How to Choose Among the Different Types of Computer Mouse Models
There are many different types of computer mice, but how do you decide which one is right for your needs? Read our buyer guide to find the best mouse for you.
- April 29, 2019
When PCs first hit the market for consumers, the computer mouse was simple and had limited functions. Today, there are numerous types of computer mouse and trackball designs to fit every computing style. This guide will give you an overview of the various models and their chief benefits to a user.
Wireless Mouse vs. Wired Mouse
The debate of whether a wired or wireless mouse is the best choice is one of the oldest arguments about these two peripherals. The fact is, they are both excellent choices depending on how you most often use your mouse.
A wired mouse connects directly to your desktop or laptop, usually through a USB port, and transmits information via the cord. Wireless mice transmit radio signals to a receiver connected to your computer. The computer accepts the signal and decodes how the cursor was moved or what buttons were clicked — generally, wired mice have a higher DPI (dots per inch) than wireless and are usually more accurate. The decoding process also means that a wireless mouse is generally not as responsive to gestures as a wired mouse, and gamers in particular might find the lag frustrating. There are even specific wireless mice designed for gaming that address the latency issue in their design and have quicker response times.
On the other hand, your average user usually may only notice a few key differences between the two types of mice. While a wired mouse is powered by the connection to the PC, a wireless mouse usually requires charging or batteries to operate. But wireless mice also offer greater freedom and connectivity from across rooms and can often work on surfaces other than mouse pads, making them ideal for presentations or when you need to stand away from the screen but have control over the display.
Bluetooth vs. Wireless Mouse
Wireless mouse and Bluetooth mouse designs tend to look very similar, as neither need a wired connection to operate. Most models of wireless mice use a dongle that connects to your PC, and the mouse communicates back and forth in that manner. A Bluetooth mouse utilizes an internal Bluetooth connection on your PC, allowing you to connect the mouse to multiple devices at a time. Not all devices have Bluetooth connections, so a wireless mouse may be your only option in some cases.
Trackball vs. Mouse
A trackball looks a lot like an upside-down mouse. It is a ball with sensors that move the cursor on the screen when the ball is moved with your thumb. A trackball generally requires less effort to move around than a wired or wireless mouse and allows for easier scrolling, but a mouse generally gives you more freedom of movement and faster response time, making a mouse better for gaming and computing activities that require heavy mouse use.
What is an Optical Mouse?
Technically, all mice are optical and take images thousands of times per second as the mouse is moved. Traditional mice track the X and Y coordinates of the peripheral. The true optical mouse uses a red or infrared LED light projected onto a surface to track movement by bouncing the light off the surface into a CMOS sensor, which converts the light particles into an electric current. The resulting analog data passes over 10,000 digital images each second. The result is smooth movement and accurate pointing on your display that doesn't require a mouse pad and even allows the mouse to work over a glass surface.
Optical Mouse vs. Laser Mouse
Whether wired or wireless, an optical mouse and laser mouse are very much alike in design. The optical mouse uses an infrared LED light to bounce off surfaces to track movement, and a laser mouse utilizes a similar method — except it uses an LED outside the visible spectrum and appears to have no light at all. Both types perform well, and laser models tend to have a bit more accuracy, but both are excellent choices for standard PC duties.
What is a Magic Mouse?
The Magic Mouse was first developed for use with Apple computers. It works much like a traditional PC mouse. However, Apple also created multitouch technology that allows for swiping and scrolling by moving your hand over the surface of the mouse. Windows developed compatible drivers that allow the mouse to work on a PC.
What is a USB Mouse?
A USB mouse is one of the most common types of computer mice and has been a part of computer peripherals since the USB Standard was set in 1996. USB computer mice may be wired or wireless. The wired mouse plugs into a USB slot on your PC, while a wireless mouse usually has a transmitter that plugs into the USB slot and communicates with the mouse. These are good standard mice for all PC activities.
What is a Vertical Mouse?
A vertical mouse is an ergonomic design that places the wrist in a "handshake" position rather than flat against a desk. This reduces the pressure on the underside of the wrist and the internal rotation of the shoulders. The unique design can take some getting used to, but may help reduce the chance of muscular stress-related conditions like carpal tunnel.
There are many types of computer mouse and trackball designs on the market today. From mice designed with ergonomics in mind for heavy users to avoid hand and wrist fatigue, to lightning-fast gaming mice and standard USB mice for daily computing activities, there is a mouse to fit your needs. Consider the types of daily tasks you do to narrow down the best mouse for your own computing needs.