HTPC Update #2: Of Mice and Mousepads Page 2
Smoothing the surface
The surface was a pretty obvious culprit. I was playing on my couch, using the couch itself as the surface. This isn't as ridiculous as it sounds. It's a faux-suede thing that's fairly smooth with flat cushions. It isn't any worse than your average cloth mouse pad. I didn't think it was the real problem, but it did present the cheapest fix. A quick trip to Fry's resulted in the purchase of an $18 "gaming surface" from Mionix.
Now, at this point I bet some of you are thinking, $18... for a mousepad!?!?! Well, not quite. Remember, we're not making some mundane office computer here. We're making a gaming HTPC, and as such our needs are rather specific. With great specificity, comes great cost. I think Uncle Ben said that to Peter.
The Mionix Propus 380 is a hard PVC-plastic surface with a rubber back. It's got a bit of flex, but is ridged enough to create a flat surface, even on a sofa. The surface is smooth, but with a fine texture, like the interior plastic on a mid-quality car or the brushed metal on the back of an iPad. This is perfect for gaming, offering low resistance to movement, a consistent surface for the optical sensor to pick up, but isn't so smooth as to be like mice on ice.
With the Propus set beside me, I looked forward to an evening of fragging.
Nope, it was the mouse. What a piece of crap.
I had bought a $29.99 Kensington K72370 "Pro Fit Full-Size Wireless Mouse" as it was the least expensive wireless mouse that wasn't cramp-inducing miniscule. I don't have enormous hands, but they're large enough that most mice feel like I'll crush them in a pique of pwned rage: GEOFF ANGRY GRRRRRRR.
I'm not sure what "Pro Fit" means, though it is shaped similar to my ancient yet beloved 1st gen Microsoft IntelliMouse. "Full-size" and "Wireless" are accurate enough, but I think calling this thing a "mouse" is a bit of a stretch. It barely worked on any surface, and was so laggy I occasionally called into question my own sanity (verdict: pending).
It's too bad, too, as I had such a high opinion of Kensington, their customer service being fantastic after an iPod battery pack I'd purchased (K33459USA) went tits up and they replaced it for free.