Whenever comparing two different products we can come to a conclusion if we sum up each of their advantages and disadvantages. Then we can see a clear picture: which fits our needs the best and meets our expectations. Therefore, I will give you a quick run through of this duel by mentioning specific scenarios accompanied with the pros and cons of each technology. As a result, I will back up my statements with arguments, and ultimately interpret the comparison duel, draw conclusions and recommend each mouse for specific groups of computer users.
Having no mouse pad at all - slick, squishy, loose, uneven surfaces.
Pro: Optical and Laser.
Having a multi-color mouse pad - artistic designs or photo-based pads.
Pro: Laser and Mechanical.
Having a shiny surface or pure black or unfrosted glass.
Pro: Laser and Mechanical.
Having a need for extreme accuracy and precision - design, artwork, gaming.
Pro: Laser but also Optical (Laser > Optical, though).
Laser light is polarized and, therefore, more coherent. Increased coherence means more accuracy than the reflected dispersed LED light of an optical mouse. Laser mice have the ability to create higher resolution "snapshots" of the surface. Therefore, they are by far more precise, accurate and sensitive toward the surface.
Higher sensitivity means that laser mice are almost surface independent. They tend to work on any kind of surface without hassles. Some laser mice still have problems with glossy, shiny black surfaces and mirrors, for example, but the ones with higher DPI shouldn't have issues. The bottom line is that you should not ever rely on advertisements! You had better do research and a read a review or two before purchasing one.
However, this huge amount of sensitivity may cause trouble for certain type of users. That's why manufacturers introduced features that allow the user to change the DPI (dots per inch) in specific steps. For example, depending on the brand and type of your mouse, you could change the DPI of a laser mice from 2000 dpi down to 400 dpi in the following steps: 1600, 1200, 800, 400, etc. This is manufacturer dependent and not every laser mice benefits from this.
Gamers should prefer the maximum DPI in first person shooters (FPS games), RPGs, and strategy games, but when working in Windows for everyday activities they might prefer a lower DPI, something around 800. Artists and designers will benefit from the sky-high DPI especially when working on projects. How many times have you "missed a specific pixel"? Your pointer slides away and, thus, you miss-click. This won't happen with high quality laser or optical mice. The higher the DPI, the better!
"Missing pixels" was a common issue with mechanical mice. Those two rollers got filled with dirt and the pointer's movement was drastically affected. Mechanical accuracy cannot be compared with LED or IR Laser light-based DSP precision.
The DPI of optical mice ranges from 400-800, while for laser mice it can be around or even exceed the 2000 DPI barrier.
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