Beginning with the advent of the GUI interface in the mid 1980s, the mouse has become an extension of ourselves and clicking as natural as typing. These simple devices, attached to virtually every computer are now an indispensable way to navigate the software we fill our days with. What this means, of course, is that sooner or later, it will fail. You are then left with a myriad of replacement choices.
First, make sure that the mouse is indeed the problem. Take one from another computer or borrow one from a friend and plug it in. You may need to reboot the computer. It is a rare but possible occurrence that the problem is with the computer or the operating system rather than the mouse itself.
Once you establish that you need a new mouse, hit the local electronics store to get a new one. You will be faced with dozens of choices ranging in price from ten to over a hundred dollars. That’s right – you can pay as much as $150 for a mouse! So how do you choose the right one? Take a look at some of the options offered and make the best choice for you.
If you have had your old mouse for a while, it probably had a little ball on the bottom which rolled and created the motion for the cursor on the screen. These are all but history, and even if you can find one, it’s not a good idea. The ball gets dirty and being a moving part, wears out. The main technology used today is an optical mouse which uses a small LED light on the bottom to track motion across the mouse pad or surface. Besides eliminating a moving part, you don’t actually need a mouse pad except to protect the surface of your desk.
Another thing to look at is the connection to your computer. Almost all mice available today hook up to the computer via a USB port. Check your computer. If you have an older computer without a USB port, or one that is available, you will want to try and find and older mouse with what was called a PS2 connector. Otherwise you will need an adapter.
The next main choice is wired or wireless. Depending on how your desk is organized and the distance between the keyboard and the computer, you will need to decide if having a wireless mouse is an advantage. In general, you will pay at least an extra $10 to lose the wire. If the cable hasn’t been a problem in the past, you may decide it’s not worth the extra money. If you decide you want a wireless mouse, it will come with a small transmitter that plugs into your USB port. Keep in mind the mouse now runs off of batteries which will need periodic replacement. Keep spares on hand.
The next big factor is ergonomics. Mice come in many shapes and button configurations. You can either choose to find one that matches what you are used to, or try out some of the new fancier shapes to see if of one of them fits your hand better. Think carefully and try before you buy – you will be spending a lot of time with that little rodent.
One final feature that is on most but not all new mice, and that is a scroll wheel. This is a small wheel, usually between the buttons that allow you to quickly scroll through long documents and websites. Some people swear by them and some never use them. It’s a personal choice.
Regardless of which specific pointing device you choose, this innocuous little rodent will be a major part of your computing life for months or years to come. It is worth your while to spend a bit of time in the store test driving before you walk out with your new mice.