In the previous installment of this column, I discussed my current favorite computer mouse, the Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX ($50 street;, which I use both at my desk and while I'm traveling. Its Darkfield Laser Tracking works on just about any flat surface, including clear glass. But as many of us know, a day full of precise mousing to edit a bajillion takes can lead to all sorts of physical pain and stress, no matter how ergonomic the workstation configuration, and if the mousing surface is not consistently smooth, the stress can be greatly amplified as you try to move the mouse pointer accurately by tiny increments. I don't play video games, but I can empathize with gamers, because editing in an audio application requires lots of precise, semi-repetitive micro-movements. With that realization, I've been looking at products marketed to gamers, and despite my Logitech mouse's "Anywhere" ability, I purchased a few gaming mousepads to try it on. Two from Razer stood out. My favorite is the dual- sided Razer Vespula ($27 street; The "speed" side is incredibly smooth — enough so that you can really feel the momentum of the mouse as it slides. The "control" side has a micro-texture that is also smooth but offers more tactile feedback. Actually, looking carefully, even the speed surface has a micro-texture to it. What's neat is that this texture is patternless, and the amount of friction does not change with the direction of mouse movement. Moreover, the textured surface seems to magically repel dirt. My bare desk would always end up with a bit of tacky grime which I'd have to clean off every few weeks to restore mousing accuracy. Not so with the Razer Vespula — it has remained surprisingly clean for months. The Vespula, by the way, is a two-piece affair. It includes a rubbery mat with a wrist pad that "interlocks" with the two- sided mousing surface and does a commendable job of preventing the whole system from slipping on your desk. All in all, the Vespula is a smartly-designed product, and it has greatly increased mousing accuracy and therefore comfort for me. I recommend it highly. I also purchased the single- piece, single-sided Razer Scarab ($30 street), which is touted for its portability; a reinforced carrying case is even included with it. Its mousing surface is halfway between the two surfaces of the Vespula in terms of texture, and nonslip rubber is laminated to the bottom. By the way, both mousepads are rigid enough to span gaps of several inches without bending, but a distinct advantage of the Scarab over the Vespula is that the Scarab can be carefully cut down with several passes of a sharp blade if you find its 14'' x 10'' footprint too expansive. ••• Another gaming product I purchased recently is the Cooler Master CM Storm QuickFire Rapid keyboard ($80 street; Not only is it offered with highly- regarded Cherry mechanical keyswitches — either the MX Blue "click tactile" or the MX Red "linear action" — but it has true N-key rollover with the included PS/2 adapter; 6-key, 4-modifier anti-ghosting when plugged into a USB port; nonslip keycaps; and a removable, braided USB cable. It looks just like the 87-key Leopold Tenkeyless keyboard and the Filco Majestouch-2 (without the latter's steel base and steep price). I'm very happy with my MX Blue-equipped QuickFire. It feels superb -reminding me of the wonderfully tactile IBM keyboards I used in the '80s. But yes, it does click loudly, so I can't use it in a room with a recording mic. -AH

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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