I know people who will not use anything but trackballs. There is much less wrist movement when using a trackball which makes it easier to use, especially for those with wrist and arm troubles. I had always wanted to try a trackball since I had not used one for an extended period, but didn't want to spend the money for something so different. The opportunity to try out a review sample Trackball product presented the perfect opportunity to test whether I am a mouse or trackball person.
The Ball Bluetooth Wireless Trackball box (view larger image)
What Is In the Box:
Everything in the box with the Bluetooth Trackball (view larger image)
Keep in mind I was using a tape measure here as there were no dimensions listed on the products webpage:
This makes it slightly larger than my standard Logitech wireless mouse that I use connected to my ThinkPad Dock. It is still the smallest trackball I have seen.
I had some difficulty setting up the trackball. At first glance it seemed easy. I put in the batteries and let it charge over night. When I turned it on, my ThinkPad would not see it even though it could see my Bluetooth mouse perfectly well. After some assistance from Ryan, the sales/tech person, who suggested I hold the connect button for 10 seconds which I am sure I did before, it showed right up. It also stated this in the brochure which I missed. It setup and worked equally well in both Windows XP and Windows 2000. It has support for Mac as well although I did not test this as I do not have a Mac.
The first thing I thought when I opened the package was that it looked like a Mac product. Oddly enough, the website on the box is macmice.com. It was probably designed with Mac in mind, but selling to PC customers certainly gives you a much larger customer base. It is made of plastic, although good looking plastic. The base of the trackball is white with a clear shell which forms the buttons. There is a scroll wheel on the top of the trackball. The Ball is marbled dark red. On the bottom are the battery compartment, a connect button, rubber strips to prevent movement and an on/off switch. The on/off switch is a nice touch since leaving it on will drain the batteries quickly. As you move the ball, the optical light gives it a reddish hue. One thing I was concerned about was the ball coming out of the socket, especially if it is being jostled when moving about in a bag. This was not the case. When I first got the trackball, the ball snapped right in. I had some trouble getting it to work at first. I tried to get the ball out using a paperclip and screwdriver to see if the optical light was coming on, but I could not get it out with either so you at least know it's in there securely.
Size comparison of Trackball to other mouse devices (view larger image)
The trackball works if it is on the base charging or off. I had some dirt get under the shell. I was easily able to blow it out using a can of compressed air. A few things I did not like about the trackball were the charger and the buttons. The charger worked correctly, but it has a blue light on it that flashed constantly when the trackball was on it which I personally found annoying. It does turn off after it is 100% charged, but I only saw it fully charged a few times.. If it were solid all the time, it would have been more acceptable to me. I also thought the buttons were a little loud and had a bit of a clicky feel to them. I almost never notice the buttons on my ThinkPad or my Kensington Pocket Mouse. Overall, I thought the design was good.
Trackball next to ThinkPad T42 (view larger image)
The action on the trackball was good. You could feel a little friction while moving the trackball, but not much. It was not on par with the best trackballs I have tried, but those had larger balls which tend to make for better movement. The scroll button was very good. It is smooth with no segments. It had excellent feel. It also had a click feature to it if you wanted to use it. The movement of the trackball was a faster than I would have liked. I suspect if I had played around with the mouse settings I could have slowed it down some. It took two or three rolls of the trackball to get it to go from one side of the screen to the other, not unlike a touchpad on a notebook. I had a little trouble using the trackball at first. I was forever reaching to the top to hit the buttons which would cause the ball to move. I had to constantly re-adjust the ball. I finally figured out you could click on either side of the trackball and get the desired click. After that things worked much better. Another thing that worked well for me was to let go of The Ball while clicking. That way while my hand was moving to click the button, it would not move the ball. One nice thing about the trackball is it does not require a flat surface for operation. I was able to lie on the couch and use the trackball with ease while placed on my chest. Try that with a mouse.
So am I a mouse or trackball person? After using the trackball and getting used to it, I would have to conclude I am a mouse person. Not that the trackball is bad, but I have been using a mouse for so long it seems ingrained. For people who prefer a trackball, it is a good product. You can throw it in the bag with no worries and have your favorite pointer while on the go.
The Bluetooth Trackball is available at: http://www.chwangyi.com/the_ball.html. It sells for $69 plus $6.25 for shipping.
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