July 14, 2022
Different Types of Computer Mice
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.
When PCs first hit the market for consumers, the computer mouse was simple and had limited functions. Today, there are numerous models of computer mouse and trackball designs to fit every computing style. This guide will give you an overview of the various types of computer mice and their chief benefits to a user.
A wired mouse connects directly to your desktop or laptop, usually through a USB port, and transmits information via the cord. The cord connection provides several key advantages. For starters, wired mice provide fast response times, as the data is transmitted directly through the cable. They also tend to be more accurate than other designs. This can make wired mice models great for gamers, digital artists and other users who rely on high accuracy.
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. While the freedom or range with wireless models is convenient, there are some drawbacks. The decoding process, for instance, means that a wireless mouse is generally not as responsive to gestures as a wired mouse. Gamers in particular might find the lag frustrating. That said, there are specific wireless mice designed for gaming that address the latency issue in their design and have quicker response times. For most users, however, the lag or lost accuracy with a wireless model will be negligible.
Wireless mouse designs and Bluetooth mouse designs tend to look very similar, as neither need a wired connection to operate. Most wireless mice models use a dongle that connects to your PC, and the mouse communicates back and forth in that manner. A Bluetooth mouse, however, utilizes an internal Bluetooth connection on your PC, allowing you to connect the mouse to multiple devices at a time.
Keep in mind, however, that not all devices have Bluetooth connections. If your computer does not have an internal Bluetooth receiver, you can get USB receiver that can be plugged into your computer to use with your Bluetooth mouse and other Bluetooth devices.
Comparing Wired vs. Wireless vs. Bluetooth Mice
The debate of whether a wired or wireless mouse is the best choice is an argument as old as the devices themselves. The fact is, they are both excellent choices depending on how you most often use your mouse. Here’s a quick comparison between wired, wireless and Bluetooth mice to help you decide:
- Extended range from computer
- Not restrained by cord length
- Unrestricted movement
- Doesn’t require mousepad
- Requires batteries to operate
- Lower accuracy (may be negligible for non-gamer users)
- More expensive than wired models
- May require purchase of USB Bluetooth receiver if your machine does not have Bluetooth functionality
Average users may only notice a few key differences between wired and wireless 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.
A trackball mouse looks a lot like an upside-down mouse. These mice feature 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 while also allowing for easier scrolling. That said, a mouse generally gives you more freedom of movement and faster response time, which makes non-trackball styles better for gaming and computing activities that require heavy mouse use.
Whether wired or wireless, an optical mouse and laser mouse are very much alike in design but have one key difference. While optical mice use infrared LED light to bounce off surfaces to track movement, laser mice utilize an LED outside the visible spectrum and appears to have no light at all. Both types perform well, but laser mice models tend to have a bit more accuracy. Either way, both mouse types are excellent choices for standard PC duties.
Comparing Trackball vs. Optical vs. Laser Mice
Although very similar in how they function, there are some distinct differences between trackballs, optical mice and laser mice. What you choose should depend on your ergonomic and accuracy needs. Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide:
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. These features can make regular tasks more efficient. If you’re a PC user, don’t feel left out! Windows has developed compatible drivers that allow Magic Mouse models to work on a PC as well.
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.
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 it may help reduce the chance of muscular stress-related conditions like carpal tunnel.
Gaming mice are available in both wired and wireless designs and may include additional features beyond standard models to improve your gaming experience. In general, these mice models are designed to do everything a normal mouse can do while offering higher accuracy, less latency, and more ergonomic designs.
Other key features that can be found with gaming mice are the inclusion of more buttons (which may be programmable for unique in-game use), flashy designs, DPI control, and customizable drivers that can be tailored to your specific gaming needs. Some gaming mouse models even have adjustable weights, which can make a difference when making repeated movements with your mouse over long gaming sessions. And, of course, you can still use your gaming mouse for non-gaming day-to-day activities as well.
Find the Best Mouse for Your Needs
There are many types of computer mouse and trackball designs on the market today. From mice designed with ergonomics in mind 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.