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Most people who use computers do not realize the importance of their computer mouse until the darn thing stops working. At that point, they understand just how much they've come to depend on that funny-looking little device to do their jobs every day.
So it's time to buy a new computer mouse. What should a shopper look for? Features? Convenience? Price? All of the above.
There are two basic types of mouse: hand-held and trackball. A hand-held computer mouse is the one where the operator rolls the entire mouse back and forth to move the cursor/arrow across the screen. This kind of mouse can either have a little ball inside that rolls the capstans back and forth, or it can be an optical mouse, using a laser light to pinpoint its location. These mice can either plug in directly to the computer tower, or they may be wireless.
A trackball mouse has a large ball in the middle of a mouse housing. Only the ball moves. The rest of the housing remains stationary. A trackball mouse is thought to be better for people who have carpal tunnel syndrome or other issues related to heavy computer mouse use.
The first thing a computer user needs to consider when buying a mouse is comfort. Most stores selling mice have display models and the user should test several models to determine which kind fits his hand the best. Some mice simply fit the user's hand better than others. If he uses the mouse a great deal, he will want to consider comfort first.
Mice have different features, such as programmable buttons. A user will need to decide if he needs programmable buttons on his mouse, or if just having right-click and left-click buttons will meet his needs. Except for gamers or specialized fields, most people will be happy with just the standard buttons.
A mouse will sell in a range of prices. The simplest hardwire mouse will be about $10 US Dollars (USD). A standard optical hardwire mouse will be about $20 USD. Mice go up from that price range, depending on their features, but someone who has repetitive stress injuries from too much mousing may be willing to pay a higher price for comfort and desirable features. Comparison shopping in stores and online will help a user find the best deals.
It's a good thing laser mice have all but replaced the old "ball and rollers" design. Those old mice work well enough, but the workings get crud built up in them and must be cleaned regularly to keep working properly. Consider that a tip -- if your mouse isn't working right, it might just be dirty.
The kind of mouse you get will ultimately be determined with what you want to do with it. Going for general purpose computing? A standard, handheld mouse with either a mechanical ball driving its motion or a laser will do fine.
If you're doing something that requires precision such as drawing or design, a trackball mouse may be the better choice. The standard mouse is great for a lot of things, but drawing a straight line with it or anything else that requires precision is difficult to impossible.
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