seeking small trackball device that mounts to side of laptop
January 12, 2012 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a tiny trackball for use with a laptop. Key requirement: hangs off side of laptop, does NOT use desk space.

My elderly father is on extended travel and is using his laptop for email etc. The laptop has a built in touchpad but he is wreaking all sorts of havoc with it. Normally he would use an external (USB) mouse to solve this but he left his at home, and anyway he insists that he does not have desktop surface to rest it on. He has a desk but there is only space for the laptop itself (long story).

I know some laptops (maybe just IBM/Lenovo) have that tiny joystick in the middle of the keyboard but that probably wouldn't work for him either, and anyway his laptop doesn't have one. He does have a nice Logitech TrackMan trackball device at home (as do I) and he does very well with it, so I think he would be quite comfortable with a trackball solution for his laptop.

I recall, many years ago, seeing a little trackball device that CLIPPED onto the side of the laptop. It either plugged into a side USB port, or just clipped on the edge somehow and then you plugged in a short USB cable. It tilted up at an angle and you then used your thumb on the ball and index finger on the button(s) to do your thing. Googling fails me, as does searching the websites of the major pointing dev mfgs, so apparently this device isn't sold anymore.

But I just can't believe that. Has anyone seen a product like this, or have other recommendations?
posted by intermod to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Last one I saw of these was a Compaq laptop clip-on trackball circa 1993. It wasn't USB.
posted by scruss at 8:02 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hmmm, you may be right about that. I'm old :)
posted by intermod at 8:06 PM on January 12, 2012

You might want to consider something like this. Not clip-on but will work okay without desk space.
posted by jessamyn at 8:13 PM on January 12, 2012

Thanks jessamyn. I did see that when searching. I don't think he'd have the patience for slipping it on and off (he's mostly typing) but I will propose that and a small regular trackball to him.
posted by intermod at 8:30 PM on January 12, 2012

Because I cannot stand the touchpad on my dell laptop I use a Lapinator Plus where I rest my laptop and on its side I place my Logitech Trackman Marble.
posted by pdxpatzer at 8:36 PM on January 12, 2012

Does his laptop have bluetooth? I recommend the Logitech V470 Bluetooth Cordless Laser Mouse (I'm able to use this handy palm-sized mouse on my thigh). You can shop around for used ones for sale at half the retail price.
posted by plokent at 8:44 PM on January 12, 2012

Confirming scruss's sighting - my father had this exact thing on an ancient Toshiba laptop he had in the mid-90s. It was huge, and it wasn't USB. Good luck!
posted by impluvium at 9:04 PM on January 12, 2012

I'm on the other side of the country right now, but at home I have what is essentially the Compaq trackball that scruss links to. It's PS2, but with a simple converter you should be able to get it working via USB.

I'm back home this weekend, so I can post more info then, and if it looks like it'll do the trick I can ship it to you.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:18 PM on January 12, 2012

Wow, NSAID, that would be incredibly generous!
posted by intermod at 8:45 PM on January 13, 2012

The trackball I have is the "Microsoft BallPoint mouse v 2.0", with the PS2 connection. The clips measure about 8mm, which is too small for my laptop, but presumably fit on some types.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:36 PM on January 16, 2012

Follow up: NSAID did indeed send me his old laptop trackball, and it is exactly what I had in mind. It has that faded yellow look of old PC hardware, and at first didn't work quite right. But after taking the trackball out and cleaning and adjusting it a bit, it works fine!

Thank you so much for your generosity!

(and alert to input dev mfgs: you're missing a market niche in your product lines)
posted by intermod at 7:32 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

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