It is more challenging to choose a good mouse for our computer every day, not because of its quality, but because of the incredible variety that the market offers. That is why we have prepared this guide to the best PC mice.
Formerly we went to the neighbourhood store or shopping centre to buy the famous Genius or a Logitech with an optical sensor that was the cane of Spain. Now the market offers several alternatives: basic wired, with trackball mice, wireless, and Gamer. The latter is the most requested by most players because it combines everything that a user needs.
The invention of the mouse led to a much more intuitive way of interacting with computers and all the software that they run. This article explains everything you need to know about PC mice—everything you need to know about mice.
Mice: What are they, and who invented them?
The PC mouse is something that all users use to make a cursor move on the screen. In other words, what a mouse does is figure out how much you are moving your hand and in what direction. There are two main types of mice, and they do this job in two different ways, either by using a rolling rubber ball or by bouncing light off the desk. Finding a ball mouse is going to be very difficult today.
For most of its history, computers were the province of scientists and mathematicians. You needed a math degree to understand the manual, and you could only tell them what to do by using a stack of index cards with holes. Everything began to change when a brilliant American computer scientist named Douglas Engelbart invented the mouse.
Engelbart realized that computers were beneficial, he could see that they had the power to change people’s lives, but he could also see that they needed to be much easier to use. So during the 1960s, he pioneered most of the easy-to-use computing technologies that we now take for granted. Including on-screen word processing, hypertext (the way of linking documents used on web pages like these), windows (so you can have more than one document or program in view, and videoconferences.
But he is still best known for inventing the mouse, or the “XY Position Indicator,” as it was initially known. That name remained dropped when someone saw that the hanging wire resembled a mouse’s tail. From then on, Engelbart’s invention was known simply as the “mouse.”
How Ball Mice Work
As you move it across your desk, the ball rolls under its weight and pushes against two plastic rollers attached to thin wheels. One of the wheels detects movements in one direction, up and down. The other detects signals from side to side. As you move the mouse, the ball moves the spinning reels. If you move the mouse up, it only turns the y-axis wheel. If you move to the right, it only turns the x-axis wheel. And if you move the mouse at an angle, the ball turns both wheels simultaneously.
Now here’s the intelligent part. Each wheel remains made up of plastic spokes, and as it turns, the spokes repeatedly break a beam of light. The more the wheel turns, the more times it fails. Therefore, counting the number of times the shaft remains broken is a way to accurately measure how far you have turned the wheel and how far you have pushed the mouse. Counting and measurement remain done using the microchip inside the mouse, which sends the details over the cable to the PC. The software moves the cursor on the screen by a corresponding amount.
There are several problems with mice like this, as they do not work on all surfaces. Ideally, you will need a special mouse mat, but even if you have one, the rubber ball and its rollers gradually pick up dirt, causing the wheels on the x and y axes to spin erratically and cause the pointer to move. Move incorrectly.
How Optical Mice Work
An optical mouse works in a completely different way. Emits bright light on your desktop from an LED (mounted on the bottom of the mouse. Light bounces directly from the desktop to a photocell, also mounted underneath the mouse, a short distance from the LED. The photocell lens in front magnifies reflected light, so the mouse can more accurately respond to your hand movements. As you push the mouse around your desk, the pattern of the reflected light changes and the chip inside the device uses this to find out how you are moving your hand.
Most optical mice also have a wheel on the front so that you can scroll pages on the screen much faster. You can also click the wheel, so it works like the third button on a conventional mouse. An optical mouse is much more high-tech than a ball mouse. While a ball mouse has quite a few moving parts, an optical mouse is almost entirely electronic.
Here are the components within an ordinary optical mouse:
An LED on the back generates a red light and illuminates it horizontally, from the back of the mouse to the front.
A plastic light guide channels the LED light at an angle towards the desk.
A light detector chip measures the light reflected from the desktop, converting the analogue movements of your hand into digital signals that can remain sent to your PC.
The scroll wheel on the front of the mouse remains mounted on a toggle mechanism that senses how much it has turned and if you pressed it. Scroll wheel rotations can remain detected in several different ways. Some mice use potentiometers, similar to the volume control on a radio, but capable of turning multiple times. Others use various types of rotary switches or optical encoders to convert analogue wheel movements into digital signals.
A microswitch detects when the right mouse button remains pressed. There is an identical switch on the other side to see the left mouse button.
The connection of the USB cable carries digital information from the mouse to the PC.
Optical or laser mouse
The sensors of PC mice can work with optical or laser technology. The visual models are more precise than the lasers, but they can adapt less to some surfaces, so you are more likely to need a mouse pad. It is why almost all gaming mice today are based on optical sensors. In addition, the most advanced sensors such as HERO and PMW 3360 are already capable of adapting to almost all surfaces, including glass. Laser mice are better adapted to surfaces because their light is more penetrating to better capture imperfections in smoother materials.
The problem with laser-based mice is that they can be too precise, collecting useless information like the invisible hills and valleys of a surface. It can be problematic when moving at slower speeds, causing a “jitter” of the cursor on the screen, or what is better known as acceleration. The result is a terrible 1: 1 track derived from useless data thrown.
What are DPI and mouse refresh rates?
DPI or dots per inch in Spanish represents the sensitivity of a mouse. The higher the DPI values, the more the cursor will move for every mm to transfer the mouse. If we have a high-resolution screen or use several monitors, we may be more interested in a high DPI value. Low DPI values make the cursor move less, although we gain precision in the movements in return. The values usually go from 1000 to 16,000 DPI. We will hardly need more than 2000-3000 DPI, so the higher values are more of a marketing strategy than anything else.
We continue with the refresh rate. It indicates the frequency with which the information sent by the device remains updated, and the cursor needs to move accurately. The refresh rate is measured in Hz and can reach 1000 Hz; from 500 Hz, the difference is tiny, although a priori the higher, the better.
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