Quick Shot review 29:
Review date: 3rd November 2005.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
RantoPad SC4, SC3, SC2, C1B and C1H mousepads
Would you like a big mouse pad?
No, bigger than that.
No, seriously. A BIG one.
Here you go, then.
This is the RantoPad SC4.
The reason why it's all turned up at the edges in this picture is that I photographed it in my handy-dandy lighting tent, which (unlike various roll-your-own options) is a cube with a lightweight springy frame (it's collapsible, like those fold-up car window shades). The tent's big enough for most products, but it's only about 60 centimetres square, and the bottom isn't flat at the corners.
The SC4 is a floppy, cloth-topped, rubber-backed pad that's 45 by 38 centimetres (17.7 by 15 inches) in size.
You might not immediately grasp just how big that is.
The Everglide Giganta is so named because it's considerably bigger than most people need. Indeed, your average high-mouse-speed-setting computer user, definitely including 3D gamers, won't use more than half of a Giganta - which means you can save money by putting the thing vertically next to your keyboard and turning it around when one half starts wearing smooth.
Here's a Giganta in the middle of the SC4.
For what, in heaven's name, does anybody need a mousepad this big?
Well, assuming you don't want to cut it up into four or more regular pads, you could put an SC4 on the desk between a right-handed and a left-handed computer user, and still give both people plenty of space.
Or you could sit a standard 15 inch laptop on it (to, uh, reduce vibration transfer to the table...), and still have a modest amount of space on one side for a mouse, or quite a lot of space in front if you used the pad long-way-up.
Or maybe you've got carpal tunnel disease and/or fine mobility problems, and have to use a mouse set to a really low speed, and so you need a ton of space.
Or maybe you're enormous.
Heck, I don't know. What you want it for is your business, weirdo.
All of this is moot if the pad isn't any good, of course. And when I said it was floppy and rubber-backed and cloth-topped, you could be forgiven for assuming the worst.
The classic old wetsuit-fabric mousemats fit that description, and they suck. High friction, and poor adhesion between the backing and the cloth, and they're thick enough that your wrist chafes on the edge. This encourages the cloth to delaminate from the rubber, accelerating the mat's transformation into a filthy scabrous offense unto God.
Those mats were frequently given away for free, but even at that price, they still created the market for fancy mats that cost $30.
Fortunately, the SC4 is a good mat. It's only about three millimetres thick (so it doesn't jack your mouse way up off the desk), its backing is flexible high-traction small-cell rubber foam, and its surface finish is surprisingly slick.
The somewhat shiny weave means a mouse glides over the SC4 with only a bit more friction than on a hard plastic mat. Many people don't like the super-slick feel of hard mats, but that doesn't mean they want something a lot draggier. The SC4's a nice compromise.
The cloth also, of course, has more than enough surface texture for modern optical mouses to work just fine. Not many people need a mousemat that works well with a rubber-coated ball any more, but these pads should also be fine for that; the surface doesn't look as if it'll shed any lint.
And yes, there are smaller versions, that won't require you to clear your desk before you put 'em down. But, surprisingly enough, you may decide to buy the giant one anyway.
The reason for this is that the SC4's huge, but it's not expensive - at least, not by fancy mousemat standards. Here in Australia you can get an SC4 from Aus PC Market for $AU29, including delivery anywhere in the country.
Here the SC4 is with the smaller SC3 and SC2. The SC3 is 38 by 31cm in size (15 by 12.2 inches), but costs $AU26.99 delivered. It's made of the same stuff as the SC4, and has 69% of the area, but costs 93% as much. There's not quite enough room on the extra strip of material the SC4 offers to make two more little mats, but you could buy an SC4 and make two little mats and a big one about, say, 38 by 27cm. As with other rubbery mats, you can just cut these things with scissors.
The SC2 mat has about 29 by 23cm (11.4 by 9 inches) of usable area, taking into account its gently scalloped sides and bigger wrist cutout at the bottom edge. It's $AU19 delivered. So that's 39% of the area of the SC4, for 66% of the price.
It does come in a pretty box, though. The SC3 and SC4 only have a simple plastic sleeve.
And then, there's these. Sitting on the SC4 in this picture are the C1H and the C1B. They're identical, except the H is black like the rest of these mats, while the B has a tasteful ice-crystal pattern printed on it. They're both 27 by 22cm rectangles, so you get 35% of the area of the SC4. The C1H is $AU14 delivered (48% of SC4 price), and the C1B is $AU17 (59%).
The texture of the C1B is the same as that of the SC4, but the C1H (on the left in this picture) is rougher, and more like a (brand new...) traditional cloth mat. So if you like that amount of friction, it could be the one for you.
Except that there's yet another option, the "C4", which is the size of the SC4 but has the rougher fabric. That's only $AU25 delivered.
Boiling it down
Because these are floppy mats, they conform to the shape of the surface under them. So they're not a good choice if your desk surface is uneven. Hard plastic mats wobble on uneven surfaces, but that's easy enough to fix.
If you like the idea of a slick cloth mat, though, and you definitely only need one mousemat that's the size of one of the smaller RantoPads, then there's no point paying extra for the tablecloth version. Get a C1H and be merry.
If you'd like something bigger, though, the vast SC4 or cheaper-yet-rougher C4 aren't much more expensive than the considerably smaller variants, and can be cut to perfectly fit various areas. Doing this with a hard plastic mat isn't as practical (you'd need a hacksaw, and you'd then probably also need to file and sand some edges - though a hard plastic mat the size of a C4 would be rather impressive), but it's dead easy with a floppy mat.
There's a little bulk-buying, wholesale-price part of my brain that can't get over the sheer value for money of the SC4 or C4 compared with other fancy mats, regardless of whether there's any actual point to having that much mousing surface.
But wait - I've thought of another justification!
With a C4-sized mat, you can keep using your computer even when a cat insists on sitting on the mousemat!
Note: If your cat has to incubate your mouse like an Emperor Penguin while gazing at you blankly, you will also need to buy another mouse.
Readers from Australia or New Zealand can purchase RantoPads from Aus PC Market.
For the SC4 (huge, slick, $AU29 delivered),
For the C4 (huge, a bit rougher, $AU25 delivered),
For the SC3 (very large, slick, $AU26.99 delivered),
For the SC2 (large, slick, scalloped edges, $AU19 delivered),
For the C1B (normal sized, slick, ice crystal print, $AU17 delivered),
For the C1H (normal sized, slick, $AU14 delivered),