Trackball for smaller hands

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24 Sep 2020, 20:53

I've been using a mouse as input device for more than 30 years but never had any issues. Possibly my bones adjusted to the posture when I was a child, so I never had any issues even though I've been working in IT all the time :D But I do like to try out new input devices every now and then!

So I did try the Logitech TrackMan Marble a few years ago and it's feels really nice for my hand but the non-existent scroll wheel and a missing middle button (in a comfortable position) made it unusable for me. I know all the workarounds for the scroll wheel but they do not work for me in the end. I heavily rely on the middle mouse button while browsing and it needs to be easy and soft to press.

Time passed passed by and I tried the Kensington Expert because it's loved by many. It's really well built and I can see why so many people like it. But the scroll wheel is plain awful if you compare it to newer mice, especially gaming mice. Removing the magnet did help somewhat. But my main gripe with the Kensington Expert is that it's plain too big for my hands. I have to bend my hand upwards in order to use the ball and that hurts my wrists, even after a few minutes and if I use the included padding. Also the position of a potential middle button (one of the two buttons behind the ball) was not comfortable for me.

I gave up on trackballs after that for a while until I saw the Logitech MX Ergo, I hadn't thought about thumb trackballs before that. It had really good reviews and looked like something that might be more appropriate. But before ordering it, I tried the Logitech M570 which is cheaper and might be an alternative for me. After only a few days, I'm able to use it fairly confidently and don't get slowed down at work because of it. But even the scroll wheel from a Microsoft IntelliMouse 1.2A (yes, that one with a ball in it) feels better in every regard. Hard to press middle button, mushy feeling, I just don't like the feel of it. But the M570 seems to be pretty much perfect for my hand - so much that I thought: Order the MX Ergo and you'll get the perfect trackball for you! But the Ergo is again just too big for my hands. It feels like work to keep my hand on the device as I cannot rest the hand on the table while operating the trackball. Otherwise, it's really nice and everything is a tad better on the MX Ergo compared to the M570. The only downside is a middle button that has a very hard click action.

So, long story short, I'm keeping the M570 for now because I can map the middle button to the forward button and the scroll wheel gets the work done and I can live with that. But I'm not here on deskthority because I like things that get the work done but because I love the feel of well made input devices. Is there something out there for me?

My wish list:

- finger or thumb operated, don't care
- nice scroll wheel
- soft middle click in a non-awkward position
- for smallish hands (19cm in length)
- no need to bend the wrist upwards

PS: I use a Razer Viper Mini as my mouse and that's a mouse that does everything right for me.

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01 Oct 2020, 16:34

Update, I orderd an Elecom EX-G Pro (~70 euros). Short summary:

- buttons are easier to click than the M570 (a good thing)
- scroll wheel operates easily but feels cheap and make quite some noise
- enough buttons in a comfortable position, I especially like the one for the ring finger
- in general the ball action feels very smooth
- ball bearings are not nice at all for small and precise movements (a bit jumpy)
- shape of the trackball is not sculpted to your hand

So I read that you can change the ball bearings and it will make quite a difference. But the shape of the trackball is not sculpted to your hand like the M570, it feels too straight and should be a bit curved for my taste. Feels more like a traditional mouse. But I could adjust to that alone, I think. But there's too much overall, that I don't like: Noisy and scratchy scroll wheel, shape of the trackball and ball bearings need to be changed. And overall the Elecom feels plasticky and a bit cheap.

Will keep the M570 for now. I'm thinking about replacing the switches of the M570, I have an old Logitech MX518 somewhere around here...

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01 Oct 2020, 20:06

I use a Kensington Slimblade, mapped with the middle button on the upper right (default is upper left).

IMG_1555.jpg (24.06 KiB) Viewed 2357 times

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01 Oct 2020, 21:21

Thanks for the photo! The slimblade seems to have a better position for the wrist... I might try it sometime.

Just changed left and right mouse button switches on the M570, a bit nicer now! The switches from the MX518 are much lighter in comparison.


02 Oct 2020, 21:23

I have quite small hands for a guy (I wear a mens medium sized gloved) and I daily drive a Logitech Marble Mouse on all of my computer. For someone like me I found that it fits my hands quite well and the lack of scroll wheel doesn't bother me. It took a few days but I just retrained myself to us the page up an down button on my keyboard. I'm not sure of what you do on your computer most of the time, but for me that wasn't that much of a compromise. I mainly work with text files.

If you daily drive linux you can change the functions of the back/forward buttons on the trackball to activate 4-way scrolling ... l_modifier
^This explains how.
If you use windows I believe you can use AutoHotKey to do something similar. It's been many years since I used one of them on windows but I seem to remember there was a similar feature in the logitech drivers. You should be able to find the drivers on logitechs website.
IMG_20201002_141224971.jpg (2.37 MiB) Viewed 2280 times

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02 Oct 2020, 22:15

Thanks for the info regarding the Logitech Marble! I did try it a few years ago and it fits my hands really good, too. But the missing scroll wheel really annoyed me. I'm working in IT, so I come to use many different programs and scrolling by keyboard is not an option many times. Clicking the small button to scroll didn't work out for me as well and there's no middle button in a really comfortable position and I really need that. But I might give it another try because they are so cheap second hand :D

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02 Oct 2020, 22:51

zuglufttier wrote:
01 Oct 2020, 21:21
Thanks for the photo! The slimblade seems to have a better position for the wrist...
I spent some time buying every thin mouse I could find, since bending my wrist upward causes me RSI pain, before switching to the trackball. I should note that I have a custom-made tray for my Kinesis contoured keyboard (which on a conventional desk is quite thick) and the trackball, so the height on a regular surface would be about 3/4 inch more than you see in my picture.

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04 Oct 2020, 13:11

A little bit of bending is fine for me because I have absolutely no problem with normal mice and my desk at home is set to 64cm in height. Those at work can also be adjusted in height.

Regarding the M570: I removed the spring inside the scrolling wheel. Now. it's free floating and silent like many modern counterparts. The only drawback is that it has almost no resistance at all, so I may end up scroll a bit up or down by mistake every now and then. Maybe I'll find a solution for that. All in all, the M570 became way more comfortable because the main buttons and the scroll wheel new need way less force to use them.

As a last measure to finally end my search, I ordered the Kensington Export Wireless and the Slimblade to try them both at my home! They will arrive in a few days... I think, when I tried the Kensington Expert the first time, I didn't have a desk that was adjustable in height.

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06 Oct 2020, 17:25

OK, feedback on the Kensingtons:

The Slimblade does have a nice form factor for me but the buttons are a joke. The top buttons don't even move freely because they scratch against the case. And all feel different and are a bit hard to press. I actually like the scroll mechanism if it wasn't so slow but you propably could adjust that in software.

The Expert Mouse has nice buttons and the trackball is a bit rougher but that's totally fine. But the position of my hand is not really comfortable which I may adjust to but we'll see about that. The scroll ring is just not good. I bought it "like new" from Amazon but I think the previous owner removed the magnet from the scroll ring because it already moves freely. But the whole scroll ring is a bit loose.

So, no real winner here. I'll try them for a few days...


06 Oct 2020, 20:22

For your wishlist, I'd suggest to try Elecom Deft Pro. IMHO, it's currently the best & feature-rich model available. As for now, I have SlimBlade at work and Deft Pro at home, so probably can compare them.

Unfortunately, there's several reports about Elecom quality problems recently, but my particular sample is physically just fine (with original bearings). OTOH, my SlimBlade is great, too: none of problems you've described with buttons etc. Seems like it's 'hit or miss' game nowadays in terms of particular sample quality...

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06 Oct 2020, 20:30

I think I fixed the Slimblade! I opened the housing and filed a tiny amount of the plastic away where a part of the button touches the case. That part is there to keep the buttons in place so that they don't move sideways, I think. Now the buttons work just fine - the click action is not perfect but good enough. Switches could be a bit lighter and more silent. But I like the Slimblade quite a bit like this.

Edit: Still not perfect but I think that will disappear with a bit of usage. I'll keep the M570 in any case for its portability.


06 Oct 2020, 20:46

zuglufttier wrote:
06 Oct 2020, 20:30
Switches could be a bit lighter and more silent.
That's my opinion, too. I dislike noisy things, so I've slightly modified my SlimBlade to be almost completely inaudible:

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07 Oct 2020, 10:40

Oh, that's interesting! Do you have any idea where I can get them (without shipping times of 30 to 50 days)?


07 Oct 2020, 11:56

Sorry, but I don't know what's locally available in your country.

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08 Oct 2020, 14:31

I wonder if these are the correct ones, they do look like the Kailh you mentioned: ... 4406726448

Anyway, for 5 euros the risk is acceptable.


20 Feb 2021, 02:51

I have this medical condition in my hands known as Span-Deficient Bitchmitts. What this means is if I want new gloves I'm either wearing a men's small (if anyone stocks them, because apparently nobody wants to admit any part of their body is small even though you're 5'3", Chris, we all know it, stop acting like Rambo) or women's gloves. So what do I use?

Elecom HUGE. Seems counter-intuitive until you try it. The thing is, you don't keep your fingers splayed onto every button. Move your hand around, use the space that's provided. It's when you get stuck in one position forever with barely any movement that problems start to creep in. There's a cushioned wrist rest that is super comfortable, the large ball is mega easy to control (some complain about stiction, I see it as an advantage in most situations), there's speed adjustment right on the side, and it's easily configurable.

The downside is that configuration software has to be running all the time. It doesn't actually program anything into the hardware, which kind of completely sucks if you'd hoped to use it on multiple computers.

Outside of that little bit of lameness it's a great piece of gear, even for someone with the hand equivalent of that tiny face guy from Interdimensional Cable.


03 Mar 2021, 13:01

I would recommend watching a4 tech mice models. My hand is large enough, I bought a large enough A4 tech mouse for myself almost 5 years ago and since then it has not disappointed me.


03 Mar 2021, 13:43

What model namely?

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