Why might you want a bluetooth mouse?
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a wireless radio technology for communicating over short distances using short-length UHF radio waves. It’s often used between portable and fixed devices. Examples include:
- Telephone headsets for mobile phones
- Headphones for music systems
- Keyboards & mice and their computer
There are three classes of Bluetooth communication:
- Class 1 has a range of about 100 metres
- Class 2 has a range of about 10 metres
- Class 3 has a range of about 1 metre
Both ends of the intended communication need to be equipped with bluetooth technology.
Why use Bluetooth rather than a normal wireless mouse with a dongle?
Almost all wireless mice communicate with the computer via radio signals that pass between the device (the mouse) and a receiver (often called a “dongle”) that fits into any USB port on your computer. These are extremely reliable. Bluetooth, on the other hand, usually communicates between the device (the mouse) and a bluetooth receiver built into the computer (although you can also buy bluetooth dongles that fit to a USB port). From personal experience, I would say that bluetooth is a more precarious method of communication. First of all you have to “pair” the devices (ie give them permission to communicate with each other) and then you have to keep your fingers crossed that they continue to talk to each other.
The potential benefits of a bluetooth mouse seem to me to be twofold:
- You don’t need to keep plugging and unplugging a receiver (dongle) into your computer. This could be significant if, like me, you carry a laptop around most working days and may need to connect and disconnect the mouse three or four times a day. It’s not just taking out the dongle, it’s remembering to open up the mouse and stash the dongle safely inside it (or any other place that you’ll be able to reliably put your hands on it). The alternative is to leave the dongle in the laptop, but then you have to remember to always put the laptop away the right way up because you wouldn’t want a significant part of the weight of the laptop resting on a USB dongle.
- A bluetooth device doesn’t take up a USB port (usually. You would probably only use a bluetooth USB dongle if your device required bluetooth but your computer didn’t have an inbuilt bluetooth receiver/transmitter). This is the real reason I embarked on my mission to find a decent bluetooth mouse. The Microsoft Surface only has one USB port. It really is a pain having to swap between a mouse dongle, a USB flash drive, an external drive, etc. It’s not just the swapping, it’s the constant aggravation with the mouse that no longer works (natch – you’ve just disconnected it!). The new MacBook also has only one USB port (or, more accurately a USB-C port). The MacBook Air has a slightly more generous 2 USB ports, but not taking up one of them with a mouse could still be advantageous.
My mission to find a decent bluetooth mouse has, I hope, finally come to an end. I found a Sandstrom bluetooth/USB mouse in PC World for the reasonable price of £14.99. The fact that it’s also got the standard dongle is great, because I know I could immediately use it on a computer support client’s computer without any messing about with “pairing” etc. In the meantime, the bluetooth connection has been working perfectly with my Microsoft Surface.
If you are a Mac person, then you’ll probably already know of the Apple Magic Mouse. Sadly, I know I’m not the only person to find that this mouse becomes “disconnected” far too often for a mouse that costs over £50. I don’t know if it’s the mouse or the Mac’s bluetooth receiver (the keyboard disconnects in the same way), but I eventually re-purposed my Magic Mouse (as a paperweight) and bought a less pretty but more functional Logitech mouse for my Mac Mini.
Anyway, there you have it. If you are suffering from having fewer USB ports than you would like, or are fed up with connecting and disconnecting a mouse’s dongle, then it might be worth a £15 punt on a bluetooth mouse.