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Input Devices

Mouse or Trackball? 627

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the one-for-the-wife dept.
Loconut1389 writes "I've been an avid mouse user for years, but lately all of the wrist movements have added up and combined with a desire for some added precision when not using my tablet in photoshop, I decided to purchase a large trackball. Logitech makes a few with a small, thumb controlled ball, but it looked like you'd get a tired thumb and have no added precision. After searching around, it seems that the only large one really available is a Kensington for about $90. Only CompUSA seemed to even carry the kensington in-store (and had none in stock). After ordering one online and using it for a few days now, I don't know how I ever lived with a mouse. The trackball has better precision, less wrist movement, and even gaming is pretty cool/easy with it (can spin it to whip around real quick, etc). All that said, it seems like trackballs have all but vanished except in medical fields (sonograms, etc) and perhaps graphic arts. I'm left insanely curious why trackballs haven't resurfaced now that optical technologies have fixed the main problems of old trackballs (and mice). Do you use a trackball? If so, are you in graphic design?"
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Mouse or Trackball?

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  • Trackpoint? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:05PM (#20072257)
    How about the Trackpoint on thinkpads and such? Everyone I know with a thinkpad (including myself :D) swears by the little thing.
  • Wacom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by madjalapeno (1052094) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:10PM (#20072383) Homepage
    I use pointers more than keyboard as part of my job being a CAD monkey.

    About 5 years ago I started getting RSI in my wrist, and purchased a Wacom tablet. I'm now on my third, a widescreen one to match the set-up I have with 2 widescreen LCD monitors, and would never go back to using a mouse most of the time.

    The ability to move the pad about to change the way you hold the pen is fantastic, and my wrist has been fine ever since. It takes a while to get used to the pad having an absolute relationship to the screen, but it's worth it.
  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:12PM (#20072437) Homepage
    I use the Kensington Expert Mouse (4-button, spinny wheel for scrolling, big ball) for nearly everything at home. My travel device is a Logitech Trackman Marble; it has the bonus that the ball stays in it at odd angles and you can put it nearly anywhere. Either is unequviocally and totally superior to any mouse I've ever used.

    My Expert Mouse developed a minor nuisance, I forget what, and I asked Kensington about it. They sent me a new one as a replacement, free. Right there, we see the price difference between the Expert Mouse and cheap crap mice evaporate.

    I hate mice. I love trackballs.

    If you're doing a lot of graphics, you might also pick up a tablet.
  • Re:Trackball (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:22PM (#20072657) Homepage Journal
    and you better believe I never looked back.

    Or what?

    After experiencing both sides of the fence, using a mouse is far more intuitive and precise for many activities on a PC.

    That may be true for you, but from my experience in navigating image data comprising many gigabytes to terrabytes, having a trackball with a zoom ring on it like the Kensington Expert Mouse is the fastest means of navigating that I have found though I actually use a combination of trackball and Wacom drawing tablet for any work that requires "drawing".

  • Try one of these (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BigGar' (411008) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:26PM (#20072781) Homepage
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8 2E16826141001&Tpk=evoluent [newegg.com]
    I started using a vertical mouse and its helped a lot.
    I've had inflammation in my mouse arm for several years now.
    Since I've started using this mouse my symptoms have started to subside.
    I also take more breaks, do stretches, etc to help alleviate the symptoms.
    The vertical mouse helps by keeping the arm from being twisted when using the mouse.
    It does take some getting used to, but its worth the effort.

    Also look closely at your work environment from an ergonomic point of view. Most IT professionals I've met don't pay any attention to the ergonomics of their work station, at work or at home. I didn't for years and I've now had bilateral carpal tunnel releases, repeated tendinitis and other problems related to poor ergonomics and repetitive stress issues. I'm only 39.
  • Re:Trackpoint? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by isaac (2852) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:28PM (#20072805)
    I've been using an IBM M13 buckling-spring (clicky) keyboard with built-in trackpoint for years. I carry it from job to job. I have a new-in-box spare in my storage unit in case it ever gets swiped (because it's sure not going to fail on its own. It's built like a tank.)

    These regularly show up on ebay, just watch out you don't get a later model without the clicky keys (unless you prefer a membrane keyboard.)

    Highly recommended - it's nice not to have to move my hands from the keyboard.

    -Isaac
  • Re:Trackball (Score:3, Interesting)

    by P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:29PM (#20072833) Journal
    Many of the problems with mice went away when optical mice became prevalent. No more wrestling with goopy rollers.
  • by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@COWgmail.com minus herbivore> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:30PM (#20072845)
    I learned typing and computer usage under DOS, so really don't like to take my hands off the keyboard. Mice just slow me down. I can get along with a touchpad, but my all-time favorite keyboard was a Keytronics with an integrated trackball in just the perfect place to be operated by either thumb. Had to leave it behind when I changed jobs, and have never seen them since.
  • by EWAdams (953502) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:48PM (#20073223) Homepage
    And yes, I *am* a fanboy, and no, I don't work for them.

    Smooth as silk, baby. And with great drivers that let you control the speed and acceleration -- you can even draw your own acceleration curve.

    I've used one version or another of the Kensington Expert Mouse (PC version of the Turbo Mouse) for years. I recently switched from the mechano-optical version to the purely optical. The former had the very slight disadvantage that it used to get enough cat hair in it every 9 or 10 months that it would block the sensors. But their own website had a step-by-step diagram of how to take it apart and clean it -- how cool is that? How many hardware companies actually encourage you to open the case?

    I love my new four-button mouse with the sliding ring that mimics a mousewheel.

    All Kensington's gear is really solid and comes with a great warranty. I only wish they made clothes and computers and cars...
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @12:52PM (#20073273)
    I have a six year old Logitech TrackMan Marble FX... It has a "drag" button on it (the small red one just by the middle button) I have never been able to get it to "drag". Does yours have a working "drag" button?
  • Re:Trackpoint? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RobertM1968 (951074) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @01:21PM (#20073833) Homepage Journal

    There is actually a company that licensed the design from IBM and makes them - with and without Windows Keys (none for me thanks), and standard IBM click - or - mushy, crappy, gonna fail in a few years membrane. Havent tried them, but people claim they (the clicky ones) are as durable and well designed as the Mfg'd by Lexmark IBM Model M's (which is to say, slightly less durable, but still damn near indestructible). ( http://pckeyboard.com/ [pckeyboard.com] ) On a funny but very entirely true story (stories actually), I actually put that indestructible-ness to the test.

    Back in 86 I worked for Valcom Computer (prolly never heard of them unless you were big into buying IBM's in the mid 80's). People would come in and ask "Why is the IBM keyboard $100 and the others $10-40?" So, I'd unplug an IBM from one of our computers, put it on the floor (tossing it tends to pop the overcaps on the keys), and then proceed to step on it, bounce up and down on it, etc... pick it back up and ask "If this was your cheap little $40 keyboard, would you want to plug it back in now and hope you didnt fry your keyboard controller or at the very least hope it still worked?" - then plug the beast back in and load the keyboard test and hit every key.

    A number of years later, at a different job, after doing something similar with coworkers, we decided to see just how indestructible they were... so, after (obviously) passing the stop on it test, we took it out back and parked an Isuzu Trooper on it... then hit the gas... they keyboard went flying across the asphalt about 30 feet... was scuffed on the bottom, and of course worked fine. By that time, we were getting kinda desparate in our attempts to destroy it under something that resembled normal use, and were standing in the front of the stoor - where we saw a city bus stop at the corner (our storefront was 2 doors down from the light)... we ran out, put the Model M right in front of the big back wheels, and waited... the bus slowly crawled up (like people tend to do while waiting for a light) which put the wheel right on top of the keyboard. Finally the light changed, the bus took off, we ran out, grabbed the keyboard, waved to the guy behind the bus who was watching us with a mixture of amusement and "I think they are crazy" look on his face, and plugged it in...

    So, having passed that test (yes, of course it still worked - it was only a city bus)... we decided to go upstairs and launch it off the roof (3 story drop). We threw it as far outward as possible adding to the distance travelled considerably. The keyboard must have went in total 150 feet between it's downward drop of 3 stories and the distance we launched it horizontally.

    The ancient Model M's casing cracked or split in a number of places, the keycaps flew everywhere, it looked horrendous - but STILL worked.

    We took a blowtorch (propane pipe welding torch like what a plumber uses) and took that to the outer casing... the weird stuff they use kinda smoldered on the outside, turning brown and black, but didnt burn through. Looked more like a bad scare from a surface burn on a human (like a cigarette burn).

    Finally, we "destroyed" it with a sledge hammer. Mostly though, the hammer just ended up crushing the round key holders that rise up from the inner plastic cover - and probably a few of the keyswitches.

    Neat thing is it was still easily fixable since we could have just replaced the inner and upper cover and a few keyswitches and been done (for far cheaper than a new Model M)... but we had a couple dozen at the time, so it didnt really matter and we just kept it as a conversation piece. Somewhere I have shards of the outer casing still...

    Years and years ago, I gave my mom one of them... (Model M) ancient one, metal IBM logo and all... she still uses it and refuses to give it up - begging, offering to buy it, whatever... doesnt work.

    And me, I have 2 Model M-13s, and slowly acquiring more... and will keep them till they die (if I dont die of old age first)... my M/M13 keyboards have outlasted every computer I have had - and will continue to do so.

  • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @01:43PM (#20074247) Homepage Journal

    Using a right-handed trackball is like using right-handed scissors - awkward as all hell.

    I bought a keyboard with a built-in trackball. It was nice for 15 minutes - then I gave it away because its useless!

    Instead, I have 2 mice plugged into the computer - one on each side of the keyboard. I grab whichever one is convenient (dual monitors, etc). I'm thinking that for my triple-monitor setup at home I should configure X so that each monitor has a captive mouse - having to go all the way from the left side to the right side when you've got an effective horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels is a bit much. Even with "googley eyes" it gets hard to find the mouse.

  • by kwalker (1383) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:12PM (#20074803) Journal
    I've also got a Logitech TrackMan, and maybe it's just me, but I'm better at FPS games with it than I am with a mouse, by far. I keep the ball-stand-offs clean and can whip around faster than anyone I play with who uses a mouse. Plus I hate playing "mouse hockey" when in the middle of a firefight like others have to. A flick of the thumb and I'm facing a different direction. But yeah, I can't write my name or anything with it, though it is great for precision work in The GIMP. It's also really nice being able to just lift my thumb and have the pointer completely stop moving for any length of time.

    I agree with you about the Bluetooth aspect. I won't buy their "wireless" model, but if they had a BlueTooth HID model, I'd buy five of them.

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