Mouse Ballistics

Let me be completely honest with you. I have a full-blown mouse fetish. I've owned every single major mouse model from Microsoft and Logitech since the bad old days of the original Microsoft "Dove bar" mouse, and the Logitech MouseMan. I remember quite clearly bringing home my first mouse, an add-on for my Apple //c, and demonstrating this novel method of input to friends. I've been obsessing over these essential input devices since way before the days when USB was just a glint in Intel's collective eye; I have more than my share of mousing experience.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

I’ve had the logitech MX 500 in all its flavours (currently using the 518) and for me its the perfect mouse.

There are situations where horizontal scrolling might actually be useful, a heavily zoomed in image in photoshop being one example, but then again it would have to be a trackball like you pointed out.

I decided to turn pointer acceleration off in favour of a higher mouse speed.

Quite interesting article.

Maybe that’s why I like a LOT more to use the trackpad than the mouse (mini logitech tilt-wheel) in OS X.

The pointer movement with the trackpad certainly feels very different and way more comfortable than with the mouse. I even don’t care that the tp only has one button (is easy to get used to this, but then I’m no gamer or anything alike).

Any recommendations for a new keyboard? My old PS/2 Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite is a bit dated and is nowhere near the white color it once was.


A short trip to the dishwasher should return your keyboard to its former colour, and even a braindead monkey could take out the electronics.

I FPS-game with my mice, but I don’t have the latest hardware. I’m still rocking with a IntelliMouse Optical (2001, 5 buttons).

I use at work my Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 (2006, mouse with a fricken laser pointer), but I wouldn’t use it for gaming, because it has “startup lag”. I even set all the “drain battery faster” options but no dice. Its as if the mouse, if idle for more than a minute or so, “disconnects” from the PC. I suspect battery life preservation and this mouse wasn’t designed for gaming.

Both mice are symmetric, even though I’m right handed, I like the style.

Get the most out of your mouse! If you have the problem of trying to define more keys that the MS IntelliPoint software allows you to (for example, Backspace to Mouse 4), you can try a Registry trick:

I look forward to a follow up articles on “best mouse pads”, “replacing mouse feet”, “mouse key binding”, etc.

Huh. On my new machine (Vista x64), it’s enabled by default. I don’t have any custom mouse drivers installed or anything like that either. I have a Logitech G3 (i think) cordless.

Thanks for explaining the whole thing about Mac OS X’s mouse acceleration curve. It always “felt wrong” to me for some reason, in that way where I just couldn’t explain it…

It’s always interesting to read opinions on new mouses, being kind of a fan of “high performance” mice myself.

There’s one thing I have to disagree here, though… Namely, the pointer precision thing.

I really, really, dislike any mouse acceleration. You say it will make for more precise mousing - How exactly does making the mouse move more when moving the mouse fast than when moving it slowly will enhance precision? If you accidentally move the mouse slightly faster than usually, your cursor will end up in some other place than you wanted.

Also, like a commenter before me mentioned, it’s a hinderance in FPS games, mostly because of the fact I mentioned above.

The only time I would use mouse acceleration is with laptop touchpads (or perhaps with crappy mice). That’s where it helps a lot because you don’t have much space to move around and if you increase overall pointer speed, you won’t be able to do precise movements.

I’m quite happy with Logitech MX500 and don’t believe there would be any productivity gain switching it to anything else. Don’t believe in cordless devices either.

I prefer trackballs.

I started reading your site yesterday when following a link from Digg or Reddit on SQL Joins. I thought I would make an FYI comment…I’m new to Macs (having got my first this month) after 20+ years of using computers of the Win or *nix varieties. The iMac comes with a nifty little mouse that takes some getting used to. It has one button but is sensitive to clicking on the right or left side for two button functionality. It has a trackball for scrolling vertically or horizontally. FInally it has a set of buttons on either side of the mouse which can be set to do various things.
Your site is a good catch, glad to be another reader.

@dave: I double checked, and you’re right-- it seems to be on by default in a clean VM instance of XP. I’d assume it’s on by default in Vista as well. Not sure what’s going on with my machines, it was off at work for sure.

@alex: Of course, if you’re happy with your mouse, there is no reason to switch. And a lot of it comes down to shape as well-- that’s one nice thing about the G9, with the two bodies that offer different shapes. The website alludes to other shapes being available for sale at some point, but I don’t see anything on that.

Still, I think the 800 DPI of the MX500 is a little low by today’s standards. I use 1600 DPI as my baseline setting, and I’ll drop down to 200/400 DPI for precision work in image editing. I could get the same effect by visiting control panel and slamming the pointer speed slider all the way to the left, but it’s very easy to click a button on the mouse and change it instantly.

Also, FWIW, I really like the aluminum scroll wheels. Much more durable-- I’ve had plain rubber scroll buttons wear heavily on prior mice that I use. Lots of scrolling!

It is also interesting to try out the Nintendo WiiMote’s Pointer. It is directly mapped to the direction you point. Once you get used to it is VERY intuitive but unfortunately bad for pixel-accurate clicking.

I personally have a Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer 2.0. It is the perfect shape for my hand, it can go a while without charging the batteries (a month or two), and I see no reason to change. For my laptop I almost always use the touchpad, which I have grown to love. I keep some cheap Logitech USB mouse in the bag primarily for when I let others use it.

Unfortunately, I’m now on another PC. I’m using a generic Dell that came with the system. At least it is optical.

“I think you’d need something other than a wheel to do it justice, more like a mini-trackball, and even then I’m not sure the complexity is worth it. How often do you need to scroll horizontally?”

Like Ruby is beautiful said, indeed the Apple MightyMouse has as trackball that will let you scroll up/down/left/right. Most of the time I really like it, and appreciate the functionality. It lets me keep my browser window just large enough for most sites, while giving me the ability to scroll easily to the right for sites with a bit wider layout.

I miss the functionality when I’m in Windows.

But, I think it comes down to how the application authors’ implement its use. I cannot stand it in NeoOffice, where it is way too sensitive to left/right, and it’s backward from the other apps I’ve been using it on (or at least it seems that way).

“An an enthusiast and a gamer,” – As an? And the mouse precision check box seems to be a standard for Dell machines. Nice post Jeff.

There isn’t only mouse ballistics, there is also greasymouse (X windows only, probably) that lets the mouse pointer slide a bit further when the pointing device is already at rest. Mostly for fun, though.

I’n a trackball type anyway, and hope that mine will last some time to come (including availability of PS/2 ports).

Just to put in a word about mouse acceleration curves; as a competitive gamer, they are the bane of your existance. I understand, and even agree, that they make your regular mouse usage (ie, navigating windows and dialogs) feel smoother, but it absolutely ruins your ability to aim in FPS games.

You might completely disagree with me. I did when I was first told. But just try it (and the little checkbox doesn’t do it, there are acceleration values embedded in the registry that must be changed, at least in XP, I don’t know about vista. A quick google will give you a reg file containing the fix). I thought I was a half-decent shot before, but I always played a support role because I knew I wasn’t the best. After I fully disabled it, and gave myself time to get used to it, I was doing far better and was able to hold my own against the best in my bracket.

I had no idea I had precision on. It definitely feels really weird without it on, it’s a great feature!

Both mice seem to have a cable. Does the old rumor that wireless mice have a noticeable action lag still hold true ? I used to hear pro gamers say that when they were new, but I haven’t heard it in years. What would you say ? Is that your reason to use the much more restrictive cable variant ?

Personally, I think the lack of ‘decay’ that laser mice have is the most important feature - I dread to think back to the old ball mice, that somehow would always deteriorate within what felt like no time at all. My current laser one I’ve used so long that the print of the model name has rubbed off and it’s still working perfectly (it’s a MS Intelli Eye Explorer, don’t ask me when they made those).

A bit of novel trivia: I bought my first mouse, which I considered a silly and useless tool before, for this game:, Ah, the memories. Of course I was like 12 then.