Mouse: Wired or Wireless?


Is there any difference and, if so, which is better?

Wireless mouseWhen I first came across a wireless mouse I thought it was a brilliant development – tidier desk, no cable to get wrapped up in papers and other stuff on the desk, no restriction caused by short cable length.

It soon became obvious, though, that there were drawbacks. These included flat batteries (as wireless mice need batteries to power the connection to the computer), less smooth movement of the mouse’s pointer on the screen, and losing the small USB wireless receiver that has to be plugged in for the mouse to be able to communicate with the computer.

Wired mouseOver time, things develop of course. The resolution of both wired and wireless mice is now so high that I would challenge the average computer user (myself included) to tell the difference in the accuracy of the mouse’s movements, or its speed, or its latency (the tiny delay between moving the mouse and the cursor responding).

Batteries can now last many months. In fact, it is surprising how often I have clients tell me that their mouse has packed up and it just hasn’t occurred to them to try replacing the battery.

Englebart Mouse
Englebart’s first mouse (c1963). Click on the image for Wikipedia page

In light of the above, why would you now buy a wired mouse? Personally, I couldn’t have argued for the wired mouse before I started getting problems using a wireless mouse on my desk. The cursor would jump around on the screen or not respond at all. This happened with several mice and I concluded that some electronic device in the vicinity was sending out stray signals that confused the mouse.

So I went back to a wired mouse. Then, a while ago, I absent-mindedly re-connected a wireless mouse at some point and have no idea how many weeks went by before realising that there was no longer any interference. As our American cousins might say – “go figure”.

So, if you don’t know which you would prefer, here’s a list of the pros and cons of each:

Wired – plus

  • Maybe a bit cheaper
  • Lighter than a wireless mouse
  • No USB receiver to lose
  • Just plug it in and it works
  • No interference from other devices

Wired – minus

  • The cable can be a nuisance on a crowded desktop
  • The cable can be a physical drag
  • If you carry it around, it’s one more cable to get tangled up in your bag

Wireless – plus

  • No cable to get in the way of other stuff
  • No physical “drag” from a cable
  • Eyesight permitting, you can use a wireless mouse at a greater distance from your computer
  • No cable to get tangled with itself or other things in your bag if you carry it around

Wireless – minus

  • Maybe a bit more expensive
  • There can be a slight lag between moving the mouse and the cursor reacting (called “latency”)
  • There can be connectivity problems and interference from other electronic devices
  • Needs a battery
  • A bit heavier to carry around (because of the battery)
  • USB receiver can get lost if not permanently connected to the same computer (tell me about it!)

After all that, which is better? You pays your money and you takes your choice.

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