Not too long ago, selecting a computer mouse couldn’t have been easier. Your computer came with one and that was usually the version you will stick with. Nowadays, there are too many versions to count, making it possible for you to find the perfect mouse for whatever purpose you need.
There was a time when extra buttons beyond the main two on a mouse were considered something that only gamers ever used. However, more and more people are finding out how practical they can be for other purposes too. Today’s models allow the user to map these buttons for customized purposes. While a gamer may need extra buttons to make their character scroll between devices or activate a force field, you can use them to move backwards and forwards in your browser or even for something like using Exposé in Mac OS X.
Unless you’re a hardcore gamer, the number of buttons available shouldn’t be the main focus of your browsing, but they can be the difference maker between two models.
There are countless brands to choose from when looking for a computer mouse. The brand that will work best for your needs will depend on what those needs are. Some of the most popular manufacturers right now are:
Logitech, Microsoft, Apple, Razer, HP, Cyborg, Dell, A4Tech, SteelSeries, Trust
In terms of gaming mice, Logitech, Razer, Cyborg, and SteelSeries will be your best bets. While Microsoft, Apple, HP, Dell, A4Tech, and Trust have some gaming mice in their product line, they mainly make those designed for work and casual use.
Another feature you’ll need to think about is the sensitivity of the mouse. DPI stands for dots per inch, which is how you measure a mouse’s sensitivity level. The higher the DPI of a mouse, the farther the arrow on your screen will move relative to how much you moved the mouse.
Medium- to high-end options will generally feature pretty high DPIs, something in the neighborhood of 1,200 if not more. While DPI is often a major feature that gamers consider, it’s also important for those doing precision tasks like graphic designers or CAD designers. Low DPIs will definitely make your life more difficult.
Fortunately, many mice these days will give you the option of modifying your DPI as you see fit, allowing you to create a customized device. A lot of times, this just means opening up the control panel and altering it as you like. However, some models will actually provide you with buttons that you can use to alter DPI in the moment. You can even set various levels and then switch between them as necessary. This is great for those who play multiple games throughout the course of the day or designers who will switch from detailing an image to then writing an email or working in Microsoft Excel.
Normal mouse vs. Traveler Size mouse
The difference between these two types of mice is probably pretty obvious. For those who plan on using their mouse in one specific place, a normal sized model should do the trick. However, many of us need to travel regularly and don’t want problems packing away our mice.
Traveler models are definitely going to be easier for taking on the road or on a plane. Most of them are Bluetooth-capable as well, meaning you can sit down, take the mouse out of your pocket and use it as necessary before putting it away and moving on. This is a great option for those who often find themselves working out of coffee shops or in the middle of an airport.
That being said, if you do pick a traveler mouse, you may still want to invest in a normal sized one too. The smaller size of a traveler mouse will mean less room for extra buttons and makes it a bit harder to control.
Type of Use
There are countless ways you could classify the different uses mice have. For the most part, it comes down to those used for gaming, those used for normal web browsing, office work and casual purposes and those used in graphic design and other precision tasks.
These mice are usually very easy to notice. They come with upwards of two dozen buttons and usually feature very ergonomic designs. Their job is to give a gamer as much control and precision as possible, while still providing high ISPs. Nowadays, most gamers also look for mice that offer a high level of customization too.
For lack of a better term, these are the mice use for office/casual purposes and are usually the kind we all grew up with. They feature two to four buttons and a scroll wheel, but that’s about it. No premium is really put on ISPs or DPIs.
Then there are the mice used by all kinds of designers who need a high degree of precision in order to do their jobs correctly. Some designers actually opt for gaming mice because of how much customization they provide. However, there are plenty of mice made without all the extra bells and whistles that will make your job easy.
The popularity of 3D mice has seen a peak in popularity lately, due to the rising need of having a computer mouse allowing CAD drafters to move in 3 dimensions while working on technical design projects. The primary problem a 3D mouse solves is the ability to move in the x, y, and z direction.
Wireless vs. Wired
Most people these days prefer a wireless mouse for obvious reasons. They leave one less thing on your desk, meaning you can put various items between your mouse and computer without having to worry that the wire will knock them over or otherwise cause problems.
Furthermore, a wireless mouse is easier to move around without the wire restricting where it goes. Gamers insist on wireless mice for this reason and most people are following suit. The only drawback is that your wireless mouse needs to be charged, but this is hardly a reason not to choose one. Charging is easy and mice can hold a charge for days at a time.
USB vs. PS/2
While everyone is familiar with USB devices, there are those that run on IBM’s PS/2, also known as Personal System/2. Generally speaking, USB mice are preferred, simply because that’s the preferred technology right now.
Some people may argue that PS/2 can make for a better keyboard because it’s believed to do a better job of cutting down on the delay between typing something and it showing up on your screen. When it comes to mice, though, there’s little reason to think a PS/2 model is worth your money.
Optical vs. Ball
The ball mouse is the “original” version, though many models still use the concept today. Essentially, there’s a roller ball on the bottom of your mouse that glides around the pad and tells your computer where to move the cursor.
An optical mouse lacks this ball and uses a light source to scan the pad and move your cursor appropriately.
No matter how you look at it, an optical mouse is always better. It’s more reactive and less susceptible to dust and other forms of debris. Without the manual ball feature, you’ll also have a much easier time moving the mouse around as necessary.
The proper weight of a mouse can actually make a huge difference both in usability and the health of your muscles and skeletal system. When you consider that moving the mouse involves your entire hand, forearm, upper arm and shoulder, you can see why such a small piece of equipment can actually carry a lot of influence with it.
There is no correct weight that will work best for everyone. However, many mice—especially those used for gaming—come with tiny weights you can add or remove from the device until you have it nice and comfortable. The more and faster you move the mouse around, the more important it is that you have the right weight.
Aside from the basic shapes of mice that you may be accustomed to, there are five other versions worth knowing about. This factor is closely related to the types of Mouse grip.
The arc mouse gets its name from the extreme arch that runs through it. You’ll have a difficult time using it with anything but a palm grip, though obviously that means you’ll be able to move it around quickly. Many find that it is also more ergonomic and gives their fingers a rest.
A vertical model flips the traditional mouse on its side. Imagine you’re shaking hands with somebody and this is roughly the position yours will be in when using this mouse.
A pen mouse is often referred to as a stylus. It’s great for touch screens where you make contact with it via the pen mouse, allowing you to write by hand, draw and click. However, you can also use this kind of mouse on a touchpad just as you would the normal kind on a mouse pad.
This type of mouse is actually a bit deceptive. When turned off, it’s perfectly flat, making it easy to take this model with you wherever you go. However, to turn it on, you snap the spine of the mouse until it gets an arc. At this point, it works just like the arc mouse we already covered.
The handshoe mouse is marketed as the most ergonomic option available and there may be some truth to this assertion. This mouse will need to be used with a full-on palm grip. You’ll place your thumb on one side of the mouse and then your fingers will be separated to the other side and raised slightly. According to the manufacturer, this design fully supports you entire hand.
As you can see, if you’re in the market for a new mouse, you definitely won’t be lacking in terms of options. The main thing to think about is what you’ll be using your mouse for the majority of the time. If you’re a gamer, for example, that’s the type of mouse you should go with, as it won’t stop you from performing normal functions. On the other hand, if you have no interest in gaming, you don’t want to pay for the extra features. Take your time considering all of the above and the perfect mouse will be within your reach.