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Rodent Revolution

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If there's one thing we're all agreed on at TrustedReviews, it's that you should never downplay the importance of a decent keyboard and mouse. Too many PC users obsess over their CPU and graphics card, or spend days agonising over their choice of monitor, only to go pitifully cheap on their input peripherals or settle for whatever bundle their PC manufacturer includes. Admittedly, even the default selections are a lot better these days than they were, say, ten years ago, but the fact remains that a decent keyboard and mouse can be worth that little extra cash.

Why? It's partly a question of efficiency, and partly a question of your personal well-being. There's more to a mouse these days than two buttons and a ball, and more to a keyboard than just the alphanumeric keys. You need to choose between wired and wireless, optical or laser, ergonomic or regular, then work out which selection of hotkeys, buttons and sliders suits you best. That's a lot to take in, hence this handy TrustedReviews guide.

The first thing a good keyboard and mouse can do is help you work or play more efficiently. On the rodent front, most of us have now got used to the scroll wheel, which proves invaluable when you're working your way through long documents or Web pages. However, the additional controls supplied on many modern mice aren't quite so well understood. Most now feature one or more hotkey buttons, usually preset to handle operations like forward and back when Web browsing or navigating the Windows file system.
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Logitech's MX Revolution mouse features a Zoom function.

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Mice like the Logitech MX Revolution (approx £65) also now feature a zoom control, enabling you to zoom the view in and out in supported applications, and making things a lot easier if you're editing photos or trying to read PDF pages. Meanwhile, recent Microsoft laser mice, like the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 and 7000 (approx £50 to £70) feature a Windows Flip 3D Key, drawing on Vista's ability to overlay your open windows in a 3D view so you can see exactly what each holds as you switch between them. These aren't features that you will be unable to live without, but they are features that will reduce the amount of time you spend clicking on buttons or dragging sliders and - as we'll see later - that's always a good thing.
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The Microsoft Sidewinder gaming mouse features a 2000dpi laser sensor.

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The other major mouse issue of the moment is sensitivity. Optical mice took us up to 600 or 800dpi (dots per inch), although really high end optical gaming mice like the Logitech MX518 pushed the dpi up to 1600. Now laser mice are taking us well above 1000dpi, with the more extreme gaming mice going up to 2000 (as in Microsoft's Habu or Sidewinder gaming mice, £30 to £50) or even 3200 dpi (like the Logitech G9 laser mouse, £50). Even gamers are split on the utility of ultra-high sensitivities, but increased sensitivity does have some benefits for everyday use. The more accurate and sensitive the mouse is and the higher you can comfortably set the sensitivity in Windows, the more screen area you'll be able to cover with less physical movement, making you work slightly more efficiently, and helping you avoid RSI.
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Logitech's G9 took sensitivity to a new level with a 3200dpi laser sensor.

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