I need a handheld trackball
March 24, 2009 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a handheld trackball mouse. Recommendations?

I've recently had pain in my wrist and forearms, so I think it's time to move away from the traditional mouse.

To this end, I've been looking at trackballs. I had one of these Fellowes Micro Tracs back in college and don't like that sort of trackball where you place the trackball between the thumb and forefinger.

Rather, I'm looking for a trackball like the one pictured here. However, I've never heard of the brand that is in the previous link and want to make sure I get something that works well and won't have to be sent back after a day.

Any suggestions?
posted by reenum to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not really sure what you mean by:

trackball where you place the trackball between the thumb and forefinger.

Is the trackball being controlled by the thumb, or the fingers?

Your link is to a handheld trackball that requires the thumb to do all the work. I tend to believe this is only going to cause a repetitive thumb injury. It might be better to have a normal desk trackball where you use more muscles than just your wrist or your thumbs to move the ball. To use these, your relaxed fingers touch the ball, and your whole wrist and arm move. Less stress in your forearms or hands.

The confusingly-named Kensington Expert Mouse is considered to be a great trackball due to its huge ball and scroll ring. There's a newer version: the Kensington Slimblade Trackball. Both are expensive compared to regular mice.

I personally have three Logitech Marble Mouse trackballs, one on both sides of my keyboard. They're both cheap and don't have much to break.
posted by meowzilla at 10:41 AM on March 24, 2009

Response by poster: I should have explained it better, but I'm not a big fan of the mini trackball, a la the Fellowes Micro Trac.

Thanks for the suggestions. Others, please keep 'em coming.
posted by reenum at 10:48 AM on March 24, 2009

I am a big ol' trackball devotee.

The regular Logitech trackball (uh, the Trackman Wheel) is pretty nice, and probably the most common one in the wild. I prefer it to the Marble Mouse because it has a regular scrollwheel.

The old Microsoft Trackball Explorer and the Logitech Marble FX are my personal faves, but they're both discontinued, and they're kinda cult classics, and both very expensive these days. I'm very curious about the SlimBlade, but I haven't had great experiences with Kensington stuff in the past.
posted by box at 12:11 PM on March 24, 2009

(That's the SlimBlade trackball that I'm excited about, not that goofy trackball/mouse monstrosity.)

Also, as a longtime trackball fan, I say this very seriously: if you find one you like, buy two or three of 'em. For whatever reason, they often go out of production, and then prices for secondhand ones skyrocket.
posted by box at 12:16 PM on March 24, 2009

I hope you find a product that works better for you. But I want to encourage you to make a trip to your GP and get a referral to a physical therapist to address this from another angle as well.

You say that you have pain in your wrist and forearms. IANAD, but if this is a carpal tunnel sort of thing starting for you, you may be able to get relief from addressing your shoulders, elbow, neck, or upper arm.

I say this from personal experience: I had terrible pain and extensive numbness in my mouse hand and sought treatment. I was referred to a neurologist that ran a nerve conduction test (electrodes send electrical pulses down your arm and the involuntary flinching is measured for time). The neurologist's strong recommendation was surgery to relieve the pressure in my wrist. He told me that this problem would never go away until I did this.

I sought a second opinion. This doc pointed out that carpal-tunnel requires two nerve compressions. His (non-electrical) exam suggested that there was nerve compression in my shoulder as well as my wrist. I was prescribed PT, and exercises that relieved the pressure in my shoulder, and wrist stretches to do regularly that have eliminated the problem entirely, and I still use a mouse a lot every day.
posted by buzzv at 4:29 PM on March 24, 2009

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