Optical and laser mice have been competing with both gaining advancements and improvements along the way. And with optical mice being the most commonly packed with new pcs you buy now days, the question arises to many about which is the best. Afterall if you have an optical mouse, what else do you need? So in this post I'll help you decide if it's worth upgrading to the laser mouse or simply to keep the mouse you already have. Let's get started!


What is an Optical mouse?

Optical mice were introduced in 1999, to replace the traditional ball mice with better tracking and sensitivity altogether. They use red light-emitting diodes to reflect light off of many types of surfaces to help track. The mouse tracks by what's best described as taking multiple pictures very quickly and comparing them on top of each other to see which direction it's moving. It tracks the surface by the smallest of imperfections that it can then map out as it moves. The best comparison would be if you took a picture of an object then took another one at a slightly different angle. You'd then place the one right on top of the other and look at them on a lit up table to see the difference between them. This is how this mouse tracks it's location. Surfaces that are reflective or transparent like glass, cause the sensors to struggle to pickup it's movements because reflective points back at itself and transparent is like using it in the air. The average optical mouse does about 800 CPI(counts per inch) creating more sensitivity than previous mice designs which is a welcomed improvement.


What is the laser mouse?

Logitech released the first laser mouse to the public in 2004. With this came the most obvious change of there no longer being a visible red light under the mouse when moved. The laser is invisible to the eye therefore you see no light emitted from it when using the mouse on surfaces. The laser mouse works a lot like the optical mice in terms of tracking except for the laser being much more sensitive. This allows it to track at a CPI(counts per inch) of 2000+ depending on mouse design. The much higher sensitivity means it can move at higher speeds while still reading the surface more clearly. Laser is also able to pickup better on unusual surfaces such as fabric, wood, and slightly reflective materials that are a little harder for the optical mice to do.


What are the biggest differences between optical and laser mice?

As stated above they both operate similarly for tracking except that laser can read the surface more clearly due to the much better sensor which is built into it. Optical mice however tend to be a little cheaper than laser which is why they are still more often used over laser mice. The clear differences are for those who use the mice for gaming and graphic design. For gamers they like to prefer to have the option of having that extra sensitivity even if they choose to lower that in settings. For graphic designers it's primarily the precision and sensitivity to design with that you may gain when using a laser sensor over an optical one.


Is upgrading to a laser mouse worth the extra cost?

Definitely when you're talking about using it on a larger screen resolution, or for some gaming, graphic design etc. That extra nudge in sensitivity is what some may need when the standard CPI of 800 or so just isn't quite enough. Now if you're simply into reading news or playing cards on your computer, then optical will serve all your needs. The difference in sensitivity can sometimes force those who aren't used to it, to lower their settings to slow cursor speed. But this is not the case for everyone as everything is all in preference of the user. Some people like the speed, others don't. But in the end Laser as stated above does more than add to sensitivity, it adds the ability to pickup on surfaces a little better.


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Filed under: Optical versus Laser

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