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Laptop trackpads have improved drastically over the years, but they still can’t beat a mouse for precision. If you can’t do without one, these are the best mice to throw in your laptop bag.
There’s no one “perfect” mouse for everyone. Some will want something that’s small without sacrificing comfort, others want the absolute smallest volume possible for their minimalist packing. There are a few gamers who want maximum precision and lag reduction, old-school, die-hard trackball users, and some who just want something cheap that’s easier to use than a trackpad. We’ve covered these specific bases, and between them you’re sure to find something that will fit your particular needs.
This mouse got super-high marks in our more general Bluetooth mouse roundup, and it’s still a valid pick if you need something more portable. The Triathlon is about two-thirds the size of a full-sized desktop mouse, sitting in the sweet spot between comfort and portability. Using this thing for hours at a time won’t present any discomfort. It’s also compatible with quick switching between up to three machines, connected via either Bluetooth or the included 2.4GHz wireless USB adapter. That means you could consolidate your mouse use for a desktop, laptop, and tablet down into a single device with quick, easy switching. Logitech’s hyper-fast ball bearing scroll wheel and multi-machine FLOW software are included, but the real travel-friendly feature is a battery life of over a year on a single AA battery. And at just $35, this mouse is hard to beat.
The Triathlon gets our nod for best ergonomics and longevity. But if you want something much smaller for a super-cramped laptop bag, the MX Anywhere is the next best option. It uses a lot of the same guts, including the handy quick switch, dual Bluetooth/2.4GHz USB wireless, and a ball bearing scroll wheel. At about half the size, this mouse isn’t quite as comfortable, but it includes horizontal scrolling and a more advanced laser that can track on glass. We’re going to recommend the original MX Anywhere over the updated MX Anywhere 2. Aside from a slightly different finish, the only difference between them is FLOW support on the latter. And since this mouse will probably be dedicated to a single portable machine, it’s unlikely you’ll use it anyway. That concession will save you over $30 versus the newer model. The battery doesn’t last as long as the Triathlon, but it is rechargable via USB.
PC gamers that primarily use laptops are a niche breed, but Razer is nothing if not accommodating. Their Atheris model is the clear leader in a short field thanks to a small size, solid ergonomics, and the option to choose between a Bluetooth connection or wireless USB for lag-free play. The 7200DPI optical sensor doesn’t have the ridiculously fast tracking of Razer’s full desktop mice, but it’ll be more than enough for any surface you’re likely to use adjacent to your gaming laptop. Two AA batteries will last for months if you use the mouse in low-power Bluetooth mode, and you can switch over to proprietary wireless when you’re in-game. The full shooter button layout is included, but with thumb buttons only on the left side, Razer’s claim of ambidextrous support rings a bit hollow. At $45, it’s one of the better values in the company’s stable.
If imitation is flattery, Logitech should be blushing: this budget-friendly Bluetooth mouse is a rather shameless copy of one of the company’s old Marathon designs. That said, it’s a good design to copy, thanks to a compact layout that still feels good in the hand. For just $15 you won’t get the fancy dual wireless of the previous mice on this list, but its Bluetooth connection is compatible with just about everything. You even get thumb browser buttons—not a given at this price by any means—and a DPI switch beneath the scroll wheel. This is about as inexpensive as you can get before you start to notice a serious dip in build quality, ergonomics, or both.
Like gaming mice, trackballs are a small niche in the ultra-mobile market. But if a mouse just doesn’t feel right, the Orbit from Kensington is as good as you can get without packing something much bigger and heavier. The design relies on a 2.4GHz USB dongle only, so mobile tablets aren’t supported and you may need a converter if you only have USB-C ports available. But as a smaller trackball, the design is serviceable, with a nice ambidextrous body and a touch-sensitive scroll wheel surrounding the main ball. Having only two buttons means advanced users might feel a bit stifled, but it’s the best option available in this form factor.
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