Buyer's Guide - Trackball & Trackpad
This buying guide will provide information on computer mouse alternatives, the trackball and trackpad, so that the user may be able to make an informed decision on the products they purchase.
So what are these ‘tracking’ items, anyway? And what are they used for? A trackball is an upside-down mouse; the rotatable ball that normally rests underneath the mouse is brought to the top. This ball becomes the method of positioning the cursor and moving objects across the computer screen. As opposed to a mouse, which needs desktop room to work, a trackball stays in one place, and can even be part of a keyboard or built into a laptop computer.
A trackpad is another stationary device that provides a small, flat surface
that you slide your finger over using the same movements as you would a mouse. It
is similar to a touchpad that you use with a laptop. A trackpad is a great
option for those who have a desktop computer but would prefer to have the
option to utilize the gestures available to the touchpads on a laptop.
Additionally, if you are a laptop user who is dissatisfied with the touchpad on
your laptop, trackpads are an easy alternative.
Two example trackballs are the wired Logitech Trackman Marble and the Logitech Wireless Trackball M570.
The Logitech Trackman Marble, pictured left:
- Houses the trackball in the center of the mouse, allowing for ease of use whether right- or left-handed.
- Has four buttons that work as “back and forth” functions for efficient web surfing
- Requires a USB plug-in; is a wired device so you must factor in the room necessary to have the cord space.
You could also choose the Logitech Wireless Trackball M570, pictured right:
- Contours to the shape of the hand, with the trackball placed for ease of access. A much less ambidextrous product, however; may be difficult for left-handed people.
- Retains the standard mouse shape, so there is no additional learning process needed along with the trackball
- Requires a USB port, but is also made wireless to maximize the function of saving desk-space of trackball products. Wireless allows for greater travel capabilities as well.
Two examples of trackpads are the Logitech Rechargeable Trackpad (for both Mac and Windows) and the Apple Magic Trackpad.
The Logitech Trackpad:
- Comes in a metallic silver color for Macs, to match the design of the Apple products, or a black color for the Windows version (pictured left).
- Connects to your Mac via Bluetooth, or your Windows PC through a USB port; both options are wireless.
- Comes with an extensive, easy-to-learn gesture library for many specialized functions.
- Needs a charging cable to function, though only needs to be charged every month
- Lays completely flat on the desk
The Apple Magic Trackpad, pictured right:
- Connects wirelessly to Macs via Bluetooth
- Non-rechargeable battery, must be replaced every x months
- Large gesture library with many specialized functions; gestures and scroll times are customizable to meet your needs
- Sits at a raised angle—the exact same angle as an Apple keyboard for seamless switching between the two.