If you're still using a traditional computer (as opposed to a tablet), you're probably also still using a traditional mouse. While laptops all come with touchpads to help us move our cursors around the screen, there's no denying that many users are more comfortable pushing a mouse around a desktop. However, sometimes there isn't a desktop -- and sometimes you need a mouse that is more portable or more powerful than the $20 piece of plastic that you picked up on sale.
To help deal with such issues, we've found six mice that break the design mold that most of today's mice are built from. They do have some things in common -- they are all laser mice and they all use wireless Bluetooth to connect with the computer. Otherwise, these cursor-control devices don't have a whole lot in common -- except possibly the ability to make computing more efficient.
You think a mouse is a simple device? You've got another thought coming. The Cyborg R.A.T. 9 Gaming Mouse is one of the most customizable mice around -- this is the mouse for gamers who are really, really serious about their pursuits. It offers a wide variety of tweaks, including interchangeable palm rests and pinkie grips; two batteries (one to power the mouse, the other to recharge in the wireless receiver/recharge dock); five 6-gram weights that you can subtract or add in order to get a perfectly weighted mouse (the knob that you unscrew to get at the weights doubles as a screwdriver to help you adjust other parts of the mouse); five programmable buttons; the ability to change the dpi rating (which goes up to an impressive 5600 dpi) -- and that's just for starters. This $150 device is the Maserati of mice.
Most of the mice in this roundup are styled differently than the traditional mouse that we -- or, at least, our computers -- have grown up with. The Logitech Couch Mouse, though, is a nice combination of the old and the new -- it resembles the larger old-fashioned mice that fit nicely in the hand, yet it offers a variety of interesting features. These include hand detection -- so that the mouse is only active when it is gripped -- good control no matter what surface you're moving it on and a scroll wheel that also tilts from right to left to let you move backwards and forwards through Web pages. Unlike most of the other mice in this roundup, the Logitech Couch Mouse uses traditional AA batteries, so you don't have to worry about recharging it (only replacing the batteries), and the battery compartment also has a handy little space for the tiny Bluetooth receiver. And it's less expensive than any of the others here -- in fact, at $50, it's a bargain.
Despite recent rumors that it was going to be phased out in favor of Apple's Magic Trackpad, the Magic Mouse is still available for those Mac fans who prefer the feel of a mouse to that of a trackpad. The Magic Mouse offers a multitouch surface that lets you click and swipe with one or two fingers, depending on what you want to do. You can also use it like a traditional mouse on any surface -- like the other mice in this roundup, it's a laser mouse and therefore doesn't require a mouse pad to be effective. And it has the smooth white styling that has become the signature of Apple products.
The Swiftpoint is one of the strangest -- and smallest -- mice covered here, but it's also one of the most useful. It was designed specifically to work with laptops; the Bluetooth transmitter that sits in one of your USB ports also acts as a power station -- the mouse clicks into it when you're not using it. The design allows you to hold it with the fingers of your right hand (unfortunately, lefties aren't accommodated here); the buttons that sit on the right and left on top of a typical mouse are instead on the top center ridge, one below the other, while the scroll wheel is just to the left of the buttons. And you can use it on any surface, including the area next to your laptop's touchpad, on your knee and on the arm of your chair. To look at it, you wouldn't think it was very comfortable, but after a few minutes, you find that it's great for small laptops and small spaces. Just be careful -- something this small is also easy to lose.
Touch Mouse Artist EditionUnlike Apple, Microsoft isn't known for hardware design, but nobody can say it doesn't occasionally try. The Touch Mouse Artist Edition is the new version of Microsoft's Bluetooth Touch Mouse, which has been out for a couple of years. The Touch Mouse offers multitouch capabilities for PCs running Windows 7 -- for example, you swipe with one finger to move within a window, swipe with two fingers to maximize or minimize a window, and use three fingers to show open windows or reveal the desktop. The Artist Edition is etched with a design by New York artist Deanne Cheuk, and while it may not have the clean lines of an Apple Magic Mouse, the intricate gray-over-white pattern is certainly intriguing.
Like many things in this life, mice may be fun and useful but they're not necessarily good for you -- those of us who use them many hours a day leave ourselves open to a variety of stress injuries. The Whirl Ergonomic Pivoting Laser Mouse was designed to try to prevent that. According to the company site, the mouse was "designed in collaboration with the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York." It is attached to a pivoting base; as you push it around, your hand tilts and moves so that your wrist and arm are changing position and not simply following the same repetitive motions. Like the Couch Mouse, the Whirl comes with a Bluetooth dongle that stores in the base of the mouse, and it's powered with two AA batteries. If you're traveling, you can try the smaller Whirl Mini ($50).
This story, "Six Out-of-the-ordinary Laptop Mice" was originally published by Computerworld.