Buying a new Mouse

Article - Buying a mouse
Date - 07-02-2007
Page - 1 2 3

Summery - So your looking to buy a new mouse for your computer and you have discovered the massive variety of types and prices available. So what exactly are you paying for when you look at the higher end of mouse technology? In this article we will run down the things that go on inside and outside of the mouse to help you make a decision on what you need to pay for and what to you is simply a waste. After all nobody like spending more money than they need to.


With so many choices to make for such a small piece of computer equipment it makes sense to have a quick look around to decide on the best deal for you. Making an informed decision is the key to making a correct decision when spending money on anything. Here at PantherProducts we look to bring a simple understanding of many of today's hi-tech components and peripherals. The humble mouse is no longer a peripheral that is overlooked and treated in a "anyone will do" manner. The differences in modern mice are huge and that means the choices are huge as well. By understanding what all the jargon is being forced fed to you can can really decide what you want from you mouse.

DPI - Dots Per Inch

If you are looking at a modern Optical or Laser mouse then one of the specification you will see is how many DPI the mouse can read. DPI stands for Dots Per Inch and is more commonly used for describing the resolution of printers or scanners. With the mouse its virtually the same thing. The DPI is the amount of Dots per inch the optical sensor can read. The Higher the DPI the mouse sensitive the mouse can be. A high DPI is great if you are playing action games where quick movement is required as the mouse will perform more accurately. Many new mice on the market that feature high DPI's, even 2000 and above often allow you to change the setting of the DPI to a lower level to allow a less sensitive feel to the mouse which some people prefer.

A good gaming example would be in a first person shooter when many gun types are used. When roaming free you will want a high DPI on your mouse so that a quick movement can be performed with ease. However when sniping a lower DPI will help with a much slower movement giving greater accuracy in this instance. If you do al ot of gaming or have reason to believe that changing the DPI will be beneficial to you then a mouse with on-the-fly DPI changing will be a great use. The Razer Copperhead mouse is one such mouse that allows this technique to be used.


Compare Prices on hundreds of Mice at Kelkoo

Frame Rate

Frame rate again is part of an optical mouse's tracking capabilities. An optical mouse works by taking tiny pictures of the surface below it extremely quickly. The DSP (Digital Signal Processor) inside the mouse then compares each picture one at a time comparing one frame with the next. By doing this the mouse can recognise the pattern of the surface below and determine how far the mouse has moved, this in turn relates to how far the cursor on the screen is moved.

Take a look at the two pictures above. Both of these shots are a zoomed in section of a larger picture, much like what the optical mouse sees. When the DSP compares these two images it will determine that the image has moved down and to the right. It will also be able to determine exactly how much it has moved and translate this information to the computer and move the cursor on the screen. Obviously when the optical mouse takes these shots they are incredibly detailed and every pixel is registered and processed to determine the pattern on the surface underneath the mouse. It is for this reason why optical mice cannot function on glass and glossy or very smooth surfaces. These surfaces do not contain enough detail for the DSP to be able to recognise a pattern in the images.

The Frame rate is essentially how many times these pictures are taken and processed per second. The higher the frame rate the more accurately the mouse movement is detected and the smoother the movement of the mouse. High frame rates also help when the mouse is moved at a fast pace. If the frame rate is too low then the DSP will get two pictures where the images has no similarities and can't judge any mouse movement. With a high frame rate this is very unlikely to happen.

Poll Rate

The polling rate for a device is simply the amount of times per second that the computer will ask for any status change in any particular device. In terms of the mouse the polling rate will be the amount of times per second that windows checks on the position of the mouse. A higher polling rate will be far more accurate than a lower one. Bear in mind though that really high polling rates take up more CPU time and the USB / PS2 port may not be able to handle the higher polling rates.

Changing the Polling rates of the USB port is possible but should only be tried by advanced users who wish to delve deeper into PC tweaking. Some gamers like to use a higher polling rate as they feel it improves the responsiveness of the mouse giving them that fraction of a second advantage over some of there opponents.

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