When we talk about the best mouse for any surface, we are basically referring to its sensor having the potential to track even on glass and glossy surfaces.
Only a handful of mice out there employ the right sensor for tracking on most surfaces including glass. The most common technologies you will often hear about are the 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 basics of definitions, acts as a camera to take photos of the surface to track. It relies on the irregularities found on the surface to finds and register the position of the mouse.
Since a glossy or transparent surface is smooth and little irregularities, majority of the mice do not track well on such surfaces.
In this article, however, we will look at a select few mice that are popular for working on any or most surfaces.
Comparison of Top Mouse for Any Surface
|Logitech MX |
|Logitech MX |
|Logitech MX |
List of Best Mouse for Any Surface in 2021
The following mice can be used on any surface thanks to their tracking technologies.
- Logitech MX Anywhere 2S – Recommended Mouse for Any Surface
- Logitech MX Master 3 – Large Productivity Office Mouse
- Logitech MX Anywhere 3 – Latest Travel Mouse for All Surfaces
- Microsoft Modern Mouse – Affordable Mouse with BlueTrack – Tracks on Most Surfaces
- Microsoft Arc Touch – Portable Mouse with Touch Scrolling
- Logitech MX Ergo – Stationary Trackball Mouse (Technically an All Surface Mouse)
1. Logitech MX Anywhere 2S – Recommended Mouse for Any Surface
When it comes to a mouse that can track on all surfaces, this stands out the most NOT just because it has “Anywhere” in its name literally, but its tracking performance truly is phenomenal.
Like most of the premium Logitech MX models, this too features the Darkfield sensor technology that has the capacity to track on almost any surface including glass.
Again, Darkfield technology is almost synonymous at the moment with tracking on any surface.
As far as the mouse is concerned, it has a small profile and thus is suitable for those who have small or medium sized hands or for those who do not want large bulky mice with thumb rests. The size and profile also makes this suitable for traveling with.
There are a total of seven buttons on the mouse including the left right and side buttons. These are all customizable through the Logitech software which can be downloaded online.
A very important and an interesting feature is the gesture button. You can set four different commands with this. To access the commands you press the gesture button and move the mouse up, down, left, or right to access it this giving your more control.
This is a wireless mouse but instead of requiring separate batteries, this is rechargeable and thus saves your from the hassle of procuring newer batteries every now and then.
Another very interesting features is that it can simultaneously connect to three devices at a time.
The Logitech Flow feature allows you to move the mouse cursor, and even copy and paste files, around computers so as long as they are connected to the same WiFi-Network. This makes this an excellent productivity mouse particularly if you switch computers often.
However, being a portable and small mouse, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you want a larger variant you can look into the Logitech MX Master 3 below.
2. Logitech MX Master 3 – Large Ergonomic Office Mouse
Contrary to the Logitech MX Anywhere 2S above, this is a large mouse for those who like the good old palm grip or for those who want to rest their hands for comfort.
Essentially, this is a productivity ERGONOMIC mouse. It has comfortable palm top as well as a generous thumb rest to facilitate you both in posture as well as in long term comfort.
As far as tracking is concerned, this too utilizes the Logitech’s Darkfield technology allowing it to track on any surface including glass.
So who is this mice for? Basically for professionals and power users. Everything about this mouse is designed to facilitate specialists.
For instance, the horizontal scroll is a novel idea that can allow video editors to scroll across their timelines easily.
Furthermore, it has onboard memory. Hence not only can you customize the buttons and carry your settings anywhere, you can even download profiles now for popular apps using the Logitech Options software.
But other than that, its core productivity functions are very similar to most MX series mice. For instance, it has the gesture button for accessing four customizable commands by moving the mouse in any of the four directions.
It supports the connectivity with three devices at a time which can be switched any time using a button located underneath.
It also offers the Logitech Flow, like the MX Anywhere 2s above, allowing you to control multiple devices simultaneously as long as they are connected to the same network.
Connectivity wise, this is a wireless mouse which can connect through both Bluetooth as well as provided USB receiver. It does not require batteries as it can be recharged through the conveniently provided USB-C port.
It does have a few drawbacks though. Firstly, this is not a cheap mouse and the investment has to make sense because it is significant for a mouse.
Secondly, this is a right handed mouse and hence if you are left-handed, you are better off looking for an ambidextrous mice.
3. Logitech MX Anywhere 3 – Gaming Mouse, Works on Glass Surfaces
Newer version of the popular and compact Anywhere 2s mouse that tracks on all surfaces.
This is the newest entrant to the Logitech MX Anywhere series and in many ways it is similar to the Logitech MX Anywhere 2s above.
While it is slightly more expensive, there are few key differences that can make this the right mouse for you.
For starters, they are both travel, compact and productivity mice. This too offers the connectivity across 3 computers, programmable buttons, gesture button, Logitech Flow as well as the Darkfield sensor for tracking across any surface.
Most of the changes are just quality of life improvements. For instance the Logitech MX Anywhere 3 uses soft silicone side grips for added comfort. Furthermore, it offers USB Type C for charging instead of the micro USB port in the previous version.
One downside to this particular mouse compared to the previous version is that it does not include the left and right mouse wheel buttons.
However, it ditches the old scroll wheel with the newer Mag Wheel Scroll technology.
These subtle changes can may as well make this one of the best mouse for any surface for your.
4. Microsoft Modern Mouse – Affordable Mouse with BlueTrack – Tracks on Most Surfaces
Low profile, light weight and a compact minimal mouse. BlueTrack Technology.
The mice featured above are productivity based and they can get a bit expensive for an average use. If you are looking for something more affordable and minimal, then we recommend this mouse.
It should be noted that this uses the Microsoft’s BlueTrack technology which tracks on MOST surfaces including a fair amount of shiny surfaces. HOWEVER, it CANNOT TRACK ON GLASS.
Whether you want to use it on a granite surface, glossy wood, carpet or your face, this would track except for on glass.
Other than that, there isn’t much to offer. We do not recommend this for power users. However, for office usage or for complementing your Microsoft Surface devices, this could be the best mouse for any surface for you.
5. Microsoft Arc Touch – Portable Mouse with Touch Scrolling
A unique travel mouse that can fold straight.
This is yet another highly affordable, but a somewhat unique, mouse with the Microsoft BlueTrack technology to track on most surfaces.
The Arch Touch mouse from Microsoft has a peculiar design especially its mechanism to fold out flat.
When it is folded out flat it turn turns off. When it is folded in into an arc, it activates. This makes it great for portability as you can store it conveniently even into your pocket.
The reason it’s called a touch mouse is that the scroll mechanism is a touch-sensitive area instead of the usual wheel. It works just fine and is accurate enough for most work. It also provides feedback whenever scrolling is active which is a nice touch.
Again, if you are a professional user, we cannot recommend this. However, if you travel a lot, are on a budget, looking for something simple and not afraid to try out something unique then this could the best mouse for any surface for you.
6. Logitech MX Ergo – Stationary Trackball Mouse
An ergonomic mouse with trackball. Stays stationary on a given surface.
So this is not your traditional mouse. In fact, it does not have a sensor underneath to track on any surface at all!
Basically, this is an ergonomic mouse with a trackball. You move the cursor around on the screen using the trackball instead of moving the mouse with your hands.
So technically speaking, this IS a mouse for any surface so long as you place it on a stable surface. Whether you put it on a glass or a mirror, it would not matter.
As mentioned earlier, this is an ergonomic mouse. It offers a comfortable thumb rest, a large form factor for a palm grip, and even tilting angles to adjust your wrist comfortably.
Furthermore, like most mice from the Logitech MX series, this comes with a robust features such as programmable buttons, gesture button, Logitech Flow and tilting scroll wheel.
I am certain you were not expecting a trackball mouse in this list. However, this mouse can serve as a food for thought for you. It may as well be the best mouse for any surface for you because it does not rely on an optical sensor at all!
Do Optical Mice Work on All Surface?
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 surface 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.
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 on to 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 micro controller 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 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, a traditional laser mouse does track on any surface including glass, but not well and to a comfortable degree.
Enter Logitech DarkField – What is This Technology?
BlueTrack is a proprietary technology by Microsoft. It’s used on some of their mice and allows you to use the device on most surfaces including carpets, shiny wooden desks, granite and of course on a regular mouse pad.
They 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.
While it cannot track on glass, BlueTrack does have plenty of advantages of its own. For instance, due to 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 highly ridged surface. While it will definitely track, but due you its nature of being sensitive, your cursor will be flying all over the place.
Also Read: Best Mouse for Finger Pain
The Trackball – Food for Thought
A trackball mouse is another kind of mouse that can be used on almost any surface.
Unlike regular mice these use a trackball and unlike regular mice, you don’t need to move them 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.
This is great for both ease of use and comfort since you won’t have to move your arms a lot.
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.