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The mouse is a device used for converting real-life hand movements to the digital pointer movement on the screen. When the laser mouse was first introduced in the market by logitech it started the debate between the optical and laser enthusiast both claiming their supremacy. Being a huge star wars fan I always thought laser mouse is better than optical, just because they use a laser. But the answer is not as simple as we think.
How Optical and Laser mouse work?
Basically, all mouse is optical because they use optical CMOS sensor to detect movements (check out how computer mouse works). But in technical terms, an optical mouse uses a LED bulb as a light source whereas a laser mouse uses an infrared laser diode instead of an LED to illuminate the surface beneath the sensor. The laser mouse is more accurate than their optical counterpart in terms of tracking the surface with more than 20x better sensitivity and precision.
Optical vs Laser: Advantages
Although optical mice works just fine on a mouse pad, wooden surface or metallic surface but when it comes to shiny and glass surfaces they struggle to keep up. That is where comes the laser mouse for rescue. The biggest advantage of using a laser mouse is that it works on any surface, even on glass. On surfaces like glass, it looks for micro scratches and uses them as reference points to detect motion. Apart from better tracking, the laser mouse is able to achieve very high DPI levels.
An optical mouse may suffer on shiny surfaces and glass but when it comes to other non-shiny surfaces they are as good as a laser mouse. And by chance, if your office desk has a glass surface simply use a mouse pad and call it a day. In terms of tracking the optical mouse are known to be more stable and consistent performer with
Optical vs Laser: Disadvantages
As stated earlier the major disadvantage of using an optical mouse is it does not work well on all the surfaces along with that it does not have DPI levels as high as a laser mouse.
Laser mouse may be having very high DPI levels but very few people use them at their max dpi. The Laser mouse suffers from jittering and acceleration issues especially at the lower dpi and higher screen resolution. The reason for this kind of behavior is their sensor is over equipped or over accurate and detects the minute hills and valleys on the surface which results in unstable performance. In other words, its sensor is a way too sensitive.
Which is better?
To be frank Optical or Laser sensor should not be the only criteria to select a mouse. Laser mouse may be having better specs but in real life uses still optical is the king. The optical mouse has improved as much as a laser in performance and some of them can even match neck to neck in therms of specs and dpi levels. The optical mouse are known for a more stable performance and that is the reason almost all top-level gaming mice are made with an optical sensor inside.
And at last the most strong point of laser mouse that is tracking on a glass and shiny surface can be overcome by optical mouse by simply putting a cheap mouse-pad underneath.
Overall it comes down to your opinion, if you have a glass desk and don’t want to borther yourself with mouse-pads than laser mouse is the perfect choice for you. They are very precise and offers a great experiance but on the other hand, the laser mouse, in general, is more expensive than an optical mouse.