The trackpad may well dominate the land of the mouse in the laptop world, but with the few people who still have desktops, optical and laser mice reign supreme. Is there any room for something else?
Kensington sure hopes so because it’s bringing trackballs back.
Remember trackballs? If you were using computers in the 90s, you’ve probably seen them before, even if you didn’t know what they were.
Around the time ball-based mice were popular, the trackball uses the mouse on the other side, letting your hand hold the ball and using the movement to track a mouse position on screen.
They were never super popular, but they’ve been in quite a few variations of mice including some made for graphics and video work, while a laptop or two sported the concept as well. There were even arcades with trackballs.
Trackballs did even try to evolve, with the optical trackball being the next step, relying on a red ball with dots all over it to track position, but they never really gained enough momentum to beat an optical or laser based mouse, let alone the influx of trackpads.
Every mouse is different, mind you, and some mice are after than others, but the main thing about trackballs came from the fact that you never moved your hand with one. Instead it just stayed in the same position, which can be good for ergonomic reasons as well as when you have a minimum of desk space.
Trackpads also play both of those areas nicely, though, so trackballs aren’t really as big as the companies producing them would hope, and over the years the major makers of these mice have dropped off, including Logitech and Microsoft.
But Kensington has sent word this week that it is still in the game, showing off the Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball, a $150 trackball that kind of takes all of what we’ve seen from previous models and packs it into a more modern package.
Wireless is the name of the game here, and there’s not only support for a wireless receiver via an included nano USB dongle, but you’ll also find Bluetooth here, letting you link it up with both connections and up to two computers, with a flick of a switch changing which device this trackball is connected to.
Tested against the older models, Kensington’s Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball doesn’t feel like a super improvement on what we saw from the company years ago, but at least the design is still friendly for whichever hand you want to use and a wrist pad is included, too.
Four buttons are also here alongside a scroll ring, so it’s one of those input devices made for people who like control.
That said, after testing it for the past few hours, we can tell you the Bluetooth does occasionally drop out, making us wonder just what is going on.
It is worth noting that this isn’t this reviewer’s first tango with a trackball, and we only had to open up a drawer to find out the sort of mice he’s been buying and keeping over the years, which included at least one other trackball from the other players, even though neither can be found in stores anymore.
That is kind of the catch with this style of mouse, because while it’s comfortable, virtually no one makes them anymore, though Kensington has chimed in with two others, one of which is practically the same but cuts out wireless in exchange for $20, and the other which is thinner and much more sleek for $160.
All three of these can be found in stores across Australia, and they come with the added bonus of confusing everyone who tries to use your computer.