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Computer Mouse Buying Guide

Choose the Right Mouse for Your PC or Laptop

The right mouse makes a world of difference to productivity and workflow, but it’s a piece of computer equipment that’s easily overlooked. Choose the wrong mouse and risk the hassle of having to untangle cords, reinstall faulty drivers and, potentially, run into work-related health problems such as RSI.

Clearly mice differ and each is designed to excel at specific tasks - choosing the right mouse is about identifying the specific features that are best suited to meet your business needs without compromising on comfort.

  • What makes a good mouse?

    Comfort & function

Why is comfort important when selecting a mouse?

Comfort is becoming more important as we use computers more and more in the office and at home.  For laptop users a mouse will be significantly more comfortable and easy to use than the track pad on a laptop.  A PC user may find an ergonomic mouse more comfortable than the one they bought with the computer.

For desk-based activities that involve daily and repetitive use of a mouse, an ergonomic mouse is mandatory. Designed to maximise comfort by creating a more natural grip, hand and arm position, an ergonomic mouse can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing painful repetitive strain injuries. But even if you don’t want to invest in an ergonomic mouse, it’s still possible to reduce the chance of injuries by choosing a mouse that encourages the right kind of grip.

  • What ergonomic mouse shape is right for me?

  • 1. The Finger Tip Grip

Identify:

Your hand forms an arch over the mouse with only your fingertips providing touch points with your mouse. This style is often adopted by users making lots of short rapid movements.

Watch for:

While precise and seemingly natural, a fingertip grip where only your fingers rest on the mouse can cause problems.

Solution:

Look for a mouse with a defined bump that will encourage you to rest your palm on the surface. A height adjustable wrist rest the can be customised to suit the height of the palm will benefit users adopting this style.

  • 2. The Palm Grip

Identify:

This is the most common grip style. The hand palm rests on the mouse providing support and multiple touch points.

Watch for:

Whilst this style provides support for the hand, free movement and therefore agility can be hindered by the posture that this can a user to adopt.

Solution:

A wider mouse with a higher profile will provide a more natural fit for a cupped hand shape and encourage a better ergonomic posture. A wrist rest that supports the arm as it moves will benefit this style.

  • 3. The Claw Grip

Identify:

This style is often adopted by user making fast gliding movements that require high levels of precision.

Watch for:

This style provides for nimble control but can lead to unnecessary strain and pressure.

Solution:

A shorter mouse with a rear that nestles into the palm of the hand may be preferred. A mouse pad with integrated wrist rest will benefit this style.

5 Questions to ask when buying a mouse

Here we summarise the 5 key questions to ask yourself when buying a new mouse for to ensure that you’re enhancing, and not hindering, your performance.

Whether a mouse is wired or wireless is one of the key factors when deciding which device to buy. If your workflow is largely office-based, a wired mouse may offer value for money and certainly the reassurance of a wired connection, in spite of the inconvenience of the cable. Equally, using a wired mouse saves the perils of having to find new batteries or the downtime while a mouse is recharged. For workers that primarily work from a single desk a wired mouse often proves to be a practical choice.

Wireless USB Receiver Storage

View range

It is worth thinking about the size of the receiver. If using a tablet or hybrid, a small plug-and-stay nano receiver can stay plugged in without affecting laptops profile.  This becomes important and slipping a laptop into a snug fitting sleeve.

Having to remove the USB receiver each time would become tedious.  Although mobile workers will certainly value mice that accommodate secure storage of their USB receivers as so to prevent loss. 

A standard receiver (about the size of a USB flash drive) has the three-fold advantage of being easier to handle than a smaller receiver, harder to lose due to size and easier to find in the bottom of a bag.

Bluetooth Mice

Bluetooth Mice

Most office laptops are used in combination with a universal laptop docking station which generally provide extra connectivity thanks to additional USB ports.  When USB ports are restricted or unavailable a wireless mouse with a USB receiver probably isn’t going to be the right choice.

A Bluetooth mouse reigns supreme in this respect as they pair directly with a Bluetooth enabled laptop without need for port.  All wireless mouse require a power source and this is generally provided in the form of 2 x AA batteries.  Check how many batteries your mouse requires as some now only require a single AA battery.

  • 2. Do I need a portable mouse?

There’s more to portability than simply whether a mouse is wired or wireless. Mice come in many different shapes and sizes, some of which are better than others for traveling and using at hot desks and ad-hoc workstations. If working on the go, it’s unlikely you’ll want to add any unnecessary weight, or take up more space than is absolutely necessary in a travel bag.

Rather than a choosing a wireless mouse designed for ergonomics a wireless USB mouse with a thinner profile will slide effortlessly into your laptop bag or tablet case without stretching the zip or creating an unsightly bulge.  If you’re tempted to select a thinner design check that any wireless usb receiver can be stored within the mouse rather than externally.

  • 3. How responsive does my mouse need to be?

The level of sensitivity and responsiveness you need from a mouse varies from task to task. Image editing is often requires greater precision than word processing tasks, for example. If you are likely to need a high level of sensitivity, it’s important to look for a mouse with a high DPI measure. A mouse with a high-definition optical sensor can offer sensitivity of up to 2,400 DPI. Less specialist mice may only offer less than 1000 DPI; but this is usually more than enough for the majority of work-based tasks.

DPI refers to the dots per inch recognised by the sensor used by the mouse to detect movement, speed and direction.  The higher the DPI the more accurate and precise the mouse.  Laser sensors are far more sensitive than optical mice and are ideal for tasks demanding high precision.

  • 4. Laser or Optical?

Optical sensor mice

Optical sensor mice

The days of having to clean dust and dirt from the underside of the mouse ball are but over. Optical and laser mice offer consistent responsiveness on almost any surface. The chances are that most mice in your office work with an optical LED and sensor. An optical sensor is more than adequate for everyday internet and office word processing or spreadsheet applications. The reliability and accuracy of the optical mouse ensured the effective obsolescence of the ball mouse.

Laser sensor mice

Laser sensor mice

The laser mouse is the more recent innovation, however, and can significantly improve accuracy for users who need a mouse for tasks such as graphic design and gaming. By using a sensitive laser, the mouse recognises even the faintest touch.

  • 5. Functionality

Understanding the factors mentioned so far is key to choosing the right mouse; but there are additional considerations that can together turn a good mouse into the perfect mouse. Some of these are easy to forget. For example, mice boasting silent clicking can make all the difference in open plan offices or public areas and lefthanders will know from years of experience that not all mice are ambidextrous. 

A track on glass mouse will, you guessed it, track on glass thanks to a superior sensor.

It may seem obvious, but double-checking the suitability of your mouse against task suitability, grip style and workspace will ensure you have a mouse that offers value, most importantly, out of the box productivity. 

An additional point to make concerning functionality relates to the importance of finding a mouse that is fully compatible with your operating system. If you’re using Windows 10, for example, look for the official Windows 10 compatible badge - this means the product has been through full compatibility testing and that the results have been approved by Microsoft.

Side Buttons & Scrollwheels

Side Buttons & Scrollwheels

They may seem like a relatively minor feature, but side buttons for easy scrolling through webpages can really make a difference to workflow. By clicking the buttons up or down users can navigate forward and backwards just like clicking their browsers back button. 

Also, while most mice will feature a scroll wheel to aid navigation, not all have full clickable functionality, which lets you auto-scroll and can be programmed to perform a number of additional functions.  If you’re seeking full button customisation and programming capabilities look at the Kensington range of Trackballs with TrackballWorks™ software.

Did you know about wired mouse traps?

Mouse traps are often requested by organisations offering shared and public computing facilities and workspaces such as schools, museums and hospitals wishing to prevent theft of their wired PC peripherals. Together, Kensington’s CableSaver, USB port cable traps, iMac lock and Desktop & Peripherals locking kit provide the most comprehensive range of wired mouse locking options available.

 

 
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