5 Best Trackball Mouses of 2019
Spending large amounts of time in front of the computer can be tiring, especially on your arm and wrist. Imagine moving your arm back and forth for hours and hours in order to move the cursor and get work done.
A trackpad is one alternative to the mouse. It allows you to use your fingers instead of moving the arm. However, the relief is only partial. A computer user, who suffers from chronic pain or arthritis, or someone who spends large amounts of time in front of the computer, will need a better solution than a mouse or a trackpad.
A trackball mouse can be a solution for preventing the arm and the wrist from being repeatedly overworked. A trackball mouse looks somewhat similar to a regular mouse. It is a pointing device with a large ball either in the middle or on one side of the mouse.
The ball can be rolled with the fingers and the movement of the “trackball” is what moves the cursor on the screen. There are sensors in the mouse which “track” the movement of the ball and move the cursor accordingly.
Benefits of a Trackball Mouse
The big ergonomic benefit with this design is that the user does not have to move his/her arm all the time. The trackball mouse essentially separates the fingers and thumb movements from the wrist and arm movements. Besides, the top trackball mouse models are molded in a way to provide support to the wrist. Many mice come with a module that can be fitted on the mouse to provide support and eliminate pain/injury.
The other good thing about trackball mice is that they can be used in work areas with space constraints. Imagine trying to move a conventional mouse across an area which is not large enough to make the cursor on the screen go from one end to the other. One would have to move the mouse a little and then lift it to reposition it for further movement.
With a trackball, the user can keep rolling the ball till the cursor reaches the edge of the screen. There are no limits with a trackball. The mouse is stationary the whole time and hence there is very little space requirement.
Another advantage of a trackball mouse is that it can be used on uneven surfaces or in places like a bed or a boat. A traditional mouse can only be used on a flat surface. But, a trackball mouse can be in any plane and still provide accurate cursor movement if the trackball is in its socket.
Areas of applications for a Trackball Mouse
Trackball mice are great for use with a small computer or a laptop. Other popular areas of use for a trackball mouse are gaming, CAD design offices, creative industries, and radar consoles. The defense industry is where the trackball is understood to have been originated.
In the gaming industry, a trackball mouse can help improve accuracy when playing role-playing games, first-person shooting games, and arcade-style games.
In the design and graphical work environments, a trackball mouse can help the user perform fast functions one after the other with ease.
You may even notice trackballs in computers which are meant for public use in public places. Trackballs are relatively more difficult to vandalize or steal than a traditional mouse.
Choosing the best trackball mouse
There is a large variety of options available in the market when it comes to trackball mice. Sifting through all the various models and makes is no easy task. Hence, you need to know the main features in a trackball mouse in order to evaluate which combination of features works best for your needs.
Thumb vs Finger
There are two types of trackball mice depending on how the ball is intended to be operated. A thumb-operated mouse has a trackball on the left side of the mouse. The ball is designed to be controlled using your thumb. Your other fingers are meant to click buttons and move the scroll wheel.
A finger-operated design is designed to make your fingers control the trackball. In this kind of a trackball mouse, the ball is in the center of the device and the size of the ball is also larger. The mouse buttons are on either side of the ball and designed such that the thumb and the pinky finger control those buttons. The scroll wheel in a finger-operated mouse is either on top, on the side, or around the trackball.
Whether a thumb-operated mouse is a better option or whether a finger-operated design is preferable totally depends from person to person. Some users will find the thumb-operated design to be more comfortable and ergonomic while some others will argue that the finger-operated trackball mouse has more precision because two fingers are controlling the ball.
Perhaps, the best option would be to somehow find a way to try both types of trackball mice and then pick the one that you are comfortable with.
Size of the mouse and trackball
The size of the mouse and the trackball varies by model and make. There is a wide variety of sizes available. Some people may prefer a smaller size and some users may have smaller hands. Other users with larger hands or users who feel that a larger ball offers greater precision might opt for a larger mouse with a large-sized trackball. Kensington trackball mice tend to have the largest balls in the product category.
Left-handed or right-handed
If you are a left-handed user, then you might look for a left-handed trackball mouse. However, there aren’t many left-handed trackball mice available. Elecom M-XT4DRBK is one that we could find. Most of the trackball mice tend to be designed for right-handed users.
Another solution for the left-handers would be to find a trackball mouse with a symmetrical design. A mouse with a trackball in the center can be adapted for left-handed use. A finger-operated design would be the right selection in our opinion.
The number of buttons
Basic trackball mice have only 2 buttons. The average trackball mouse generally has 4 buttons and some advanced models have up to 8 buttons. A clickable scroll wheel is often considered to be an extra button in addition to the above-mentioned numbers.
The number of buttons that you need on your trackball mouse will depend on your intended use. Simply browsing the internet and performing basic computing functions should not require more than two buttons.
Gamers and advanced users of complex software programs will benefit from a higher number of buttons. The trackball mice with 4 and 8 buttons offer the user the ability to program each button. Each of these extra buttons can be assigned a specific function. They are customizable as per the user’s requirements.
Scroll wheels also have different designs. They can be controlled by the fingers or the thumb. Some models have a small scroll wheel, while some have a large wheel. Ergonomics and ease of use are what dictate the preferences related to scroll wheels.
Wireless vs wired
Trackball mice can be connected to your computer either via a USB wire or via a wireless docket. There are Bluetooth-based trackball models as well, but they are rare.
Users who desire a fast response time (e.g. gamers) tend to prefer a wired trackball mouse. People who have space constraints or need some flexibility in terms of the placement of the mouse with respect to the computer would appreciate a wireless trackball mouse.
One more thing to consider is the fact that a wireless trackball mouse will require the use of AA batteries for power. Heavy users may find it somewhat cumbersome to regularly replace these AA batteries. Not a big hassle, but a point worth noting.
Best Trackball Mouse Models
Let us now look at some of the best trackball mouse options available in the market:
Logitech is a giant in the computer peripherals and accessories business. The Logitech M570 is perhaps the most well-known trackball mouse. It is rated as the number one best-seller on Amazon in the trackball mouse category.
The Logitech M570 is a thumb-operated trackball mouse. Its device shape is quite wide and it suits a more natural position of the hand. The mouse is designed to provide the kind of ergonomics that is necessary for working on a computer for long hours.
The Logitech M570 uses RF technology to communicate with the computer and convert trackball movement into data with a resolution of 750 DPI. There are 4 buttons and a scroll wheel as well. The forward and backward buttons make it easy to browse websites and sift through documents.
The one-touch buttons on either side of the scroll wheel are programmable as well. Since this trackball mouse is wireless, one simply has to plug in the nano receiver to start working. The operating wireless range is about 10 meters.
At a shade over $26, this mouse offers plenty of benefits. Whether you want to work on uneven surfaces or in a space-constrained environment, the Logitech M570 can fit the purpose.
The only downside we found with this mouse is that the user may have to replace the trackball every 3 to 4 years, depending on the level of use. Trackballs tend to lose some amount of accuracy over time and hence there is a minor amount of “maintenance work” that is needed.
Kensington is a big name in the trackball mouse industry and it has several of its products in the top 20 trackball mice on Amazon. One option worth exploring is the Kensington Expert Trackball Mouse.
This mouse is a finger-operated model with the trackball in the center. The size of the trackball is also fairly large. Such a layout allows the user to generate the most amount of cursor movement with the least amount of wrist movement.
Another advantage of having a trackball in the center is the fact that the sensors are placed directly below the ball. With a side trackball design, the device would normally rely on alternate rollers to keep the ball in place with respect to the sensor.
Having the trackball sit right above the sensor allows gravity to hold the ball in place. This improves the life of the trackball as there is a relatively lesser need for replacement. The accuracy levels also tend to remain up for longer as compared to a side trackball design like the Logitech M570.
The Kensington Expert uses an analog sensor which offers some of the highest resolution in its product class. The symmetrical design of this mouse makes it perfect for ambidextrous use. Left-handers and right-handers can easily use the Kensington Expert without hassles.
The mouse has 4 buttons and a scroll wheel. The 4 buttons are all customizable. The mouse comes with a detachable wrist rest for better ergonomics. Users have the option of purchasing either a wired mouse or a wireless model. An auto-sleep feature helps conserve battery life in the wireless option.
Given all the benefits, the price of the Kensington Expert is not cheap. It is available for just over $65.
Elecom is a major Japanese manufacturer of trackball mice. American users may not have heard a lot about Elecom, but in Japan, they are often considered the gold standard for trackball mice.
The M-XT3DRBK is one of Elecom’s most impressive models. It has 6 buttons which can all be operated using different fingers. The trackball is on the left side and the device has a thumb-operated design. So, left-handers might have an issue with the design. For right-handers, the experience will be quite comfortable.
The pointer speed can also be adjusted between a count of 750 and 1500. The trackball can be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance.
Being a wireless device, the M-XT3DRBK comes with a 2.4 GHz receiver offering a range of close to 30 meters in an unobstructed environment.
The price of this mouse is $32. It is rated quite highly and is an Amazon’s Choice product. Whether you want to use the trackball mouse for web browsing, for gaming, or for any other work-related application, the Elecom M-XT3DRBK is an option worth exploring.
Staying with Elecom, another trackball mouse that is highly rated is the M-HT1URBK. It has 8 buttons, the highest among all trackball mice that we researched. So, if you like to have multiple functions at your fingertips, then this trackball mouse is for you.
The size of the device and the size of the trackball are quite large, larger than those in the M-XT3DRBK. The trackball is located on the top left of the device. Left-handers may find this design a bit awkward.
Users have the option of choosing between 500, 1000, and 1500 DPI. A scroll wheel on the left side is also operated using the thumb (for a right-hander). The M-HT1URBK is available in a wired and a wireless form. A Bluetooth option is also available.
The prices of the Elecom M-HT1URBK models are north of $50. The product is actually rated as Amazon’s choice due to the stellar reviews that it receives.
Kensington has a stylish trackball mouse, the SlimBlade, with a sleek design and yet it also has functional attributes that are useful in multiple applications. It has a depth of only 6.8 cms. The size of the trackball is quite large at 55mm.
The low profile means that the device is spread out over a larger surface area of 30 square inches, almost the size of a regular mouse pad. But the low profile reduces the possibility of wrist strain in a significant way.
There are 4 buttons on the device. There is no scroll wheel, but the trackball can be twisted left or right in order to scroll up and down. The buttons can be customized as per the user’s requirements. Left-handers and right-handers will be able to use this mouse easily because of its symmetric layout.
The connection to the computer is in a wired form. The software for the Kensington SlimBlade has different modes so that you do not have to set each parameter. You can simply select a mode and all the parameters will be optimized to match the use case.
This mouse is not cheap, it is almost $94. But, it receives excellent reviews and is unique in terms of its design and layout. It is definitely worth exploring before you make any final purchase decisions.
We hope that you find the above guide useful and a learning resource. By reading this guide, you should have a basic understanding of what a trackball mouse is and what kind of features are on offer. Depending on your use case, you should be able to prioritize the most important features and shortlist potential purchase options accordingly.
While there are plenty of trackball mouse options available online and offline, we have picked out some of the most unique and well-reviewed options for this guide. Whether you choose from our selected models or pick out a completely different model, we hope that the process of selecting should become clearer to you after reading this guide.