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INPUT DEVICES

Battle of the Mice
By: Barzan "Tony" Antal
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    2007-08-07

    Table of Contents:
  • Battle of the Mice
  • Optical Mice
  • Laser Mice
  • The Duel
  • Conclusions

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    Battle of the Mice


    (Page 1 of 5 )

    This is a controversial topic and a dilemma for most people. Common sense says that the latest technology is always better, but the question "why exactly?" remains unanswered. No one should rely on advertisements and marketing gimmicks. A certain level of knowledge is required to confidently decide which one fits one's needs better. Reading this article should make this decision easier for you.

    This article's main purpose is to clearly debunk the myths without regrets, to explain and point out the real difference between these two technologies. I will analyze the difference kinds of mice and conclude which one is a better choice for specific kinds of users: from office workers and casual gamers up to design artists and enthusiast gamers. I will focus more on the architectural and technological details because within those lies the answer to our dilemma. I have also opted for a quick comparison with the legacy mechanical mice to exemplify the performance advantages of both. And then, the final duel: optical vs. laser.

    Let's begin. A skirmish of computer mice awaits you… as a spectator!

    Mechanical Mice

    The good old "ball mouse" is a mechanical mice. Its main parts include a ball and two rollers (X and Y axis), a pair of photodetectors, plus an infrared LED (light emitting diode). The LED shines through slots in the disks that are rotated by those rollers and, therefore, the light-signal gets interrupted -- this stands for the generated electrical signal, which is gathered by sensors. This is its whole design in a nutshell.

    The common problem with mechanical mice is that the ball gets dirty, the rollers pick up heaps of dirt from the ball, and both need frequent cleaning to maintain optimum performance. A quick clean of the rollers with a finger tip is often all that is needed to restore performance, but if the mouse isn't opened and cleaned properly, dust will build up on the IR LED.

    Also, obviously, those sensors cannot be very accurate at all. It happens quite often that you "miss the target" with your pointer. It's due to the low level of accuracy of the mouse's sensors. All in all, it was a great invention that dates back to 1972.

    Check out the attached picture below. It is a disassembled mechanical mouse.

    (Photo courtesy of fpga4fun)

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