Externally, the retail packaging is basic, but eye catching. A list of the specifications and the colour of the mat is found on the front, but besides that there isn't much to tell. Personally I prefer subtle packaging, and I think Icemat have done well by not including too much on the exterior.
As you may or may not know, the Icemat 2nd Edition is made of glass, which is why I was interested to see just which precautions were taken when designing the packaging for this product. As you lift the lid of the box, you see a plain white sheet of styrofoam, and lifting this you are greeted with the Icemat itself.
The mouse mat is secured between this top piece of styrofoam, and another underneath it, which lock in together to keep the glass safe. I think that this should be enough for everyday situations, and even the most clumsy postman shouldn't cause the Icemat 2nd Edition any trouble.
Included in the box is a small plastic bag, which contains 5 "padsurfers", and the instructions on using them. I will elaborate on these later. These are the only items included, so again Icemat have resisted the urge to overdo the packaging. To me this creates a good first impression of not only the product, but the company as well.
The Icemat 2nd Edition itself, it has to be said looks great. It is extremely simplistic, merely a sheet of clear glass, sat on top of a coloured sheet, which gives the mat a frosted tint.
The Icemat logo and website are in the bottom right corner, printed onto this coloured sheet. Since these are not printed on the top pane of glass there is no rough surface anywhere on the mat, contrary to others on the market.
The underside of the mat has 6 rubber spheres, one in each corner and 2 in the middle. These acts as grips, which stop the mouse mat from moving around on your desk, which can be a problem with other mats on the market.
However, it can be said that they could do a better job. Whilst just moving your mouse will not move the mat itself, putting any forward pressure onto the mat with your wrist will. The circular shape of the grips just does not put enough surface area onto the desk, and you will find the mat continually slipping forward if you rest your wrist or arm on it.
The Icemat 2nd Edition, being made of glass is also quite heavy. Whilst this shouldn’t be a problem as it will most likely spend all of its time glued to your desk, it is worth noting that taking this mat to a LAN party or to a friend’s might not be too practical, considering its fragility as well as its weight.
Final things worth noting on aesthetics are the rounded corners, which are a nice touch and make the mat look modern. Also, the mat is just under a centimeter deep, and the rubber grips create a gap of roughly 2mm from your desk. This can become a minor annoyance, as pieces of paper and very thin objects tend to find their way underneath the Icemat.
Using the Icemat 2nd Edition
For this review I will be using a Logitech MX510 mouse. This is a wired optical mouse, which is quite light.
Firstly I started to use the mousemat without the included padsurfers. The padsurfers are basically small rounded pieces of plastic which stick on the bottom of your mouse, and they allow the mouse to glide along the pad.
Unfortunately using either mouse without the padsurfers was not a great experience. Despite the Icemat being produced to allow minimal friction between both surfaces, the mouse simply made a scratching noise along the pad, and did not glide as I was expecting. Even giving my mouse a good clean did not help, and I was forced to apply the padsurfers.
The effect of adding the padsurfers was not instant, it took a good 20 minutes of mouse movement for them to wear in, and during this time they still scratched along the pad. After they wore in however, the real ability of the Icemat was shown.
It is hard to believe that a surface can be so smooth, yet have so much control over the mouse. The friction application is not too smooth, and so it is not hard to keep your mouse in one place, but if you begin moving your cursor, the mouse slides easily and yet remains under your control.
In general windows use, the mouse mat may not be necessary, but for gaming the Icemat proves an excellent tool. I have tested the Icemat in CounterStrike:Source, where being able to control your cursor at all times is essential, but you must be prepared to spin around ont he spot if need be. As previously mentioned, the Icemat makes you feel in control of your mouse at all times, and the combination of the padsurfers and the glass, give an excellent balance of speed and precision.
To try and give you an idea of just how easy it is to aim with this mat, I have included a short video which I think sums it up nicely. Click Here to download.
The Icemat is also not as large as some other gaming mouse pads on the market, however I did not find this a problem at all during gaming. As long as you position it at an appropriate place on your desk, you should have plenty of room to move your mouse, and I do not think my MX510 ever strays towards the edges of the pad.