Since my job at iLounge involves reviewing products rather than trying to sell them, I am not going to attempt to convince you that Vaja’s new Mouse Pad is something that you’re going to spend $60 or $70 to purchase. I can count the number of mouse pads I’ve purchased on one hand, with two fingers, and mention that both of them came from the same Apple Company Store two years ago. They’re circular, black with a gray Apple logo in the center, and cost something like $10 or $15 a piece. Because of that gray Apple logo, mice tend to get completely confused and skip locations when they’re run over that surface, but I liked how these pads look and kept using them anyway. They replaced a free mouse pad that came from Ofoto (remember them?) years earlier; in fact, most of the mouse pads I’ve used were given away with purchases I made.
For obvious reasons, I like Vaja’s Mouse Pad better. As one might expect from both the company and the price, this is a beautiful design relative to most of the forgettable alternatives out there: rounded at the corners, it’s completely covered in the company’s classically impressive colored leather, which you can hand-select in two tones from a variety of choices. One of 37 colors becomes the frame, complete with a metal Vaja logo, while one of 10 colors becomes the mousing surface, slightly elevated over the frame thanks to soft padding.
Flip the pad over and you’ll see the company’s classic brown leather is used to create a hard bottom surface. Ours arrived with a bit of scuffing on the bottom, which isn’t a huge issue given that it’ll basically never be seen on a flat surface, and probably will accumulate additional marks from desktop grime as time goes on. By comparison, the top surfaces were perfect—extremely clean, and a really sharp match for the Apple hardware they sit next to.
Other than the price, which like Vaja’s cases screams “luxury” rather than “necessity,” the only major question a leather mouse pad raises for me is this: how long will it last before scratching or scuffing to a different patina? Obviously, your color choices will have some impact on this—picking Apple-matching light colors rather than darker ones might make damage more visible—but ultimately, it’ll be up to you to keep it clean. The plasticy top surfaces of other mouse pads have lasted many years without showing marks, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one holds up, but I can say with some certainty that I’m looking forward to continuing the testing.
Updated June 26, 2008: After almost a month with the Vaja Mouse Pad, I wanted to update this story with some conclusions on its durability and utility. My suspicion in late May was that the Mouse Pad wouldn’t be able to stand up well to some of the stresses of use at my desk, such as occasional freshly-washed hands grabbing my mouse, exposure to a little dirt, food, or drinks nearby, scratches, or so on. So I’m glad to report that the Pad looks basically the same today as it did out of the box; the white rim is still white, the gray center is still gray, and there’s only one little difference: small, generally unnoticeable areas of the gray leather are starting to lose their texture in favor of a softer patina. In terms of utility, the Pad is great except for one thing: it could use a little rubber on the bottom. While it stays generally in place, it’s not as sticky as the typical mouse pad, so you can either add something like double-sided tape yourself or hope that Vaja updates the design a little to make this Mouse Pad as firm on a flat surface as a freebie alternative. That aside, I’ve found the Mouse Pad to be a great little addition to the desk—another cool “luxury gift” option from Vaja.