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The Difference Between a Wired and Wireless Mouse

Mark Magnussons
December 16, 2016
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wired and wireless mouse

Like so many things in life, this one is a matter of personal choice. It is a long-running and contentious debate for engineers, technology buffs and computer users alike. There are valid scientific arguments raised by both sides of course, and we'll be outlining some of those in our answer, but ultimately, as we shall see, it all comes down to your individual preference.

What is the Different between Wired and Wireless Mouse?

Proponents of the wireless mouse say that although the response time is a little less impressive, the lack of a cable getting tangled up behind your desk is a definite plus. They also say that a wireless mouse is the model of the future, so purchasing one does encourage engineers to improve on the design. Wireless mice are easier to use with smaller, more portable devices and also take up much less space on your desk. If you ever find yourself having to pull the cable out from under your computer mouse whilst surfing the net or gaming, you'll appreciate the sentiment here.

Conversely, supporters of the wired mouse say that the wireless models are significantly slower and less sensitive than their wireless equivalents. They also argue that it costs extra money in terms of both purchase and maintenance (changing the batteries is a regular expense that most of us could do without). In addition, a wireless mouse that needs a battery change will sometimes drift or become annoyingly unresponsive. It is also worth noting that batteries are not commonly recycled, which leads them to be thrown away, never good for the environment.

Both mice suffer from the same problems, as well. Common technical faults with mice (e.g.: bad tracking, low sensitivity or simply stopping mid-function) are apparent in both models, so neither one has the upper hand on the other there.

Technology is improving rapidly and it does seem entirely possible that wired mice could be placed on the endangered species list at some point in the foreseeable future

Gamers and computer users who employ specialist software (e.g. video editing, music production, animation) usually prefer to use a wired mouse, as it is specific, precise and low maintenance. However, there are still those gamers and specialists who swear by wireless as the way forward. Wireless devices are being produced in vast quantities and it is feasibly conceivable that one day in the near future computers will be designed with no input ports whatsoever, so the futurists who stand by the wireless mouse do have a point there.

Basically, a wired mouse is a little bit faster and more responsive. It is a cheaper, more practical option for the everyday computer user. On the other hand, a wireless mouse is a bit flashier and has complete freedom to move over your desk at will. The difference in tracking and sensitivity isn't that glaring and these mice are very obviously the blueprints for the peripherals of the future.

Weighing up both sides of the argument, we can probably extrapolate which model is the right one for you, however. If you're a gadget fan and you just have to have the newest and coolest things around, or if you only have basic computer needs (checking your emails, using Word, Excel etc) and don't use any precise software, or if you want to get used to wireless peripherals now before they become industry standard, then a wireless mouse is for you. Certain companies in the medical fields such as NHS heroes use wireless as a standard because of the ease of use.

However, if you aren't fussed about all the trendy mumbo jumbo and just want a reliable peripheral, or if you use specialist software that requires delicate mouse work, or if you want to expend less money and energy, then get a wired mouse. At the moment, it really is that simple.

Final Thoughts

Looking forward, however, the future seems to belong to the wireless and gaming mouse. Even some of the most ardent supporters of the wired mouse acknowledge this likelihood. Technology is improving rapidly and it does seem entirely possible that wired mice could be placed on the endangered species list at some point in the foreseeable future, - that's just how it goes with technology. For now at least, the wired mouse is safe and sound, with nothing to challenge its supremacy except a young upstart that isn't quite there yet.

As the debate rages on, we'll be there to keep you posted on the news, dispatches and petty name calling that is sure to occur. Until then, buy with confidence and make sure you get the right mouse for you. Remember, you're probably going to use it every day, so you might as well find one that you like.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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