I had a similar model of trackball several years ago in my old office and loved the way I was able to move things around the screen without having to swing my hand about on the desk. Unfortunately that eventually bit the dust and I ended up with a wireless mouse as a replacement.
Move forward a few years and I'm back on a trackball. To be honest I don't know why it has taken me this long to switch back as once you're over the initial change to using your finger to move the ball around rather than moving your whole hand, they are so much easier for most purposes. I had to change as I had started to notice the occasional pain in my wrist and the top of my forearm when using a mouse so firstly tried just using my graphics tablet and stylus - fabulous for working on images but not so good navigating a cursor round a page of text. The trackball is the exact opposite, perfect for most office work but can be a touch fiddly getting accurate adjustments done to graphics.
I no longer need to keep a clear space on my desk for the mouse to move freely which is handy considering the amount of stuff that can accumulate in my working area during the day. I no longer feel any tiredness or aches in my arm after a long spell infront of the computer. In fact I'm not sure, other than for gaming, why I would ever go back to a mouse.
OK so they are more expensive than a decent mouse and they look a bit weird, but if you are limited for space or suffer from any discomfort when using a mouse then they are a fantastic alternative.
I've had this trackball for over a year now, this was brought as a alternative to the very expensive vertical mouse. I was getting shoulder pain from using a normal mouse all day.
The mouse was installed very easily its just a usb plug and some batteries, quickly done, the pairing of two is something I've never had to do they have just worked. Pairing is completed easily by just pressing the buttons on both ends normally a flashing light gives you a clue on whats going on.
The logitech drivers are pretty good, letting you customise the buttons in what they do, they auto update and let you know when the batteries are going.
I've small hands for a man (med size gloves) and I don't use the scroll lock buttons near the scroll wheel as they are too far to reach. Other than that its a good device that does what it says on the tin.
I wished they did a cabled version of this device, I can't understand the logic of having a cordless stack device it just uses batteries for no reason.
The general construction is ok, but being mobile and a few trips into my bag the rubber coating on the dark parts quickly started peeling off and looking ugly so I've scrapped most of it off now, leaves behind a shiny plastic which is slippery and I can see why the rubber coating was added but shame it was weak.
The buttons available beyond the normal 3 are scroll wheel lock up and down (saves you using the wheel for ages) and default back and forward buttons, very useful for web and using windows explorer.
Batteries have lasted well, only changed twice and that's with 8 hours a day 5 days a week minimum.
Overall a good mouse that works well shame about the rubber coating.
I know that some of you, sadists I call you, enjoy my little stories, so let me tell you how this all began.
A short while ago, during one of my more lucid spells, my wife and I took my laptop into PC World for servicing. Being boring as ever, I was regaling her with tales of my childhood, about how I got my first experience of computers.
I was meticulously trying to describe the old IBM machines that I learnt on in school, carefully choosing terms like the side of a barn and giant Stonehenge replica, when the dim and distant memory of the old trackball sprang into my mind.
Now, I dont know whether you remember these things, but they were just about big enough to create their own gravity field, and were, without fail, encapsulated within an enormous slab of dirty cream coloured plastic. Still back then, they were the forefront of modern computer technology, and appeared magic, the way they could move things around the screen without ever touching them.
Whether form a sense of sympathetic nostalgia, or just because she wanted to pinch my cordless mouse for her laptop, my wife insisted that we bought a trackball for my new computer. So we looked around, but couldnt find any brick-sized lumps of dirty cream bakelite.
Eventually, one of the assistants in the store took pity on us and guided us to, what I can only describe as, the modern art aisle. There in front of my bewildered eyes, sat an array of high-tech, ergonomically mastered pieces of sculpture. Judging from my wifes incredulous expression, she was even more stumped than I (but then she is from Wolverhampton where the wheels are still square and woad is the new loincloth.)
Anyway, we eventually managed to choose the Logitech Trackman Cordless from the selection, and managed to get out of the shop, with the aid of a slim piece of plastic, without handing any cash over.
And now the real review starts
Contents Of The Box
1. The trackball itself
2. The receiver
3. The instructions and batteries.
Ergonomically designed for use, the main housing contains a vast array of buttons and a large red ball.
Before I get on to the functions of these buttons, I must say one thing to the manufacturers of this item.
Please note. I am not now, nor will I ever be, a professional basketball player. This is not due to my disability, but rather to the fact that I am only 5 feet 10 inches tall, a bit on the podgy side and have hands the size of a normal human being. At about six inches long, three inches wide and three inches high, this trackball may be ergonomically design for comfort, it may be a sculptural masterpiece, but it is at the very limits of my manual dexterity, so people with small hands may well have problems adjusting.
But back to the buttons themselves.
First thing of note is that there are 7 buttons an a scroll wheel to accompany the trackball.
The first button, situated around the ball itself, is the equivalent to the Right-click button on the standard right-handed mouse. That is to say that it opens the properties options window, where you can change properties or delete the program entirely if you are not careful. If this button is on a normal mouse is irritatingly convenient, this trackball is going to drive you up the wall at first. Its close proximity to the ball means that if your fingers slip, even a fraction, you will invariably press this button, and if you are not careful, may inadvertently delete things.
The next two buttons are mounted either end of the scroll wheel, at the apex of the housing. These are really useful, if a little inaccessible.
Weve all been their, rolling the scroll wheel up and down, and weve all had the cramps in the finger from doing it. The people at Logitech must have suffered this pain too, as they have come up with little buttons to press which allow you to move, reasonably quickly, up and down, without recourse to the wheel.
Of course, the wheel is there as well, for the more dedicated, but after a while, youll give it up and resort to the easier option.
Behind these controls, still at the top of the housing is another common sense touch by Logitech. A drag button.
Someone at the makers must have realised that it would be next to impossible to hold the Click (or Enter) button whilst trying to manipulate the ball with any accuracy, and taken pity on the user by incorporating this little extra into the machine. The result is that you can move files and icons around much easier than you ever could before with an ordinary mouse.
The final buttons are mounted on the side, away from the trackball itself, in the perfect position for utilisation by the thumb.
The lowest of these is what I would call the Click button, equivalent to the Left-click on the standard mouse. Perfectly in place for the thumb, when the hand is rested comfortably (?), it is also large enough to use without requiring exact positioning of the hand, or its use being hampered by the two other buttons just above it.
These two are perhaps the most useful for avid surfers, performing a task which is sorely overlooked by the standard mouse control.
Imagine that you are surfing a website, and get to page 6, but suddenly remember you want to check something on page 5. Without index cookies, or a previous page thread, the average mouse is stumped, and you find yourself reverting to Alt<. With the Trackman, you simply press the back button, and youre there. Want to go to page 6 again, press the forward button and Hey Presto!
It still remains to be seen how many pages this will work for, as I havent been able to find the limit yet, but this time-saver has already made my surfing life a lot less frustrating.
And so, finally, we come to the ball itself.
Whilst thinking about this review, I quickly realised that the question I would have to answer is:- Why choose a trackball over a standard mouse?
I managed to find three good reasons.
Firstly, the extra buttons. Admittedly, there is nothing to stop the manufacturers of the mouse incorporating these buttons, as far as I can see. But to the best of my meagre knowledge, no-one has done it yet.
Second, speed. The standard mouse is fast in the right hands, but it does suffer from the constraints of its wire (or receiver). It also takes a lot longer to move the hand about than it does to flick your fingers across the surface of a low friction ball.
And finally, the most important aspect which convinced me to buy one, space. A trackball is a static-mounted pointer device, with which you move your cursor by rolling a ball, within its own housing. Thus the machine takes up only the same amount of space as it occupies, which is much, much less than a mouse, which needs to be moved around.
My desk is very small, and the mouse became a bit of a liability. For anyone in a similar position, I would strongly suggest that a trackball is a necessity.
The receiver is a small plastic box which needs to sit around 6 inches in front of the trackball unit in order to receive and decipher the instructions from the main machine. It then instantaneously transmits these instructions to the computer via the cable. When you take the receiver out of the box, you will notice that it is fitted with a standard USB connection, onto which the guys at Logitech have put a mouse connection adapter.
It is a matter of personal choice and computer availability as to which of these connections you choose to apply (the mouse adapter does come off), but, in my opinion, they both work equally well and give the same overall result.
Now, I cant really get excited about pages of technical jargon going into great detail on how the universe was created, which is great, because the Trackman is devoid of instructions. Well, not quite NONE.
In fact there is a seven page fold out document which details exactly what to do to make the trackball work. I shall attempt to paraphrase this document here:-
1. Put batteries (supplied) into Trackman.
2. Plug receiver into computer.
3. Turn computer ON
4. Put installation disc into computer.
5. Press YES a few times.
The reason that it takes 7 pages to say this is that they say it in about 300 different languages including Ancient Greek and hieroglyphics, I think.
The software itself is very user-friendly, especially when run with an installation wizard. In order to fill the disc, however, Logitech has included three superfluous programs that are ripe for immediate deletion. They are:-
A music manager
A downloadable internet game program
A shortcut to Ebay (?)
These are pretty boring really, and not worth wasting your time on.
The one part of the software that is of interest is the Resource Centre, which provides trouble-shooting advice etc. The major point on this, that you may well choose to utilise, is the ability to change the function of the buttons.
I beg you not to do this.
After all, changing these functions would make most of this review obsolete. The shame would drive me back to the bottle, and into a downward spiral of drink and wife battery. I would end up divorced, and have to live under a bush. So think about the consequences of messing with technology.
SO, IS IT ANY GOOD?
Lets hear a resounding Hell Yeah.
In the short time that I have been using the Trackman, having got used to the handling and the size very quickly, it has improved my average surfing time by about 50%.
No longer am I having to waggle a little bit of plastic around , hoping that the cursor gets to where I want it before the mouse falls off the edge of the desk. Now I can sit down, lay my hand on the Trackman and surf the web like an expert (? LOL ?)
For any serious computer geek, a trackball is a must, and the Logitech Trackman Cordless fits the bill superbly. For the more social use, you can carry on with your old mouse, but why would you want to?