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What are the advantages & disadvantages of using a Trackball? And why you should use one

Trackballs Are Wonderful Mice, And One Of My Favorite Pointing Devices

Trackballs are a convenient way to use your computer, especially if you have serious troubles using a regular mouse. People with medical issues like carpal tunnel syndromes or tennis elbow will appreciate that.

This kind of mice save a lot of desk space. As someone who works on a sofa, and tend to be surrounded by multiple peripheral, it’s harder for me to allocate space for a regular mouse, even if I can use one.

In this post, I will go through my experience with using trackballs, and illustrate in much details the advantages or disadvantages of using one. Here’s the trackball I personally use & recommend, which is Kensington Expert Wireless Trackball Mouse (K72359WW). It’s huge, has multiple buttons, scroll wheel, comfortable & good-looking.

You can buy the expert mouse or check its price from the following Amazon links:-

You can see more trackballs in the following Amazon links:-

Bear in mind that I am not a doctor, and so this post doesn’t constitute a medical advice. Please consult with your doctor over the medical benefits of using a trackball.

Advantages Of Trackball Mice

  • More ergonomic, and feels less strainful on the hand.
  • Require less desk space, and can work on any surface.
  • Usually symmetrical, and so can be used by both left-handed & right handed with a small adjustment in the settings.
  • More efficient at many types of tasks.

Disadvantages Of Trackball Mice

  • Need to be cleaned regularly for the ball to continue rolling smoothly.
  • Tend to be more expensive than regular mice.
  • For some people, they are not always ideal for gaming.

Trackballs Are More Comfortable To Use, And More Ergonomic

Trackballs are more comfortable, and put less strain on the hand. That’s heaven sent if you suffer from medical issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow. Hovering the mouse over a button using a trackball places less strain on the hand or wrist than doing it with a regular mouse. A person with healthy hands may not notice that, but those with hand issues will notice that fast.

Compared to the regular mouse. It’s also much faster to reach out and use a trackball. Imagine you’re working on editing a text, then you needed to move the cursor slightly to select a word or click on a button. In case of a regular mouse, you need to grab the mouse, then move the cursor. With the trackball, you can move the mouse with one finger, it’s quick & efficient. They are the desktop equivalent to trackpoints (a small nib on some laptops, that makes it easy to move the cursor without lifting your hands from the keyboard, see the picture).

Can Be Used On Any Surface

Regular mice got huge boosts in accuracy in recent years, and thus work on more surfaces, even without a mouse pad. Trackball mice had all along. Since they have their own ideal surface built-in within it, they work on literally any surface, be it a glass, wooden desk or even your lap. And you get that at no additional cost, even a cheap trackball offer that feature.

Can Be Used For Left-Handed People Too

Most trackballs designs are symmetrical, meaning they can be used by left-handed people by just switching the right & left buttons in the mouse settings. So if you’re left-handed, you won’t have to look for a model designed for you in most cases.

Needs To Be Cleaned Regularly

If you have used a ball mouse before (a regular mouse with a ball at the bottom, instead of optical sensor, see the picture on the side), you probably remember having to clean the internal rollers regularly, or the it won’t move smoothly. Since the trackball mice are upside-down ball mice, you have to clean it likewise. The ball in most trackball mice are very easy to remove for that reason.

What About Gaming? Are Trackballs Suitable For Gaming?

In case you care about gaming, trackballs can be used for gaming, but it doesn’t exactly work for anyone, so what I say here may not apply to you.

I found trackballs to be a bit awkward in strategy games compared to a regular mouse, where you have to push the cursor against the screen edge to pan around the map. It can work well for FPS games too, especially if you have a sensitive model. The thing is, there’s no definitive answer to this question, and so you need to try it first to know if it’s for you.

For the most part, most of the cheaper models with low sensitivity may not be great for gaming. I generally don’t advise you get such one if you work with a high resolution screen.

This is a topic that requires a post on its own, and so I will consider writing about that in more details in the future.

How Much Does A Trackball Cost? And What Trackball Do You Recommend?

Trackballs tend to be more expensive than a regular mice. On my journey to find the best trackball to suit my needs, I have owned few trackballs until I found my ideal one, which is Kensington Expert Wireless Trackball Mouse (K72359WW). It’s a bit on the pricy side, but it was totally worth it. For that reason, I will start talking about it.

Kensington Expert Wireless Trackball Mouse (K72359WW)

    • Comes in two version:- wired or wireless.
    • The wireless version works on Bluetooth or using dongle. I particularly like this feature, since Bluetooth sucks on some of my computers
    • Has 4 buttons, including left, right & middle buttons, the buttons can be programmed using the driver settings.
    • Also has a scrollwheel under the ball, which takes some time getting used to.
    • A bit heavy, but it’s nothing serious.
    • The wireless version needs two AAA batteries (I use reachable energizer batteries for that).
    • Has a dedicated handrest (can be removed if needed).

I like this one quite a bit, to the degree I bought two of it. Each for one of my main computers.

You can buy the expert mouse or check its price from the following Amazon links:-

You can see more trackballs in the following Amazon links:-

Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse (K64327F)

    • Very affordable.
    • Has no middle button, which can be annoying if use that button a lot. The driver software allows you to emulate that by pressing the – two buttons at the same time.
    • Has no scrollwheel whatsoever.
    • Doesn’t need much cleaning compared to other trackballs I used.
    • Only comes wired, with USB cable.
    • Very lightweight.

You can buy the Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse or check its price from the following Amazon links:-

You can see more trackballs in the following Amazon links:-

Giving its cheap price, I bought two of them. It was my main trackball before I tried Kensington Expert Wireless Trackball. I still use 1 one of them on my iMac computer. I keep the other as a spare.

Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball Mouse

    • Has a very similar design to a regular mouse.
    • Has a traditional scroll wheel.
    • Comes with two additional buttons, which work as a forward & back buttons.
    • Even if you hold it upside-down, the ball stays in place, and won’t fall like the other trackballs I talked about here. The ball is easy to remove for cleaning the rollers inside.
    • Only suitable for right-handed people.
    • Is wireless only, and connect to your computer using Logitech’s unified USB receiver, which is found inside the battery compartment.
    • Requires one AAA battery.

You can buy the Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse or check its price from the following Amazon links:-

You can see more trackballs in the following Amazon links:-

I quite liked using the Logitech M570 for a while, specially giving its design, which is very similar to a regular mouse. However, the sharp edge near the ball caused some pain for me over the time, so I started looking for an alternative to it.

A Final Word On Trackball Mice

Even if you have no medical issues, you may appreciate many of the trackballs features, like the efficiency or the ability to be used on any surface. They a learning curve, but it doesn’t take much time to get used to them. The only reason that may turn you away from them is their price. I sincerely hope you benefited from post useful, and see you again in another article.

If none of the trackballs I covered here wasn’t to your liking, feel to check the available choices in the following Amazon links:-

See Also:-

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