The most common way to control a computer is through a mouse, but a mouse requires lifting your hand and moving your arm. A more ergonomic solution is to use a trackball, which lets your hand rest in one place. Although trackballs aren’t as popular as a mouse, the Logitech M570 wireless trackball might make you change your mind.

This wireless trackball consists of the trackball itself and Logitech’s tiny Unifying receiver that plugs into a USB port. This Unifying receiver works with all of Logitech’s other wireless products such as keyboards and mice, so if you lose it (which is easy to do since it’s so small), you can always get a replacement wireless receiver easily. The Unifying receiver lets you connect to both a Windows or Mac OS X computer from up to six feet away.

One main advantage of the Unifying receiver’s small size is that it allows you to keep it plugged into a laptop computer without forcing you to remove it every time you need to pack your laptop back in its case. The Unifying receiver’s small size makes it nearly flush with any laptop’s side so you can just plug it into your computer once and forget about it.

For those times when you do need to unplug the Unifying receiver, the trackball’s battery compartment includes a special slot for holding the receiver securely in place.

The Unifying receiver can be transported inside the battery compartment.

To power the trackball, you just need a single AA battery, which Logitech claims will last up to 18 months. (For your convenience, Logitech even includes a single AA battery that’s already installed inside the trackball.) To further conserve power when you’re not using the trackball, you can slide an On/Off switch to turn the trackball off completely.

Using the trackball is extremely comfortable. Four rubber feet on the bottom of the trackball hold it securely in place on almost any surface. Besides the traditional left and right mouse buttons and a middle scroll wheel, the trackball also offers a Back and Forward button for jumping backwards and forwards inside any browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, or Safari.

These Back and Forward buttons worked automatically under Windows 7, but they won’t work under Mac OS X until you first download a free Logitech Control Center program, which lets you configure how the trackball behaves.

To make the trackball’s Back and Forward buttons work on Mac OS X, you need to download free software from Logitech.

The trackball’s shape is specifically geared towards right-handed users who can comfortably manipulate the trackball with their thumb while pressing the left and right mouse buttons with their index and middle finger. Left-handed users can still use the trackball, but it may feel more awkward manipulating the trackball with your pinky.

The trackball, left and right mouse buttons, and scroll wheel work as expected. Using the Back and Forward buttons to flip through web pages in a browser is a nice added convenience so you don’t have to scroll and click the Back and Forward buttons in your browser all the time.

Logitech’s M570 wireless trackball is much less tiring to use than a traditional mouse with the added advantage of its wireless capabilities, which lets you place and use the trackball anywhere near your computer. The additional of special Back and Forward browser buttons makes the trackball faster than a mouse for heavy web users.

Despite all of its advantages, this trackball may still not change the minds of those who prefer the mouse over scrolling the trackball with their thumb, which in itself can get nearly as tiring as moving your arm to manipulate a mouse. If you aren’t convinced about the benefits of a trackball, the Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball may not change your mind. However, if you’re looking for an alternative to a mouse and want a versatile trackball, Logitech’s latest wireless trackball will likely meet your needs.

Pros:

  • Single AA battery lasts up to 18 months
  • Ergonomic shape
  • Special Back and Forward buttons that works with a variety of browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Safari
  • Works with both Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Mac OS X
  • USB wireless receiver can be tucked safely inside the trackball for transport
  • On/off switch to conserve battery power
  • Rubber feet holds the trackball secure on almost any surface

Cons:

  • Designed for right-handed users, left-handed users may find it clumsier to use
  • Mac OS X requires an additional free download to make the Back and Forward browser buttons work

Amazon has the Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball for $50.










Wallace Wang