouse can easily slip.
Ixos clearly aimed this mat at people who work in a less than inspiring environment (which is most of us at some time or another, I'd imagine) and therefore dream of escaping to exotic lands. A photo of the tropical sun sinking behind a palm-fringed beach is not, shall we say, the most shockingly original design I've ever seen, but it's pleasantly enough done. A potential problem with optical mice that didn't exist in ball-mouse days is that they can be confused by mats with too contrasty a design, but for the most part the Ixos mat avoids this trap. It's not perfect, but it's good enough for everyday use, if not perhaps for extended gaming sessions.
I have once seen this mat in Poundland, and at a mere quid it's more or less impossible to find anything bad to say about it. However, if you find it in an office supply store (physical or online) it'll probably set you back more in the region of £6, and while it's still hardly going to break the bank I don't think it's as good as you can expect at that price. If you need a mouse mat quickly and don't have much to spend, the Ixos should be good enough, as long as the shininess of the front surface doesn't irritate you too much. It won't last for ever, but it's a reasonable product for a budget buy.