Mouse vs. Trackball
Make life easy
Most of the products that I review on NRNR are purchased outright; however, there are some that are provided to me at a lower or no cost due to my interest in such devices. Regardless of the source, these reviews are focused on the effect it has on my disability, and I can promise you that I will never endorse something that I’m not truly passionate about.
I also include Amazon affiliate links for my setups so that you may click and see exactly what I use. Should you choose to purchase the item, I get a small commission (it NEVER affects the price) which goes to maintaining NRNR. As with sponsored products, rest assured that I only ever become an affiliate for products that I truly like and/or find useful.
We’ve already established the challenges of being a quad; so, let’s talk about proficiently using a mouse/trackball without the ability to use and/or feel your fingers. Let me tell you why I think trackballs are the best invention when it comes to mice.
I used a mouse for so many years, and even though it was “ok”, it made graphic design challenging, and playing games was a nightmare… Heck, the game was “chasing my mouse” more than whatever was on the screen… But we make do with what we have, right?
No. Actually, we don’t have to settle for the standard stuff. We don’t have to just “live with it”. What we gotta do is get the correct tools in order to use a computer almost (if not better) than those with normal finger dexterity.
I honestly don’t remember how/when I came across my first trackball, I just know that transitioning from a traditional mouse to it felt awkward at first, but that feeling soon morphed into one of happiness and possibilities. Trackballs stay put, and that makes life just soooo much easier.
In my case, as a good Logitech fan, I got a wired one when they first came out (Logitech’s Trackman Marble Trackball), then transitioned to their wireless one that has the ball on the left and the button atop (Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball).
This setup worked great for me as I’d use the back of my hand (my hands are facing up, unlike most quads) to roll the ball, and my pencil to click. Also, the extra buttons are customizable to useful actions in different apps.
For me, this is the most comfortable design in comparison to the wired Trackman model, as well as Kensington’s Orbit Wireless Trackball.
I also tried Elecom’s wired version which resembles Logitech’s M570, but that ball is positioned slightly different, more sunk in, making it a hit or miss to accurately roll it; the scroll wheel was also very iffy, so I strongly advise against using their brand as my overall experience was quite frustrating.
With Windows systems, you have a “Click and Hold” option in accessibility, and this is just WONDERFUL to use. You simply set up the hold delay and boom, you can now get creative if you are into digital art, faster if you are into gaming, and simply more independent in your ability to use a computer.
However, with MacOS, as much as you can adjust settings via System Preferences, the one most important to me (left click and hold) is still not available, so I’ve had to get creative with 3rd party apps (more on this on another post).
Logitech’s M570 had been my absolute favorite trackball until I found myself needing to work on 2 different computers at the same time. Being that I am a clumsy person by nature, and even clumsier by circumstances, using 2 trackballs and 2 keyboards was quite a nightmare.
Clumsiness is my biggest motivator when it comes to researching for better alternatives, and that is how I came across Logitech’s MX Ergo Wireless Trackball.
My requirements for the trackball were:
- A design that would not place buttons in difficult to access places. Preferably a similar style to the M570 since my hand was used to it: Check. Not only is it very similar to the M570, but it also gives you the ability to adjust the angle. This is glorious when you have limitations such as mine, as we need life to be a simple as possible, so we don’t wear out over minor things such as hand and arm positioning, which leads to upper body stress and tiring very easily.
- I needed a trackball that would work on 2 different computers (one running Windows, the other MacOS): Check.
- Button positioning is always crucial, not just left and right click, but also the additional ones, and, in this case, the “switching” button: Check.
After nearly drooling over this trackball, I went ahead and bought it… And love it… And depend on it… And the list could go on.
This trackball is perfection. I use it with a full tilt which places the ball upward more, and in the best position for me to roll it without having to look and think about the action. Also, this angle makes the buttons tilt to the right in a way that makes clicking them with the tip of my pencil simple and accurate. I don’t have to look at my mouse when using it, it just feels natural to my hand.
Another “pro” of this trackball is the scroll wheel having a stronger texture; this means that when I place the eraser on it, it has a nice grip as I scroll; furthermore, if you push it left or right, it has actions too, serving as 2 more buttons which you may customize as needed, or set to “none” so that nothing triggers if you push it sideways by mistake.
The MX Ergo has a “precision mode” button/action. It is assigned to a button on the left side (next to the ball) which is really easy to click and lights up when triggered, though you can change it to a different button if you choose to. Now well, the action it’s designed to execute is slowing down your mouse to the percentage of your choice, till you click it again. This is a VERY useful feature when you are working on graphics, such as painting, selecting, moving to exact positions, etc. I use it very often both in Photoshop and Illustrator.
The button to switch between computers is on the top, nicely centered, making it very easy to press, and it blinks to show you which system you clicked it over to.
Logitech Options is the software that is used to customize this device, which means that I can do all kinds of adjustments to my trackball and my keyboard in one place. This is also a big plus.
As with all of my reviews, my focus is on accessibility, and what devices make life easier and more productive; so, I won’t get into the general aspects. I can, however, tell you that battery life is very decent for my expectations. I usually charge my keyboard and mouse at the same time every 1-2 months, and I use them on a daily basis for at least 8 hours and up to 12 or more hours some days.
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