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Saturday, December 27, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 1/15/2005

Workhorse mouse in many varieties

You could click that mouse almost 5,000 times today, according to one estimate that includes people who do intensive online searching or work all day on spreadsheets.

Most people do it with the standard, bargain basement mouse that shipped with their computer. Since mice last for years, there is seldom any reason to replace that standard mouse, which probably cost less than $20.

A new generation of computer mice, however, offer very good reasons for pitching an old mouse, including comfort and increased productivity.

There are mini-mice for mobile computing on laptops, optical mice that have no roller ball, mice without a tail that work with a wireless signal, mice that shed their cold plastic skin for warm leather, mice with programmable keys, and wacky mice that wiggle and shake like the real thing.

Check them out in a local store that sells computer gear. You ll probably find a dozen different kinds of mice waiting for a test drive.

Online computer stores offer an even wider selection. The online disadvantage, of course, is obvious: No test-drives available.

Getting a sense of the fit and feel is more important for a mouse than perhaps any other hardware. Hands and fingers are different sizes, and the amount of mobility varies from person to person. A comfortable fit will help avoid stress and pain from repetitive wrist and hand movements.

Optical mice are among the least expensive of the new generation.

These advanced pointing devices use a light-emitting diode, an optical sensor, and digital signal processing (DSP) instead of the roller ball and other moving parts in traditional mice.

Optical mice take more than 1,000 snapshots of the working surface every second, and translate those images into movement of the on-screen pointer. The optics give more precise control of the mouse movements. In addition, optical mice never need cleaning.

Does your mouse cord sometimes snag on a pen, cell phone, or other stuff on your desk? With a wireless mouse, there s no cord and no more tangles. The mouse uses a radio signal to transmit information about its movements to a receiver plugged into a universal serial bus (USB) outlet on the computer.

Mini-mice are small, lightweight pointing devices designed for easy travel and mobile computing on airplanes and in other cramped quarters. They are available in wired and wireless versions.

Perhaps the most unusual new mouse shakes, wiggles, and vibrates as you move over the edge of a hyperlink, window, or program button. It s the Saitek TouchForce Mouse.

Look at the system requirements list on the package box before you buy. They tell the computer hardware, including free hard disk space and random access memory (RAM), needed for a particular mouse.

A mouse that needs a lot of RAM may slow down an older computer.

Most new mice connect to the computer via a USB outlet. If yours are full, buy an inexpensive USB hub to get extra outlets.



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