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
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 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. There are newer technologies like Logitech’s Darkfield technology that are even more adaptive with glass tables whether they be the wooden table with the glass top or a desk or coffee table that just has a glass top.
What kind of connection
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.
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. Some newer wireless mice even have their own fixed-in batteries and are charged by connecting them to the host computer’s USB ports or a USB-based power supply.
All wireless mice will have an on-off switch on them. Here, you use this switch to turn off your mouse when you pack it in your bag for travel so you don’t find that the battery has run down. You will also find that if you haven’t used your mouse for some time, it will “go to sleep” to save battery runtime and will come alive when you press one of its selection buttons.
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.
Additions – November 2020
Further details on Logitech’s Darkfield technology from further personal research, along with further usage notes regarding wireless mice.