The Industry Standard (US) is in the business of building better mousetraps – er, mousepads. Numerous companies have introduced keyboards with programmable Web keys. The Mysmart.pad brings the hotkeys onto a mousepad.

Once you install the Mysmart software – which also contains the Mysmart.links bookmark utility for the desktop – it’s straightforward to use. Twenty buttons frame the Mysmart.pad, which connects to your PC via a USB port. Pressing any one of the labeled buttons shoots your browser to the designated Web page. The visible surface of the pad is a plastic-protected paper insert. Once you register with Mysmart, various “themed” inserts – for example, “holiday”- will be mailed to you for free. Each insert has a series of preset buttons with codes that link to affiliate sites.

You can’t use the buttons to access sites that don’t have a deal with, however. Only five preset buttons can be altered – but only if you choose from a list of sites Mysmart has assigned to that button. According to, more than 600 sites will be included across all the preset categories.

Fortunately, extra buttons (blank spots on the inserts) allow for a degree of customization. Configuring these is similar to presetting a car radio: Go to the site and hold down one of the Mysmart.pad buttons for three seconds.

The actual preset site information is stored on an included smartcard that you insert into the top of the pad. The card also stores personal information – name, address, credit card number – which it uses to automatically fill in forms you encounter while surfing. The idea is for multiple users to have their own Mysmart.keys so they can take their preferences and presets with them when they’re done using the device.

The Mysmart.pad may be useful for Internet newbies. Other than that, you have to ask: Is using your bookmarks and filling out forms complicated enough to justify another peripheral?


Score (1-5): Utility: 4; Design: 3Est. Lifespan: Six months (’s business plan is the big risk here)

Price: US$19.95

System Requirements: Windows 98 or 2000, available USB port, CD-ROM drive, Internet connection

Copyright 2000 The Industry Standard (US), International Data Group Inc. All rights reserved.

Prices listed are in US currency.