For the past couple months, I’ve started to feel an increasing pain in my wrist. This is partially due to my excessive computer usage in the past years after graduating college. I found that due to the nature of my job, which is primarily editing website content and creating and running spreadsheets, my right wrist was starting to feel sore and pain was starting to creep in. As a musician, specifically a guitar player, I simply can’t have any sort of pain. I did stresses and the such and found that while they did alleviate some of my pain, it didn’t reduce drastically enough. A couple days of research later, and we arrive at the trackball.
What On Earth Is A Trackball?
To understand what a trackball is, let’s backtrack and discuss how a typical computer mouse works. There is a laser in the bottom of your mouse that moves your cursor based on the mouses movement. If the mouse goes left, the cursor goes left. If the mouse goes to the right, the cursor goes to the right… you get the idea. The trackball uses a ball in place of having to move the mouse. If the ball is turned to the left the cursor goes left, ball turns right– cursor goes right etc.
Trackballs come in two forms, finger-ball and thumb-ball. Which you decide to use is strictly up to the user, it is all personal preference. For me personally, the thumb-ball mouse feels very natural to me as someone who transitioned from the Logitech G502 Proteus Gaming Mouse. The trackball mouse is a little bit larger, but my hand naturally rests on it and provides me with zero pain.
Why Bother With A Trackball?
There are quite a few reasons I like using a trackball. I will preface it by saying I switch between the trackball and the gaming mouse frequently. The trackball is used for daily use aside from some Photoshop usage and PC Gaming, that’s the Logitech’s exclusive territory. For one, I work from home on my desktop and produce music, two activities that require me to sit in front of a desktop for hours on end. My wrist was killing me after some heavy spreadsheet work, and I wanted to prevent this pain going down the road. The trackball reduces wrist pain and overall strain such as RSI (repetitive stress injury) by keeping the mouse stationary and making you use your fingers for mouse movement.
The second reason trackballs are great is that they are great space savers. A lot of music productions desks are packed to the brim with audio interfaces, MIDI keyboards are cans of Redbull. There is hardly any space for proper mouse movement. Since trackballs do not have to be moved around, they are great for conserving space. If your trackball is wireless, you even remove more clutter on your desk, another great plus.
Is It Worth The Transition?
I wouldn’t be writing about it if that was the case. Trackball mice can be had for a very attractive price, the same as most low to midrange ‘gaming’ mice. Some trackballs also have extra function buttons, similar to gaming mice, where you can program them to specific macros. The ELECOM-XT3 for example has three re-mappable function buttons to bring commands like previous and forward pages to the palm of your hand. A popular mice that I recommend is the Logitech M570, known for it’s classic blue trackball and forgiving price point.
Trackballs definitely are a niche product, there is no doubt about that in my mind, but I find that they are indispensable to me as someone who is actively at their desk for eight hours plus a day working on spreadsheets and operations.. Check out the Logitech M570 and the Elecom XT3 for affordable trackballs that can help reduce wrist stress.