Buying my first trackball. Advice needed.

User avatar
stratokaster

23 Oct 2015, 22:25

As it turns out, I have a mild case of RSI in my right hand and my therapist strongly urges me to get a trackball (which I was going to do anyway, but this unfortunate circumstance has really sped up my decision-making process).

Since I have never used a trackball before, I have some questions for experienced users.

1. Thumb-operated vs fingertip-operated. I strongly suspect a thumb-operated trackball will be more familiar because its button placement mimics that of an ordinary mouse. However, I have read somewhere that thumb-operated trackballs put more strain on your thumb and on the hand as a whole. Is it true?

2. Do I really need a scroll wheel or a scroll ring? I use Karabiner heavily and I can set it up to scroll with the ball itself. Will a scrolling wheel or a scrolling ring make a difference?

3. Logitech vs what? It seems the only trackball available locally is Logitech M570, but I can import anything as long as it's less than €150. I generally tend to like Logitech mice because of their quality and their support (for example, Logitech software has been updated for El Capitan almost immediately upon release of the latter).

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

User avatar
Muirium
µ

23 Oct 2015, 22:47

What are you using currently: a mouse?

As you're on the Mac, I'd consider the Magic Trackpad if you haven't already. I use one every day without issue, and multitouch is a nice fit with the platform.

User avatar
stratokaster

24 Oct 2015, 00:02

Yes, I'm using a mouse. I actually have a Magic Trackpad, but I also like to play games sometimes and it's kind of useless as a gaming device.

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Muirium
µ

24 Oct 2015, 00:22

True. But I wonder, are trackballs any better?

User avatar
stratokaster

24 Oct 2015, 00:34

I don't know for sure, but I guess they are! At least they have proper buttons and you can move the cursor very quickly or very precisely depending on the situation. BTW, I don't play shooter games that require extremely quick reaction, and both RPGs and strategy games (my two favourite genres) are way more forgiving.

User avatar
elecplus

24 Oct 2015, 00:58

I have used both thumb and fingertip roller balls. I dislike the thumb type, because it tires my hand very quickly. The fingertip trackballs allow you to use several fingers at once, or to change fingers.

I will be posting some trackballs in the next few days. Perhaps you will see something there that interests you. I do have USB trackballs, but no Mac to test compatibility, sorry.

Would a joystick or a left-handed ergo trackball/joystick be of any benefit? I have a Razer n52te that works great on Win 7 and 10, but I don't know about Mac. It is USB. These are the specs from Newegg:
System Requirements
Windows XP/XP 64-bit, or Windows Vista/ Vista 64-bit
Mac OS X v10.2.8 or above
USB port
CD or DVD drive
35MB free hard-disk space
DirectX compatible video card

Drivers are avail for Mac here, under Support http://www.belkin.com/n52te/index1.html

amospalla
let's go

24 Oct 2015, 12:48

I've used three different trackballs, all fingertip. I discarded from the start thumb ones as I always read those cause more fatigue.

The first trackball I used was a Kensington Orbit wireless with a small ball. Afterwards got a Slimblade. Leasson learned, the bigger the ball the better, it is easier to operate and more accurate.

Later got a CST model. It feels quite different. The slimblade has the best scroll I have ever used, it is very precise and allows you to move slow or long distances while being really comfortable. The CST-LTRAC has fewer buttons and a standard scroll wheel but movements with its ball are much more precise. While I really miss its scroll I choose the CST as the main thing I do with the trackball is moving its pointer, not scrolling.

This is my experience, I hope it may give some light.

User avatar
Grond

24 Oct 2015, 13:16

I haven't tried many trackballs but since I've been using a Kensington Slimblade for years and I don't think I'll ever switch back to a mouse. CST is probably better but much more expensive too.

amospalla
let's go

24 Oct 2015, 14:11

The CST-LTRAC vs Slimblade must be something subjective for sure, anyway you can't fail with a Slimblade.

flogic

24 Oct 2015, 17:28

I tried a trackball for a few months not long ago. It was a Logitech Marble Mouse.

Scrolling can be problematic. The Logitech software didn't really work with all my programs. I wound up using "X Mouse Button Control" to switch the ball to scrolling. That worked well enough though it can be frustrating how different programs want to scroll at different speeds. IE was particularly special and required smooth scrolling to be disabled.

Gaming is a mixed bag. You get an accuracy boost in FPSes since you can fire without touching the ball. High clicky games would tire out my thumb. The real problem I ran into was that intensive lateral motion would stress my fingers. It's a problem that seems particular to long gaming sessions. My only theory has to do with the ball kicking my finger sideways because I was pressing down on it. This is ultimately why I switched back to a mouse as the pain didn't just stop when I stopped gaming.

I still break out the trackball from time to time. It's handy for away from the desk gaming.

User avatar
stratokaster

26 Oct 2015, 19:57

elecplus wrote: I have used both thumb and fingertip roller balls. I dislike the thumb type, because it tires my hand very quickly. The fingertip trackballs allow you to use several fingers at once, or to change fingers.
Thank you! It seems thumb-type trackballs are out of question.
elecplus wrote: Would a joystick or a left-handed ergo trackball/joystick be of any benefit? I have a Razer n52te that works great on Win 7 and 10, but I don't know about Mac. It is USB. These are the specs from Newegg:
System Requirements
Windows XP/XP 64-bit, or Windows Vista/ Vista 64-bit
Mac OS X v10.2.8 or above
USB port
CD or DVD drive
35MB free hard-disk space
DirectX compatible video card

Drivers are avail for Mac here, under Support http://www.belkin.com/n52te/index1.html
Wow, this thing looks quite impressive, even intimidating!
n52te.jpg
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But I think it ultimately will be an overkill for my uses (I'm not a hardcore gamer).

User avatar
stratokaster

26 Oct 2015, 20:18

Grond and amospalla, thank you for your input! It seems Kensington Slimblade is the way to go.

User avatar
HAL

26 Oct 2015, 21:03

You might want to consider a Kensington Expert Mouse. I bought one out of curiosity and immediatley liked it. It has a nice replacement for the mouse wheel - a ring around the ball - which works great.

User avatar
Stabilized

26 Oct 2015, 21:08

HAL wrote: You might want to consider a Kensington Expert Mouse. I bought one out of curiosity and immediatley liked it. It has a nice replacement for the mouse wheel - a ring around the ball - which works great.
I definitely enjoyed the use of the Kensington Expert Mouse in every way except from the mouse wheel. My one didn't step properly and didn't register every single movement I made; it made the whole process a lot more frustrating then it needs to be.
In contrast the Slimblade never misses a click in its virtual mouse wheel (twist the ball to scroll).

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

26 Oct 2015, 21:16

I've got a Logitech Marble Mouse at work and in the office. I use them left handed.

I've managed to get a homogeneous experience across Linux, Windows, and Mac OS with various pieces of software to get the same mappings, which I'll present here as if they were in use on the right hand (understand that mine are mirrored) :

Left major button: Left click.
Left minor button: Middle click (close browser tab, Paste in Linux under X Windows).
Right major button: Right click.
Right minor button: Browser back.

I've also configured the left minor button for scrolling. When I hold this button down, the trackball becomes a scroll ball. I can scroll horizontally and vertically. Getting this to work on all of my platforms was tricky. On Linux I use these xinput commands (though these are for my left handed setup and will take some modification) :

Code: Select all

# Logitech trackball - do a number of things.
xinput set-button-map 8 3 2 1 4 5 6 7 8 2
xinput set-prop 8 "Evdev Wheel Emulation" 1
xinput set-prop 8 "Evdev Wheel Emulation Button" 9
xinput set-prop 8 "Evdev Middle Button Emulation" 1
xinput set-prop 8 "Evdev Wheel Emulation Axes" 6 7 4 5
xinput set-prop 8 "Device Accel Profile" 2
xinput set-prop 8 "Device Accel Constant Deceleration" 3
xinput set-prop 8 "Device Accel Velocity Scaling" 200
On Mac OS X Karabiner helps with this. On Windows I use Marble Mouse Scroll Wheel, see https://sites.google.com/site/marblescroll/download linked from https://superuser.com/questions/303661/ ... -trackball.

Using the trackball to scroll has been a fantastic improvement.

One more thing - the Logitech Marble Mouse has these infuriating raised triangles (arrows?!) on the minor buttons. These dig into and hurt my thumb with extended use. So on my trackballs I sand these down using a small piece of sandpaper from a bicycle patch kit.

Hope this helps.

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

26 Oct 2015, 21:37

Don't try to "have it both ways" because the "other" one will make you crazy once you get used to the "new" one.

User avatar
stratokaster

26 Oct 2015, 21:56

fohat wrote: Don't try to "have it both ways" because the "other" one will make you crazy once you get used to the "new" one.
I'm not sure I quite understand this.

hexpyws

28 Oct 2015, 17:17

The scrolling on the CST is the one thing I thought sucked about it.

I wish they'd make a version with some scrolling mechanism on the side so you didn't have to reach beyond the ball.

andrewjoy

28 Oct 2015, 18:10

Have you considered a roller mouse ?

http://www.contour-design.co.uk/product ... mouse-pro2

I have an older one and its loverly ! Smooth as butter , built like a tank.

Kurplop

28 Oct 2015, 19:32

I'd agree with those who are Slimblade fans. I like the Expert Mouse as well, but the Slimblade has the edge. The lower profile helps prevent excessive wrist extension and the scrolling action is smoother. The EM has its merits as well. I think the action on the EM buttons are superior.

Some people like thumb balls but I personally found them quite painful for my advanced arthritis.

I have Slimblades mounted in the middle of my keyboards and can use either hand or both hands simultaneously and I find that to be the ultimate set up.

Samir

03 Nov 2015, 02:45

A little late, but I wanted to chime in since I've switched to a trackball to alleviate some rsi as well.

I have both the thumb and finger operated logitech trackman wired. For me, my fingers feel like they're straining on the finger operated one and love the thumb one. Definitely test out what you're buying to get a good idea of the feel. Everyone's hands are different.

User avatar
stratokaster

16 Nov 2015, 12:33

A little update.

I loaned Logitech M570 to see if I will like it. Long story short: I'm glad I decided against buying it.

I love that it's wireless and I have no problems operating the ball with my thumb (although it really does strain my hand a bit, which can become a problem in the long run).

Otherwise this is the most horribly overpriced piece of junk I have ever seen. I mean, it was $60 before price cuts and it's still about $80 in Ukraine, but it feels like it should be priced at $15 instead. The case is made of cheap plastic, the buttons have a hollow feeling to them, and the wheel is just horrible. It's literally the same as on Logitech's $5 office mice and it's hundreds of miles away from the wonderful dual-mode scroll wheel on MX Master.

I also found a curious problem with it. It won't scroll everything; for example, if I have a web page with a text input area inside, the scroll wheel will scroll the web page but not the text input area, even when the text area is active. I have no idea how Logitech did it, but it's beyond stupid.

Next stop: Kensington Slimblade...

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

16 Nov 2015, 12:45

I totally agree with you regarding the M570. It's a piece of junk and I don't understand how it could be still on sale...

Samir

17 Nov 2015, 07:49

Glad you tried it out! I look forward to your post on the slimblade. I've never used one of those.

User avatar
stratokaster

17 Nov 2015, 13:09

Have anybody had any experience with Sanwa Supply trackballs? This one looks perfect, at least in pictures.
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User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

17 Nov 2015, 13:59


User avatar
stratokaster

17 Nov 2015, 16:08

I've read all the reviews on Amazon, and it seems people mostly dislike its size. However, I am almost 2m tall and have very large hands; for the record, I can press left Ctrl (with my thumb) and Backspace (with my pinkie) on the standard Apple keyboard at the same time. So I think it will work for me.

User avatar
stratokaster

17 Nov 2015, 19:55

By the way, they have another model which looks even better. It has a 55mm ball and 4 buttons, although the location of the scroll wheel seems a bit awkward.
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User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

17 Nov 2015, 23:43

I believe the problem with the first model is the button position, while the second one is really too big (but if you have a huge hand it can still work).

User avatar
stratokaster

18 Nov 2015, 00:01

I'm also very interested in the upcoming Elecom finger-operated trackball. It will be available in both wired and wireless varieties.
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