The Empress is currently the cheapest glass mousepad with a fast glide, but enough control to stop when needed. The full silicone base gives it solid sticking power, and the design makes it one of the most unique pads on the market.
Padsmith The Empress Review – An Upper Class Contender
The mousepad market is moving extremely fast with releases being put out almost weekly, and constant improvements being made. Glass mouse pads have become quite popular and a lot of companies are trying to release at least one glass mousepad to compete in the fast hardpad category.
Padsmith is a mousepad company that is well-known for its amazing designs and quality products, therefore seeing their Empress pad being one of the most competitive glass mouse pad options on the market right now is no surprise.
A glass pad cannot be folded or rolled therefore all of them come shipped in a well-protected box with a lot of foam. This ensures safety during transportation and means that you can get your pad intact.
The Empress mousepad comes in a similar box with the design printed on the surface of the box making it distinguishable at a glance. The inside of the box is well protected by foam and the pad comes in a white sleeve that would offer an extra layer of safety.
I tried dropping the box itself a couple of times and it can take a couple of hits without showing signs of damage. Overall the unboxing experience of The Empress pad is quite premium and sets you up nicely with high expectations of the actual product.
The most important feature of a glass mousepad is its surface. This is a lifetime purchase since the pad does not lose its glide, is easy to clean, does not change based on weather, and is overall as consistent as you can get. A glass pad will outlast any other mousepad you have (Cordura, hybrid, etc), unless you intentionally ruin the surface with skates that are harder than tempered glass (ceramic, sapphire, other glass skates).
When it comes to the surface of the Padsmith Empress pad in games I will be mostly comparing it to the SkyPad 3.0 since that is my most used mousepad and both are glass mousepads competing for the same target audience.
The Padsmith Empress is part of the Striker series and is designed to be a more balanced pad compared to an all-out speed pad which is the classic definition of a SkyPad. When gliding my fingers across the Empress it feels smoother and closer to frosted glass. The SkyPad on the other hand feels like straight-up glass with very little (if not zero) texture to it.
The frosted surface aids the Empress pad in being less sticky and quite usable without a sleeve. This statement will vary widely depending on where you live and how much you sweat, but you have a much higher chance of gaming sleeveless compared to a SkyPad 3.0.
I assume that Padsmith is achieving a more balanced feeling with more stopping power on the Empress with the help of this textured frosted glass surface, allowing you to stop faster and achieve a higher level of control. When put head to head with a SkyPad 3.0 I can tell the difference in glide and stopping power but this won’t be something dramatic like switching to an Artisan Hien.
In percentages, the difference in stopping power would be around 10-15% but this is highly conditioned by what kind of mouse skates you are using. Using PTFE skates instead of PTFE dots you can increase the stopping power by another significant margin to 20-30% depending on the skates you use. I tested the differences with some Corepad skates which make a lot more use of the frosted textured surface than PTFE dots would.
In short, the Empress pad being a glass mousepad does offer a quick glide, but it feels more controlled living up to its intended design. Depending on your mouse skates you can further tune the feel of the surface to your liking.
The Empress pad comes in one size which is XL – 490x420x4mm. When compared to the 500x400x3.7mm of the XL SkyPad 3.0, the Empress is a bit shorter horizontally but taller vertically. These differences are honestly insignificant because both pads offer enough space even for low CM gaming in tac-shooters.
The difference I did notice is the height of the pads with the Empress being thicker. With vertical movements and tracking you might feel the Empress more but for me after 30 minutes of gaming, both pads fade completely.
The SkyPad 3.0 uses ultra-slim feet while the Empress has a full silicone base and while the SkyPad is lower profile because of this choice, this does not make it a superior product.
The single biggest difference and instant upgrade from a SkyPad 3.0 is the full silicone base the Padsmith Empress uses. While I did not experience bending while playing on the SkyPad, dust and other foreign objects did manage to find their way under the pad making an unpleasant creaking noise when I would rest my hand on the pad.
If you have a bunch of cats and want your glass pad to be stuck to your table, the Empress is definitely an amazing choice because the silicone base is an instant upgrade.
The other instant upgrade in terms of visual features is the design of the Empress. The lead artist at Padsmith, Conrady did an amazing job creating one of the most unique pads on the market altogether. The purple and black design is instantly recognizable and gives the pad an amazing presence on any desk.
While other glass pads do offer different designs to their base scheme, those unique designs usually come at a price premium and are hard to obtain. This situation is understandable as changing the design costs more money and more people would want the new design, but that is exactly what makes the Empress such a good pad – you get an amazing design from the get-go at the base price.
The design of any pad is just a matter of tastes and preferences but currently, The Empress sits at the top of the list for me when it comes to pads that look stunning.
Cleaning & Durability
As with any other glass mousepad, maintaining the Padsmith Empress is extremely simple. You can use a microfiber cloth to wipe the dust occasionally or wipe it with household cleaning products since this is a glass pad.
The pad has no coating therefore you do not risk ruining it by using solvents like alcohol on the pad to clean out PTFE skid marks. Overall the thought of not having to worry about accidental spills or crumbs is quite addicting since it gives you an insane amount of peace of mind compared to when you have an expensive cloth pad on your desk.
Pricing & Availability
The biggest reason why The Empress from Padsmith should be on your list if you are looking to purchase a glass mousepad is the pricing. The Empress is sold at 74.99$ for the XL size – by comparison, a SkyPad 3.0 XL will run you down 119$, a Razer Atlas 99$, and a Pulsar Superglide will cost 94.95$.
The price differences grow even bigger if you are looking at the EU market. The downside of The Empress glass mousepad is that it is quite limited in number making it harder to get since you would need to wait for pre-orders and snag one quickly.
You can however find the pad on different retail sites that might have them in stock still or will have them in stock further down the line. From my understanding, the Striker series of pads from Padsmith will continue with the same features but different designs, so if you cannot get your hands on The Empress pad you will get a chance to experience the surface but with a different design/color scheme.
Silicone Base 10
- A balanced surface that lends itself more to newer glass pad users
- Amazing design and color scheme
- Even surface and full silicone base
- Availability might be an issue depending on where you live and when you want to order
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