- Apr 24, 2016
For the first time in my life, I ditched a regular mouse for a trackball and I won't be going back.
I'm not as young as I used to be. I've been grappling with finding the best mouse for everyday use for a while now, in part, because my body has been telling me I need to change. The aches in the wrists and the fingers are more frequent and lasting longer, and even my beloved Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro can't change that.
Before I worked at Windows Central I spent years working on massive laptops with dodgy trackpads and desktop PCs in communal office spaces with terrible mice. So it's been well over a decade in the making, but finally, I've decided to do something about it.
Out of the blue, I decided to try a trackball. The results have been immediately noticeable to the point that I'm absolutely convinced and won't be going back to using a regular mouse as my daily driver. It's better than I ever imagined it could be.
The main difference to using a trackball over a normal mouse is the movement. The only part that moves is the ball, so the rest of the mouse stays static. You still get buttons and a scroll wheel, though exact designs will vary, but the crucial factor is that you're not required to move your wrist across the desk.
Instead, your wrist remains static and you use your fingers to push and pull the ball, moving the cursor across the screen as you go. This is the biggest change and for me, the most comfortable.
Spending five days a week in front of the PC working, then some evenings gaming, all that wrist motion from moving the mouse across the desk has been creating some pretty bad fatigue, and while it hasn't completely gone (yet), after a few weeks with a trackball I've noticed a massive change.
What a trackball can't do
The big elephant in the room is gaming. I have tried using the trackball for it, thinking I might be able to pull some insanely quick moves off with a simple flick of the ball, but it's not really worked out. At least not for the games I play the most.
In something like Age of Empires or Oxygen Not Included, it's fine. But for shooters, it is not. It's just not accurate enough, and though I could probably practice, it's easier to sub in a proper gaming mouse.
You also don't get the sort of customizable buttons you might find on a gaming mouse, either. So if you're using those as shortcuts for non-gaming features, as I used to, then you'll be missing out on those as well.
A new approach
It's taken time and a lot of effort to prize my favorite gaming keyboard and mouse away from my desk for regular use, but I'm certainly feeling better for it. After the initial learning curve, there's nothing worse about using a trackball over a mouse, and I actually think I'm now more accurate with it.
If, like me, you're plagued with wrist fatigue then give it a try. You can pick up a good trackball for not a lot of money if you're not sure, as I wasn't, and it could be the change you've been looking for.