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Mice & Trackballs Buying Guide

One of the most frequently used items on a computer is the mouse or trackball. It doesn't matter if the system is a laptop or desktop, there is always the need for mice and trackballs in order for the computer user to interact with the device.

It is interesting to see how many people overlook the need for a comfortable mouse or trackball setup in order to enjoy ease of use where the computer is concerned. In other words, people believe that they have to suffer through the use of an uncomfortable or inefficient device when there are some immensely ergonomic and appealing models available.


Choosing the Device for You

To begin selecting the appropriate mouse or trackball for your needs means asking yourself a few questions:

  • Do I need wireless or can it be plugged into the system?

  • What sort of software will work on my computer?

  • What type of sensor do I prefer on my mouse or trackball

  • What size and shape are required?


Wired versus wireless connection

We'll start with the wireless versus cable connected options. There are not many people who are happy to use a laptop computer with a cable connected mouse. This is why there are now so many wireless and Bluetooth capable units.

What this actually means is that the computer into which you intend to plug the wireless mouse is going to have to have a readily available USB port. There is no working around this, and because USB is an optimal way of relaying the data from the mouse to the computer, you can count on it for cabled and wireless styles.


Batteries

However, when you say that you are using a wireless mouse, it always means one thing - batteries. The cable connected mice and trackballs are powered by their cables and do not require a separate power source. The wireless or Bluetooth devices, however, will need frequent battery changes.


Software

In terms of the software for the mice and trackballs - keep in mind that you may not use the mouse just for Internet browsing and usual computer functions. Instead, you might need to use that mouse for advanced gaming or for some other type of high-performance procedures. This means you have to investigate the software capabilities of the mouse, and the design features that ensure it will give you the functions required.


Sensor

The next factor is the type of sensor on the device. Something that is still around is the roller ball beneath the face of the unit, but this is far less desirable than the laser and optical sensors. In fact, you will rarely find anything but laser and optical sensors on most mice, and a laser is the fastest technology (averaging around 20x faster than optical mice).


Shape & size

Lastly, there is the issue of shape and size. This is a lot more significant than most realize, and there really is a mouse for all hand sizes. This means the days of cramped fingers, sore wrists, and ongoing discomfort are over. For instance, a mouse is usually now made to work with the natural contours of the hand. Mice and trackballs have scrolling wheels to help avoid the need of moving the mouse to move the images on the screen. They can be oriented towards someone's preferred hand (left or right), and they can also be found as joysticks or "vertical" mice.

Don't assume that this latter design is for those who want to play games and little else. The vertical design is actually an optimal design for those who have issues with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or who are uncomfortable holding their wrist in the usual downward bent angle.

When choosing from such designs, remember that they help cut down on the need for arm movement and can even be used only with the fingers. This can be very helpful for those with a limited range of movement or who need to avoid repetitive movements due to injury.


Pricing

You can expect to pay as little as $20 for a good mouse or trackball, but there are also many styles that are priced at $140 and higher. The best names in the industry are Razer, Logitech, Wacom, Microsoft, and SteelSeries. Each of these brands makes a wide array of styles available, and some are designed for specific purposes in mind. For the most part, the specialty mice and trackballs are meant for avid gamers, people with chronic hand or wrist conditions, and those who want wireless functions.


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