Input Devices

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Dec - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2006
Input Devices
Ever thought of "upgrading" your keyboard or mouse? Chances are you haven't. Well, you should. You'll be pleased to know there are lots of options available-and they're all reasonably cheap.

Questions To Ask
Do I need a "multimedia keyboard"?
A common tendency is to opt for multimedia keyboards, which are bigger because of the host of buttons they sport to help make multimedia tasks easier. But one very often sees that these "multimedia" features go unused either due to the lack of support by the OS, no proper drivers, or because the person is just too lazy to learn to use all those new buttons! So for a person who doesn't plan on using his computer for much beyond office work, purchasing a regular keyboard is a better choice.

Is an optical mouse better?
Because of the moving parts and an open invitation to dust, ball mice don't last too long in Indian conditions unless you clean them regularly. Optical mice eliminate the moving rubber ball, so they have no openings for dust. Unlike ball mice, optical mice can function on just about any surface except transparent ones. They aren't too expensive either, and you should definitely purchase an optical mouse.

Should I go wireless or corded?
Wireless input devices have become quite popular because of thier plummeting prices. They free you of the tangle of wires and let you place them at a considerable distance from the computer. This is useful when you wish to use the computer as a TV, but wireless devices have their share of woes. Being physically disconnected from the computer, they need to be powered by batteries. You need to have a set of batteries ready to serve as replacements, failing which your input device may not be usable at all. Using rechargeable batteries can offer some respite. A wireless mouse is not good for gamers because of the inherent lag in response, which can make a difference in fast-paced games like those of the FPS genre.

Wireless input devices come in two flavours: radio frequency (RF) and Bluetooth. Devices based on RF have a smaller range than those that work on Bluetooth. Also, Bluetooth is resistant to interference while RF can sometimes be affected by stray radio signals. Don't be tempted to buy an older infrared device-they require line-of-sight and can be quite cumbersome.

Is a laser mouse better than an infrared mouse?

A laser mouse has a higher resolution and sensitivity than an infrared optical mouse, and is better for gamers and graphics designers.

Do you get small mice for laptops?
Yes! Using the touchpad or pointing device on a notebook for an extended period of time can be a pain. Do your hand a favour-buy a little USB mouse.

Future Trends
Work already in advanced stages will allow computers to be commanded by speech in a quiet environment. Natural language and speech recognition are bound to replace input devices in the future. Handwriting recognition is getting more and more mature. Input technology that aids the disabled today is poised to become the norm of the future.

What To Look For

Ergonomic keyboards are highly recommended. You won't feel thrilled when you first use one, but getting used to it is easy. After a few days, your wrists will enjoy it more than you think.

The Preferred Interface
Find out what interface is supported by your computer. Keyboards and mice come with either the PS/2 or the USB interface. USB is plug-and-play, and consumes lesser system resources than PS/2, and most pointing devices support certain additional features when connected to the USB port. (If you have a really old computer without a USB port, use a converter, or add a USB port-or better still, get a new computer!)
Gaming Keyboards And Mice
If you are into gaming, you are better off with specialised keyboards with keys that can be programmed to serve as hotkeys according to a game's requirements. Also, a mouse with higher resolution or DPI is preferred to make fragging a more accurate affair. Some mice have buttons that aid the gamer, and that can also vary mouse sensitivity and resolution on the fly. For a graphics designer, mice with a high resolution are highly recommended because of the greater cursor accuracy.

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