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Choosing a Mouse or Pointing Device – Part 1


This week in the Geek Guru blog, we’ll be pointing out (pun intentional) some of the things you can consider when you’re looking to buy a new pointing device.


The mouse and keyboard are really something many people take for granted now. The presence of a mouse (or pointing device in general) is something that’s only really come become standard in the past few decades, but is something without which we would be well and truly lost today.

Many people don’t put much thought into purchasing or using a mouse; if it works for its purpose, then it’s fine – which, for a lot of people, may be true. However, putting a little consideration into what pointing device you use with your computer, especially if you use it for extended periods, can make a whole lot of difference to your productivity and comfort.

  • Mechanical vs Optical and Laser mice

Although mechanical mice are rather outdated, they are still available to buy now – however we really don’t recommend you buy one. Mechanical mice are those with a ball and rollers in the bottom as a method of tracking how far, how fast and in which direction you move the mouse. They got clogged up with dirt, dust and debris, needed cleaning regularly and were not the most precise of tools – in fact, we’d bet that the most enjoyment you could get from a mechanical mouse was removing the ball from your colleague’s mouse while they were getting a coffee, and watching them try to figure out what was wrong when they got back to their desk.

The advent of the optical mouse made life much nicer for everyday mouse users, optical mice are far more sensitive and precise, and don’t require anywhere near the same amount of maintenance that a mechanical mouse requires. They work on pretty much any surface (unless it’s completely smooth, glossy or shiny such as glass) by using an imaging device to capture the surface illuminated by the LED light. They track the tiny changes in the surface of your mouse mat to measure how fast and how far you move the mouse – at a rate of about 1000 images per second.

Laser mice take this theory a step further and use a small infrared laser instead of an LED to track the surface, meaning the movements can be measured much more precisely, resulting in a higher sensitivity, with some laser mice coming with the guarantee of working on a completely smooth or transparent surface.

We’d recommend optical mice for everyone now as they are inexpensive and generally reliable (depending on brand and manufacturing quality, of course). Laser mice may be more suitable for those who need greater pointing precision (for example, in the creative industry).

  • Simple vs Multi-Button Mice

Another consideration not really made very often is about the number of buttons on a mouse. Most mice now come with two main buttons and a scroll wheel, which can sometimes be used as a clickable third button. Some mice come with more (sometimes many, many more) buttons, that can be programmed using software to perform certain tasks. Contrary to popular opinion, these aren’t just useful for gamers, designers or IT professionals – they can be very useful in day to day use, especially if you have to use the same key combinations or shortcuts a lot during the day.

If you find yourself using a certain command in a program a lot, you can most likely use a multi-button mouse to speed up this action. This is because a lot of frequently used commands in software have keyboard shortcuts – and you can assign this shortcut to one of the buttons on your mouse. For example, if you spend a lot of time using the copy and paste commands and have a mouse with two extra buttons, you can assign one button to the “copy” command and another to the “paste” command – meaning all you have to do is select what you want to copy, as normal, and click the “copy” button on your mouse.


Next post we’ll continue on the subject of pointing devices, and discuss different connection types and device types available.


If you need more information about mice and pointing devices, or guidance on choosing one that’s right for you or your business, or if you’d just like to chat to us about anything else IT-related, get in contact with us!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Posted on by Emily
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