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Buyer's Guide

Mouse / Pointing Device Buyer's Guide



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Overview
Did you know that people with shoulder pain might experience relief by switching to a trackball? Didn't know that there's a foot-operated mouse? From mouse trays to cordless mice, everything you need is explained below in the tracking devices and accessories area. To learn more, feel free to browse the related links at right.

Pointing Devices

Accessories

Traditional Mouse
With the advent of graphical user interfaces, the mouse now comes standard with nearly every computer. The most common variety is an oval/oblong design, with one or two buttons, and is generally symmetrical.

Contoured Mouses
These devices are generally contoured to fit the hand; they may curve slightly, have an elevated base to support the wrist, or feature recessed areas to fit the thumb or fingers.

Trackballs
Trackballs are stationary devices that use a small, rolling ball to move the cursor onscreen. They're operated by your thumb or fingers instead of your arm, thus reducing the distance your shoulder must travel (thus they're often a welcome alternative for people experiencing mouse-related arm or shoulder pain). Since they're stationary, trackballs also require less desk space than a traditional mouse. Many trackballs come with multiple buttons that can be assigned keystrokes to help reduce keyboard use.

Touchpads
Touchpads (sometimes called "glide pads") are small squares that sense the position of your finger on them, and then move the cursor accordingly. First introduced on laptops, touchpads are now available for desktop use as well. Since they require less force to operate, they may help reduce stress on your fingers and hands.

Tablets
Functionally similar to touchpads, Tablets are larger surfaces designed to let you use a pen-type device or a puck to move the cursor and draw onscreen. Commonly used by graphic artists, designers, CAD operators or architects to draw their designs directly into the computer, Tablets can also provide a welcome change from mousing. They may additionally help reduce the elbow and shoulder motions normally associated with mousing.

Foot-Operated Mouses
Looking like the pedals on a car, these devices let you control the position of your cursor with your feet. Generally, one side will control the cursor's position, while the other is used to "click". For people already experiencing wrist or hand pain, these devices can help eliminate repetitive stress motions on the hands.

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Mouse Platforms
A mouse platform can attach underneath of your desk or work surface, and provide a mousing surface that's height and position-adjustable - a huge improvement, ergonomically. Sometimes these trays can move over the top of the keyboard (e.g. covering the numeric keypad and 1-2 inches above this) - a recommended arrangement. Sometimes they fit to the side of the keyboard tray. Sometimes they are angle adjustable.

Wrist Rests (Palm Rests)
Wrist rests are cushions placed in front of your keyboard that support your wrists during periods of rest. There are a number of different options to choose from - gel-filled, rubber, etc. Remember DO NOT REST YOUR WRISTS ON A WRIST REST. Rather, rest the heel of the palm of your hand on the rest. Do not use wrist rests while typing or mousing - only while resting.

Converters/Adapters
Many devices are available that let you connect mice made for one type of computer - say, a Windows-based PC - to another type of computer (commonly a Macintosh). These "interfaces" allow you to choose from a much wider variety of pointing devices, which is an especially important concern if the device that feels best isn't available for your computing platform. Converters generally come with software to help translate extra buttons and other features that aren't native to a particular computer.

Cordless Mouses
These devices use wireless technologies that don't require a physical connection to your computer, allowing them to be placed nearly anywhere in the room (and freeing you of the need to be near your computer).

Gyroscopic Mouses
These mice use an internal gyroscope to determine their position, so they can even be operated in mid-air.

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