The 10 Best Touch Mice
Can't Touch This
It's incredibly easy to slide your tablet from its sleeve and access the latest 4K cat videos on your favorite streaming service.
Modern technology is slowly but surely beginning to resemble what mid-20th-century science-fiction writers imagined. Flying cars don't exist yet, but self-driving ones are on the rise. We don't quite have a Star Trek-style replicator, but 3D printing is pushing the boundaries of our creative and artistic mediums. And in a smart enough home, doors unlock as the residents arrive, lights turn on as they enter, and a digital assistant greets them warmly as they take off their coat. So, it stands to reason that the modern citizen's telephone, toaster, TV, navigation system, and, well, anything electronic, now lights up and jumps to action at the lightest, most effortless touch of a finger.
And what better device to take advantage of touch switches than the one that so many hands spend so many hours manipulating, for both work and play? That device, of course, would be a computer's mouse. While many so-called experts predicted the demise of this classic input method due to the rise of touchscreens, the two technologies have both proven quite useful in their own way. It's incredibly easy to slide your tablet from its sleeve and access the latest 4K cat videos on your favorite streaming service. On the other hand, writing your Masters' thesis on the cultural phenomenon of cat videos on the internet calls for a real keyboard. The fact is, most people will not instinctively reach up to a use touch screen, no matter how smooth, in the middle of a deadline-chasing rush of prose. It's just not convenient or quick to change the angle of the wrist and reach for the plane of the monitor. And so we have the touch mouse, a stylish, modern, and generally quieter way to control cursors with ease and precision.
Why Touch Is Worth Your Time
The right mouse for each person is the one that feels best and offers the most control of their computer. So, it makes sense that the most effective pointing device is the one with which a user is most experienced. It just so happens that there's a certain pocket-sized gadget that most of society appears hopelessly hooked on; you may have heard of it referred to as a cellular phone or smartphone. A couple clever engineers wondered what would happen if they took the ever-so-handy touchscreen from your favorite Twitter-accessing handheld, and installed it in a dedicated mouse that sits on the desk, tethered, yet not anchored to the computer. Almost immediately, social-media-savvy consumers began swiping, flicking, and pinching to zoom, without covering their tablets in smudged fingerprints.
As such, you'll find different models that pride themselves on versatile, customizable layouts; reliable wireless connectivity; and specialized mid-air and ergonomic designs.
Various models offer different levels of multi-touch gesture detection, so anyone can move seamlessly from phone to desktop without learning a new control scheme. While these multi-finger, secret handshakes are fun, there are a few more reasons to consider this refined style of device. For one, they're generally of solid-state construction, and without moving parts like hinges or springs, they won't get stuck or become un-clickable. Plus, because there's no physical button travel, these are pretty much impervious to dust — there's no way for it to penetrate the unit's body, and there's nothing for it to gum up if it could.
Notably, this is a relatively fancy and almost futuristic input method, and many touch mice are designed with the modern businessperson in mind. As such, you'll find different models that pride themselves on versatile, customizable layouts; reliable wireless connectivity; and specialized mid-air and ergonomic designs.
Finally, touch mice make two main aesthetic contributions that many laptop users will appreciate. First off, they're quiet. Anyone who ever works in a library, hotel room, or other shared space knows how frustrating the clicking of a traditional mouse can be, especially at 2 a.m. Touch mice are inherently free of this problem; if it's making loud noises during use, you're probably touching it far too hard. Second, while it may seem objectively irrelevant, these devices tend sport sleek, modern, high-end appearances. And frankly, if you didn't want to look classy while writing at the coffee shop, you wouldn't have sat right by the storefront window.
Decoding The Sense Of Touch
So, how do these relatively obscure peripherals register motions, clicks, and gestures so well? They're basically just the "touch" part of a mobile device's screen or a laptop's touchpad, stretched over the top of a couple optical or laser sensors, a battery, and usually a wireless radio. The highly accurate touch receiver only registers contacts with capacitance — for example, a finger, or an active stylus, both of which possess their own residual electrical charge. People wearing gloves, or using a simple, passive stylus, are generally out of luck.
Once the unit detects any input, it sends that signal through one or more microprocessors located onboard the mouse itself.
Once the unit detects any input, it sends that signal through one or more microprocessors located onboard the mouse itself. That chipset runs the input data through a set of algorithms and comparisons to determine what type of gesture was made — after all, there's a huge set of possible combinations one can make with multiple fingers. After identifying the type of input, the mouse sends the signal off to the computer, often via Bluetooth. Along the way, it joins with the rest of your input signals, like the scroll wheel, thumb buttons, and keyboard.
In reality, touch mice aren't entirely unlike standard ones, although they are generally more refined. Because of differences in materials and designs, touch controls can be a very personal decision, and what enhances one person's productivity may very well hinder another's. All in all, you can trust that most touch mice are designed for demanding, multipurpose business applications, and if you find one that works for you, it can add unprecedented functionality to your computer.