has the trackball landscape changed in any way lately?

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

21 Aug 2019, 09:12

I wanted to finally try a trackball... well I have in the past and it didn't work but I believe it's because I tried thumb trackballs that are usually not very accurate.

My impulse would be to get a cst2545, but the buttons position (especially the middle one) don't look very comfortable for long CAD sessions. So I was leaning towards the Kensington Expert Mouse. I like how slim the slimblade is but it looks like a toy (might be wrong...)

I also love the industrial design of the Sanwa Trackball Pro... but the scrollwheel position is atrocious.

Has anything changed recently, any other trackball I should consider? thanks

davkol

21 Aug 2019, 13:08

CST L-Trac is the way to go, if you like the design (I love it, including the wheel and middle button). CST is actually going out of business as of this summer, because their head is retiring, but the product line is transferred to PI Engineering.

Besides that…

Kensington is still out there, but with the same old models: Orbit, Expert, Slimblade. The only news is that they've released a Bluetooth version of Expert.

Logitech still has the good old simple TrackMan Marble, but they've finally updated the thumb-trackball line: MX Ergo is well-made (unlike M570), features an updated sensor and both Bluetooth and Unify, and has an unique magnetic base for optional 20-degree tilt.

The only other truly noteworthy consumer-grade manufacturer is Elecom: they've introduced new shapes and tons of features. EX-G and DEFT are older, smaller budget models, but there are larger newer ones too: HUGE, EX-G Pro and DEFT Pro. Those have lots of buttons (perfect support in Linux, weird Japanese software in Windows/macOS) and the Pro models support all wired, Bluetooth and proprietary wireless connections. The thumb-ball designs are some of the least cramped out there, and fingertip-ball designs have revived the right-handed shapes similar to MS Trackball Explorer and Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman. The main downside is inconsistent quality (especially cheap wheel and some buttons, sometimes stock bearings), and beware that HUGE actually isn't for huge hands, but it's rather "huge for small hands".

I wouldn't pay much attention to the rest: Sanwa, Perixx, iOne and some others that I can't even remember. Their trackballs are mostly okay, don't really stand out in any particularly positive way, though. Adesso released new models last year, but noone seems to be using them and the few existing reviews are mostly negative. The sanwa that you've linked is discontinued AFAIK, while I'm hoping for Perixx to release the trackball from Periboard-522 as a separate product.

The only expected new product is GameBall and who knows, if it doesn't fail in the end.

Menuhin

21 Aug 2019, 14:14

davkol wrote:
21 Aug 2019, 13:08
CST L-Trac is the way to go, if you like the design (I love it, including the wheel and middle button). CST is actually going out of business as of this summer, because their head is retiring, but the product line is transferred to PI Engineering.
...
:(

[Using a wireless Expert "Mouse" now. By the way, it's dual BT and 2.4GHz wireless. One was bad and had died about 1 year.]

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

21 Aug 2019, 14:47

davkol wrote:
21 Aug 2019, 13:08

CST L-Trac is the way to go,
I would like to try one of these, but it is way out of my price range. Does anybody know of a knock-off or substitute that is cheaper?

Thanks

User avatar
Darkshado

21 Aug 2019, 15:51

Quoting myself :P
Darkshado wrote:
26 Jan 2019, 01:00
If you're just curious about the general shape and feel of a trackball, elecplus has a couple of Microspeed (CST's old name) units in stock. I added one to an order about a year ago, converted it to USB using TMK. I found the 400 CPI too slow for my tastes, but it was close enough to give me a good idea and I have since bought a new L-Trac which I'm quite happy with.

I'm not opposed to selling the Microspeed in question, but I suspect shipping from Canada might kill such a deal.
Spoiler:
2018-05-26 02.15.43.jpg2018-05-28 23.17.02.jpg2019-01-25 18.18.43.jpg2019-01-25 18.19.01.jpg

davkol

21 Aug 2019, 15:53

CST is the successor to MicroSpeed. Those trackballs have identical shapes, only older/cheaper models are optomechanical. If you don't mind this limitation, it should be straightforward to find a cheaper one on eBay. For example, andrewjoy did a group buy for CST KidTRAC a few years back.

L-Trac is worth the price ($100-ish), though.

As a side note: Avoid "Glow" models. They shine way too bright. Luckily, the CST support is excellent and I was sent a replacement firmware that should disable the lights.

andrewjoy

21 Aug 2019, 16:19

I may have a kidtrack left let me check.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

21 Aug 2019, 16:34

davkol wrote:
21 Aug 2019, 13:08
CST L-Trac is the way to go, if you like the design (I love it, including the wheel and middle button)
I might be wrong, but I don't understand how you can middle click and roll the ball at the same time with the middle button up there. I mean sure you can, but it looks rather uncomfortable. The Kensington expert seems more natural.

thanks for your report BTW!

davkol

21 Aug 2019, 16:43

The wheel and button are wide. They're as wide as three of my fingers. As how to use them, I have my fingertips on the buttons' edge and rest knuckles on the ball (using the whole hand to move it). This is different from people who rest their hand on the case and move the ball with their fingertips: no wonder they can't reach the wheel or middle button easily. (edit:word)
Last edited by davkol on 21 Aug 2019, 18:42, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

21 Aug 2019, 17:01

davkol wrote:
21 Aug 2019, 16:43
The wheel and button are wide. They're as wide as three of my fingers. As how to use them, I have my fingertips on the buttons' edge and rest knuckles on the ball (using the whole hand to move it).
mmh, okay... makes sense. thanks. I'll give it a try... I think... I've found a good offer which includes the additional buttons

4sStylZ

22 Aug 2019, 10:09

I have a expert mouse myself. The gray one model on USB.

I love it but there is some things to know.

First the scroll wheel is lubrificated but very inconsistent. She make a desagreable noise, and I don’t love the feeling. This is very bad considering that he was priced at 100 bucks and because the orbit ring trackball, very low cost model have a very nice scroll ring (the best one if you read the Xahlee website). For example don’t go on ninegag with the expert mouse :)

The tempting / default inclinaison was for me pure pain. You need to know that with a such high ball trackball your hand is very high too and the default wrist is coherent with that. If you have the keyboard wich is flat or with reverse inclinaison (like I personally want to do) you can be all good with this device. I have to modify the wrist rest personally.

The wheel size is good. With trackball, larger is better. I have two Orbit ring and really I don’t love them.

This article is not by me, also I haven’t tested all these trackball but I think the ladder is good :
http://xahlee.info/kbd/trackball_index.html
For example, do not buy a orbit without scrolling just for testing trackball. This is one is pure shit.

I start to hesitating replacing my expert mouse by a Elecom Huge. This one wasn’t here when I have buyed mine and I think he change the game.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

22 Aug 2019, 19:06

okay finally tried both the l-trac and the Kensington expert mouse.

I like the 2 big buttons on the l-trac, but I don't like the position of the middle and especially the scroll wheel. I couldn't play much with them, I tried davkol's suggested hand position but I can't really be effective zooming/panning/rotating in 3d software.

The scrollwheel on the expert mouse is terrible. Scratchy and incredibly slow. On the other hand I find the buttons position slightly better and I can always reach at least 3 out of 4 buttons without moving the hand much.

Resolution is probably better on the l-trac but the expert is totally usable.

Size/Ergonomics I find the Kensington to be slightly more comfortable given my relatively small hands.

So which one to choose? Probably neither of them. The Elecom Huge is very tempting, but I'm a bit worried about materials quality.

davkol

22 Aug 2019, 19:53

Kensington Slimblade mostly is like the Expert, but scrolling is implemented as twisting the ball it self. It's very nice and smooth… you can't move cursor and scroll at the same time, though, and I prefer CST's wide, smooth roller and build quality.

One of the new Adesso trackballs, iMouse T50, is quite similar, except it has a normal wheel. It's also wireless for no good reason, though, and who knows how it works in practice (one of the few reviews actually complains about the wireless connection).

Either way, I don't think you'll find anything better than L-Trac. However, it largely depends on your posture. I haven't recorded mine yet, but I would agree that the wheel is hard to use with the trackball too high or far in front of you, while I love it on my height-adjustable desk that allows me to put it at/below elbow level.

Archie

22 Aug 2019, 21:48

Hello,
The landscape is changed a bit indeed. Most remarkable "new players" are Elecom and Adesso.

IMHO, the most advanced trackball today is Elecom Deft Pro: plenty of features and decent quality. In fact, it;s my primary home trackball now. At the office, I use Kensington SlimBlade: very good device, but limited to just 4 buttons (chording option essentially gives you 2 "buttons" more), and resolution is barely acceptable.

Some people really like MicroSpeed/CST production, but primitive mechanical design and questionable arrangement of controls is not for everyone.

Adesso iMouse T50 (also known as Kodak Q50) mentioned above is also very good trackball, with modern high-resolution sensor. I've posted some details here:
https://forum.trackballs.eu/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=20

Sanwa Trackball Pro, if you mean MA-TB38/MA-WTB40, was discontinued due to the quality/design flaws, and is next to impossible to find now. Can't recommend it, BTW, at least without some modding.

Menuhin

22 Aug 2019, 22:03

The scrollwheel of expert "mouse" is really terrible. I had to tweak it for both expert mouse units I had.

The symmetrical units (expert mouse, slimblade, L-Trac, this iMouse T50) allow the possibility switch hands when using the pointing device, versus the asymmetric design like those from Elecom - I really like their products...
After trying the L-Trac and seeing its height is like a thick dictionary towering above my HHKB and it feels like an older lab device - robust but err... It is not yet to an off-putting degree, and I believe it should be more durable than the expert mouse. I had to switch to a trackball because of the wrist and finger problems, and I ended up had a 40% off offer and gave in to this terrible scrollwheel - it still never feels nice today, but it has become a bit more bearable.

This iMouse T50 can be an affordable backup trackball device for me! (I hope it can be wired or has BT though)

Archie

22 Aug 2019, 22:05

Menuhin wrote:
22 Aug 2019, 22:03
This iMouse T50 can be an affordable backup trackball device for me! (I hope it can be wired or has BT though)
Neither.

User avatar
TheInverseKey

22 Aug 2019, 22:26

I know that you find that thumb trackball mice are not that accurate but I want to counter that statement with the new Logitech MX Ergo.

This is a daily driver at work and use it for very fine micro movements. I did have to replace the standard ball that came with the mouse for a Perixx Peripro-303GR but was worth it for the better operation and the ball is only $10 USD on Amazon.com. Also, this mouse comes with an additonal button unlike the M70 that came before it where it can lower the sensitivity of the sensor so that you can get even more accurate with movements.

Worth a try for sure and with Amazon's excellent return policy.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

22 Aug 2019, 23:48

TheInverseKey wrote:
22 Aug 2019, 22:26
I know that you find that thumb trackball mice are not that accurate but I want to counter that statement with the new Logitech MX Ergo.
I tried its predecessor and it was terrible. Also I had enough of logitech or Logi or whatever it is called now. Not giving them any more money :P

I'm actually thinking of designing one of my own...

User avatar
paddle0

23 Aug 2019, 20:18

matt3o, if you do design a trackball, how about replacing the scroll wheel with a scroll ball?

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

24 Aug 2019, 08:28

paddle0 wrote:
23 Aug 2019, 20:18
matt3o, if you do design a trackball, how about replacing the scroll wheel with a scroll ball?
actually you just need a a modifier button that converts the main ball into a scroller (that is actually already possible on linux)

User avatar
Muirium
µ

24 Aug 2019, 09:12

I used to do that on laptops. Used a third party trackpad driver on my PowerBook, having gotten used to it via something similar on Windows 95/98. Far as I remember: you slid your finger along the left edge of the trackpad for a nice, big, high resolution scroll wheel action.

Years later, two finger scrolling brought that to everyone, of course. Though it’s still a problem on traditional mice and track wheels.

I find I never need to move the mouse pointer *and* scroll simultaneously. But if there is an oddball place you just might have to: my bet is on CAD software!

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

24 Aug 2019, 10:30

off the top of my head I can't think of a situation where you need both scrolling and mouse movement (not even in CAD)

Archie

24 Aug 2019, 10:51

I also can't recall any case when simultaneous scrolling & pointing was needed. As for convenience - using the ball itself for scrolling is much more convenient for me than dedicated wheel/drum/ring. If some button is used as "scroll mode switch", you don't even have to move your hand or fingers to access scrolling: quite handy. For Windows, many third-party utilities exist for that function:
https://forum.trackballs.eu/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=33

davkol

24 Aug 2019, 11:19

In games, probably? For example, if pointing, well, points or moves the camera, and scrolling changes weapons/skills/…

I imagine it can be a smoother experience to move and zoom at the same time in other applications as well.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

24 Aug 2019, 11:21

oh okay, I don't do much games (especially fps), I'm no expert but I don't think trackballs are ideal for gaming anyway

davkol

24 Aug 2019, 11:44

Depends on the genre.

Turning a ball allows very precise, fast side-to-side movement in one axis (e.g., turning in FPS specifically). Arcade cabinets have traditionally used trackballs too. OTOH, making boxes in RTS (basically diagonal drag&drop) is much harder than with a mouse depending on directions.

But ultimately, it's a matter of practice and hardly anyone has as much experience gaming with a trackball as with a mouse.

Archie

24 Aug 2019, 11:47

Recently there was a story when on some game competition the winner was using trackball, BTW...

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Muirium
µ

24 Aug 2019, 12:29

It’s also news when a man bites dog. But not vice versa…

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mr_a500

24 Aug 2019, 17:47

I've used trackballs for decades - MicroSpeed/CST and CH Products DT225. I never thought it a problem using trackballs for games. I had much more problems trying to use a mouse for games.

User avatar
paddle0

24 Aug 2019, 20:11

The trouble with "scroll mode switch" is that it hurts your hand after extensive use.

I don't know any cases where you need to move the mouse pointer and scroll at the same time, but it's fun to do! I have rigged-up an old Logitech Marble Trackball "Mouse" with Hasu's TMK USB to USB converter hardware, to supplement my mouse with a permanent scroll ball. The downside is it takes up desk space.

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