Logitech Trackman

by Ian Harding

It was about a year ago when I first felt a small pain in my index finger. I thought nothing of it at the time and went on with my life. Well, let me just say that the pain never went away. In fact, over the preceding months the pain got progressively worse. Now, one year later, it has gotten to the point where all I have to do is look at a computer mouse and my hand screams in pain. In fact, I can’t even conduct every day tasks such as holding a spoon or opening a car door without the wrenching pain. It seriously got to the point where my hand would just start aching every 5-10 minutes… throughout the entire day! Now I don’t know about you, but a small pain in my hand isn’t something I go running to a doctor about. I played Rugby for five years, so pain is something I’ve learned to fight against and even deal with. Injuries have always gone away over time, but not this one… this one, as mild as it may appear, is quite serious. This pain is the result of years of repetitive motions and is something that I will have to physically change part of my life to heal. If I don’t take action now, results could be devastating to my working career.

Not too long ago I was introduced to the world of trackballs, the Kensington Expert by a co-worker who had gone through the struggles that I was facing. When I explained to them my dilemma, they had only two words of advice for me: “track ball”. That was all it took for me to make the decision to give it a try. There was no turning back now. I didn’t care how much they cost or which one I got. All I know is that I was willing to give it a shot.

Less than a week later, I had myself a brand new Logitech TrackMan Wireless Optical mouse.

After looking cross-eyed at it for a minute, I came to the conclusion that “hey, this thing is pretty slick”. I dropped in the two double-A batteries (which come included), plugged in the receiver, and placed my hand on its body. Just then, a sudden sense of calmness came over me. For the first time in months, my hand was actually comfortable on a mouse. Even though, in my opinion, the TrackMan should be known as an optical rat because it is almost twice the size of the old mouse I was using, it still seemed to hold my hand as a mother would hold a newborn’s. It didn’t take long before I was whizzing the cursor across the screen with the unique marble technology optical trackball.

Now I don’t know about you, but I can be a picky person. So naturally I immediately started searching for flaws. I found that if I used my index finger to maneuver the ball, I couldn’t reach the scroll wheel and it’s fellow ‘cruise control’ buttons. Yet if I placed my index finger directly on those buttons, I had a much harder time controlling the cursor with, what I like to call, my “weaker fingers”. I soon realized that it wasn’t necessary to keep the hand static. Moving it around was completely acceptable and in fact, I now no longer even realize that I’m doing it.

Now for a more in-depth look at some of the main features the TrackMan has to offer. Priced at $99.95 CAN on the Logitech website, this award-winning peripheral device takes advantage of a 27 MHz wireless interface and uses radio frequencies to transmit information instead of infrared. This means that you don’t have to have the mouse lined up with the receiver for it to work. This also allows for incredible accuracy and means that you don’t need to be right at your computer for it to operate. In fact, I thought I’d test out the range on it and I found that I could stand up to a mere 25-30 feet and the cursor still moved flawlessly. I don’t recommend this, however, unless you are Superman or have the vision of an owl. I had a friend tell me where the cursor was.

The TrackMan also gives you the full range of buttons necessary to navigate an interface without lifting your hand, and every button is also completely programmable. The thumb has three buttons to its possession; a regular ‘click’ button, a forward button, and a back button. The forward and back buttons make browsing the web a breeze. Having the thumb as the primary “clicker” is also a key feature because it moves the main clicking away from the fingers. Sure in time my thumb would develop the same tendonitis symptoms that my fingers had, but it would take years. Besides, switching between the trackball and a regular mouse every few months will help eliminate prolonged repetitive motions in one tendon.

Next we move on to the scrolling buttons. Not only does the TrackMan have a scroll wheel/button, but it also has two ‘cruise control’ buttons on either end of the wheel. These allow for speed scrolling through pages and they can be programmed to scroll at either a slow, medium or fast pace.

Now, the TrackMan also has something quite interesting that I, not being a very techy individual (strange I’m writing about a techy item), finds quite interesting. It has what is called a “drag lock” button. Don’t know what that is? Well this button locks any highlighted text or images and allows you to move or edit JUST what you have highlighted. Can be handy for someone like a programmer who needs to move a specific block of code or someone working in a page layout application and is constantly rearranging blocks of text and/or images. Simply highlight the area you want to edit/move, lock it (so you don’t mess it up), and do as you wish with it. If you choose something that you decide you no longer want to move, simply hit the escape key and back it goes, untouched.

Finally there is what makes the TrackMan so special… the marble. Logitech has definitely met and surpassed anything that the average consumer has been seeking when it comes to a trackball mouse, winning the RedDot Design Award in 2003. Which is a little ironic considering the marble of the TrackMan is in fact red. The marble allows you to move the cursor around the screen with absolute ease. It is extremely smooth and the fact that this mouse is optical means that is rarely requires cleaning. If you do decide to give it a rubdown, the marble pops out with a poke of the finger from the underside, and simply pops right back into place when you’re done. A PC gamer are ya? I hear this thing is ultimate when it comes to taking out opponents with extreme speed and accuracy.

There is, however, something that I have found to be a bit of a nuisance. Being a designer I am always doing tasks that require extreme preciseness… to the pixel… and I’m finding that it’s a little difficult to get the marble to move the cursor in extremely small amounts. Sure it’s great for whizzing across the screen, clicking on buttons and highlighting text, but when it comes to cropping something to the pixel I just can’t get the cursor to work with me. I’ll get it close to the spot I want it, but then when I try to move the cursor a very small amount, I find it difficult to move the marble just that little bit to get the cursor to move. It wants to ‘stick’ and then ‘jump’ passed my desired point. Can be a bit frustrating and I’m hoping that with time the skill to perfect it will come to me.

Other than that, the Logitech TrackMan has so far met my standards. Time will only tell what will happen to my tendonitis pains and I’m hoping that only good will come from my new track ball mouse. If you are like me and are on the computer for more amounts of time than you intend, then I encourage you to get out and pick one of these bad-boys up, because you never know when that little pain your finger might start up, and in time, lead to something you never want to deal with again. Highly Recommended!

  • Logitech Trackman
  • by Ian Harding
  • Published on February 1st, 2005
Ian Harding
4 / 5

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