So, my wife so lovingly allows me to get a new Kensington Slimblade Trackball – as her early anniversary gift to me. Let me must start of by saying, I love this thing. I love trackballs already, and this is basically the Mercedes of trackballs.
See, there is the Slimblade trackball, right there, on my keyboard tray. It is a low profile trackball so that my hand can just rest on it without bending in some crazy position, with a large ball for greater control and precision.
“But why do you like trackballs so much,” I hear you ask. “Why not just use a mouse?”
Well, it is simple really – mice cause me pain. With a mouse I have to constantly pop advil. Using a mouse all day not only causes my wrists to hurt, but also causes neck pain and headaches. Since I use a computer A LOT, I figured I had better find other input devices that don’t cause me so much pain.
First, I switched to a ergonomic keyboard, the Microsoft Natural 4000 to be exact. That helped some. Now I could type for longer periods of time without fatigue. Which is good, because I tend to be exceptionally long-winded with my typing. But I needed to make another change. So I looked up online for input devices for sufferers of RSI (repetitive strain injury), and one of the most talked about ideas online was swapping out the mouse for a trackball.
I of course was skeptical. Weren’t trackballs outdated? I vaguely remembered them from the late 80’s to the early 90’s, but then the mouse went optical and so I sort of thought the trackball disappeared. But, it turns out I was wrong. Trackballs stayed around and advanced some too, though admittedly not as much as the mouse had. Trackballs now used optical and even lasers instead of rollers to track movement. I decided to try it out and picked me up a cheap Logicteck Trackman Marble from the local WalMart.
I fell in love with it. No longer was I in any pain mousing around on the computer. Yeah, it took about a week to get used to the new method, but once I was used to it, I was hooked. I decided to try a thumb-controlled trackball, but I didn’t like it too much, so I went back to the Marble.
Eventually the Marble started to wear out (did I mention it was cheap?), so I looked up some more trackballs and was pretty much convinced to get a Kensington Orbit Trackball with ScrollRing. This thing was very similar to the Marble, but with only 2 buttons (instead of 4 like the Marble). However, it had one thing the Marble didn’t have. A Scroll Ring. A scroll ring is basically like the scroll wheel you find on most modern mice, except it is a ring and not a wheel, and IMO, works better than the wheel.
I have had the Orbit for a few years now, and it still works great. My only problem with it is that it has a high profile, causing wrist bend, and the small ball doesn’t provide very precise control. My lovely wife knew that I was dreaming for a larger, more comfortable trackball so last week she told me to go ahead and get one! Isn’t she wonderful!
I read lots and lots of reviews and decided upon the Slimblade. Its lower profile was the primary factor. It came in yesterday afternoon, and within moments I was in trackball heaven!
First of all, this ball is almost twice the size and weight as the Orbit. This larger ball gives a more solid feeling and allows me much greater control. I can move the cursor as fast as I want, or I can move it to the smallest amount. It is really hard to explain the difference in control in words, but let me tell you, I have greater control with the Slimblade than I ever had with a mouse.
The casing that the trackball is in also feels very premium to me, especially compared to the very plastic-y Orbit and Marble. It has a glossy finish that is very smooth, the base is heavy so it won’t move around, and true to its name, it is very slim.
Unlike many reviews I had read, the buttons do not feel cheap or hard to click – they feel just right. If there was one complaint I had about the buttons was that I wish I could more easily tell which button my finger was over – they are all just part of the casing. Even the USB cord feels and looks premium. You can tell that the Slimblade is Kensinton’s flagship device.
One thing I should point out is that the Slimblade does not have a scroll ring. It has four buttons, but no scroll ring. That is because the scrolling is built into the ball itself! You just twist the ball instead of roll it and it scrolls the page. I think this is a pretty neat feature. Still, I went ahead and mapped one of the buttons to let me use the ball for even faster scrolling.
Anyway, if you suffer from RSI, try using a trackball. If you love trackballs, try out a Slimblade. IMO, it is very much worth its cost.