For anyone who uses a computer of virtually any kind, my highest recommendation is Logitech Trackman m570, the newest thumb controlled trackball. Mice have been the prevalent input device for computers. Now with laptops out-pacing desktops, touchpads are becoming the dominant device. In my opinion we are going from bad (mouse) to worse (touchpad).
I first started using a trackball a year or so after using a mouse (early 90s). Over the years both mice and trackballs kept improving, becoming more comfortable, more accurate, and less error prone. One of the biggest improvements to the mouse was an optical sensor which replaced the ball (yes, mice used to have a ball on the bottom of them). This greatly increased the life from a year or so to several years.
However trackballs continued to improve as well, going from the some-what clumsy finger driven (arcade game style big ball in middle design) to fast and efficient thumb driven. Then getting more and more comfortable and ergonomic, optical, and now laser driven.
Now more then ever before I believe a good quality thumb driven trackball is essential to anyone who uses a computer for more then 20 minutes at a time. With the majority of work being shifted to laptops / notebooks / netbooks this is even more important. The lack of efficiency, ergonomics, comfort and speed of touchpads are self evident. Look at your hand on a touchpad and see if that is a normal position for your hand and fingers to be in. Combine this awkward and dangerous artificial position with longterm use, and besides high probability of strain, productivity efficiency is at a minimum. Since laptops are moved around, and on different surfaces often, a mouse is not always even an improvement (or possible).
Here are some of the strength a trackball provides:
- Small footprint (set it down, that's it, no moving, dragging, or slding required)
- Lap, couch, floor, edge of laptop case, etc. No problem (flat surface or even space is not required)
- Substantially decreased exposure to RSS (Repetitive Strain Syndrome)
+ Only thumb and occasionally fingers move leaving hand, arm, wrist & elbow relaxed
- Relaxed fit, smooth operation, efficient to use
+ from small screens to more then 6 large screens
- Easy to carry, micro leave-in receiver battery lasts over a year
- Can be used for hours without cramping
- Looks and feels amazing
Okay, that list could keep on going, and once you start using a trackball (for more then a week) I'm positive you will wonder how you lived without (and never want to be without it again)! So if you are willing to try and see if it is as great as I am saying it is, then here are two import things to know (What kind to get, and How to make the switch):
1. What kind to get (and what kind not to get) and why.
There are almost as many kinds of trackballs as there are mice. The thumb driven trackballs are the most accurate, easiest to become effeiciant on, and have the best ergonics for prolonged use. There are only two thumb driven trackballs to consider, and Logitech makes them both. They are:
A - The new Logitech Trackball m570
- Portable / mobile use
- Has USB micro leave-in receiver
- Included AA Battery lasts up to 18 months
- Works up to 30 ft away
- Here are the main advantages over the older optical corded one:
+ This one is much more precise
+ Reception is incredible, even on a desktop
+ Accuracy and acceleration is executed perfectly (meaning I can travel long distances faster & when moving slowly it is pixal accurate, both at the same time)
+ The design is more comfortable
B - The older Logitech Trackman (corded version)
- I would only consider this one if money is a HUGE factor!
+ m570 is far superior in every way (movement, accuracy, front & back buttons, etc.).
- Corded for desktop use (no batteries)
- No batteries, no troubleshooting, always works if plugged in
- Costs less
- 4.5 Stars out of 5 from Amazon.com with over 715 reviews!
- After using the above m570 on my desktop for a few days:
+ I no longer recommend this trackball.
+ I leave it here because it is the 2nd best trackball available
2. How to make the switch from a mouse / touchpad successfully
- Plug in new trackball.
- Install the software if you want the advanced acceleration and customizable buttons (the software is not required otherwise)
- Adjust sensitivity as needed. You may be returning to adjust it some more once you use it more.
- VERY IMPORTANT. Unplug your old mouse, and put it in an different room (yes seriously), you will not learn how to use a trackball by using a mouse!
Really that's all it takes. Just start using it. It will seem slow, awkward maybe even a bit frustrating at first. After an hour or so, it should start to feel more natural, and the cursor will start to go where you need it on the first try. After a day or two, you will reach the speed and efficiency you had with a mouse, and would have already passed that of a touch pad. After a week, well, congratulations! Welcome to the world of efficiency like you've never felt before. I have yet to recommend these two trackballs and have someone tell me after a week of use, that they went back to a mouse. I've never had it happen! Once you hit this landmark, you will never want to use a mouse again. Really it's that great of an experience.
However, don't worry, no matter how long you go without using a mouse, if you ever need to use one again (on someone else's computer, for example) you will be just a good as ever. Similar to riding a bike, you will always have the skill and capability to be efficient on a mouse. On that note, I have yet to see anyone that is efficient on a touchpad, and what do the majority of laptop users go with? You guessed it, the touchpad.
For my full review see: "double u" "double u" "double u" "dot" "G" "o" "o" "dot" "g" "l" "forward slash" "mIRIo"