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Input Devices


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I'm talking mice, trackballs, and touchpads.

My home trackball, a 5+ year old Kensington Slimblade, died a couple weeks back. What to do? Buy another! It worked for ... two weeks. That's also the highest-end trackball Kensington makes. So, I'll try some of the other stuff on the market. My budget will be $90, the cost of the Slimblade.

First, I have a Mac at work and I use an Apple Magic Trackpad with it. At home, I use a PC. Yes, there are Windows drivers out there for the Magic Touchpad, but the major problem I have is that I only like using the trackpad right below the keyboard, like you would on a laptop. My keyboard tray pull-out is too narrow to fit the trackpad like that.

It's been years since I used a mouse as my "daily driver" so I researched. The number one mouse, based on a lot of reviews, is the Logitech MX Master 2S. At the time, those were $110-ish. I did some hunting on eBay and found one of the older MX Masters for $70. I used it for maybe three days: major strain on my shoulder and elbow, which is why I went trackball in the first case.

Kensington and Logitech aren't the only folks that make trackballs, so I researched a company called Elecom. They're well-known in China for their trackballs and they just started selling in the US. I bought the HUGE model. At first glance and try, it's very similar to the best trackball ever made, the Microsoft Trackball Explorer. I used that for a couple days. It has, for me, a big problem over the Trackball Explorer: the thumb buttons are smaller and I was constantly hitting the scroll wheel. It'd be perfect with someone with smaller fingers, but not me.

This kinda put me in a corner: the best sub-$90 mice and trackballs out there weren't working for me and the next price bump is to $125 for the CST Laser Trackball. So, I re-check all the CST posts in Amazon. Someone returned one. Cool! Savings time! Close to 50% off. It was listed as having "cosmetic blemishes." I can't find them. How is it? Well, perfect in Linux Mint. Not quite as good in Windows: all of the computers I have in my office have had the Kensington trackball software installed on them. CST mentions this might interfere and it looks like simply uninstalling the software isn't good enough.

Even though CST trackballs are, quite literally, the best you can buy, I would like to see some improvements: a trackball that's more raised up, like the Kensington Slimblade. I'd like the thing to be wider, in general, and have wider buttons. I'm still not sold on having the vertical scroll right above the trackball. I still think I prefer the "twist the ball" idea on the Kensington Slimblade or the rotating "ring" found on the Kensington Expert Mouse and Orbit, but the one on the CST does work well. I also raised the lower end of the trackball, as it's built on an angle, not flat. An old iPhone 4 is just the right size for that.

So, I have 20ish more days I can play with the CST before returning. I hope I don't have to, primarily because I have no clue what I could use next!


Staff member
You guys must be riding them hard and putting them away wet! I've had the same wireless mouse for over 10 years. Basic 2 button with a scroll wheel. I have a smaller one for my laptop, but that usually stays in the drawer. I like the tiny joystick on my Lenovo ThinkPad laptop. Been using one for years, all the way back to when IBM made them.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I like the tiny joystick on my Lenovo ThinkPad laptop.
Ah, yes. The trackpoint. That's also been on Dell business-level laptops for a number of years. IBM/Lenovo also sold regular keyboards with them.

They're different, but not the most esoteric I've seen. Call me a cynic, but I think that IBM developed those because when they wear out, you have to pay for a whole keyboard assembly. Admittedly, that's the same for lots of laptop keyboards, in general.

I'm paid to be on my computer 8 hours a day. I do a lot of unpaid work, too (e.g. here). Does reading forums count? Kindle? Watching movies on my computer? I think I could surpass 12 hours, easily. I'd obviously want to be as comfortable as possible if I'm using something for that length of time.