Until I get a touch screen I can run SolidWorks on, I feel that every other input device I use is going to come up short. I”ve hated mice ever since I was dragged into Windows (from DOS) in 1989. I can”t tell you how much money I”ve spent on mice in the hope that this new function or new button or new (X) would finally redeem mice, but none has ever done it. My most recent mouse was a Logitech MX Laser. Shapely, cordless, great materials, quality construction. But it was also heavy and had a honkin” huge recharger. That was probably 7 years ago when I first got it. It lasted a long time for a mouse. But the MMB broke and then the LMB broke, and a mouse isn”t much of a mouse without an LMB.
So I started (another) thread on the SW Forums in search of a mouse. Lots of recommendations, but most of them looked astonishingly like everything else I”ve seen for years. There”s really not much all that exciting happening in mouse design these days, not even for gaming mice, and certainly not for CAD specific mice. Isn”t that something? CAD users don”t even get a mouse specifically purposed for us? I mean, CAD users do all of this design work, but we have never designed ourselves a mouse. Why is that? Do you have to count potential market in the millions to justify getting a mouse made for you? It seems to me there is some money to be made if someone could make a CAD mouse that solves problems game mice don”t solve for CAD users. It looks to me that most CAD users use the hell out of mice that are meant for people who mainly surf the internet and delete email. Whatever. What do I know.
So, this past summer, I started having some problems with my right forearm, and I quickly blamed it on the amazing number of hours I was racking up on the computer. Some of the recommendations I was getting from that mouse thread were from that crazy lot, the trackball users. I have always lumped trackball users in with chronicÂ hypochondriacs, always looking for diseases for whatever cure they like, and the irrational fanboy mentality. Unfair? Yeah, maybe, but we all have our little prejudices. But you know what? This pain in my arm was real, and it was really coming from a heavy mouse, and I really didn”t like the mouse concept that much anyway. So who”s to say that turning a 10-year old roller mouse upside down, and fiddling with its ball would be any better than sliding a laserized puck around a desk?
There are a lot of choices when it comes to trackballs. In the end, I chose the Logitech Trackman, which arrived by post today.This is what comes in the box. I swear, when I opened it, I had a flashback to a job I had 13 years ago. That PS2 connector, the huge “wireless” receiver, the batteries for a device that doesn”t move, even the detail of the battery compartment cover. This is a design that hasn”t changed in over a decade. So if mouse design hasn”t changed much, I guess trackball design has changed even less. The devices pictured above ranged in price from about $20 to almost $500. This one was about $50 on Amazon.com. So far, the only things about the design that don”t scream “loser” are the ergonomics and the materials. The device buttons are actually well laid out. The one thing I”m getting used to is the LMB on the thumb instead of the forefinger.
I”m curious why this needs to be wireless if it doesn”t move, especially when the receiver takes up a USB port ( only because I don”t have any PS2 ports…). My main gripe about wired mice was getting the wire caught in things because of the motion, which isn”t going to happen here. Because it”s wireless, it also requires batteries, which is anotherÂ unnecessary annoyance. There”s no battery indicator or lights on the thing. How very 1990s. Anyway, despite some of what seem obvious design oversights, I want to give this thing a chance. I want to like it. I think rotating stuff in SolidWorks has the potential to be much easier with this. I think my arm already feels better. I think running the ball with the fingers is better than the models where you run the ball with your thumb.
So, I have some questions for those of you who use or love trackballs:
- How do you like to set the sensitivity? (fast motion, high acceleration?)
- Do you use any other settings with the trackball that you don”t use with the mouse?
- Do you have any tricks for rotating the model in SW/CAD?
- Do you like the precision for drawing in CAD?
- Is the attraction mainly an ergonomic thing?
- Do you find the trackball or the mouse to give you more direct control over the cursor?
- Which model trackball do you use and why?
- What”s your favorite thing about the trackball?
- Do you have any ergonomic issues/solutions with the device?
- Why aren”t these more popular?
- Why is the design so dated?