SteelSeries QcK Prism
At last: Just what your desk doesn’t need
THE CONCEPT of a fancy light-up mouse pad seems a bit absurd. Sure, maybe you have 60 bucks in your wallet that’s possessed by some sort of evil spirit, and which you must dispose of immediately lest you spend the rest of your life dealing with a terrible curse—that’s fine, you get a pass, may your demons be sufficiently exorcized. Anybody else in the market for a big-money mouse mat should probably do some cost/benefit analysis on their situation.
But here we are, with SteelSeries’s QcK Prism, the third such ultra-pad we’ve reviewed in these canonical pages, the others coming from Corsair and Razer. This loose triumvirate proves that there is a market for these things. And, though it pains us to admit, mouse pads do still have legitimate use cases. While modern mice are happy to play nice with most materials, glass desks or those with a lightly reflective or incredibly plain coating can scatter optical signals wildly. Dedicated mousing surfaces can improve, or dull, mouse glide, and if you’re striving for precision pointing, they can make a difference.
The Prism has a practical purpose, then: It distinguishes itself by offering a slippery hard polymer surface and a smooth microtextured cloth surface, each on either side of its reversible foam mat. This thin layer sits in a non-slip rubberized well, which grips the pad OK when holding the cloth side, but fell victim, slightly, to our violent mousing tests when the slicker plastic side was face down. Around the rubber is, we assume, the QcK Prism’s big selling point, given that SteelSeries will sell you a standard non-Prism QcK pad in exchange for one measly portrait of Alexander Hamilton: that RGB lighting. It’s fine. It’s bright, it’s colorful, and you’ll rarely notice the joins between its 12 zones unless you look for them, or configure them to be obvious. It supports GameSense lighting, which can be set up to give visual feedback on particular aspects of particular games. As you’ll almost certainly be able to see this light-up rectangle out of the corner of your eye at all times, we could see that being minutely useful.
THE QCK AND THE DEAD There are some neat design decisions in evidence: The USB cable, for example, has been cleverly located in a low protuberance on the left side of the pad, rather than in a massive lump on the upper edge, as in the case of some competitors, so you won’t be clunking your mouse into it at inopportune times or snagging your cable. That’s good. The lighting goes all the way around the pad, rather than skipping an edge, which is aesthetically acute. Technically, the QcK Prism is probably a lot better than Corsair and Razer’s competitors. So, good for you, SteelSeries: You’ve made a better RGB mouse pad. But let’s be realistic. That’s no accolade. That’s a begrudging acknowledgment of superiority in a market that only exists because some people will spend money on stuff they don’t need.
Tomorrow’s fancy mouse pads won’t need to stretch to find a purpose. Logitech’s forthcoming PowerPlay system, for example, is among a new breed that promises to charge wireless mice, er, wirelessly. We’ll almost certainly get angry about that when it’s released—because it’ll involve a $250 hardware combo, and not having to change a AA battery every few months absolutely doesn’t justify that outlay—but that’s for another time. Now we’re angry about this. If you love it, if you love the idea of it, if your sexy desk needs a sexy RGB black rectangle, if you’re so bought-in to SteelSeries’s PrismSync lighting that you really must sync every device on your desk? Go on, treat yourself. This is for you. But it’s not for us. –ALEX COX