Optical Vs Laser Mouse - What's the difference ?

The mouse is a handheld electronic device that helps us to move the cursor on our computer screen by physically changing its position. The history of computer mouse tracks back to the 1960s when Douglas Engelbart of Standford Research Institute started working on the interactions between humans and computers. In 1964, Chief Engineer at SRI named Bill English finally built the first computer mouse prototype. Since then, the computer mouse has seen a lot of improvements. Many of you might be familiar with the mechanical mouses which had a metal or rubber ball on the bottom. The mechanical mouse had two wheels installed in it which moved with the movement of the ball. Both the wheels were perpendicular to each other such that one wheel measured the Vertical movement and the other measured the Horizontal movement. These mechanical mouses were a huge hit at that time but they too had some flaws which were removed by the introduction of Optical and Laser mouses. 

Optical Vs Laser Mouse
Laser and Optical mouses were not only better than the Mechanical mouse but also offered more life. There's a lot of confusion between the Laser and Optical mouse. Many people even think that both of them are the same because both works on the light. So to understand both of them differently let's dive into the difference.

Optical Vs Laser Mouse

Optical and Laser mouse have both similarities and dissimilarities. Some of them are discussed below:

1. Imaging Technology

You will be very surprised to know that the Mouse works the same way as Camera Works. Both of them use CMOS(Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor to capture images. The CMOS sensor detects the light and the pixels of this sensor convert the light into charge. The charge is then converted into voltage and amplified within the pixel and then the digital output(Binary Form) is fed to the system. Whenever we move the mouse on the mousepad, it records the surface and senses the change. Due to the change in the surface, it tracks the movement of the mouse. On a microscopic level, the surface of the mouse pad is not even and hence it helps the mouse to detect any movement. The mouse continuously captures images and keeps comparing them to detect any change. This process is so fast that a mouse can click and compare thousands of images in a second. 

Fact: Mouse does not work on a uniform surface. It needs an uneven surface to detect any movement made. Sometimes mouse works on Even surfaces like Desk or Book because of the dirt on them or their uneven surfaces.

What's the difference?

Since both the optical and laser mouse work on the same imaging technique so there's no difference in this case.

2. Illumination Technology

A mouse works on the mousepad and hence needs a light source on the bottom to detect any change. The CMOS sensor of the mouse captures this reflected light and then can capture images. The difference in the light pattern of images helps the computer to move the cursor a pixel at a time. 

What's the difference ?

Here the difference in the source of Light used as the so-called Optical mouse uses red colored LED light while the Laser mouse uses Laser(VCSEL- Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) beam. 

3. Sensitivity/Acceleration

Sensitivity is one of the major factors when we talk about the mouse. Sometimes the mouse goes berserk with a slight movement. This increased sensitivity happens due to the overcompensation of the unimportant light variances. This might not be a bigger problem for an average user who does his normal routine work but while gaming this could make you miss the target. Also, the uncontrolled acceleration of the mouse can cause an on-screen cursor "Jitter" which is not acceptable while working with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, etc.

What's the difference ?

There is a difference in the case of Sensitivity of both the Optical and Laser Mouse as the Laser mouse detects every minute detail that might be unwanted. While the Optical mouse does not cause such a problem. However, this problem is also there in the optical mouse but it's not that like in the Laser variant. Years of development and research have reduced this issue to a great extent.

4. Surface

Since the mouse works by sensing the changes on the surface so the surface on which the mouse is to be used plays an important role while selecting the mouse. Glossy surfaces such as glass are even and more reflecting in nature while the opaque surfaces are less reflecting.

What's the difference ?

Optical mouse uses LED which gets highly reflected when used on the glossy surface due to which the movement of the mouse gets affected. While on the other hand, the laser light penetrates the surface and gives us a smooth experience on the glossy surface. Also for the optical mouse, it gets difficult to sense any changes on the glossy surface while the Laser mouse can sense very small surface changes. So in the case of Glossy surfaces, Laser mouse is the clear winner. 

5. Pricing

Pricing is also one of the most important features of a device. When the Laser mouses entered the market they were quite expensive as compared to the normal optical ones. But as time passed, the gap between the Optical and Laser mouse decreased. 

What's the difference ?

Laser-based mouse are still expensive as compared to the optical mouse but the difference has been now limited to only $5-$10 only. 

Optical Vs Laser Mouse Final Verdict 

After discussing all these points, it can be concluded that the main difference between the Optical and Laser mouse is the type of illumination used(LED or Laser). The Sensitivity or the Acceleration of the mouse also matters and it is also available in both the variants but if someone is aiming to go for gaming then it is advised to go for Optical mouse while for normal use it is advised to go for Laser variants because it will offer better user experience. Despite all these factors, the surface is an external factor that can be altered to suit your mouse specifications but it is highly recommended to use a mouse pad. Talking about the prices, there has not been much difference in the prices of both but still, the Laser mouse is expensive.

We hope you liked the article about Optical Vs Laser Mouse.
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