Flite Tech strap-on mouse matReview date: 4th July, 1999.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
If you find yourself computing in cramped quarters, or where there's no flat surface to use a mouse, this is exactly what you need. Laptop users, in particular, have to suffer various non-mouse pointing devices, many of which work pretty well once you're used to them but none of which are as handy as a plain old mouse. But you can't use a mouse without a flat surface to run it around on; even Honeywell's dual-wheel all-terrain mouses, and Microsoft's upcoming all-surface optical models, need a bit of open space of some description.
The Flite Tech mouse mat solves the problem, and does it elegantly too. It features an unremarkable 6-by-7-inch mouse pad (removable for cleaning, or for replacing with a similar rectangle of some other substance, like for example a cutdown EverGlide pad), which sits atop a strap-on Velcro-and-elastic-equipped leg-encircling holder-thing, which includes a rigid board to keep the mat flat.
There's a pocket for your mouse on one side, and a pen holder, with complimentary ballpoint included, on the other. A second Velcro pad engages when you fold the thing up, to keep it closed. Folded, it's not much bigger than the size of the pad itself.
It sells for $US19.95, plus shipping. At present there's no Australian distributor; see the end of the review for the chance to ask for one!
The mat strapped onto my ordinary-sized thigh easily enough. If you're a person of larger dimensions and your thigh is more than about two feet (60cm) around, you'll need some sort of Velcro extension strap arrangement or lengthening of the elastic or other alteration to make the Flite Tech fit. You wouldn't actually have to be a whole lot plumper than me for the standard setup to be too small. This could be explained by the fact that the Flite Tech was designed by a fighter pilot, and that's a profession inhabited more by Tom Cruise-shaped people than by John Goodman-shaped ones.
Assuming the thing fits you, the Flite Tech is actually very simple to use, and might in fact be more ergonomically correct than many people's computer desks. Reach down and fondle your thigh right now. It's a comfy position to have your arm in, isn't it? I wouldn't mind using a Flite Tech pad all day, which is more than can be said for many road warrior-type accessories, whose primary virtue is usually that they're better than nothing.
This is a simple, but useful, product. For computing on the plane or train, it's a great idea; it'd also be good at those overbooked LAN parties where table space is at a premium, or for people working on lots of computers in awkward places, or for anyone who wants about ten times the geekiness you get from a pocket protector.
I'm surprised it took so long for someone to come up with this thing.