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.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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