Updated: May 23, 2015

Laser Mouse vs Optical Mouse

flash drives What's the best wireless computer mouse on the market? We find out..
The humble computer mouse has come a long way in the last 20 years. The mouse was critical to the development of modern point and click user interfaces that define our computer use today. Early mice were simple, with just a button or two. And of course they had "tails", or cords that attached them to your computer. Today, the most popular computer mouses (mice?) are usually wireless. A wireless mouse connects via radio waves to a USB receiver that you plug into your computer. Without a cord it has to be battery powered, and most battery powered mice can operate for a week or more before requiring charging (they usually come with a docking station where you can park them overnight..). Wireless mice are nice since they reduce cord clutter and give you more freedom to work the way you want. Having used a cordless/wireless mouse for years, I would never go back. Modern mice also come with a few more features, like optical sensors instead of a lint gathering track ball, scroll wheels for moving though documents and websites, and buttons ---- many, many buttons that you can customize to do all kinds of things. In this guide we will take a look at the most popular wireless computer mice, helping you know what to look for, and how much you should expect to spend.

Since computer reviews can quickly become out of date, we keep a link here to an up-to-the-minute list of the bestselling computer mice at Amazon.

Laser Mouse vs Optical Mouse

What's the difference between an optical mouse and a laser mouse? Both styles use light instead of a moving ball to track the movement of the mouse. Most optical computer mice use LED lights that track about 400dpi, while a laser computer mouse has a more sensitive resolution of 2000dpi+ (5X more sensitive). For most users, the laser mouse is probably overkill -- nothing wrong with it, but it is not going to help you out much. If you are making your decision based upon something else like price or looks or functions, don't feel bad about choosing an optical mouse over a laser mouse.

Logitech Laser Mouse - Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse

When it comes to the best wireless mouse, our favorite hasn't changed in the last 2 years. It is still the Logitech MX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse. Priced at about $60, it has comes down quite a bit from its original $100 price tag of a few years ago. I use this mouse every day, and I have no problems going a week or more before little green LED battery indicator on the side heads into the red zone, meaning I need to plop it into the charging station overnight to power up the battery. The weighted scroll wheel works great -- it has a nice click to it (when not in free spin mode) as it spins, unlike others I've used before that could get slippery and were harder to negotiate. I feel it fits the hand perfectly. I only use 2 or 3 of the buttons, but they are there if you want to customize them. Overall, an excellent mouse. You can browse all the latest Logitech wireless mouse products here.

Microsoft Laser Mouse 8000, Laser Mouse 7000, Laser Mouse 6000

Close runner-ups to the Logitech family of mice is Microsoft. Microsoft makes the popular family of computer mice called the Wireless Laser Mouse 8000, Wireless Laser Mouse 7000, and Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000. The Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 is ergonomically designed to fit your hand, angling off to the right with a pad for your thumb on the left. If you've even used one of those Apple "puck" style mice, you'll know what a bad mouse feels like -- this one is just the opposite, very comfortable in your palm. With a battery indicator, 4 way scrolling, magnifier, and many other features, the Laser Mouse 6000 is a winner at about $40. The Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 is about $35 and uses the high definition laser found on all the MS mice. The Laser Mouse 7000 also comes with an ergonomic design and a charging pad for charging the battery. Overall I like the feel of the Natural 6000 a little better, but this would be my second choice from the Microsoft family. The Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 works wirelessly via 2.4Ghz bluetooth signals. It comes with an AC charging platform -- just lay the mouse on top of it to charge the internal batteries. An LED indicator shows a red light when the battery is low, and 5 customizable buttons give you all the freedom and flexibility you need. The 8000 works for either left or right hand use and costs about $80. Personally, I prefer the Natural Mouse with its angled design -- it just causes less strain on my wrist and hand when working long hours on the computer.

Notebook Mice - Picking the Best Mouse for your Laptop

A lot of people don't like the touch-pad devices found on laptops. Sure, they are OK for doing basic stuff, but when you are working on your laptop for hours, most people prefer to have a real mouse to move around on the screen. With laptops, space is at a premium, so you'll want to find a smaller notebook mouse (most popular models here) -- and there are plenty to choose from. I've used both the cordless and corded models, and have found both work adequately. Cordless gives you a little more flexibility but requires a USB port to plug in the receiver, unless you have a Bluetooth enabled laptop and a Bluetooth mouse. Overall, our top choice is the Logitech VX Nano Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks (about $60). It comes with a tiny radio receiver that pops into a USB port, a good, functional scroll wheel, and very accurate laser tracking on almost any surface (including the palm rest on your laptop). The mouse is powered by 2 AAA batteries, which should last for 2 months or so of regular use. If you want to go super mini, I like the Hewlett Packard USB Ultra Mini Mouse -- it's got a retractable cord and is more a size that you kind of pinch between your fingers rather than rest your hands on. For casual use on the go, way better that using a touchpad, but not a replacement for a full-time laptop mouse.