Computer mouse

Our Helproom Editor explains how to ensure your PC- or laptop's computer mouse has the correct level of accuracy.

QUESTION I recently bought a new mouse for use with my Android-based Smart TV stick, but I'm not happy with it at all. I have since been told to purchase a "laser" mouse rather than an optical one, but what is the difference? I've also seen DPI settings quoted, but what do these mean with regard to a mouse? Some have settings you can switch between 800dpi and 1600dpi, but which should I use?

With this mouse, I also find I have to move it very large distances and I think I'll need a bigger mouse mat. Sometimes I have to move it as much as 10in to cover the screen, whereas my old mouse needed only a couple of inches of movement to achieve the same thing. I keep having to pick the mouse up, move my hand, and then put it down again to continue dragging the cursor. See also: Group test: what's the best computer mouse?

HELPROOM ANSWER In Windows it's simple to adjust the sensitivity of your mouse to movement.  Just go to the control panel, click on "mouse" and then select the "Pointer Options" tab. In here you can select the mouse speed by moving a slider left or right. The box marked "Enhance pointer precision" can be ticked to enable an acceleration function which makes slow cursor movements slower and fast movement faster. This makes small, slow movements easier to perform accurately but can make response during gaming hard to predict.

We don't know the specifics of your Android device, but usually you can adjust the pointer speed by going to the settings app, selecting "Language and input" and then locating the "Mouse/trackpad" section, where you will find a similar slider for pointer speed.

Increasing the pointer speed will reduce the amount of physical movement you have to make with the mouse to move the cursor from one side of the screen to the other.

The DPI rating or setting on a mouse determines how accurately the mouse can detect small movements. A high DPI rating means smaller movements can be measured, but also has the effect of speeding up the cursor movement on screen. You may find you need to reduce the pointed speed in order to keep the cursor under control. High DPI mice are beloved of gamers who want to be able to spin their in-game character around quickly and accurately with minimal movement of the hand.

With regard to laser vs optical technology: both technologies are optical, but a laser mouse uses a laser to illuminate the surface below rather than an LED which is used in standard optical mice. This can allow for more accurate surface tracking and some models can also work on glass, reflective surfaces or patterned surfaces which standard optical mice may struggle with. A laser mouse will typically not produce a visible glow from the underside.

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