Author Topic: Whats it like using a trackball?  (Read 10307 times)

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Offline Sintpinty

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Whats it like using a trackball?
« on: Sun, 17 February 2019, 19:57:07 »
What is it like using a trackball for work, games or general computing? How is the feel of the trackball? Mushy? I have no idea how to use a trackball, but i might be getting one for my left hand.

Offline vegs

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 21 February 2019, 03:32:14 »
I've been using a CST L-Trac at work the last 3 months. The closest comparison I can make is to a precise trackpad. It requires similar hand movement, but it feels a bit more snappy and comfortable to use in my opinion.

The main appeal for trackballs is ergonomics. It helps especially well if you struggle with arm or wrist pain.

I wouldn't want to use it for gaming though, unless you have major issues with using traditional mice.
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Offline csmertx

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 23 February 2019, 09:20:27 »
Some glide better than others.  One of the weird instances in which a laser input device is subjectively better than the optical counterpart.
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Offline Kyi195

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 23 February 2019, 21:10:57 »
I use some old Logitech wired trackball at work (wireless doesn't work through our office KVM unfortunately).  Honestly, I really like it.  Movements are nice and smooth and I feel like I have a lot of control over where the mouse is going.  Only real downside I guess would be, like with old optical mice, you have to clean the trackball's contact points.  For me it's 3 lil teflon feet in the ball's recess.  I probably clean em every week or 2.  Keeps the action nice and smooth

Offline Timbersawdust

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 25 February 2019, 09:56:24 »
I have a Logitech M570 for work. It does wonders for wrist discomfort compared to traditional mice. It took a long time to get used to but I think I am more productive with it.

Offline 4sStylZ

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 04 March 2019, 10:30:52 »
I use an expert mouse by Kensington for working and a G502 at home because I play a lot. I prefer this to a vertical mouse.
With time it’s very fast, confortable and precise.

The two reason for using a trackball for me is : 
 - To change the position of the body by switching to the mouse at home and the trackball at work. I expect to reduce many wrist trouble.
 - The tilt (inclinaison) wich is better than a standard mouse.

Pro tips :
 - Never buy one without scroll wheel.
 -  Bigger balls are the best and I have tested and trashed multiple cheap device. Basically don’t buy a kensington Orbit or Orbit with scrollring because the small sphere make the device imprecise and to light. http://xahlee.info/kbd/trackball_ball_sizes.html
 - See the Xahlee website for more information about trackballs.
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Offline mkkeyboardvigilante

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #6 on: Sat, 09 March 2019, 10:45:33 »
When I started having arm pain from using a regular mouse, I switched to a wireless trackball from Logitech and never looked back. Sure, I had thumb pain at first but haven't had any since. Arm pain went away since switching to one too. Super easy to clean the dust out when the ball isn't as responsive.
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Offline blawb

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 01 April 2019, 19:31:52 »
Were you looking at left-hand specific trackballs? If so, which ones? I haven't been able to easily find any but would love one.

I use a logitech m570, and I also have the old wired version. Super comfortable for most things, and it's nice to have a wireless option in addition to my razer mouse, but I don't really like the trackball for any CAD work.
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Offline yet1hunter

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 06 May 2019, 01:31:24 »
The difference: Trackballs (and trackpads) make common sense and mice make tennis elbows. 
To be fair, if I did not have an Aeron (used, of course) with swiveling arm rests, my CST L-Trac (formerly Microspeed PC-Trac) would be an ergo nightmare.  So, you do face a challenge where the housing matters even more than mice (and think of comfort difference between old box mice vs the fancy glove fit feel of some the gaming mice out there).  I don’t game on PC, and I believe that’s a huge thing to mind.
Otherwise, I’ve always disliked mice because of the required space to move them around as part of the operation.  Trackballs (outside of the ball, itself) remain stationary.  This difference has remained unchanged over the decades.   Back when a mouse was basically an upside down trackball, they were a complete chore, snagging on everything, collecting dirt and debris, and wholeheartedly the inferior input device. So take in account that many of us ditched mice long ago, well before the improvements that have become standard. 
Also, for those of us that came from the protools/avid audio/video era, we had to use trackballs, because there was a giant console that would get in the way of a mouse.  Tack on military personel and varying engineers that worked with systems prequipped milspec trackballs, and so forth..... it’s way about what we’re used to over any objective superiority.   All of that said, the multi touch trackpads of this decade are probably the true superior species.   I have one of the original Apple “Magic” Trackpads, and if it wasn’t for the fact that the stiff button clicks hurt my joints, it would have been my overall endgame.   

Short non-wall-of-text answer: go to your local arcade and play Centipede.  ;)

EDIT:  I wrote that post half awake and on the weekend.  Sitting at my desk, yeah, Trackball to the left plus trackpad to the right is greater than all options.

« Last Edit: Mon, 06 May 2019, 17:13:23 by yet1hunter »

Offline sdrftr

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 17 July 2019, 15:33:40 »
I use a CST L-Trac, and I could describe it as somewhere between a trackpad and a mouse in terms of accuracy and speed, The Track 'Ball' as it were, itself is rather large and heavy and slides on the redesigned rollers like a sheet of glass,

it has some mass to it, so if you give it a good flick it becomes a bit of a fly-wheel sending the cursor across the screen, whereas lighter movements or twitching in the fingers seem to be canceled out, or smoothed out unlike the smaller trackballs I have used in the past which is quite satisfying.

if you play any computer games though, I would not recommend it... I've managed to play some games in the past with great difficulty on it, but it seems to ruin the experience.

As for general computing, or work it becomes heavenly after a couple of weeks of getting used to its various quirks.

I can't stress this enough.. it will take time to get used to but after a while, I began to prefer it over the mouse for certain tasks, and at home, I keep a trackball and mouse on the same desk so that I can switch back and forth between them depending on what I'm doing. :p

definitely worth the time and money, considering how much strain I have taken off of my wrist as well.

Offline Kavik

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 17 July 2019, 17:06:10 »
Trackballs suck for playing games. The main reason is that, when you get to the end of the range of motion, you have to remove your thumb/finger from the ball and reset it onto the edge of the ball to keep turning/looking. If you happen to be doing this when you need to aim, your thumb may be in the wrong place, and you'll have range of motion issues again. This is may not be as much of an issue for non-FPS games though. This is the equivalent of needing to pick up the mouse from the mouse pad when you run out of desk space, but it's much less awkward with a mouse (it's also the reason that I prefer a little bit of mouse acceleration).

Thumb ball variants are better for me because they require no wrist movement and no awkward hand positions to click without accidentally moving the ball in the process and missing the button on screen.

In terms of feel, it varies a lot with the design, and it will vary throughout the day with the same design because they suffer the same problem that ball mice use to: they build up gunk on the rollers that causes them to feel more sluggish and also stick a little bit, requiring more force to overcome a certain area in the movement and thus causing the cursor to miss something.

The ball movement can feel rough on cheaper designs. The Logitech M570 has a very smooth ball and rollers provided the user keeps them clean (I pick off gunk every day). I also have a left-handed Elecom EX-G; its shell is more comfortable in the hand, but its rollers are rougher, so the movement doesn't feel quite as good. It feels slightly better if I replace its ball with the M570's.

Mouse for games, and trackball for work IMO.
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Offline jacethesaltsculptor

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 30 December 2019, 16:19:53 »
I love trackballs, and have used a Kensington expert for a few years now, to help with wrist issues, of which it's helped quite a bit.

The problem is that thanks to there not really being a standard, your preferences will determine your mileage, I prefer big smooth balls, or ones that feel like they have some weight to them, this makes "flinging" your cursor across the screen a much easier and relaxing movement.

As far as standards go, The Kensington Expert, and the Logitech thumb trackballs seem to be the dominant trackballs that I've seen in everyday life.

Trackballs on the thumbs can be tiring and can require a lot more movement of the thumb, or if the sensitivity is turned up, you lose a lot of nuance in your movement. This doesn't seem to be the case with a large trackball.

I am a little biased since I used one for quite awhile in the 90's as a gaming mouse, which it's really not the best at, but can be used for. (I own a copy of that trackball, that's the CompUSA LED trackball)

Practice also is needed to get precise with it, as well as quick, so expect a warm up period of around a month before you are at full speed.

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Offline theKM

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 12 February 2020, 10:56:38 »
I've enjoyed the switch to trackballs, mostly when I hacked the guts out and started more tightly integrating with ergonomic keyboards. Latest hides it next to and below the thumb cluster to an Iris split keyboard...

From comment above "make sure it has scroll wheel", it is important, but I've done the scrolling through the rotary encoder on the keyboard and a couple of keys on a QMK layer... happiest setup I've ever used.


Offline Leslieann

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 12 February 2020, 18:11:26 »
mice make tennis elbows. 
It's not the mice themselves that are the problem, it's the manufacturers and users themselves.

Low DPI mice were designed back when monitors were 480p and 640p and it took about 3 inches to skip across the screen. Since then screen resolutions have jumped MASSIVELY while mouse (and especially trackpad) manufacturers and gamers failed to keep up with the resolution changes and stuck to the same old resolutions we were using in the late 80's/early 90's.

Basically your dpi should match your horizontal screen resolution as the minimum.
If you need better precision, lower the Windows mouse speed (because it skips 3 pixels by default!), then up the mouse DPI even more to compensate back to around what the travel should be. This number also may need to be adjusted up or down based on your OS and mouse surface.
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Offline Yatara

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Re: Whats it like using a trackball?
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 20 February 2020, 10:02:46 »
...I hacked the guts out and started more tightly integrating with ergonomic keyboards. Latest hides it next to and below the thumb cluster to an Iris split keyboard...

Have you posted further details about this setup anywhere, or would you care to expand on how you made it? It looks fascinating and it would be interesting to hear about what components you used and how you integrated them with the keyboard.