A laser mouse is a type of computer pointing device that uses a laser beam rather than a ball to track the movement of the user's hand. This type of mice are becoming increasingly common because they are perceived to have better tracking ability. In addition, they are not as subject to gumming up and subsequent distortion of the signal as conventional ball mice. The lack of moving parts also makes them far less subject to damage.
Before the laser mouse, the optical mouse became widespread in the late 1990s, shipping as an extra feature on many computer systems. Users immediately began to sing the praises of this device, saying that it made work much easier than a traditional mouse, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a ball mouse as a result. The optical mouse is also available in a wireless format, making it an extremely versatile and flexible tool for users who like to have free range of their cordless desks.
With the introduction of a graphical user interface in the late 1980s, computer companies saw the need for some sort of device that could be used to interact with the computer, which had transcended the boundaries of the traditional text-based user interface. The mouse was introduced and became a quick success — very few computer users work without mice now, although it is technically possible to use keyboard shortcuts to bypass the mouse. Using a mouse is often quicker and easier, however. As anyone who has used traditional roller mice knows, the roller ball tends to get gummed up with material from the workspace it is employed in and can ultimately start to malfunction until taken apart and cleaned. Optical and laser mice were an excellent introduction to the computing world, because they are not as subject to interference.
An optical mouse usually uses a light emitting diode (LED), which is frequently red, although mice in other colors such as blue are not uncommon. A laser mouse, on the other hand, which is a type of optical mouse, uses a laser beam that is invisible, or nearly invisible, to the human eye. Logitech brought the first one to the market in 2004. The beam emitted by the mouse moves with the user's hand, triggering an optical sensor system. It works in tandem with a system that tracks how far the mouse has moved by bouncing hundreds of images every second, constantly updating the position of the mouse and the subsequent position of the cursor on the screen.
In general, the laser mouse moves very smoothly and accurately, although if the system memory is bogged down, it will cause the cursor to lag, along with everything else. In addition, the mouse can reflect from almost any surface, meaning that a mouse pad is not necessary. Users have been known to employ anything from desk tops to pant legs as a reflective surface for their mouse, making it a great go-anywhere tool.