Advantages & Disadvantages of an Optical Mouse

By Joshua Bailey

An optimal mouse can either can an attached or wireless device used to move the cursor around and select objects on a computer screen. An optical mouse works by taking repeated images of its location and adjusts the cursor on the computer screen when the images it takes shifts direction. Optical mouse technology has improved greatly since the beginning of the computer age, but it does have its pros and cons. A mouse is typically graded on cursor accuracy, convenience, energy and surface compatibility.

Cursor Accuracy

The cursor accuracy of an optical mouse is typically high as it can analyze changing positions at 700 mm/sec and read up to 200 to 300 dots per inch. This means that it reads its location fast with high precision. In comparison to a mechanical mouse, an optical mouse does not wear down in accuracy because it does not have the same moving parts that a mechanical mouse has. However, the accuracy can be reduced if the open hole leading to the laser area is dirty.


The optical mouse can be used on almost any surface as long as the laser can read the surface it is on. This means you could use the mouse on your leg, a notebook or almost any other object. Mechanical mice require a hard, flat and frictional surface for proper functioning. This makes the optimal mouse much more convenient to use on the go.


One area that the optical mouse suffers is in energy use. Since friction and the movement of a tracking ball are used for a mechanical mouse, the energy required for its use is significantly lower than the optimal mouse. An optical mouse requires a steady stream of energy so that it can constantly relate the mouse's position to the cursor due to the constant images the mouse takes. This makes the mouse more accurate, but increases its accuracy. Most laptops come with a build in mouse pad or pointer mouse; however, these are less ergonomically designed than optical mice.

Surface Issues

The optical mouse uses the different surface images to adjust the cursor on your screen; however, surfaces that are shiny or are made of glass mirror and reflect the laser picture back to the picture reader software. This tricks the software into thinking that the mouse is not moving because its seeing its own reflection. You should avoid these types of surfaces when using an optical mouse.