The Good, Old-Fashioned Computer Mouse Is Still King

Reports of the mouse's death have been greatly exaggerated.

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Reports of the mouse's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Despite encroachment from newfangled touchpads and laptops, the brick-like computer mouse is alive and kicking among tech reviewers. Geoffrey Fowler of The Wall Street Journal, for one, gave up his mouse for the trackpad last month in attempt to advance to the next wave of technology. He didn't last very long.

"A few weeks in, I was missing my mouse. Moving a folder across a 27-inch iMac screen with the trackpad was like lugging a grand piano across the Sahara," he writes. "Thirty years after the Macintosh took the mouse mainstream, I couldn't find anything more precise or comfortable for operating a computer." That fondness for the simplicity of the mouse remains. And yes, he tested enough types of devices.

The hesitance toward the trackpad isn't just coming from Fowler. "Accuracy just isn't as good as our trusty old wired mouse," Pocket Lint wrote in reviewing the Logitech T650 wireless touchpad. "It might sound daft, but we don't make mistakes with our old, dumb, cabled rodent, but constantly with modern, touch-enabled devices, we'll find them not doing what we want them to." The lack of a universal trackpad language can also make switching between products a struggle in learning new habits. The market seems to agree; even as laptops and tablets replace the desktops of old, mice sales remained pretty constant over the past year, dropping just three percent according to research firm NPD.

It wasn't that long ago the mouse was assumed to be on the way out. "R.I.P. the computer mouse, 1972-2010," CNET's Dan Ackerman wrote four years ago. "I mean, does anyone still think the mouse isn’t dead?" TechCrunch wrote in 2011. "No More Mouse: Meet the Future of Computer’s Oldest Sidekick," Dell's Tech Page One wrote last year.

They're correct in some ways; today's mice look far different than the old corded ones. Apple's Magic Mouse, a mashup of touch capabilities overlaid onto the a wireless mouse, is the best example of this trend. That adaptability has kept the mouse alive, though in a different form. Touchscreen or trackpad can't compete with the comfort, simplicity, and effectiveness of the hand-held mouse.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.