Two sides of the tale
We tested out both sides of the mousepad with an optical mouse and a laser mouse. Having this flexibility in one mousepad is a great feature, so we don’t have to buy multiple mouse pads for different needs. We didn’t test with a ball mouse because, face it, gamers are way past that now, and we always hated to clean them out.
The smooth side is slightly more glossy than the coarse side. It is smooth enough to retain oily human finger prints. When you rub your hands on it, the surface feels very even. Optical mice performed poorly on this surface, occasionally missing the tracking of mouse movements, whether it be fast movements or slow. Sometimes, it even froze for a few seconds while I moved the mouse around on it quickly, and other times, the cursor moved sluggishly.
Shrink-wrapped for your protection
Still smells new, well packaged
Mouse feels like home
Switching over to the laser mouse, however, worked like a charm. Cursor movement was tight and precise. Because this side is so smooth, however, there is little mechanical ‘feedback’ from the mouse besides its weight when mousing around. Users who prefer to have a little feedback when mousing, should opt for the coarse side. There is slight audio feedback (from the friction) and also some resistance, which is good for some cases.
The coarse side worked well for both optical and laser mice. Yes, we know that optical mice generally do not fare well on dark surfaces (in this case, black), but there is enough light refraction from the rough surface that the optical sensor can pickup to enable smooth cursor tracking when gaming or working. The coarse side would probably work well for ball mice as well, since the ball would grip well with the uneven surface.
As said in the previous section, the rough side is for users who want to have either more tactile and audio feedback when they are mousing, or more resistance, or both. We generally used the softer side, but it is a matter of preference.