An alluring, but awkward alternative to the mouse
Most of us are used to using mice but there are alternative methods of moving the pointer on the screen. We have looked at graphics tablets recently, but an older device making something of a comeback is the trackball. These can be better for those who find mice hard or painful to use.
A trackball can also be a good choice for people who use photo-editing and graphics programs as it’s likely to allow more precise control of the pointer.
A good trackball will allow the user to move the cursor while their hand remains in a relaxed position, minimising the amount of stress exerted on the fingers and wrist and ultimately helping to prevent wrist injury.
The Kensington Slimblade’s grey casing and red ball look good and it has a low profile. However, this low profile made the Slimblade ucomfortable to use for long periods.
Due to the size and height of the ball in relation to the wrist rest, we had to raise our wrists to quite a sharp angle to use it properly.
Controlling the ball with the thumb was more comfortable, but this meant using the other hand to operate the left and right click buttons, which was awkward.
Those mouse buttons are located on the lower half of the device and two smaller buttons toward the top activate Viewing mode and Media mode.
Viewing mode turns the ball into a scroll wheel, rolling it up and down to scroll on a page. It can also zoom in or out by rotating the ball clockwise or anti-clockwise but this did not work with all applications.
Media mode lets the user control volume and track selection using the ball and buttons. This only worked fully with iTunes.
Skipping between tracks using the ball was too vague for our liking – it was hard to select a particular track – and having a volume control on the trackball was of little benefit. Annoyingly, the buttons cannot be customised any further.
There are good alternatives to mice, but sadly the Slimblade is not one of them.
Promises lots but doesn’t deliver Good points Attractive design; five-year warranty Bad points Uncomfortable and expensive
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