Crowdstorm's buyers guide to the best computer mice
Welcome to Crowdstorm – and more specifically to the computer mice department. The humble mouse is often neglected when buying a new computer system; and with laptops and tablets overtaking PCs in popularity, they’re can be even more of an afterthought.
But anyone who has tried to use a laptop touchpad will know a mouse is still the best option when you have space for one, while extended use of a touchscreen device can still benefit massively from using one of our little plastic friends.
Douglas Englebart of Stanford University designed the first computer mouse in 1964 and they’ve come a long way since his creation. Modern mice are ergonomically designed and comfortable, as well as making controlling your cursor easier.
The traditional mechanical computer mouse
Mechanical computer mice work using a rubber ball on the underside of the unit. When the rubber ball moves it activates two rollers with small holes at the end. An infrared beam then passes through the disks and a detector calculates the direction and speed of the mouse.
Mechanical computer mice are now quite dated, falling out of favour because the rollers can easily become clogged with dirt and food becoming wedged inside (yum). This affects performance and means having to take apart the mouse to clean out the gunk regularly. Not fun!
The optical mouse and laser mouse
An optical computer mouse is much simpler and avoids the problem of being gunked up with dirt and food. In place of the rubber ball, a beam of light or laser bounces onto the surface under the mouse and senses the speed and movement of the mouse.
The optical mouse doesn’t need to be cleaned on the same scale as a mechanical model (normally just the pads on the bottom, from time to time). And while an optical mouse could be quite sensitive, not working well on shiny surfaces, laser mice can be used on almost any surface – negating the need for a mouse pad, or large surface to work on.
The next level in mouse tech, a blue track mouse (pioneered by Microsoft) will outperform a laser mouse both in terms of the surfaces it will work on (even carpet) and in accuracy. A BlueTrack mouse uses a combination of an image sensor and pixel technology for exceptional accuracy.
They’re currently at the expensive end of the mouse range, but if you’re looking to do work that requires pinpoint accuracy (such as graphic work) they’re well worth the extra investment.
The wireless mouse
A cordless mouse connects with a computer using radio waves (you’ll find plenty of optical, laser and BlueTrack wireless mice). They’re super convenient as you do away with one of the cables making a mess of your workspace – but you’ll still need a USB port and remember that the mouse itself will need batteries (although they’re relatively inexpensive).
They can be a big benefit for strain issues too, as it is so easy to move position when using a wireless mouse – especially if it’s a laser mouse that works on any surface (I can use mine on the armrest of my chair, for example).
Computer mouse ergonomics
While all mice used to look the same, you now have some pretty different designs to choose from:
- Ambidextrous standard mice: These are designed to be the same on both sides, meaning they can be used by both left and right-handers (so great for shared work areas) – and are also great for people comfortable switching between the two (which is great to avoid strain injuries, but can take some getting used to).
- Vertical mouse: These have become very popular with some users and are again flagged as a great way to avoid particularly wrist strain. This style of mouse keeps your hand in the ‘handshake’ position, which is a more natural position for your hand to rest in (rather than flat).
- Semi-vertical mice: Midway between a traditional and vertical mouse, this can be a nice transition towards a vertical mouse while still supporting the most sensitive parts of your wrist.
- Handshoe mouse: These support your wrist as well as your hand, letting your hand ‘float’ over the mouse rather than resting on it (making it easier on your joints). They’re pretty big though, and pricey, but could be perfect if you’re finding yourself very susceptible to strain injuries.
Buying the best mouse: More things to consider
Alongside the standard types of mouse technology, there are several other things to consider before starting to compare computer mice. Prices can range dramatically, from a couple of pounds to more than £50, so as well as budget think about the following:
- Size: Not all hands are made equal! Mice come in all shapes and sizes and, particularly with a traditional mouse, one that’s too big or small can bring on those strain injuries very quickly indeed.
- Scroll wheel: Some mice come with a scroll wheel, usually positioned between the two buttons. It makes scrolling up and down pages quick and easy.
- Buttons: Most computer mice have two or three buttons that allow you to do all the functions you need. But for something a little fancier – especially for gamers – get your hands on a mouse with programmable buttons.
I’ve found my ideal computer mouse: What next?
If you’ve compared mice here and found the one that perfectly fits your need, the next part is easy: simply click through to the deal. You’ll be taken to the official website of the company of your choice, right on the correct page to seal the deal.
Crowdstorm itself isn’t a retailer: we set up advertising deals with the UK’s most trusted online and high street retailers to allow you to compare all the best special offers in one place. This means we get our commission directly from the retailer, not you – and you get to buy directly from the retailers you trust, so everyone is happy! Now go capture that mouse!