There are a number of alternatives to the traditional computer mouse. One of the oldest (in terms of invention date, 1952) and most popular is the trackball. Far from being an upside down mouse (as is often stated), the trackball offers a very different paradigm to driving the interface.
In the case of the mouse, you move the device in a direction that then corresponds to the direction of the cursor. It is an indirect way of pointing with your hand. As you move your hand from left to right, the cursor follows. This is why mice are often referred to as pointing devices – the movement of the mouse mimics the movement of the cursor on the screen.
The trackball, on the other hand, is more akin to driving the cursor. You move the ball and movement drives the cursor on the screen. The trackball is a viable alternate to the mouse for a variety of reasons, including:
- Because it’s stationary, less desk space is needed
- The cursor remains still while you left- or right-click, even if you take your hand off the ball. With a mouse, it can move a fraction when activating a button.
- Comfort – some people find that trackballs are more comfortable than mice
The trackball was the pointing device of choice in the first notebook computers (Apple Portable Mac and then Macbooks, various PC configurations, etc.) and was extremely popular at that time. Due to space requirements (particularly depth), trackballs lost favor in the mid-90’s to the now ubiquitous touchpad and, as mice became solid state (optical and then laser), trackballs have since become even more niche.
That being said, Logitech has a lineup of three trackballs, which all have state–of-the-art sensing technology. In fact, the first solid-state pointing device ever not to require a specialized surface was the Logitech Trackman Marble, which was launched in 1995 (this was my personal favorite pointing device for a few years). The ball paradigm remains compelling and we are continuing to invest in this area. I can safely say that some of our most passionate customers are trackball customers and we continue to take this market seriously and are actively investigating new trackball offerings. Ideas are more than welcome!
Mann… I miss my trackball!!!!! I’ve been wanting a new one for YEARS! I first got into trackballs when I got my first one, it was a Logitech! I can’t remember which model… it used the finger method like the cordless Logitech Optical Trackman. Not my favorite method. The thumb method like the above Logitech Trackball. My last trackball, was a microsoft model. like my dad has. That poor creation survived all sorts of abuse till those bearings will very very flat >.> I did try the Marble, but… no… again fingers… and lack of a scroll wheel…
I wish, I could get a new trackball. But it has to be thumb, has to have more than five buttons and MUST have a scroll wheel… LET me tell you, using the Marble, and finding no trackball, I was NUTS.
Current mouse, and well am loving it, is the Logitech MX Revolution. Very fine mouse. Love the charge method ^.^
Wow, we’ve been bugging logitech for years about this, I never thought they’d have to stones to make a blog posting about it – and with a picture of the trackman yet. Guys – when you’ve wholly abandoned a product and your users, coming along and trumpeting what a great option they are is going to generate some hostility. Not that this perfectly reasonable post will likely pass your censors.
I have used at least a dozen trackmen over the years (and directed the purchase of at least 200) since they were first introduce – they are they only pointing device I use (other than the microsoft thumbball for gaming) The fact that this post is written on a DiNovo is only because sometimes there is a still a logitech product for which there is no other reasonable alternative. I have gone from being what you marketing folks call a “product ambassador” to someone who dissuades anyone who asks me from buying Logitech products when there is an alternative. Why?
First, the niche argument is bogus on its’ face – the trackman, despite years of neglect, was still moving enough volume to justify shelf space at Best Buy up until late 2008 at least. Had the product line not been updated regularly it is certain that it would be moving in far greater volume. There are many fine computer products that can’t get retail shelf space, the trackman was selling in plenty of volume, and is still in demand, driving up on-line prices to sometimes unreasonable levels.
State of the art sensing technology?!? yes, it uses an led, but the dpi resolution of the available trackmen is embarrassing. at 1920×1200, in graphics or gaming, it is simply no longer a functional option. For some amusement try the very basic GWT game XSketch – try it with a regular mouse and try a track man – the track man can’t even draw a curved line at the resolutions it offers.
Two buttons? Really? Heck even the old microsoft rip-off of the trackman has four.
What other innovations in pointing devices have just passed you by? Better surfaces, softer surfaces, vented surfaces – we trackman users put in some hours at the screen, and common usage is to keep your hand rested on the device, there have been hundreds of mice introduced in the last decade with higher quality plastic and even ventilation fans – crazy idea, how about a semi-soft surface that molds to your hand – would help all those for whom the ridge over the ball was not quite right.
blue tooth wireless – well I’ve got it on the DiNovo, so I know you can do it – heck now that I’m looking at it, you could create a diNovo with an attached (new style) trackman – only add about 3 inches to the width and be far easier to control than the pad when looking at a 120″ projected tv screen – the pads a nice mini-substitute, but I always pull out the track ball if I’m surfing on that screen. But the point – why are we stuck with interference prone rf after all this time?
The fact is, Logitech dumped these products on the market over a decade ago, built up a user base, and abandoned them. The minor updates (the marble, the rf version) have been lapped by innovations in other pointing technology many times over. This behavior marks Logitech as a company that can not be trusted with any real investment in technology. When I put in my latest whole house music system I didn’t even consider squeezebox because I assumed that their system would be left to die on the vine while the competitors innovated.
Given the dozen trackmen I’ve bought over the years and the many I’ve seen deployed, the market was they for some basic product development – the fact that your users feel abandoned and yes, betrayed (sad to say, but I am in contact with my trackball more than any other mechanical device I can think of) by a company who seemed content to take their profits from our purchase and manufacture 50 versions of various rockband controllers is a sad, but true fact.
Try releasing some updated products with some real innovation before telling us that Logitech trackballs are an alternative to anything designed in this decade.
I guess maybe this is not the right place to write the comment but I couldn’t help thinking about my sis said the other day.
She goes there is a touchpad mouse for laptop but why not pc having the same one?
Then I did my own research but I didn’t seem to be able to find touchpad mouse for PC.
Is there any you guys invented or could you otherwise?
@ Kei Kasai
there are a few touchpads for computers, the Logitech PS3 Cordless MediaBoard Pro has a touchpad and works on PC’s it’s bluetooth so your gonna need bluetooth on your computer (most PC desktops don’t have it ).
The reason why you really don’t see them often (hardly at all) is because most people find trackpads very uncomfortable to use after a large period of time ( most people with notebooks do get mice to use this their notebooks ).
I would love to see a bluetooth trackball from Logitech, I hope the demand is high enough to make it feasible for them.
I love my Logitech mouse but maybe a trackball will be a replacement.
Passionate Customers, but not passionate enough (or numorous?) to make a new version or update the existing ones with any newer technology? I almost feel like what you are saying is “Just be glad we are still selling it”. I’d love to give Logitech some of my money for an updated version, but I don’t think its changed much SINCE 1995.
This is a slap in the face to all trackball users who have been writing on the forum for YEARS trying to get Logitechs attention. These devices are relics, and we have been begging for updates, but instead you have decided that we are all idiots and will buy your product if you just put a nice sounding bit of spin on it?
READ OUR LIPS: GIVE US NEW DEVICES, STOP TRYING TO SHILL THESE OLD PIECES OF JUNK!!
If you want constructive suggestions, look at the HUNDREDS of them in your forums.
Bring back the TrackMan Marble FX! Original Part Number: 804272-1000. I’ve been using this thing for years, and I’ve never wanted anything else. I’ve tried other trackballs and mice, including the currently available TrackMan Marble, and nothing has come close to the comfort and precision I can get with my Marble FX.
I should have purchased three of them when I had the chance, but who knew that this remarkable design would vanish from store shelves so quickly?
Funny, I was venting in the comments of one of my favourite tech news sites the other day about how vexed I was when I found myself replacing my Cordless TrackMan with a G5 mouse, and I think they’ve linked to this blog as something of a reply. My Cordless TrackMan now lives in my loungeroom operating as a remote for my HTPC, which it does well enough.
It was a great pointer, but it’s just not gaming-grade; especially not when the people I play with/against all have 2000+dpi meeces that are either corded or with GOOD wireless. There’s a significant, noticeable latency difference between the Cordless TrackMan and my girlfriend’s MX1000 – even she notices it and she’s not normally fussy about that sort of thing.
So… what do I want in a trackball?
Hmmm… I understand that there are people out there who find the thumb-ball design natural and comfortable, but I’m not one of them. My thumbs are not for delicate work, they’re for grasping and squeezing, which also makes them good for clicking. Let’s face it: it’s not a mouser market and a trackballer market; it’s mousers, finger-ballers and thumb-ballers. Please stop lumping us in with those thumb-twitching heretics!
So… let’s talk shape.
My first Logitech trackball was the TrackMan Marble, which had the right button exactly where the base of my ring finger wanted to rest and caused a lot of accidental right-clicks. I’m sure the symmetry seemed like a good idea to get the sinister* market share, but anywhere that a left thumb will want to click is likely to be somewhere that a right hand doesn’t like. The Cordless TrackMan was nearly perfect in terms of layout for me. Button1 (left) and button4 (back) are certainly comfy to hit with the thumb, with button5 (forward) being just a couple of millimetres too far to reach. Then again, I like the size of button4 – maybe have button5 lower down and further back so it starts about two thirds of the way along button4? The position of button2 (right click) and the scrollwheel/button3 are pretty good, with only very rare accidental right clicks on this one (I right-click accidentally on my G5 mouse at least as often; I believe my hands may be possessed). As for the sinister market? Interchangeable outer shells clicking onto a symmetrical base, or even a single flexible shell that can be turned inside-out to reverse the layout. In both designs, the buttons would be part of the shell so that they move according to handedness, with the shell plugging into the base to pass through button clicks.
Give us the same insane DPI with on-the-go adjustment that we have on the current generation of gaming mice. While I *normally* just use the 1000DPI setting on my G5 it’s very nice to have the 2000 and 500 presets in place to flick into when a speed or precision situation arises. Of course, back when mouse sensors weren’t leaps and bounds ahead of trackball sensors I found the trackball a lot better for both speed and accuracy so I’d probably find myself swapping the DPI less often than I do on the mouse.
Wireless and batteries
These two go hand in hand, because the batteries are only necessary if it’s wireless. My Cordless Trackman’s hunger for AAs competes with its sluggish response times for worst quality. Wireless in a trackball is probably unnecessary. It’s not moving around the desk in general use so cord-snagging isn’t really a worry, and getting your power delivered by cable saves a lot of hassle. However, I’m sure people have their reasons for wanting wireless options, whether it be gaming-grade 2.4GHz or Bluetooth to make it simple to connect to their notebooks. As long as I don’t feel like I’m waiting for the wireless to get there, I’m fine. I haven’t used a Bluetooth pointer recently so I don’t know if they’re still sluggish or not. Of course, if we’re going to have it wireless we need either the swappable batteries of a G7, a clone of the Play-and-Charge cable from Microsoft’s Sidewinder X8, or both.
*I use “sinister” in its old “left-handed” context. Mainly out of spite for the lefties I know. 😉
I’ve been using laser mice for a while now (first the VX revolution, and now the MX1100, both for desktop use), but I find that my hand/wrist just can’t get used to the tracking ability for whatever reason, no matter how I change the speed/acceleration/dpi settings. i always feel like I have to strain my hand/wrist to be able to get to just the right spot I need. Oddly enough, I find that this problem is *much* less noticeable in normal optical mice. I might just be that the increased sensitivity is messing with my ability to use the mouse in my normal way lol.
In addition, after years of using mice, I find that my wrist may be in serious trouble, as I find that it aches often, and my fingers will sometimes even start tingling, and I just can’t feel comfortable with the way I hold and move the mouse. I don’t know if it’s the mouse itself, or an onset of carpal tunnel, but either way, it’s getting uncomfortable to use a mouse. I do have my good days and bad days, but it seems my bad days are starting to outnumber the good ones.
I thought about using a trackball once, and actually got one to try it out, but returned it shortly thereafter because it didn’t quite feel as nice as I had thought it would be. I think it was the Trackman Marble. I’m interested in trying once again though. I’ve only had my MX1100 since Feb…and as much as I love the features and the microwheel, the cursor on screen makes short hops when I try to move it, so the tracking ability is not smooth or clean. I’ve cleaned the sensor multiple times with dust blowers and even swabs of alcohol, but it keeps coming back. Maybe it’s the surface i’m using it on? It’s no frills smooth matte gray surface, so I don’t think it should be much of a problem.
I was hoping to find any updates and new products to Logitech’s trackman line of mice since they’ve been revamping a lot of their new laser mice, but sadly, nothing has shown up. I hope for the next iteration of a trackball mouse, these features will make it in:
– After experiencing the microwheel of the MX/VX mice, I feel like I can’t live without it on my next mice. Are there any plans to put out a “Revolution” trackball with the microwheel technology in it?
– I also hope that it would have more than just 4 or 5 customizable buttons. And when I say customizable, I hope that they are FULLY customizable. The MX1100 claims to have all the buttons fully customizable, but when I try to set them in the setpoint software, there are some basic functions that I cannot map to the thumb buttons. This is pretty annoying.
– Another thing I hope that is improved is the wireless communication. The size and strength of the mini wireless modules for the MX/VX mice are awesome. I’ve read the regular RF or whatever technology that these older trackballs use lose connection often unless there is nothing placed in between the device and the wireless module.
Other than that, since I am largely inexperienced with using trackball mice, I have no idea which method would be better or more comfortable for me, the thumb method or the finger method. All the testimonials I’ve read from people who’ve used the thumb method say it is superior to the finger method, but it seems there are more finger method trackball devices out there, so perhaps the latter is more popular? I don’t suppose there is any way to find out other than to just try both out myself?
Or heck…if it were even possible, a trackball based on the microwheel technology would be pretty cool. Don’t know how that would be put together though. If that were impossible, then having the microscroll wheel would still be a sweet addition. It’s uses come through quite often.
Chris, the weird jumpy mouse movement you’re reporting sounds like you’ve got “Enhance Pointer Precision” turned on. It’s an old feature to overcome some weird movement from ballmouses that introduces weird movement when you’re using a laser mouse. It might be called something else in the Logitech mouse options if you’re using that system, but if you go to Control Panel>Mouse>Pointer Options and disable “Enhance Pointer Precision” you’ll probably notice a big difference in how it behaves.
I wish new trackballs. My first trackball was the model “My First Trackball”, and still work great. Now, I am using a marble fx, but it is slow and the buttons are horrible. That right button was a joke, so small…
There seems to be high demand for specific type of trackballs: logitech trackman marble fx and microsoft trackball explorer — just check amazon prices for new or used trackballs of this two models. They share basic shape and I believe that’s the key.
I don’t care about wireless in fact I would prefer wire but if there is high quality wireless I would not mind.
It’s a shame that trackball users can’t find any decent trackball right now.
I am having big expectations after reading that you are ‘actively investigating new trackball offerings’. I would not mind paying $200 for new high end trackball. If the market is small let’s make it exclusive and people will follow.
So is the point of this blog post to let everyone know that Logitech has no intention of updating the decade old Trackman despite it’s obvious popularity? This is pretty hard to swallow for a company that releases an updated gaming mouse every 6 months it seems. You’re even manufacturing a plastic gaming guitar for crying out loud.
As of this moment your website lists 10 products that you consider ‘notebook’ mice. Over half of them cordless, and most of those using the tiny flashdrive sized receivers, yet your ‘wireless’ Trackman still uses a three foot corded receiver nearly as big as the trackball itself. Clearly you already have the technology to update this product. Is there truly a compelling reason why you haven’t?
Thanks for taking the time to comment. My intention with this post is to collect information from trackball users like yourself as to which features are of most interest. From the comments above, you\’ll see that some people are very interested in Bluetooth, while others (like yourself) are interested in the nano-reciever. New one, who posted right before you, is not interested in wireless. Instead, New one is most interested in a new shape. We are hoping to determine which chages might satisfy the most people.
Again, thank you for taking the time to write.
All the best, Rory
Small update: I just turned around my spare G9 mouse (good laser sensor), placed ball over sensor and got perfect configurable DPI tracking. All technology is there and ready. Do I need to take peace of metal and hammer proper case for myself? Rewire G9 keys?
As far as I can see Logitech can do the same: break G9, create new mold and create high end trackball.
IT WILL TAKE LESS PLASTIC THAN YOU NEED TO MAKE GAME GUITAR!
Well I am glad that I found something recent about Trackballs that I can answer to.
I have been using trackballs since the mid 90’s and I really don’t have the Desire to change to a normal mouse. Sadly the options for me are very limited, due to the fact that I am a Thumb trackball user and for some reason all other Trackballs are made for the fingertip users.
Currently I use the Trackman wheel, its been with me for a long time and looks pretty bad after so many hours of use. My parents use the same Trackball (Both in their 50’s) and also have no desire to change to a normal mouse. The problem that we are faced with is no option to upgrade and in the event of the trackball breaking, we have to buy the old model again.
We have been waiting and waiting and again waiting for something to happen and its really getting ridiculous, all of the new Mouse models that have been released and no Trackballs for the Thumb users. I have used the Microsoft Trackball with 5 buttons, but switched back to my Logitech trackball after the ball jamming so often.
Currently I am having random problems with my Trackball and I am hoping for a new device to come out so I can purchase it.
What is important to me:
I don’t care about Wireless devices, a cable is always better if your sitting by a desk. I need a Thumb Trackball with perhaps 5 buttons and a 4-way wheel. Also it would be important to up the DPI to something better designed for Games. I am a Photographer but I also Play the Odd game as well.
Perhaps there is a way to make the Trackball a little more comfortable, I’m not saying that the current model is uncomfortable, but I am sure you can do better now.
At the end of the day, all I ask.. No I beg of you, please bring us new Trackball models. It has been an eternity now and you really owe it to us after making us Trackball addicts.
We are waiting… and waiting….. and waiting…..
OK, I was a bit angry in my earlier comment, so here’s me being more reasonable.
What I want is a new, High resolution WIRED trackball with at least 4 buttons and a click-able wheel or even a little mini trackball for 3d scrolling (click is a must, especially in 7 when you use it to open new windows), finger pointing, with ergonomics similar to the old FX or the Microsoft Explorer, preference on button size and position to the explorer, shape to the FX. It would also be kinda nice if it didn’t glow from the laser.
The wire is very important to me, since I work in a sensitive environment, so I cannot use wireless devices of any kind.
@Void: I could not say it better, that is exactly my wish list.
@Rory: It would be great if you can send anonimous letter to biggest fans (since you have our emails) about when and if we can expect new trackballs.
Personally, I like the thumb trackball design.
At work I have been using a Logitech Trackman Marble +. It has a red scroll wheel and a usb 1.0 connector. I have been using it for around 10 years. The only thing it lacks is higher resolution and forward/back buttons (programmable would be nice)
At home I tried the Trackman Cordless Wheel for a short period of time. For some reason it would intermittently lose synch both during boot up or during normal use causing the pointer to quit moving on the screen. I am using Vista 64 and had the latest drivers from Logitech loaded. Repeated failures in this area caused me to return it.
The Microsoft Trackball Optical looks like a design that I would like to try due to the ball position and the number/ configuration of the buttons. I am not willing to give over $100 for it; especially given the fact that I read they had poor roller quality, i.e. I read that the rollers would get flat spots in them in a short period of time.
So right now at home, I am using a cordless Microsoft InteliMouse Explorer 2. The shape of this mouse feels nice in my hand and while cordless it is still a mouse (which I really dislike). I keep hoping some company will make a high res, thumb operated trackball with 4-5 buttons and scroll wheel. Corded is just fine.
I’ve been using the cordless trackman optical for years and absolutely love it. However, it and my logitech keyboard pig up 2 of the 3 usb ports on my notebook at my desk. I’d love to see a bluetooth version of this product! BTW, maybe one of my many receivers (all in a drawer) would work with both products, and free up one of my usb ports. Any help on this? How would I identify said receiver easily besides testing them out one by one…
My Xmas wish from Logitech this year(or next) is: a nice thumb trackball as requested by others above, 4/6 buttons, 4way scrolling, comfortable positioning of buttons, high resolution, etc. How about designing something more natural, similar to a sliced bottom half of a glove(made out of a silicone gel type of material insert) so that any hand would feel natural using it. Tip: this way you could use all your fingers to click away, an each finger could have two or three buttons(perfect for gaming).
For a keyboard: how about creating a colour touchscreen based version of a keyboard, same size as usual, possibly flatter. Make the keymapping and ui open source so anyone could switch their keyboard buttons on the fly from QWERTY to Alpha, or even chinese through software on the PC. For gaming you should be able to make your own keys and sliders to match the game you want to play, or even turn the keyboard into a giant wireless remote so you can watch your movies from the bed, and use the keyboard and mouse.
The num lock could be dynamic, so when you hit the num lock key theT right half of the keyboard can switch over to the standard numpad, or be customized as the user wishes. This will allow for an even shorter keyboard size.
I have plenty ideas, feel free to contact me for the logic i have already figured out about these concepts. You may use these ideas freely and with my help if you wish, on condition that i at least get one set, thats all, no royalties, or fees I promise i will even work for free on it. After a set like this, lets see the competition try to beat that. I dont want to dream on, just to enjoy what is possible 🙂
I would be happy with a Cordless TrackMan Wheel with better range. I’ve been using these trackballs for 10+ years and if I could get reliable range over 6 feet I would upgrade every computer in the house. They are the best option for people who’s computer monitor is also their TV.
I’ve been using the trackman for years, and for the most part I like it. However I do a lot of FPS gaming, and the there is definately room for improvement. I’d like to see the exact same model, but maybe with a slightly bigger ball for more range of movement and higher resolution. The resolution/dpi/precision really feels terrible for this trackball. Another thing I’d look forward to is stronger materials. I find I have to replace this trackball almost once a year(I do use it pretty hard).
1) Bigger ball(or more space for larger range of movement)
2) Higher resolution(most important)
3) More durable. I want that ball rolling smoothly!
Also, I never see that trackman FX in stores. Anyone know how it compares to the trackman wheel?
I’ve been using Logitech thumb ball trackballs since the very first model Logitech released, and I still use a Trackman Wheel. Most of my gamer friends also use Logitech Trackman Wheel.
It’s time Logitech released a new thumb ball Trackman. For gamers. The ergonomics on the Trackman Wheel is great, but it needs one more button and a fancy hat/scroll wheel IMHO.
The one feature that I really want is a way to change the ball’s movement speed *on-the-fly*. Perhaps make it a toggle for the pinky finger to use a slow movement / high precision mode for those long-range head shots.
I’m not too keen on wireless personally. Since the Trackman is stationary, having a cord isn’t a big deal.
Been a loyal Logitech user for years. I may switch computer brands but every single computer I’ve used has been connected to a trackball. Please, I’m begging you, make a bluetooth trackball!
There’s an online petition for a “Cordless Trackman Wheel with Bluetooth”. It’s had over 2000 signatures. And user comments posted allonside many of the entries. URL: http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?logbttrk
It looks like Logitech has *finally* decided to get the (track)ball rolling… Absolutely GREAT news.
Here’s my wish list:
* wired/wireless (what about one that can do both?) trackman wheel, no need to change the shape, it fits perfectly (imo)
* more buttons
* better scroll wheel
basically, it’s “take your best logitech mouse and make it a trackman”. I personally don’t care about the price tag: make it a great trackman, that’s it.
Thank you for _finally_ listening to your customers.
Thank you Logitech for having a Forum of this nature. I’ve been using your pointers for years and save for the occasional mishap, have always been satisfied with the product.
My current pointer is a somewhat antiquated Cordless TrackMan FX. by antiquated I mean it is old enough that the Logitech labeling is completely worn off, along with some of the ‘skin’ around that area. I use this device for pointing, and find it most useful in First Person Shooter games, where the ‘pointing’ equates to my head / body movement.
Sensitivity. I don’t know anything about dpi or resolution and such, but I would like it to be sensitive enough so that I do not have to go into my controller settings (on each application where I use it) and Ramp the sensitivity. If I do not, I don’t turn nearly fast enough.
The Cord and Wireless. Either the receiver is weak or the transmitter is. What that means to me is that I need to keep the TrackMan fairly close to the dongle. This makes having a cordless pointer ‘pointless’, especially as the battery power wanes. As a trackball system is designed to be immobile, having corded version of this device would seem cheaper to produce, and just as easy to manage. Barring that, going Bluetooth might help the distance issue for added cost though still require charging. Perhaps a redesigned unit could include a docking station to recharge the trackball.
Shape. Form. Button Position. I am satisfies with the shape of my TrackMan FX. I tend to rest the pointer ball on the underside of the fold of my knuckles, where fingers meet the palm. This allows for extra movement when needed, and button access. I have read some other posts about the far to reach Right-Click, and I would have to agree. A slight reposition of the two major buttons (slightly forward and left for the Rt-handed TrackMan) might quell concerns.
Side Buttons. The scroll button is genius and is easily accessible to my index finger. Please dont change it. The thumb buttons are fine to me. If you could find a way to add a third small button that would be nice, .
Again thanks for the forum, and I hope to see some new trackball pointers soon.
I would really like to see a new Trackman, something in the Unify range, not too dissimilar to the upcoming Performance MX would be awesome.
Trackballs fall into two categories, perhaps three. Thumb users, finger users and a combination approach. The other thing you’ll notice about the successful shapes is they take the stress off the hand. I currently use a kensington expert trackball and its shape is as unergonomic as you can get. Your hands natural position, sitting on the table is on the flat of the palm with a space between your thumb and fingers. Because of this, the ideal shape allows for this natural hold. Add in a decent sized ball (think pool ball or bigger) and you have a good start. Your typical fast movement is pushed by the fingers, and then detailed movement comes with a pinching action on the ball. Combined with a decent sensor and you have the very beginning of a comfortable and versatile trackball.
WRT button placement, if you look at how your hand sits again, you’ll notice the easiest movement is thumb up/down, so you put your main buttons above/below the thumb. If you want to add more (more is better, you can always leave things unbound) you can place buttons above each finger within reach (dont edge them onto the ball or you’ll get accidental clicks constantly)
So we have our base controls. Next you have to assess scrolling. A typical trackball trick is to use chording (or hitting of two buttons simultaneously) to push the trackball into scroll mode. I have never seen this implemented well. A novel solution is the kensignton experts scroll wheel, although im not sure how well it holds up to the standard scroll wheel. Logitechs flywheel tech is highly appropriate here.
Lastly, its down to quality quality quality. people who buy trackballs are typically not cheap. Seth Godin said it best, if you make an average product for average people, you’re not going to do well. aim for the end of the bell curve. Use quality materials, make sure the fit and finish is perfect. Use metal, weight isnt a concern here. (although you could always offer options in the weight of the ball itself). But most critically, _pay attention to the ball motion_. like the flywheel tech, trackballs benifit from being able to be flicked. you need a suspension method that allows minimal friction. Friction is the trackball killer, and every manufacturer is guilty of mounting their balls on shitty teflon points which quickly wear and leave you grinding. (not to mention their high friction at low speed movements makes accuracy a pain).
tldr; pay attention to quality, pay attention to ergonomics and how your hand actually sits at rest.
and for the love of god dont cripple the thing with poor drivers 😛
I am a Thumb Trackball user. Desperately need a revamp on the Cordless Trackman Wheel. The shape and ergonomics is perfect. Just need more DPI and need more range on the Cordless.
It doesn’t take rocket science to make a good new trackball in these days… There’s simply no competition and a lot of demand. People would be happy enough if there’s a new trackball to buy before their current one breaks…
When every input device manufacturer can churn out almost a new mouse model every month or 2, a new line of trackball every 3 years isn’t asking for a lot, is it?
Tons of voice in the Logitech forum, pops up every other week, asking for new trackballs… sadly they have been ignored for years and years. There are plenty of threads on asking for a new trackball, with what exactly they want and design suggestions in them. The below are a few examples.
Asking for a bluetooth trackball:
Thread started 2006, last reply Nov 2008, viewed 28,737 times, 12 pages of replies
Asking for a trackball in general:
Thread started 2007, last reply 2008, viewed 3073 times, 6 pages of replies
Asking for a new Trackman in general:
Thread started 2007, last reply this very month, viewd 2709 times, 5 pages of replies
The recipe for success for a trackball is just make a new one with all the current technology at Logitech, with the usual design and ergonomics standard being upheld a Logitech. Whatever it is, trackball users will buy them, and many of them at a time, and upgrade each time there’s a new line-up. Please bring on the new trackballs already….
The TrackMan Marble FX was a great product. I’m using it for almost a decade now.
1) The shape of the TrackMan Marble FX was just fine. I own a Cordless TrackMan FX too, but I don’t like working with it. The left buttons are misplaced in my opinion. Clicking them takes effort which fatigues your hand after a while. Also the adjustable wrist pad is a nuisance. If I use it my wrist feels bent, if I don’t my wrist feels strained and I got the feeling it’s positioned too low in accordance to the hand. With these bad experiences in mind I’m very distrustful in the Cordless Optical TrackMan: Although the positioning of the hand feels much better than on the Cordless TrackMan FX the button placement doesn’t seem comfortable. Just try holding your hand so that the palm is in a vertical position. Now move your thumb to the side (left if you’re right handed) and back (Similar to the Marble FX left-click). Now try moving your thumb up and down, parallel to the palm of your hand (similar to the Cordless devices left-click).
[Perhaps this is why people (including me) prefer paying a load of money on eBay for a used TrackMan Marble FX rather than buying the latter models.]
2) The only thing that really would improve the Marble FX would be a scroll wheel.
[Perhaps this is why people pay even bigger loads of money on eBay for a used Trackball Explorer from Microsoft.]
3) I never felt the need to have a cordless device, maybe some people do. I’d prefer having a choice, than being forced to used a cordless one.
I got a macbook and am absolutely addicted to the trackball, and find the normal mouse hard to use, especially for gaming (I use bootcamp hehe.) I adapted well to the trackball, it feels better, and am glad Logitech still has a focus on them. I am using the trackman marble, I use the 4 buttons all the time in both windows and mac. Expose and spaces work well with the trackman, and I use them with a few games in windows. I really wish there was a focus by Logitech on making them smaller and please add bluetooth. I found a few hundred bluetooth mice, not one bluetooth trackball though, that fits my needs after searching the internet for days. I hope you guys read this, and try to get a bluetooth trackball out before christmas, if you know what I mean. A trackball is perfect for laptop users like me. I am just trying to fit everything into my higher ground shuttle bag. The marble works, but I only have 2 2.0 usb ports. I got a 500 gb external hard drive and only have one port left. I hate loosing my marble when I need to print something or have 2 usb devices plugged in at the same time. I really hope you guys at Logitech read this stuff. I want an optical trackman, bad, but I have to conserve space, and usb ports. Can we on the go laptop users have a bluetooth trackman with a bunch of buttons please. Long live the TRACKBALL!!!!!!
Trackballs are definitely a niche device these days. I started using one about 10 years ago because of carpal tunnel issues. You have several mentalities too as far as usage. I believe most of us prefer the thumb-driven ball, while others prefer their index finger to do the work. I personally find this weird since you can’t left-click and move at the same time or at least not in a comfortable way.
I think one thing is clear though, people want a new wireless solution. Several comments have already been made about it. Kensington makes a bluetooth trackball/mouse but it isn’t for thumb-driven people. If you think about it, what laptop can’t be ordered with bluetooth these days? And if you’re using a Mac, then all models come standard with it. Some people may think bluetooth is rare but you’d be surprised how ubiquitous it has become. Some features that would appeal to majority of the users are:
-Wireless (either bluetooth or nano receiver)
Ever tried sitting in your favorite recliner with your notebook on your lap and a mouse on the arm rest? It isn’t very easy to do. Well you could use a cordless trackman like me, but then you have that long, clunky dongle still hanging around. Still not cool….
I would like to see this product:
– Trackman Wheel (thumb controlled)
– Bluetooth wireless connection (or at least a very small RF/USB dongle)
I have the FX, I recall that I could not get it working in Vista and am now moving to Win7 64 bit, I hope it works ….
I would like to see a FX with more buttons that works with Win7 and lets you progam them all. And with the unifying rf thing.
I dont see how its possible to come up with better hand placement or precise control as this is the only trackball that you can control with the figers opposite the thumb. Large size ball is more dpi also. There is just no way to design better.
six months have passed since you post your blog entry. Do you have any update on an upcoming upgraded trackman (thumb).
Will Santa bring me a new trackman for XMas?
Thanks for taking the time to post some lines.