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Mouse or Trackball?

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the one-for-the-wife dept.

Input Devices 627

Loconut1389 writes "I've been an avid mouse user for years, but lately all of the wrist movements have added up and combined with a desire for some added precision when not using my tablet in photoshop, I decided to purchase a large trackball. Logitech makes a few with a small, thumb controlled ball, but it looked like you'd get a tired thumb and have no added precision. After searching around, it seems that the only large one really available is a Kensington for about $90. Only CompUSA seemed to even carry the kensington in-store (and had none in stock). After ordering one online and using it for a few days now, I don't know how I ever lived with a mouse. The trackball has better precision, less wrist movement, and even gaming is pretty cool/easy with it (can spin it to whip around real quick, etc). All that said, it seems like trackballs have all but vanished except in medical fields (sonograms, etc) and perhaps graphic arts. I'm left insanely curious why trackballs haven't resurfaced now that optical technologies have fixed the main problems of old trackballs (and mice). Do you use a trackball? If so, are you in graphic design?"

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627 comments

Trackball (5, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072169)

My favorite input device has been a Kensington Turbo Mouse. It's a large trackball, a design I have been using for years going back to the original 1.0. They are great in reducing Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and allow more precision in control which is important for digital imagery work and image forensics.

For a traditional mouse, Apple's Mighty Mouse is pretty good, but it simply does not have the robust reliability that the Kensington track balls have. For most of the Kensington trackball's history, they used high quality bearings which were nice and robust, but dirt could get trapped in between stalling the cursor movement. Recently with the Expert Mouse however, they have gone to a glass/plastic? bearing with an optical tracking mechanism that is far superior to just about anything else on the market.

It is interesting that the trackball has quite a long history. I first saw them, other than Missile Command ;-) of course, on satellite imagery workstations back in 1990 and had to have one for my Mac systems. Unfortunately I had to endure a mouse with just about all of my SGI systems as the trackballs for those systems were either unavailable or just did not work as well as the mouse of hockey puck and digitizing board.

Re:Trackball (3, Insightful)

Kagura (843695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072467)

Long, long ago I tried a trackball at my friend's house, and decided I absolutely must have one. That was a good couple of years, til I switched back to a mouse permanently, and you better believe I never looked back. After experiencing both sides of the fence, using a mouse is far more intuitive and precise for many activities on a PC.

Re:Trackball (2, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072657)

and you better believe I never looked back.

Or what?

After experiencing both sides of the fence, using a mouse is far more intuitive and precise for many activities on a PC.

That may be true for you, but from my experience in navigating image data comprising many gigabytes to terrabytes, having a trackball with a zoom ring on it like the Kensington Expert Mouse is the fastest means of navigating that I have found though I actually use a combination of trackball and Wacom drawing tablet for any work that requires "drawing".

Re:Trackball (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072729)

The big trackballs don't seem to do it for me. By far my most favorite trackball is the basic Logitech Trackman [logitech.com]. I've been using it for several years, switching over and trying different trackballs, but I always go back to this one. Your hand is resting comfortably, the ball is perfectly positioned and I have yet to run into a situation where my thumb would be tired - dunno, maybe it's the gamer in me.

As for precision, it's pretty good. I do game with it, some counterstrike, but mostly WoW pvp. What I do find to be a hinderance in sheer gaming performance, however is in certain games where you need fast jerky movement over small areas (an RTS, like starcraft, or when you need to move quickly and click on raid members to heal in WoW), nothing beats a mouse - well, maybe a tablet?

As for work stuff, I've never really had it hinder me when drawing out some artwork using vector graphics. One thing to get used to is clicking and dragging, mostly because users are most comfortable using the weight of their palm to control the mouse while dragging, the way the trackball is designed it doesn't let you do that. So if you're click/dragging something along, sometimes you can accidentally release the button while moving your thumb. Doesn't happen often, but it can occur, mostly in places where you are using a trackball on a nonsolid surface, like the arm of a sofa or on your knee or something. I've had much worse luck trying to click-drag with larger trackballs, but I don't have large fingers. YMMV.

My initial reasoning for getting it was because I didn't have enough desk space. :-P Because of the small amount of real estate, I usually bring it along with my laptop, to coffeeshops, on my bed, or in front of the tv. I hate those laptop trackpads.

Also Trackball (1)

danaris (525051) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072759)

Trackball here, too, though my pick is the Logitech Optical TrackMan (I think; don't remember the actual name for certain). I love being able to use it without any significant flat surface with my laptop.

What I really don't understand, though, is why oh why does nobody make a good Bluetooth trackball?? Every cordless trackball out there (except for one, called The Ball, but I need many buttons, not just 2 & no scroll wheel...) uses an RF transmitter that plugs in by USB. I would have thought that doing away with that transmitter would be an absolute no-brainer once Bluetooth became common on laptops...

Dan Aris

Trackball (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072193)

The wife swears by her Logitech trackball, to the point where I had to buy her one for work (cheap enough and not even worth asking the boss).

Re:Trackball (1)

melkonen (844108) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072421)

I also use Logitech - the one used with with fore/middle finger.

First reason is the principle: why is there need to drag your whole forearm around when you can do the same thing with one finger?

Secondly; my computer chair if 50 yrs old big, comfy armchair and I can use it on the armrest.

Third reason is that it's so much fun when people who haven't used one try to surf the net with it :P

Re:Trackball (1)

Inmatarian (814090) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072771)

Same here. Logitech Marble Mouse. Mine is an older one though, and only a two button. But damn if this thing won't survive forever. I've only had to open it up a couple of times to clean out built up lint and gunk, and it was practically good as new.

The only downside I've ever noticed to trackballs is that the ball has to be just a little oily. When I clean all of my stuff, the ball becomes too tactile and loses it's ease of spin. WD40 is too much, so I end up having to hold the ball in my hand for a little while, just to get some skin-oils on it and get that smooth glide.

Avoid wrist movements (4, Informative)

Squiffy (242681) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072215)

I use my fingers and arm more than my wrist when moving the mouse around. Never have any problems.

Re:Avoid wrist movements (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072591)

I can't move my arm around without moving my mouse off its pad and my had off the little gel pad it rests on. The motion benefits are a side effect of those two limitations.

Re:Avoid wrist movements (1)

skiingyac (262641) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072785)

Using a good write rest definitely helps a lot... the submitter didn't mention if he tried that, but your wrist's position make a huge difference, as does how often you use keyboard shortcuts vs click on things.

Logitech's Marble F/X (1)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072225)

Not sure if it's still in production, but uses an oversized ball which can be manipulated by index finger or thumb.

Fantastic trackball - still using my original now for over 5 years.

Re:Logitech's Marble F/X (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072319)

Those things are brilliant. Stopped my wrist pain instantly. I try to get them on sale from Newegg, but I've noticed that the RadioShack here carries them pretty cheaply.

Re:Logitech's Marble F/X (5, Informative)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072411)

Forgot to mention that Logitech's driver for them, though, is a piece of shit. Consistently crashes Windows XP, and is outrageously huge. If you look carefully, you can find their old driver versions posted here and there on the web (which actually work, and aren't 45MB downloads).

      In linux, though, I just have

                InputDevice "LogitechMarble" "CorePointer"

    and

  # The following is for the Logitech Marble Trackball:

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier "LogitechMarble"
        Driver "mouse"
# Option "CorePointer"
        Option "Protocol" "ExplorerPS/2"
        Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
        Option "Buttons" "9"
# Option "SendCoreEvents" "true"
        Option "Emulate3Buttons" "true"
        Option "EmulateWheel" "1"
        Option "EmulateWheelButton" "8"
        Option "EmulateWheelInertia" "5"
        Option "Emulate3Timeout" "50"
        Option "ChordMiddle"
        Option "XAxisMapping" "6 7"
        Option "YAxisMapping" "4 5"

in my xorg.conf file. Works perfectly. Wish I could get the Windows behavior to be the same!

Re:Logitech's Marble F/X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072391)

The Marble F/X are not in production anymore.
They usually go for around $100 used on ebay,
and used ones on amazon are going for $277-$411.

Logitech Marble mouse USB (1)

Linux_Bastard (220710) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072235)

I have been using this same exact mouse for the last 6 years at work. I have 4 others for the utility and games machines at home.

When they make a better mouse, I'll switch in a heartbeat.

It hasn't happened yet.

Re:Logitech Marble mouse USB (1)

Drache Kubisuro (469932) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072355)

I've been using the marble mouse for as long as I can remember... it is a perfect device and is inexpensive. They last forever too. I don't remember why I had to buy a new Marble mouse but fortunately it was available when I needed it.

A lot of modern trackballs are made for right-handed people and that's just not cool! So the basic Marble mouse, which has merely two buttons and the marble in between, is perfect. I hope it never goes out of production, and if it does or has, that there are stockpiles lasting centuries!

Whenever I use a regular mouse, my wrist starts freaking out. I dislike them so!

Re:Logitech Marble mouse USB (1)

NotTheNickIWanted (614945) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072743)

When they make a better mouse, I'll switch in a heartbeat.

I was, and to some extent still am a fan of the Trackman Marble. At one point it was the only pointing device which I could use for extended periods of time without experiencing any sort of hand/wrist fatigue. The one I use at work is likely of similar vintage to yours.

I've since swithed to a wireless MX-1000 at home however. It is the first mouse which I have found in a long time that is comfortable under my hand. I find that its precision is the same if not greater than the Trackman. The real winners for me though are the lack of cord, and the lack of ball or rollers to periodically scrape accumulated dirt off of.

Re:Logitech Marble mouse USB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072795)

What mouse you using beyatch?

both! (2, Insightful)

xhrit (915936) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072251)

I have both plugged in to my pc - one trackball and one mouse. I prefer the trackball, but like to switch to reduce strain.

Re:both! (1)

KUHurdler (584689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072649)

I do both as well. But, I mainly have the mouse there for when other engineers need to control my computer.

Trackpad killed the trackball. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072253)

I am not saying the Trackpad is better then a trackball in any particular area. But it has less moving parts that get gummed up offer much of the ergonimic benefits as a trackball. Lighter to carry and no balls to be stolen. The mouse sticks around because people know how to use it and they are trained to use it and it is easer to train people on how to use it because they move the mouse up the ball goes up. Vs a trackpad or a Trackball where you move you finger then the mouse moves. It is a difference between fine moter movements and gross movements. Also with optical mouses replaceing the old ball mice it offers a longer lasting more relable interface tool then both a balled mouse and a trackball.

Trackball or Spaceball? (2, Informative)

toolie (22684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072255)

Do you mean a trackball or a spaceball? Spaceballs are used widely with modeling software such as Catia and UniGraphics.

Re:Trackball or Spaceball? (5, Funny)

Osurak (1013927) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072381)

Spaceballs the pointing device! Spaceballs the T-shirt! Spaceballs the Coloring Book! Spaceballs the Lunch box! Spaceballs the Breakfast Cereal! Spaceballs the Flame Thrower (the kids love this one)

Re:Trackball or Spaceball? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072539)

Oh Shit. There goes the planet.

Re:Trackball or Spaceball? (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072715)

Both!

I have an MS Trackball Explorer, but also a Spaceball 4000 FLX to help out with UG.

Trackpoint? (2, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072257)

How about the Trackpoint on thinkpads and such? Everyone I know with a thinkpad (including myself :D) swears by the little thing.

Re:Trackpoint? (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072499)

Everyone I know that had a laptop with a TrackPoint swore AT them, including myself. I'd be typing along and hit that little bastard and suddenly I'll have clicked in the middle of some other window or even worse if it was in the middle of a block of text. They are as bad as a trackpad that hasn't had the sensitivity adjusted to prevent my palm from causing an accidental click while typing.

Re:Trackpoint? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072515)

I use a Thinkpad, and I love the little thing. You only need to move your fingers, and you don't move far off the keyboard to use it, plus you get to change the texture of it very easily. It is even nice for some games (any that don't require the right side of the keyboard, actually).

That being said, I know a lot of people who also use Thingpads, and they use the touchpad much more commonly. They often get annoyed when they sit down at my computer and realize it is disabled.

When I have a mouse plugged in to my computer, though, I do tend to move back and forth between the mouse and the Trackpoint depending on what I am doing, I usually do not even thing about it.

Model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072265)

What is the model of the trackball you use?

For a really big trackball... (4, Informative)

jnaujok (804613) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072277)

...try looking at HAPP controls http://www.happcontrols.com/trackballs/trackballs. htm [happcontrols.com].

Admittedly, they make them for the video gaming world, but they are just USB (or PS2) trackballs. You can mount them directly into a table top. Nothing like a 3" trackball to work from.

Re:For a really big trackball... (2, Informative)

stewbidasso (768984) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072663)

I have a happ 3" trackball in my MAME arcade which uses WinXP and Mame32 as it's front end, so the trackball gets plenty of use as a mouse in that machine. The only real problem with it is that it's not very handy to use it one handed (the precision and feel is great, they are super quality track balls, much heavier feeling than most so you can get "momentum" going on a roll). With the buttons mounted above it, you pretty much have to have one hand on the trackball and one hand on the buttons. It works good in my arcade, but I wouldn't want to have to work like that...

Trackball: love and hate (1)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072283)

Ive had a microsoft trackball explorer since 2000 or so. It has come with me to every desk job ive worked, and i wouldnt consider using a mouse unless forced. It saves desk space, is easier to manipulate, and has a very comfortable design.

I cannot understand how it gets dirty so quickly. There are a couple metal bearings inside to keep the optical ball spinning freely, and they are constantly getting gummed up with skin flakes and whatever else constitutes desk dust. If not for that, it would be perfect.

Ive seen the kensington ball, and im not sure how id like it, given the position youd have to put your hand in as compared to my current trackball.

Re:Trackball: love and hate (1)

c0ol (628751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072505)

Cleaning is the main issue with a trackball. I used one for several years until I broke my hand and was forced to use a mouse for several months. In that time I adjusted to the Razer Copperhead and have not really looked back. This mouse is more sensitive than any other I have ever used, and even to traverse my 3000 pixel dual monitor display is only a matter of turning my wrist slightly.

Not too hard to find (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072289)

A quick Amazon search [amazon.com] shows quite a few models (15 or so at a quick glance), including what I am guessing is your Kensington [amazon.com]. So I don't think they are too terribly difficult to find.
 
I have a few coworkers who use them - maybe 3 people out of around 80. Which isn't too bad I don't think. I know that for myself, I've just never used a trackball much outside of missile command. (And on a visit to a radar installation on a mountain once as a kid) That was a nice big trackball, but not real practical for using at a desk. Man, it would make my work day a lot more fun though -- this may be my next construction project. I can just start spinning it like crazy when I get frustrated, and the sound is sure to be pleasant to those in cubes around me. Making sure their day isn't too boring and quiet is a big part of what gets me through my day. I assume I'll need to track down some kind of used parts place to get one that size. They were 4.5 inches - and I don't think there is anything on the consumer pointer market now that is that size.

Logitech usb Marble Mouse (1)

korbin_dallas (783372) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072303)

Yes, I use a trackball, no I do custom, embedded linux os work.
I use this one, I prefered to use my fingers instead of my thumb. $21
http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=904360-040 3-DT&cat=MOU [geeks.com]

I got it because my wrists hurt with a mouse, since I got this a few years back, my wrists don't hurt anymore.

Don't know why they cost more, the parts are the same concept. Production scale I suppose.

Thumb trackballs are the way to go (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072311)

You should give the thumb-balls a try. Once you get used to it there's no drop in precision, if anything there it is greater. And your thumb won't get tired, assuming you find a model that your hand will rest comfortably on. I went thumb-ball maybe six or seven years ago, looking for an alternative to a mouse for playing Team Fortress Classic. I'll never use anything else for my main machines again.

My thumb isn't tired (1)

Tommer (1913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072313)

I've been using the thumb-ball Logitech TrackMan since the first model, and on the modern optical-ball models, I have no lack of precision and no wrist or hand pain at all after almost 20 years of use. I love these things.

It's not great for first-person shooters, and can't write my signature with it, but I can always get the mouse pointer to the pixel I want. YMMV ... but if you're a cellphone text messager your thumb could already be more dexterous than your fingers anyway :)

I only wish I could get it in BlueTooth.

Logitech Trackman Wheel (1)

rkhalloran (136467) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072325)

Have this at work and home; hand in a reasonable curve, only have to roll my thumb, no travel space needed for shifting a mouse around.

Logitech Trackman Wheel (1)

GeorgeK (642310) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072329)

I swear by the Logitech Trackman Wheel, viewable here [logitech.com]. My wrist doesn't hurt like it did when I used a regular mouse.

They have a cordless version [logitech.com], but it's USB-based. If they made a Bluetooth version, it would be perfect.

Re:Logitech Trackman Wheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072791)

I've used one of those for 2-4 years, until the left mouse button started becoming unreliable. I still have it sitting in my spare parts box. It has worked very well for me taking up no extra space and being very comfortable to use. It gives single pixel accuracy for detail work, but it also very easy to spin for large movements. It has worked great for FPS games and for repetitive work you can click the buttons without accidentally moving the mouse pointer.

They also work great for lan parties where you don't necessarily have a lot of room to move around, and this way I don't need a mouse pad. The only real weakness I see over a mouse is that it is right hand only instead of being amidextrous.

Trackball here (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072359)

Marble Mouse USB from Logitech. The ball is about the size of a golf ball and operated with three fingers. Clicks are accomplished with thumb or little finger, but can also be hit in a wrist-roll left or right for an extended click. Has a scroll "button" pair.

Been using this or the previous PS/2 version for probably 5-7 years or so now. Love 'em! Used to sometimes use the old Atari trackballs (the pool ball size giant clunky things) back in the mid 90s, but the gritting up was a problem.

User because I must (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072363)

I'm a trackball user, but not because of precision or anything. I'm using it because of the different movement that it offers. I'm doing 9+ hours behind a PC and my thinking is that this isn't really healthy. And besides that, I've learned myself to be able to use the mouse with my left hand. I think it helps, but nothing beats a little weight lifting in my case.

Kensington Expert Mouse Pro (trackball) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072365)

I love this trackball. Helped stop my wrist pain. I run the track ball on the right side, and on the left side of the keyboard I have a mouse (set up for right handers, but I use my left) for once in a while usage.

Trackballs are great!

Trackball user (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072377)

My preferred choice is a thumb-operated trackball. Your thumb does get tired initially, it's not used to being used that way. It's no worse than any change in pointing device, though, and in my case after a week I'd adapted and was more comfortable with the trackball than a mouse. I've never been comfortable with conventional trackballs with the ball under the fingers.

I originally swore by the Logitech Trackman Wheel, but then Logitech changed the design to make it too narrow for my fingers to be comfortable on the buttons. I switched to a Microsoft Trackball Optical, 5 buttons and much wider and more comfortable, but then MS discontinued that model (I've got an extra stashed away, though). Lately I've switched one computer to a Logitech laser mouse because I just can't find a trackball that suits that's still in production.

Wacom (2, Interesting)

madjalapeno (1052094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072383)

I use pointers more than keyboard as part of my job being a CAD monkey.

About 5 years ago I started getting RSI in my wrist, and purchased a Wacom tablet. I'm now on my third, a widescreen one to match the set-up I have with 2 widescreen LCD monitors, and would never go back to using a mouse most of the time.

The ability to move the pad about to change the way you hold the pen is fantastic, and my wrist has been fine ever since. It takes a while to get used to the pad having an absolute relationship to the screen, but it's worth it.

Excercise (4, Informative)

Stringer Bell (989985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072389)

I'm a professional programmer, and spend about 50 hours a week typing, between work and home. I've found the best way to keep from having hand/wrist problems is to get regular exercise. I haul my ass to the gym 2-3 times a week like clockwork to lift weights and run. Since I've started, my hand problems have cleared up completely.

I like trackballs too. It's a mystery to me as well why they're not more widely available.

I am not in graphical design but... (1)

rouge86 (608370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072401)

I do use a trackball and do some work with designs on the gimp. I found that that I not been hindered all that much with the trackball. I use the Logitech Trackman[thumb ball version] and looking forward to getting another. My mouse looks really nasty after all the years of usage. Anyways, I have found that the inaccuracies that I once had with the Trackman were overcome with time and experience. The other trackballs did not help either as I felt they were awkward because of their size.

Don't look at precision (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072407)

Trackballs, laser mice, and old style mice all have PIXEL PRECISION. If you can pick a pixel you want to click on, and you can click on it, you have as high precision as possible. And I have yet to find any mouse that doesn't allow me to do exactly that.

Take your mouse, and see if you can move it 1 pixel to the left. Ok, now see if you can move it 1 pixel down. If you managed both, then congratulations you have a working mouse ^_^

What one would want to consider is response time, how frequently random lag occurs, ergonomics, button arrangement, ease of driver installation, button configuration software, general signal strength if it's wireless (does your other arm block the signal sometimes? I've seen that happen), general build quality, and button/scrollwheel/trackball "feel" (that new Logitech mouse with the scroll wheel that doesn't "click" when you move it comes to mind), etc.

The precision argument might have been relevant... oh heck I don't know when. It was probably never relevant.

Re:Don't look at precision (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072541)

Sure - maybe you can move it one pixel - but how much time and effort does it take to do so? It's not just a question of what the device is capable of, but how easy control is for the user. Some devices have a lot less leeway in that department - and are not as precise. Not from the computer's point of view but from the user's point of view.

You speak my mind on this issue. (4, Interesting)

seebs (15766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072437)

I use the Kensington Expert Mouse (4-button, spinny wheel for scrolling, big ball) for nearly everything at home. My travel device is a Logitech Trackman Marble; it has the bonus that the ball stays in it at odd angles and you can put it nearly anywhere. Either is unequviocally and totally superior to any mouse I've ever used.

My Expert Mouse developed a minor nuisance, I forget what, and I asked Kensington about it. They sent me a new one as a replacement, free. Right there, we see the price difference between the Expert Mouse and cheap crap mice evaporate.

I hate mice. I love trackballs.

If you're doing a lot of graphics, you might also pick up a tablet.

Get a tablet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072445)

Mouse/Track balls are for amateurs. If you want precision, get a Wacom pen tablet.

MS can do something right (2, Informative)

Genevish (93570) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072447)

Although I would have to consider myself a "Mac fanboy", Microsoft does occasionally get something right. I'm very happy with the MS optical trackball ("Microsoft TrackBall Explorer Optical Mouse") I've been using for several years. The layout is very odd (you use your thumb to right and left click, on the left side of the mouse), but works fine once you're used to it. I used to use a Kensington trackball and liked it too. Can't really remember why I went with the MS one when I replaced it.

Logitech Marble (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072451)

I use one of the Logitech Marble's ( http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/mice_pointers/tr ackballs/devices/156&cl=us,en [logitech.com] ).. unfortunately it was the largest trackball I could find for $100 at the time.. Initially I wasn't sure it would suit my needs (mostly just ergonomics), and it wasn't a 'thumb' only style..

I never tried any real Graphics Art type stuff with it however... i've found it's easy enough to 'lock' the left-right movement of the ball by using the side of my middle finger on the side of the ball, but I can't imagine how you would do the same with horizontal movement.

Aside from that, it's been great for me.. I really like that I don't have to worry about trying to move a mouse in the semi-confined area I have for a work desk.

Logitech Trackman Marble FX (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072455)

It has a large ball, multiple buttons, and can be used for long periods of time comfortably. I have used mine for years and love it. I found one on amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-TrackMan-Marble-FX- Trackball/dp/B00000JBUI [amazon.com], although I can't imagine the prices they are asking for it - mine cost far less than $100 when I bought it. My wife and kids don't have a problem with it either - highly recommend.

whoreabull corepirate nazi felons planning trips (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072457)

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Trackman Marble+ (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072471)

I have an old Logitech Trackman Marble+, and I couldn't live without it. The best trackball bar none Logitech ever made as far as ergonomics go - it's really wide, perfect for my hand to rest naturally upon (unlike the newer trackmans, which have the same much higher shape as the long since discontinued mousemans), and then my thumb needs to make only minimal movements.
It sucks in that it doesn't have a USB connection, and I need to clean the contacts the ball rests upon almost weekly, but these are things I'll happily accept.

Don't understand why trackballs are as margenalized as they are, but I guess people just became too conservative with input devices before they ever managed to take off.

Microsoft makes a great trackball (1)

ellem (147712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072475)

I use them at work and home. The Trackball Explorer [amazon.com] is fantastic. And yes, playing games with it rocks like Gibraltar!

I use it on my Powerbooks, and the FreeBSD server I run on the basement... I realize this is sacrelig, but the things kick ass.

The One Downside (1)

pokerdad (1124121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072477)

I love my trackball, but have had to put it into temporary retirement; my two year old likes stealing the ball a little too much.

Logitech Marble Mouse (1)

brain1 (699194) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072483)

At my last job, the boss allowed us to request a Logitech Marble Mouse instead of a regular soap-bar mouse. It took less than a minute to fall in love with the thing. Instead of cramped wrists shoving around a rectangular box, suddenly I was able to use my fingertips to use the CAD system. In a matter of days, all the problems I had suffered from due to years of CAD work disappeared.

I bought some extras to outfit the home systems.

Now that I've changed jobs, that marble mouse is still on my desk, working as well as the day I first got it, and I'll never look back.

And yes - gaming takes on a whole new dimension when you use a ball instead of a mouse. I'm a FPS addict and being able to quickly turn, look, and fire makes the game more fun. Plus I don't end up with cramps in my wrist after playing for an hour or so.

So, yes. I recommend them highly.

Main problem is fixed? (1)

bomanbot (980297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072485)

I am not sure what you saw as the main problem of the pre-optical mice and trackball, but mine would have been cleaning the old roll ball, as it became quite greasy and dirty from extended use.
>br> With optical mice, that problem went away from mice for me. Although the surface still needs regular cleaning (I have sweaty fingers and use the mouse quite a lot), the bottom with the optical sensor now just needs a quick swipe or so every few months.

But with a trackball, the ball itself is still touched by myself, it only gets tracked optically. So it still gets dirty, at least in my limited experience (I do not use a trackball very much, but that is pure personal preference) and it still has to be cleaned as regularly as before. So at least in my opinion, optical technology did help mice much more than trackballs in this regard.

Trackballs in MN (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072497)

Where I work (General Nanosystems in Minneapolis, MN) we carry several.

I know we have the Logitech and Microsoft ones but I think we might have a couple of the Kennsington ones, too. I'd say we have about in between 7-10 different models.

http://www.generalnanosystems.com/ [generalnanosystems.com]

I've used a trackball forever (1)

snoitpo (182768) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072527)

I started using them when I saw the FAA Air Traffic Control consoles use them. If it's good enough when people's lives are on the line, it's good enough for Turbo Pascal. And some friends and family who have borrowed one of my machines to use has started using trackballs.

When touch typing, it's nice to know exactly where the pointing device is. And when you have limited deskspace, even better. (My favorite device is the pointing-stick between the G and H key; though gaming I prefer the trackball--and mice are only useful when I've had to use the wheel extensively.)

Currently using Logitech MarbleMouse (have always been able to find them at CompUSA (RIP brick-and-mortar)). The all-optical detector never jams, though it seems the driver can't get the "middle button using left-and-right" click working :(. I see they are $20 online.

Another trackballer here (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072529)

I've been using the cheap $20 Logitech optical trackballs on my main machines for years. For graphic design, 3-D building, audio stuff, and pretty much anything that requires precision control for long stretches of time, there really is no possibility of me ever going back to a mouse.

i have a Logitech Marble Mouse from 1996 (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072531)

i have gone through about 5 computers in that time, but i have consistently migrated the trackball. it just needs to have the accumulated lint picked out when response gets a little sluggish once every 3 months or so. i swear by the thing. superior to a mouse, superior to your regular big bowling ball trackballs, and superior to the other goofy flavors of trackball that puts the ball off center. on all measures of ergonomics: ease of use (smaller desk footprint), comfort and safety (very comfortable, more natural than a regular mouse), etc

although if you are a graphics artist, you probably want the precision from a heavy trackball. but if you are regular computer user, you cannot go wrong updating to the thing:

Marble Mouse [logitech.com]

I love my Logitech thumb trackball (1)

FullMetalJester (887382) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072537)

http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/mice_pointers/tr ackballs/devices/166&cl=us,en [logitech.com] Been using this mouse from the first gen back in the late 90's and have kept buying the newer models when the old ones wear out. No thumb fatigue ever, and its way more precise that most mice I use (I'm an IT professional, I handle a lot of mice). I highly recommend you give it a shot, its only US$30 for a corded version.

Kensington Only Choice For Lefties (1)

Saint_Waldo (541712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072547)

I'm left-handed, and this is the primary reason I use a Kensington trackball. They are pretty much the only company I've found that makes a decent hand-neutral trackball. In fact, pretty much every interface device they make is hand-neutral. I've used almost every model they've made in the last 10 years, and currently I'm pretty happy with the Orbit Optical. The customization software is half of what you are paying for, and it's worth it. They have pretty much identical Mac/PC interfaces (they started as a primarily Mac peripherals shop IIRC) and just fucking work. I've used trackballs for gaming, graphics, programming, music, it's no different than a mouse, really, and takes up less desk space due to the elimination of the pad area and the moving cord. And when right handed folks come to my desk, they just pick it up, move it to the other side (no clearing a spot for the mouse padding), maybe flip mouse buttons if they want, and they are good to go.

As for Logitech, they are crap. Most of their line (even the mice) is right-hand biased, their drivers are all over the place, they don't do Mac very well, and their products have always felt a bit cheesy (no pun) to me.

Just as an aside, if hand-neutrality is important to you as a gamer, you should look into Saitek products. Most everything they make is adjustable to work left- and right-hand. No, I don't work for Kensington or Saitek.

The only thing I don't really like a trackball for is FPS shooters. I'm considering a Razer (hand-neutral, natch), but it would only get dragged out a few times a year, so it's not very high on my list.

Microsoft's trackball (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072553)

It's been out of production for some time, but Microsoft used to make Optical trackballs. You can find them on e-bay often. These things ROCK! (I own 3, and am getting a 4th). I use them at home, office, and with my laptop... It takes some getting used to, but once you're there, far better than a mouse... The only thing is that your thumb can get sore after 8 hours of using it...

Trackball is the way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072557)

I have used an old Logitech Trackman Marble (link [shopping.com]) but mine didn't have the scroll wheel. I love them so much I bought a few extra. Out of the 5 I purchased, I still have 4 of them which I use regularly. Once I got used to it I never considered going back. I still use the traditional mouse and have no problem with those at work, etc.. but when it comes to gaming or other high precision controls, trackballs are the way to go. You can ask my friends, I used to kick their asses in quake and halflife everytime :)

Trackballs (1)

dkdeath1 (594079) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072561)

Trackballs have a major advantage over regular mice that comes up often in my day. Space. The space I have for my mouse and keyboard is a bit cramped, and a trackball never has to worry about hitting the edge of the space, whether i'm working or gaming. For my laptops, since I strongly dislike both the touchpad and the laptop nipple, I have found a handheld USB trackball is an excellent option. http://www.pacificgeek.com/product.asp?c=231&s=114 9&ID=21847&P=F [pacificgeek.com] for example. It fits comfortably in my hand, and it is much more portable than the other options.

I use both (1)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072563)

I have a mouse for the laptop and a Kensington trackball (the big one with four buttons and the scroll ring) for my desktop. I am a graphic designer, as well. I used to carry the trackball around in my laptop bag, but I find that the mouse is a lot easier to travel with.

I'd have trackballs for all my computers if I could afford it -- I got the trackball when I was having wrist problems, and while those have cleared up even with more mouse use again, I still much prefer the trackball (though it's not so good for Tiger Woods golf). And the scroll ring is awesome -- it's one of the more intuitive additions to an input device I've ever personally experienced.

The other 10% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072571)

Logitech Marble Mouse is my only option, as I'm sinistral.

Try switching hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072579)

I started to have wrist problems a couple of years ago. I switched hands and used my mouse left-handed then. I am not ambidextris but it didn't take to long to learn to use the mouse that way. (I don't switch the buttons, just sort-of hold the mouse at a diagonal.) No more wrist problems.

Different strok--er, gestures (1)

Cleon (471197) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072589)

I'm more of a developer than graphic designer, but the reason I haven't gone to trackball is that I just don't like it. I find it to be uncomfortable and unnatural (for lack of a better word) when using it. Maybe it's just that I've been using mice for so damn long that I can't get used to anything else, but at the end of the day it's just not my thing.

I don't think you could conclusively say that either one is "better" than the other; it's just a matter of personal preference. Some people like mice, some people like trackballs. Asking people why they don't switch is like asking them why they persist in using one color case rather than another.

Wrist Problems.....? (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072597)

Wrist problems with using a mouse? What? Sounds to me like you need to make some sensitivity adjustments to your mouse to require move movement. If you can can jump from one side of the screen to the other with a flick of the wrist, you need to cut your sens by half at least. You should use arm to navigate the screen and the wrist should be used for precision and smaller movements.

Another thing that makes using a mouse much more comfortable is to move where it rests. To the right of the keyboard is the worse place... so uncomfortable. I keep all my mice, at work or home, directly to the right of me. Essentially I am the apex of a right angle with my keyboard and mouse. Try it, stick your arm out and you'll see how much more natural it feels. The only gripe you might have is that your hand is next to the keyboard anymore, but that is not an issue in the least. You will find it makes no difference at all, either way your right hand is completely removed from the keyboard.

Honestly (1)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072619)

I'm looking for a trackball ON a mouse. Sorta like he mighty mouse, but much bigger.
Also, the thumb and pinky buttons should be wheels as well, at 45 degree angles probably.

Trackball (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072643)

I`ve always preferred thumb controlled trackballs. Specifically the logitech trackman.

My main problem with traditional computer mice is that you frequently have to re-position them. Especially when you have several monitors. You can set the speed really high, but then you loose precision. I find a trackball gives me precision, then when I need to quickly move a large distance (like, across two monitors), I can just spin the ball and let it glide over.

I have never found my thumb getting tired, but I tried a trackball that used the index finger, and found my hand got sore fairly quickly.

Should be noted that I`m not into graphics at all.

Best keyboard I ever had... (1)

CyberSnyder (8122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072685)

Was some off brand keyboard from the late 90's. Had a large trackball on the right side of the keyboard and the mouse buttons on the the lower left side of the keyboard. It was a very natural flow due mostly to the trackball and the buttons being split on different sides of the keyboard. But it died and I haven't been able to find a similar replacement since.

But I do agree that trackballs are superior to mice, but I always end up using a mouse for some reason. Anything is better than a trackpad.

Tablet (1)

Svw (1107541) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072695)

I use a tablet and it's stylus for everything now. Once you get used to it you'll never want to go back.

Kensington Trackball (1)

Zamanfu (1078399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072699)

I've been using these for years. Currently the Expert Mouse Pro and their original version Expert Mouse? I got hooked on trackballs ever since I spent more than a couple of semester tuitions at Univ of Bflo playing Centipede that I could not do with out it. Although I get a lot of comments from my work mates who think it looks odd. But hey, it works.

Use a different Logitech model if you can find it (1)

levork (160540) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072705)

When I came down with RSI due to mouse usage, I did some research and picked up a Logitech Trackman Marble FX. It's the most comfortable trackball I've used bar none and really helped with the RSI. Unlike Logitech's recent offerings the ball is huge and is meant to be manipulated by the index and middle fingers, while the thumb handles left and middle mouse buttons; the ring finger handles middle click. I found this to be easier to handle than any design where the thumb has to manipulate the ball. It's also optical based, so there's no gunk that builds up in rollers that needs to be cleaned. The one con of the design is that it's really hard to click two buttons simultaneously: hence, this is not a trackball you want to use for Maya unless you're prepared to change the default button mappings. Unfortunately, Logitech never came out with a left-hand version of this mouse (it's definitely biased towards right hand usage), and the model has been discontinued - it's obviously in demand since it seems to go for over $250 on Amazon, last time I looked. But if you can find one cheap I highly recommend it.

Microsoft trackball (1)

AuraSeer (409950) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072725)

When I started working here I requested a trackball, and this [pcpartscollection.com] is the one they ordered for me. I wouldn't have chosen it myself, but I found it to work really well.

Movement is controlled by the index and middle fingers, and the main buttons and wheel by the thumb. There are two more buttons for the ring and pinky fingers.

About once or twice a month I have to pop the ball out and move some irritating piece of lint off the sensor or the bearings, but every trackball I've ever seen has the same issue.

Favorite all-time trackball (1)

wdnspoon (560602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072763)

The best trackball ever was in a set of two on the 1984 Marble Madness cabinet. They were always well-lubricated with grease drippings from slices of pizza.

Trackman Marble FTW (1)

sirwired (27582) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072769)

I've been using the exact same Logitech Trackman Marble (not even a wheel) for almost 12 years now. The thing fits my hand absolutely perfectly, and I'll keep using it until I can't get a desktop with a PS/2 mouse port anymore, and can't get coverters to work. I love this discountinued model so much, I have replaced the left button switch three times and the right switch twice to keep it alive. (All mice seem to use the exact same microswitches... a soldering iron, soldapault, some RadioShack solder, and it's as good as new.)

That mouse, and my trusty IBM Model M keyboard are the holy er... not-quite-a-trinity of input devices.

SirWired

Mice and balls are for losers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072777)

I am quite a fan of the Logitech Racing Wheel (http://amazon.com/o/ASIN/B00006HYLN/ref=s9_asin_i mage_1-1966_g1/105-7930545-3200424?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKI KX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=1SEZHC3YVRP9Y6VAZ8 W4&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=278240701&pf_rd_i=507846/ [amazon.com]). I use the wheel to move left and right and the accelerator to go up and down the screen. I can even use the brake and gear shifter when I need more buttons. It's pretty awesome. Sometimes, when I'm really bored, I just sit at my PC and do laps around the edge of my screen...

None for lefties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20072779)

I've seen Microsoft's trackball and it's very nice, but it's not available in a left-handed version. Logitech's and Kensington's are symmetrical, so I use them.

Try one of these (2, Interesting)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 6 years ago | (#20072781)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16826141001&Tpk=evoluent [newegg.com]
I started using a vertical mouse and its helped a lot.
I've had inflammation in my mouse arm for several years now.
Since I've started using this mouse my symptoms have started to subside.
I also take more breaks, do stretches, etc to help alleviate the symptoms.
The vertical mouse helps by keeping the arm from being twisted when using the mouse.
It does take some getting used to, but its worth the effort.

Also look closely at your work environment from an ergonomic point of view. Most IT professionals I've met don't pay any attention to the ergonomics of their work station, at work or at home. I didn't for years and I've now had bilateral carpal tunnel releases, repeated tendinitis and other problems related to poor ergonomics and repetitive stress issues. I'm only 39.
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