Mice vs Trackball vs Tablet
So many options, so little room on your desktop.
I’ve tried, tested and pretty much weighed them all recently. And the winner is…
Hands down, I use the mouse 90% of the time. And I recently purchased a new one to replace the Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse I purchased with my Mac Pro system last year. (Sorry Apple, it’s a terrible design.) Instead I purchased a Logitech MX Revolution mouse which I must say could very well be the best mouse I have ever used.
The scroll wheel on the top is “smart” which allows you to either go through a document line by line or quickly scroll through many pages with a single spin. It is also the only mouse I have ever seen with a side “thumb” wheel which acts as a three way button. (I’ve mapped the thumb wheel to the bracket keys to make quick brush size changes while in Photoshop and I must say, that is more helpful than I expected.) On the flip side, it sets a record as the most expensive mouse I have ever purchased with a retail price of $99.95! (Well worth it in my opinion.) Beyond that, I don’t think I need to mention much about what makes a typical mouse good and bad here since I think we all use or have used one.
With that said, prior to purchasing the most expensive mouse ever, I had tried out several trackball offerings since I enjoyed using a trackball back in my younger years in drafting applications. Although they prove easy on the hand, the sensitivity of the optical system seems to need improvement to bring them up to the same level as current optical and laser guided mice. The pointer control was choppy at best and I really had a hard time using the scroll wheel due to the forced hand position on the device. Overall even the most expensive trackball lacked the features and hand ‘fit’ of even an average priced mouse. Needless to say, both of these went back to the store for a refund. Unless they come up with some serious upgrades, I would avoid the trackball unless you have a really small desktop (IE: no room to move a mouse around on).
The last 10% of my work is on a 6×8 Wacom Intous 3 graphics tablet. (They are now selling Intous 4 models with several new features and upgrades.) The tablet is by far the best for overall control within programs like Photoshop and Painter since these can take advantage of the pressure sensitive tip and tilt sensitive pens giving very natural brush control on-screen. Of course a tablet is not for everyone. They take up more desktop than either of the above, cost the most and some people find the pen to cause hand fatigue even with short term use. (Myself included, though it does go after you get used to it.) I do try to avoid general computer use with the tablet as it lacks the ease of use features that a normal mouse has and I’m always misplacing the pen tool.