I was around 10 years old when I first used a pointing device, at a computing expo on an old Macintosh. It blew me away - the whole experience, the pristine black-on-white GUI, the mouse, the cute Mac case, it was such a far cry from both my Commodore 64 and my dad's PC-XT compatible... Later my dad bought Windows 3.1 and a mouse. It was like magic.
However, as I'm a lot more experienced now, I find the continuing prevalence of the mouse surprising, with all the alternatives out there... So, let's get the ball rolling on what we think about each solution. Personally, what I'm looking for in a pointing device is that it should be quick, precise, it shouldn't require arm movement, and ideally should be accessible in typing position.
My thoughts and subjective ratings on stuff...
- Mice: 2/5 Good for quick and precise movements. Extremely tiring to use for long. Can't click without moving the cursor. Collects gunk from the desk. I get it how they are good for fps gaming, but why do people who aren't fps gamers use them?
- Trackballs (finger-operated): 4/5 I really don't understand why they became such a niche product. When I was a kid, you could get trackballs in every computer shop, they usually had at least two-three models. Now only a handful of companies make them. Among my favorite pointing devices. No arm movement. Allows for precision if you take your time (bad for fps gaming though). Doesn't collect desk gunk. Takes little space. Can click without moving the pointer...
- Trackballs (thumb-operated): 1/5 Who designed these? Hope they burn in carpal tunnel hell.
- Touchpads (multitouch): 4/5 My other go-to pointing device. Specifically the Apple kind, with two-finger scroll and three-finger drag. It's ridiculously intuitive and great for any non-graphical, non-gaming operations.
- Touchpads (edge scrolling): 3/5 I mean the stuff you have on non-Apple notebooks, with scrolling on the edges.Sure it's a touchpad, good enough, but they inexplicably tend to piss me off.
- Trackpoints: 3/5 I specifically mean the IBM / Lenovo kind that works well. I love how you don't need to reach away from the keyboard. Probably would be my favorite if it was more ubiquitous. It makes my fingertip hurt though. xD
- Rollermouse: ?/5 I guess it should be good for typing-intensive work. Never used one though.
- Light pens: ?/5 I really didn't use them enough to be able to say anything on the matter. They seem like a dead technology, so probably they didn't work out.
- Touchscreens (on workstations): 1/5 I love tablets, but I can kinda understand why light pens never caught on.