Tired of dragging your fingers along an overly-sensitive laptop touchpad, spontaneously opening and closing random windows without control? Does your click button lack tactility and slow you down during your video game play, sending you straight to the bottom of the leaderboards?
Or maybe you just want a more comfortable, ergonomic computing solution and think that a wireless mouse
is just the ticket to avoid slouching over your keyboard
Whatever the reason may be, you’ve found yourself in the market for a laptop mouse, and unless you’re super tech savvy, you might be feeling a tiny bit overwhelmed by the hordes of options available for you to choose from.
What’s the difference between a USB mouse and a Bluetooth mouse? Do I really need to go wireless? How important is a gaming mouse for my performance? What kind of laptop mouse should I get?
These are all valid questions which definitely deserve further exploration. So let’s dive into the world of PC and laptop mice and take a look at which features might be more important to you than others.
Hopefully, after this read, we can point you in the right direction (pun intended) so you can feel confident in your next digital investment.
What is a mouse input device?
When you start to shop around for a new laptop mouse, you’re bound to encounter the term “input device” at least a few times. Before you get hung up on the packaging and confuse yourself with techy terminology, it’s worth taking a second to pause and explain the relationship between an input device and a computer.
An input device is what enables you to enter data into a computing machine. The input device you need to use will depend on the data you task your computer with processing, be it text, sound, artwork, etc.
Before a computer can process your data, you’ll need to have some method to input said information into the machine . That’s where a laptop mouse comes in, alongside other input devices such as your keyboard, touchpad, and trackball. Once the computer receives your data, it will produce the output results in the form of audio playback, hard copy printed pages, a display on the monitor, and so forth.
A laptop mouse is one example of an input device, but that just scratches the surface of ways you can communicate with your computer. If you’re developing your latest garage band, for example, you’ll need a microphone to record and transmit audio. Students who write large numbers of essays for school might want an ergonomic input device in the form of a mechanical keyboard
that allows them to type away with increased speed and efficiency.
There’s a huge spread of tactile, peripheral devices you can add to your computing system. With so many options to choose from, you’re able to dictate how you choose to communicate with your computer based on your preferences. When it comes to a laptop mouse, there’s a number of ways you can choose to navigate a cursor or pointer across your screen.
Wired vs wireless mouse
Your first decision is between a wired and wireless mouse. A wired mouse
connects to your system via USB cable. All you need to do is plug the mouse USB cable into the matching port on your laptop, restart your device while connected to the device, and install the hardware driver required for proper functioning. Although these input devices may be easy to use and simple to install, they’re not as convenient as a wireless mouse.
As manufacturers evolve and innovate in the 21st century, wireless tech continues to take the stage, becoming an industry standard for not only laptop mice, but across the entire board of digital devices from dockless phone chargers to Bluetooth speakers
USB vs Bluetooth mouse: what’s the difference?
A USB mouse attaches to your USB port. For a wired option, a cord runs from the mouse across your desk to your computer to plug in. If you choose a wireless USB option, then you’ll have a wireless receiver, affectionately known as a dongle, that slides into the USB port on your computer. This transmits the signal from the mouse to your computer. A Bluetooth mouse has no dongle. Setup is through the computer’s Bluetooth interface and pairs with your computer using software rather than hardware.
If you’re sold on a laptop mouse but aren’t sure what direction to go in, there are a few key differences between a Bluetooth and USB mouse that are worth mentioning.
For starters, you’ll need a little more technical know-how to set up and pair a Bluetooth mouse than you would a USB mouse. It requires a few extra steps during the installation process. But the big difference - and one that you should consider carefully before you choose - you’ll need to wait a bit longer for your wireless mouse to reconnect whenever you boot up your computer.
A USB computer mouse is much easier to install. It uses radio frequency (RF) technology paired with a nano/USB receiver/RF transmitter in order to connect to your computer and input data. The setup is essentially plug and play. Simply insert the receiver into a USB port, turn the power switch on, and your device will be ready to use. It does, however, take up one of your USB ports.
Occasionally, multiple Bluetooth devices can interfere, cross wires, and turn off for a little while, especially in an office setting with a large number of computer users. Although the RF on a USB mouse has the potential to mess up your WiFi connection, this issue is pretty rare and doesn’t happen very frequently.
Finally, if you opt for a Bluetooth wireless mouse, you have to double check whether it’s compatible with your laptop or computer. Not all devices are equipped with Bluetooth, especially if you’re operating on an older system. Alternatively, even the newest, thinnest laptops usually come with at least a few USB ports, so you should have no compatibility issues when purchasing a USB mouse for PCs or laptops.
Which is the best USB mouse for me?
So what’s the hype behind a wireless mouse? Why are consumers so eager to ditch the cables? If you’re weighing the pros and cons of a Bluetooth or USB mouse against a traditional pointer, there are some definite advantages you should consider before finalizing your purchase.
Top 5 advantages of a wireless mouse:
Like all wireless technology, a USB mouse can be operated while physically away from the receiving device. That means you don’t need to be sitting at your desk with your laptop in order to navigate the cursor across the screen. If you want to connect your laptop to a TV
, you can sit back on the comfort of your couch and conveniently click on the movie you want to watch or game you want to play while saving yourself from the hassle of getting up to make your selection.
Above all else, comfort is king when it comes to using any computer peripheral. If you purchase a USB wireless mouse, it’ll most likely boast an ergonomic design that feels like it was contoured to the exact specifications of your hand. Ergonomics is the study of how equipment and furniture can be arranged so that people can do work or other activities more efficiently and comfortably .
An ergonomically optimized device is incredibly important when it comes to computer peripherals because it not only makes tasks easier, faster, and more comfortable to execute, but it also helps prevent injuries such as arthritis, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive use.
Not all mice are one and the same, so make sure you play around with your potential input device to confirm that it feels right in your hand.
A USB wireless mouse makes for a conveniently portable travel companion, as well. Most are small and compact enough to fit right into the outer pocket of your laptop backpack
, allowing you easily tote your input device to a gaming convention or college class.
Heading off on a business trip? Turn your hotel bed into a mouse pad and reply to emails as you unwind with room service. Without a wired mouse, you won’t have to worry about cables tripping you up as you pack and unpack your device.
In the past, the convenience and portability of a wireless mouse were overshadowed by poor performance. A sluggish USB mouse would have a lag time between when you physically touched the device and when the input would be received by the computer, making the cursor appear glitchy in motion.
Technology has since improved by leaps and bounds, meaning you can count on a lightning-fast connection between your input and output devices without experiencing any delay of data relay.
A reliable wireless mouse is especially critical for gaming. In the virtual battlefield, lives are on the line and every second matters to your gaming victories. You need to rest assured that your laptop mouse will quickly and dependably input each and every click that you register, or else you risk giving up your competitive edge to an opponent with a faster device.
A USB wireless mouse offers far more responsive feedback than you could get from the built-in touchpad your laptop comes equipped with. Reliable tactility can help you one-up your enemy with speed and precision, and with up to 30 months of battery life, you’ll never have to worry about your wireless mouse dying on you during the last and final objective.
Even if you don’t game on-the-go, travel for work, commute to class, or surf the web while reclining on the couch, there’s still one advantage a wireless mouse has over a USB wired mouse: aesthetics. If you want to declutter your home office or workstation, you should start by cutting out all the cables possible. Wires running all over your desk are visually distracting and space-consuming. They can dig into your work productivity and negatively impact your overall atmosphere.
Get organized and take advantage of a wireless mouse that will lend a modernized aesthetic to your workstation. Your desk will look sleek and professional, and you might be surprised by your renewed sense of motivation to sit down and get work done.
If you're operating on the standard touchpad your laptop came with, you’re probably just getting the job done - but you can perform the job better using a USB wireless mouse. They offer so much more versatility than your current input device can provide, enabling you to choose a laptop mouse catered to your lifestyle.
If you’re always on-the-go, opt for a petite travel mouse
that boasts a long-lasting battery life so you’ll never have to worry about charging while you’re away. Show off your originality with a purple mouse
or match the accents on your gaming rig with a paired red mouse
Buy a model that comes with programmable buttons on either side that you can configure with preferred shortcuts. Choose between the laser and optic varieties in either a Bluetooth or USB mouse and enjoy versatility at your fingertips.
Optic or laser mouse?
If you’re not sure whether you should get an optic or laser wireless mouse, the difference is in the dots per inch (dpi). Generally speaking, an optic mouse can track between 400 and 800 dpi, while a high-quality laser mouse
can track upwards of 2,000 dpi .
The sensor on a laser is more sensitive, which improves the accuracy of movement. Average mousers will most likely be fine with an optic model for day-to-day usage, but dedicated gamers and graphic designers should opt for the more precise laser mouse to ensure hyper-attention to detail.
Those looking to embrace what the latest technology has to offer should saddle up with a wireless mouse to conveniently scroll across screens and navigate through windows. A USB mouse is usually more convenient, but you can also go for a Bluetooth mouse if you don’t want to spare a port. No matter which option you go with, make sure to do your research on the specs beforehand. You’ll want your input device to run on at least 27 MHz for seamless data transmission.
Once you plug in your USB mouse, there’ll be no going back to that antiquated touchpad. A wireless mouse is the life-enhancing accessory your laptop is missing. Pick one up and prepare to experience what a modernized workstation feels like.
About the Author: Kaelee Nelson is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Kaelee is an experienced writer based in Southern California and specializes in creating informative content related to technology and digital culture.
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