Choosing the right input device for your laptop

Some of you may want to decide whether you want to use a laptop’s integrated trackpad or thumbstick as your pointing device on that computer. On the other hand, you may want to use an external mouse or trackball as your pointing device “on the go”.

Each device has its own application

Laptop trackpad

The laptop trackpad which is good if you are on the couch or in an airline seat

I would find that the external mouse can do the job better if you are frequently using your laptop computer on a table or desktop. This is more so if you are doing advanced graphics work and you find that these devices are easier to manipulate for this work and you have the benefit of the larger table or desk surface as your working area. Some of the external mice are available in a very small size so you can stow them in your laptop bag without them taking up too much room.

The regular mouse which works well at a table or desk.

The trackpad or other integrated pointing device can become more handy when you are in a lounge area or are travelling in a plane or train because you don’t have to worry about the extra mouse or trackball in these circumstances. As well, you don’t necessarily have the room to move a mouse around if you are confined to an armchair or sofa. In the case of working in a lounge area like the hotel lounge or someone’s lounge-room, you may get away with moving your mouse around the coffee table if the computer is on that table or on a thick armrest if the computer is on your knee.

It is also worth knowing that you may have trouble using your optical mouse on a glass table due to there not being any reflection or texture that the mouse can work with. You can work around this problem by placing a tablemat, napkin or piece of paper on the table and moving the mouse on that surface. This may not be of concern if you use one of those wooden dining tables that is finished off with a glass top.

A laser mouse which uses a laser as its tracking light is more flexible with different surfaces like glass tables than the regular optical mouse.

What kind of connection

Wireless mouse dongle

The typical easy-to-lose dongle that comes with most wireless mice

When you choose an external mouse for use with your laptop, you could go for a USB-connected wired mouse or a wireless mouse. If you do go for a wireless mouse, I would recommend that you look for a Bluetooth or WiFi-Direct mouse like the Logitech Bluetooth Mouse M555b rather than the common type that come with a receiver dongle so you don’t need to carry around an extra dongle that you could easily lose.

This is due to the mouse using the laptop’s integrated Bluetooth or Wi-Fi circuitry as the connection path rather than something that is as big as a key and at risk of being lost.

Driver software

Most mice and other input devices don’t need to use any user-installed software for them to work with the host computer. Here, they just use class drivers that are integrated in to Windows, MacOS X or Linux for their basic functionality. Some of them may use a manufacturer-supplied driver for touch functionality or other advanced functions.

Batteries for your wireless mouse

Most of these wireless mice work on AA or AAA batteries so it is easier to get your hands on a set of the batteries for your mouse. You could just pick up a set of them from a drugstore or supermarket or ask Front Desk or Housekeeping for a set of these batteries if you stay in most hotels.

If you are using a wireless mouse, it may be worth running it on lithium batteries rather than the regular alkaline batteries. These allow the mouse to perform at its best at all times that you use it because they are adept at handling short bursts of short power demand. Similarly if you use it with a laptop that you only use during travelling, the lithium batteries have a longer shelf life.

Rechargeable batteries can come in to their own if you use the mouse very frequently such as with a main computer. Some of these can simply be charged on an overnight basis if you are using them daily. The chargers can be ran from AC power directly or there are some that run from a USB socket which would be handy if you have a laptop that uses a “sleep-and-charge” USB port or you use USB power supplies.

Conclusion

Once you choose and use the right input device for your laptop, you are then able to gain better use of the computer for the situation that you are using it in.

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