Trackball mice have been around for decades upon decades. First introduced in 1946, it was created for the British Royal Navy’s radar systems to replace the joystick — the main input device for most computers back in the day. As technologies advanced, other pointing devices were invented, e.g., touchpads, vertical mice, and touch screen interfaces, which improved productivity and accuracy by a long shot.
Still, trackball mice are continuously being reproduced by manufacturers with many users still preferring them over other pointer devices. Which makes you wonder:
Why do people still use trackball mice? And is a trackball mouse ergonomic?
In this article, we uncover whether or not a trackball mouse is ergonomic, what its pros and cons are related to ergonomics, and how a trackball mouse can compare to the regular mouse we see today.
Table of Contents
What is Ergonomics?
As most jobs now require people to sit in front of their computers for hours at a time, it’s become more necessary to create ways to make working more comfortable and efficient. This is where the concept of ergonomics comes in.
Ergonomics is essentially the process that experts use to design products, spaces, and systems that make workers (as well as other activities) safer and more effective. It can be used in a variety of applications, from offices and workspaces to areas for leisure or sports.
Are There Ergonomic Computer Mice?
There are several types of ergonomic mice on the market. These mice were designed to provide office workers with optimum comfort to increase work efficiency and accuracy as well as to decrease the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Is a Trackball Mouse Ergonomic?
Expert ergonomist Roberta Carson claims that the majority of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) related to using regular mice can be solved by simply switching to a different mouse type, like the trackball mouse.
Regular mice require a lot of wrist movement, not to mention lifting and sliding motions to get the sensor running. Repetitive actions like these can cause a number of health issues such as tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Since you don’t have to move your wrist as much with a trackball mouse, there is less risk of you developing any RSIs.
To put it simply, yes, trackball mice are ergonomic.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Trackball Mice?
Like most devices, trackball mice come with their own set of flaws and drawbacks. If you’re thinking about buying a trackball mouse for yourself but aren’t quite sure if it’ll be a great fit, we’ve made a list of pros and cons below to help you decide.
Pros of Trackball Mice
- Trackball mice can relieve pain and discomfort in people with existing repetitive strain injuries
- Typical windshield movement is very minimal compared to other mice
- Most movements are restricted to your thumb and other fingers
- Trackball mice allow you to keep your shoulders in a neutral position
- For older people or disabled users, trackball mice are much easier to control
- It has an ambidextrous design, so it can accommodate both right-handed and left-handed users
- Because of its stationary design, trackball mice take up less space compared to regular mice
Cons of Trackball Mice
- Trackball mice might be superior to regular mice in terms of ergonomics, but they have a lot to improve on in terms of accuracy for certain tasks
- Trackball mice are more sensitive to movement and accidentally touching it can alter whatever work you’re doing on screen
- For gamers, trackball mice aren’t the best option as they’re slower and less accurate
What to Look for in a Trackball Mouse?
There are more than a dozen options for trackball mice on the market. If this is your first time buying one for your office or workspace, here are a couple of considerations to keep in mind:
Ergonomic mice tend to be a lot more expensive compared to regular mice. However, you don’t need to sacrifice a hand and a foot to buy a high-quality trackball mouse. Trackball mice like the Logitech Ergo M575 are much more cost-effective and you can use them for a variety of applications, from office work to gaming.
Looking for something cheaper? There’s also the Logitech Trackman which you can get at highly affordable prices on Amazon, eBay, and any other computer supply shop.
There are two common types of trackball mice: side-mounted and top-mounted mice. Each type has a specific purpose and utility, which is why you need to choose the one that best fits your activities as a user.
Side-mounted trackball mice like the Logitech MX Ergo , Logitech M570 , and Logitech Ergo M575 are best-suited for users who typically perform a ton of one-handed tasks at work. It’s ergonomically shaped and provides a lot of support for the wrist. Furthermore, its buttons follow the traditional layout that most mice have.
Most movement is also performed by the thumb, so there’s very minimal stress on the wrist and other fingers. This type of trackball mouse is great for those who are new to using trackballs.
Top-mounted trackball mice like the Kensington Orbit , Elecom Deft , and Elecom Deft PRO are great for users who prefer using the rest of their fingers to move the trackball. It’s great for users who are more accustomed to using a trackpad; however, because of its awkward shape, it may take a little getting used to.
Size is an important factor to consider when looking for a high-quality trackball mouse. It influences the accuracy of the cursor and provides more or less control over the ball.
Bigger trackballs are better for top-mounted trackball mice because this range of motion gives you more space to work with. Smaller trackballs are recommended for side-mounted trackball mice for better accuracy and efficiency.
Wired vs Wireless: Which to Choose
There are definitely a number of merits to using wired and wireless trackball mice. It’s all a matter of how you use your trackball mouse.
Wired mice are best for people who are on a budget, as they typically come at a much cheaper price point. They also never run out of battery/power, unlike most wireless options, so it’s a great option for people who work long hours at the computer. You do not have to worry about other appliances interfering with the reception since it doesn’t use any external frequencies to connect with a device.
On the other hand, be prepared to have less mobility, since you’ll be tethered to your device most of the time.
Wireless mice are great for users who typically work out of a traditional office setting. It provides users with more mobility, plus they remove the issue of wires getting entangled with other cables and wires on your desk.
Wireless mice are also more aesthetically pleasing to the eyes compared to wired options. Although, do keep in mind that they are prone to interruptions and they may also come at a higher price point.
Trackball mice are a safe and ergonomic alternative to traditional mice. They can be used for a variety of applications, from office work to gaming; however, because of their unique design, they may require a bit of an adjustment period. We hope this article has answered your questions relating to ergonomic trackball mice.