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How to Choose the Perfect PC Mouse

Tired of your PC mouse? Want to try something different? Mice come in an amazing variety of types and styles!

When it comes to the computer mouse, many people are perfectly content to use whichever model came with their PC. After all, they may think, mice are pretty much all the same, and this one comes at the right price: free.

These folks may be surprised to know, however, just how many kinds of PC mice there are. These days, you have a wide range of choices, each with its own benefits and possible drawbacks. There are even a whole host of alternatives to the traditional mouse for those who might want, or need, something a bit different.

The Wired vs. Wireless Mouse

In the new millennium, everybody is thinking wireless. We want wireless phones, wireless computers and even wireless DVD players. And when it comes to the PC mouse, wireless appears to be catching on as well. After all, if you can navigate your computer screen unencumbered by messy and annoying cables, why would you choose anything else?

But although the wireless mouse has its advantages, not everyone thinks it’s the best choice. In fact, some will argue passionately for the speed and reliability of the wired mouse.

Starting with the newcomer—the wireless mouse—we all understand how nice it can be to move your mouse whenever and wherever you want. Such a feature gives us the flexibility and freedom today’s busy worker often requires. As our workflow and projects change, we can move our mouse around our desk, and around those ever-growing piles of papers, as needed.

What’s more, with all the many wires and cables the typical small business desktop is already buried under, the wireless mouse really helps to clean things up. You won’t be dragging your mouse wire around and through your phone and monitor cables or tangling it among your keyboard and pencil sharpener cords. Some wireless mouse models even operate on soft surfaces like your lap or a coffee shop couch, making it a great choice for the mobile worker.

On the other hand, the wired mouse never needs new batteries or recharging. Also, many people believe there is a slight delay between mouse movement and onscreen response with the wireless mouse, something that does not occur with the wired variety. This seems especially the case for those who use their mouse for gaming, but this might be a factor in the busy office as well, especially if there are a lot of wireless signals that might cause interference.

And even though the wireless mouse is unencumbered with a cord, the batteries it contains can add an extra weight. This additional ounce or two might not seem like much, but after 40+ hours of pushing it around each week, your wrist and hand might disagree.

The Ergonomic vs. Traditional Mouse

In the effort to combat repetitive motion injuries, an all too common condition for the modern PC user, many computer accessory makers offer specially designed mice that conform more accurately to the shape of a user’s hand. These mice are made so that your wrist and fingers rest more easily on the mouse, supporting the movements of your hand as you work. Such designs put less strain on your joints and bones, helping you to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and related problems.

In addition, some of the newer PC mouse models are made to be more sensitive to your movements, thus allowing you to create the same onscreen response with less effort. The inertial or gyroscopic mice that are now available don’t even require contact with a solid surface. With these mice, slight rotations of your hand create the needed response.

The primary drawback to these ergonomic models is their price, since they tend to be more expensive than the more basic, traditional mouse. Some of these mice may take some getting used to, given their unusual shapes or use patterns. Thus, the day before a major deadline might not be the best time to introduce this kind of mouse into your office.

Computer Mouse Alternatives

The choice in computer input devices for the small business doesn’t stop with the computer mouse. Other options, with their own advantages, are available, some of which can be useful for those with limited range of motion in the arm or wrist or with other special needs.

  • The Trackball. Before the advent of the modern optical mouse, which uses light beams to track mouse movement, PC mice utilized roller balls to translate hand motions into onscreen responses. The trackball is in essence a roller mouse turned upside down, in which the user manipulates a ball of varying sizes with his or her fingers. 

The advantage of the trackball is that only the fingers need to move while the hand itself stays at rest, thus reducing the possibility of repetitive strain injuries. Also, those with arthritis or other joint problems may have trouble gripping a mouse, which the trackball does not require. The primary disadvantages are the relatively larger size of the trackball, reducing portability, and the fact that they can be hard for some to adapt to. 

  • The Touchpad. Those folks with laptops are likely already familiar with the touchpad, in which the PC user moves the cursor by sliding his or her fingers across a small pad or plate. These pads are usually built into the laptop, but fans of the touchpad can purchase separate units to plug into desktop PCs. Again, the main advantage is that less motion can be required to operate the touchpad compared with a mouse. In addition, some find the touchpad faster and more responsive. On the other hand, they can be hard for some people to adjust to. 
  • The Digital Tablet. This input device works like the touchpad except a pen-like pointer is used to push the cursor around rather than your finger. The tablet’s surface is pressure sensitive so that the harder you press the pen while using certain applications, the heavier the corresponding lines that are produced onscreen. This technology is often favored by artists or designers. As you might expect, these tablets are expensive in comparison with the average mouse. 
  • Eye Tracking. Eye tracking devices use a head-mounted camera to translate the user’s moving gaze into onscreen cursor response. These devices are designed to assist users with a limited range of movement. As such, they are specialty devices, and as such are not in general business use. In a few years, however, we may see eye-tracking technologies trickle down into the small-business setting.

The ideal mouse for you? The one that feels best in your hand and works on your desktop.

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