What’s the difference between optical mice and laser mice?


Mice’s design and functionality changed a lot over the years. In the past the mice were working through a ball positioned inside.

The ball mouse has two freely rotating rollers. These are located 90 degrees apart. One roller detects the forward–backward motion of the mouse and other the left–right motion. Opposite the two rollers is a third one (white, in the photo, at 45 degrees) that is spring-loaded to push the ball against the other two rollers.

Nowadays the ball mouses have been replaced by optical and laser ones.

An optical mouse is a computer mouse that uses a light source, typically a light-emitting diode (LED), and a light detector, such as an array of photodiodes. This to detect movement relative to a surface.

The laser mouse uses an infrared laser diode instead of an LED to illuminate the surface beneath its sensor.

The laser model’s superiority stemmed from having a higher sensitivity than LED-based mice. Optical mice have a resolution of around 3,000 dpi. Instead laser mice have a resolution between 6,000 and 15,000+ dpi.

The problem with laser-based mice is that they can be too accurate, picking up useless information such as the unseen hills and valleys of a surface.

When laser mice first came out, they were significantly more expensive than optical mice. Today, there’s not nearly as much difference between prices, especially since mice come in so many different tiers for features, customization, ergonomics, and more.

For business purposes, we recommend a laser mouse. These mice are generally better at a wider variety of surfaces, better for traveling, and better for switching from your desk to a boardroom to a cafe as needed.

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