I have been using trackballs instead of mice for several years now, both at work and at home. Initially, it was the influence and cool factor of being in a graphics lab during my Ph.D. where few of my colleagues also used trackballs. But a few years ago I also discovered that my right shoulder would cramp or ache after moving the mouse on a desk surface all day. All of that just disappeared by switching to a trackball. Needless to mention that the feel of rotating a ball using several fingers feels just great. Another plus is that the trackball can be plopped right next to the keyboard and there is no movement, so it occupies less desk space.
My old favorite of several years was the Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse. This was a simple wired USB trackball with a small blue trackball, a scroll ring and two buttons on either side, mapped to left and right mouse button operations.
Tired of the cable mess at my desk, I went wireless about 9 months ago by switching to the Kensington Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball. This has a giant red trackball, a scroll ring around it and four buttons distributed at four corners. It also comes with a removable wrist rest attachment that I find to be comfortable.
This wireless trackball can be connected using two ways to the computer:
Since it is wireless, the trackball uses 2 AA batteries for power. I have been using these trackballs at work and home for 9 months and the batteries are still at 50%, so they are quite long lasting. In case you are curious, the battery level can be seen in Bluetooth properties of the trackball in your OS.
Compared to my Orbit, the ball in this trackball is way larger and feels awesome in the wrist and to move the cursor around. A larger ball also plays nicer with dual or multiple displays where there is a lot more cursor movement required. The scroll ring is literally a plastic ring and was surprisingly stiff and bumpy to rotate in the beginning. Thankfully, in a couple of months it got nicely worn down and is super smooth now.
The buttons on this trackball were what took the most effort to get used to. In the Orbit the right and left buttons are just perfect on the side and large - super easy to smash with any part of the wrist. In this trackball, the buttons are above and below your wrist when using the ball and these are not ideal positions. The bottom ones are easiest ones to smash and those are what I use as right and left mouse buttons. The top ones are harder to reach and I have mapped to middle click and the browser back operations.
All the button mappings, scroll ring speed, cursor speed, application-specific settings and other configuration can be managed by installing the KensingtonWorks software from the product website. I usually avoid using product-specific software, but in this case there is a lot to gain and I would recommend using KensingtonWorks to fine tune the trackball.
Coming off my Orbit, I was initially disappointed with this wireless trackball in the first month. However, once the scroll ring, buttons and the ball all have nicely worn down and are smooth in operation now, this wireless trackball is a joy to use. And my right shoulder thanks me every day that I avoid the mouse. With its huge wrist-fitting size, a gorgeous incline and a comfortable wrist rest, I feel like conquering the world when I use it. 👍