PC Gear Lab

Best Mouse for Any Surface in 2023

When we talk about the best mouse for any surface, we are basically referring to its sensor having the potential to track on even the toughest and most sensitive of surfaces like glass and glossy surfaces.

Only a handful of mice out there employ the right sensor for tracking on all surfaces including glass. The most common technologies you will often hear about are Logitech’s DarkField technology and Microsoft’s BlueTrack technology, with DarkField being the superior one. We discuss these further below.

Basically, a mouse uses a CMOS sensor, which in the most basic of definitions, acts as a camera to take photos of the surface to track. It relies on the irregularities found on the surface to find and register the position of the mouse.

Since a glossy or transparent surface is smooth and has little irregularities, the majority of the mice do not track well on such surfaces.

The idea goes that if a mouse can track on glass and glossy surfaces, then it can literally track on any surface.

In this article, however, we will look at a select few mice that are popular for working on any or most surfaces.

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Choosing the Best Mouse for Any Surface

darkfield vs bluetrack

There are basically two popular technologies out there that are propounded and tailor-made to work on any surface including glass.

  • Logitech’s DarkField Technology
  • Microsoft’s BlueTrack Technology

Logitech’s DarkField

Darkfield by Logitech is a technology that innovates laser technology on a mouse.

The technology employed here has the ability to sense even the minutest of irregularities on the surface for the mouse to track on.

You can read in-depth about DarkField here.

Hence, when we talk about a mouse that tracks on all surfaces, models such as those from the Logitech MX Master and MX Anywhere series that employ the Darkfield technology come to mind.

The primary difference between Logitech MX Master and the MX Anywhere series is the size. The former caters to desktop users for work and productivity, and the latter caters to those who travel a lot.

They are more expensive than an average mouse as they cater to premium and power users.

They are not really designed with gamers in mind though hence even the smaller MX Anywhere mouse can weigh a lot more than a full-fledged gaming mouse.

Logitech DarkField Mouse

Logitech MX Anywhere 3

Darkfield Technology | 4000 DPI | Compact | Ambidextrous
Wireless | 95.5g | 4 Programmable Buttons

Logitech MX Master 3S

Darkfield Technology | 4000 DPI | Work Mouse
Wireless | 141g | 7 Programmable Buttons

Microsoft’s BlueTrack Technology – BlueTrack vs DarkField

Source: mousearea.com

BlueTrack is a proprietary technology by Microsoft that allows their mice to track on any surface including glossy ones. However, do note that BlueTrack technology is found on a few select mice by Microsoft.

It aims to achieve the same goal as Logitech’s Darkfield technology, however, the key difference here is that instead of using Laser as with the DarkField Technology, which is technically a prerequisite for tracking on glass, BlueTrack technology still relies on traditional Optical illumination.

It uses a wider Blue light, instead of the red light found on traditional optical mice, which does give it an edge for tracking on different surfaces but compared to superior laser-based Darkfield technology it does fall a bit short.

This is evident from the fact that BlueTrack cannot track on glass (can track on glossy surfaces though, but not pure glass).

BlueTrack does have plenty of advantages of its own. For instance, due to its optical sensor and the wider spread of the light, it can track smoothly on highly ridged surfaces like a carpet smoothly.

Laser mice, on the other hand, cannot perform smoothly on the highly ridged surface. While they will definitely track, but due you their nature of being sensitive, your cursor will be flying all over the place.

Microsoft BlueTrack Mouse

One of the main issues with Microsoft mice featuring BlueTrack technology is their eccentric ergonomics. They do not follow the traditional form factor and hence while portable, they are not very highly rated for work or for gaming.

While great for occasional PC users, they are not suitable for power users.

They ARE cheaper, however, compared to the Logitech’s MX Master and Anywhere series mice.

Microsoft Arc Mouse

BlueTrack Technology | 4000 DPI | Compact | Ambidextrous
Wireless | 85.7g
No Programmable Button

Or Just Go With Track Ball

best mouse for any surface trackball 2

A trackball mouse is a completely radical way to define a mouse that can work on any surface because it literally can.

You can place it on a table, a stove, your head, on a glass, literally anywhere and it’ll work. 

Unlike regular mice, a trackball mouse uses, well, a trackball on its surfaces which you can move around with your fingers.

The mouse ITSELF does not move at all.

Instead of dragging your mouse around, you instead use the trackball to move the cursor. Since all you move is the ball, you can place the mouse and use it on any surface.

While the majority of users will find it way too unconventional, it is actually great for designers who like precision.

Do Optical Mice Work on All Surfaces?

No, not all optical mice work on all surfaces. This all depends upon the quality of the sensor and the technology being used.

For instance, glass is one of the most difficult surfaces for a mouse to track on. There is only one technology i.e the Darkfield technology that has the ability to track on all surfaces including glass.

Even the Microsoft’s BlueTrack technology does not have the capability to track on glass.

To understand why this is so, it is important to understand in brief how the mouse tracking works:

How Does a Mouse Track?

Modern mice are all optical mice. They are called optical mice because they essentially employ a camera for detecting light reflected from the surface.

Traditional optical mouse either has an infrared or an LED light source that projects light onto the surface. As this light bounces back from the surface, it enters the CMOS sensor via a lens.

A CMOS sensor is an image sensor, or technically, a camera that captures the optical image and turns it into digital data.

The mouse is able to capture thousands of images in a second. The Data is then interpreted by the microcontroller which results in a movement of the cursor.

A Critical Point: Irregularities

The critical point to note, however, is that a regular optical mouse needs to find irregularities or impurities on the surface in order to track. On a smooth, clean, shiny and glossy surface like a glass top, a regular optical mouse has a hard time tracking.

What About a Laser Mouse?

A laser mouse is essentially an optical mouse as well since it also uses a camera (CMOS sensor) in order to capture images, compare them, analyze the movement, and then track.

However, instead of using an LED or Infrared light, a Laser mouse uses, well, a Laser.

The key difference is that the laser is stronger and can penetrate most surfaces, including glass. Hence a laser mouse should be able to, to a good degree, track well on glass.

However, tracking well on smooth, clean glass surfaces with minimal irregularities, dust parties, etc is a challenge even for regular laser mice.

Therefore, only proprietary laser technologies such as Logitech’s DarkField Technology has the capacity to track comfortably even on glass.

Also Read: Best Mouse for ESO

Final Words

If you need an all purpose mouse with versatile use case and particularly the one that can be used anywhere and in any situation, then you basically need one of the best mouse for any surface.

In this article we talked about a few popular one and also talked about how select the right one.

These can certainly come in handy particularly if you work in an office with glass table tops, or you just simply like to work on uneven and unique surfaces.

Atif Qazi

Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGearLab.com and a huge gaming nerd. Thanks to a vast IT related experience under his belt, you can often find him writing detailed pieces of content on PC hardware. But in all honesty nothing gives him more pleasure than 'one-shotting' everyone as a stealth archer in ESO:Skyrim.

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