3DConnexion Space Navigator for Notebooks Review

by Reads (12,446)

by Kevin O’Brien

The 3DConnexion Space Navigator for Notebooks is a 3D environment manipulation tool for graphics or CAD designers, or those who just want to have some fun. It is a 3D mouse that works almost like a stumpy joystick, but instead of gripping it with your entire hand, you use you the tips of your fingers. While we don’t have any licenses for SolidWorks around the office, we will demonstrate its use with Google Earth. Read on to see just how much fun this device can bring to the entire workplace.

Specifications

  • Advanced six degrees-of-freedom optical sensor
  • Speed adjustable to preference
  • Two programmable function keys
  • Weight: .55 lb.
  • Length: 2.5 in.
  • Height: 1.7 in.
  • Width: 2.5 in.
  • Two-year warranty
  • Made by 3DConnexion, a Logitech Company


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Setup

Installation of the included software is a must to operate the Space Navigator, but once installed it works with most applications. The main control utility for the device allows you to control movement sensitivity for the entire range of movement, as well as individual programs. You can also change the function of the two buttons located on the device, to open applications or run additional functions.


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Build quality

This thing in is a league of its own in terms of build quality. The base is stainless steel, and for a device of its small size it is incredibly heavy. Build quality is excellent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it outlasted my ThinkPad.


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In Use

For this review we will cover its use using Google Earth, since movement will be quite similar no matter what application you are using it with. Normally with Google Earth if you are using a standard mouse, you have to click and drag to move the surface around, use the scroll wheel modify other areas, and overall move your arm all around your desk to navigate the planet. All of that changes with the 3DConnexion Space Navigator.


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You move around, you tweak the spring loaded control with your fingertips and move in any direction. You can move forward, zoom in, rotate upside-down, and twist to the side all in the same fluid motion. Try doing that with your mouse. Below is a YouTube video showing this control in action to give you an idea of just how fun this is.

 

 

As you can see, it is almost effortless to move around in a 3D environment with the Space Navigator, where a mouse and keyboard would never come close.

Addiction

Combining the 3DConnexion Space Navigator with Google Earth is a surefire way to kill many hours in an office setting, sometimes double or triple depending on how many coworkers also take part in the fun. I spent hours the first day I received the controller zooming in on my house, friend’s houses, parent’s house, grandparent’s house, work, and any other location I could think of. It turned into a game of how fast I could target an area and zoom in from way up in space.

Conclusion

CAD or Graphics designers who need a 3D manipulation tool will love the 3DConnexion Space Navigator for use with their notebook on the road. Heck even people who just want a cool controller to play around with Google Earth will love it.

If we gave out editor’s choice awards for accessories, this thing would definitely rank up as the coolest gadget of the year on NBR. No other product has wasted as many combined hours of many employees as this controller has in the time I have worked here.

Pros

  • Very easy to use
  • High build quality
  • Cool blue LED trim

Cons

  • Easily distracting in our office environment

 


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