Artists are limited by the tools they use, and the only tool available in the past to digital or computer artists was the standard computer mouse. Increasingly, though, digital artists and the public at large are turning their attentions to the optical pen as a solution to replace the cumbersome mouse. Optical pens offer some advantages over standard computer mice, but also have some disadvantages.
An optical pen is a lightweight, pen-shaped pointing device. It can be utilized much like a normal pen, used to write or draw in computer software programs. An optical pen can also be used as a normal mouse, as it has a trackball with which to move objects and buttons with which to click. This unique input device can be used anywhere a normal mouse might be used, and it does not require a special mouse pad.
Optical pens work equally well for individuals who are right or left handed, although special models are available to ease the difference between writing and computing styles in these two groups. It does not take up much storage space. Some optical pen models have the option of being wireless, allowing them to rely on battery power and transmitting a signal from the pointer to an input device that is commonly plugged into an empty USB slot on a computer.
One disadvantage many consumers have complained about is that optical pens are often flimsy, and they do not take much effort to break. Some individuals find that working with optical pens takes a bit of getting used to, and that moving the pen in certain ways causes the input to become skewed. The price of an optical pen is often much more than a standard USB mouse, however the prices of both lower with each subsequent year.