A mouse mat, which is also sometimes known as a mouse pad, is a small sheet of rubber or foam with one of its sides covered with cloth or plastic to allow the smooth functioning of a rolling ball computer mouse. A mouse mat is generally 20cm long, 20cm wide and 5mm thick. It may also consist of a wrist rest to allow better comfort for the user.
Though a mouse mat is commonly used with a rolling ball mouse to allow the smooth gliding of the ball, it can also be kept beneath an optical mouse.
Mouse mats are believed to offer enhanced grip and a dust free, smooth surface where the mouse can easily move to provide the user with better control. However, the usability of the mouse mat is controversial and a number of experts think of it as a useless accessory that can be easily done away with, as according to them, any solid and smooth surface can do the job equally efficiently. Mouse mats are easily available on most computer accessory shops and come in all shapes, sizes and colours to suit different needs and styles.
The specially designed optical mouse, which unlike the conventional rolling ball mouse uses radio sensors to sense motion, generally needs special mats with a hard plastic coating.
Inspite of the mouse mats being commonly available in the market, it is rare to find a mat without any form of advertisement or company name on it as it is an excellent promotional tool. These mats also make good free gifts for the customers, so much so that few people actually have to buy one.
A mouse mat not only allows for the smooth functioning of the mouse but also increases its life and efficiency by not allowing dust to enter and damage its critical parts.