Should You Be Using a Mouse, Trackpad or Tablet?

Should You Be Using a Mouse, Trackpad or Tablet?

Joelle Alcaidinho
Jun 20, 2011

Oh, input devices. Who knew preferences for a mouse or a trackpad would put you firmly in one camp or another? We're not zealots for any particular device, knowing the right tool for the right job is more important than device loyalty...

Most of us writers here primarily use a laptop, which means we are pretty frequent trackpad users. Many of us also come from design backgrounds which means we are rather familiar with applications like Adobe Photoshop. Our tool choices depend on the task at hand and here is our breakdown of our most common input devices:

The Trackpad: As we stated above, this is our most common go-to input method.
Pros: We love that using the built-in trackpad means not needing to carry anything extra should we decide to move our work outside in the park. We are also big gesture users and have grown very used to the increased productivity we experience from harnessing them. Want to watch us work much slower? Stick us on a laptop with one of those little eraser heads and watch how long it takes for us to navigate and get things done.
Cons: We much prefer using a tablet when it comes to drawing and photo editing. Drawing on a trackpad is not a fun time had by all and despite our frequent use of trackpads is not something we have ever gotten used to.

The Mouse: The humble mouse is quite possibly the most widely used input device globally.
Pros: Mice are generally inexpensive and are much easier to draw with than say a trackpad. Since mice are the input devices that most people use first, they are the ones that the majority of people are most adept and comfortable with using. Mice are fast and for those users without gesture friendly trackpads a scroll wheel is a savior. We adore our Apple Magic Mouse because it combines some of the things we love about mice and trackpads by giving us the fast navigation along with gestures.
Cons: If you are using a laptop, having an extra accessory does make work a little less portable. Most mice also do not have gesture or touch support.

The Tablet: When we talk about tablets we are not talking about the glossy screened iOS and Android devices we know and love but of the tablets that graphic designers everywhere know and love.
Pros: We strongly believe that nothing compares to using a pen tablet to draw and that these devices also make photo editing a breeze. Using a pen tablet like the Wacom INTUOS4 is the perfect partner to Photoshop and Illustrator and it provides an experience that a mouse or trackpad really cannot compare to.
Cons: Tablets, especially the wireless pen variety with fancy programmable buttons are not inexpensive. Like we mentioned when we spoke about mice, bringing along a peripheral does add a little but of bulk to the traveling set up, however if you are going to be doing the sort of work that this device is perfect for we think it is well worth it.

What do you think? When do you break out the trackpad, mouse, or tablet?

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