Friday, September 19, 2008

HARDWARE: Description's The Same, Otherwise ...

In the midst of all the hullabaloo of replacing Nuklon with Popeye, I also have now used my new Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman long enough that I will use it long-term. I won't be combing the back lists of eBay for another Microsoft Trackball to replace the one that went belly-up just before the great computer fooferaw from early this week.

That's not to say I'm completely pleased with the Logitech. The first itch is the 'wireless' aspect of the trackball. I understand the need for this with mice, but the trackball stays right where it is most of the time. If a cable was hanging off the front end and weaved through the nest of similar cables occupying the space between my keyboard and the back of the computer, I doubt I would even sense the cable moving when I made slight adjustments to the Trackman's positioning. It adds cost and flakiness, since the reception seems to halt every now and then. Might be the batteries in the box are near their end, but it's an unneeded costly feature for the product.

The scroll wheel placement is a REALLY, REALLY FAT man's finger width away from the big marble that you maniuplate with your fingers. As such, it's almost TOO far away to be used comfortably. Check that. It IS too far away for comfortable use. I REALLY liked the old MS Trackball Explorer because I used the fingers to move and used the thumb to depress the left and right click buttons and the scroll wheel in-between them. The ONLY issue was the occasional scroll and click (probably the first sign the thing was dying).

The Logitech Trackman has more buttons (and what gadget-lover doesn't love MORE of anything?). They are generally kind of useful. The left button is well-placed and the bifurcated button above it has a smaller thumb-top button that I have made the middle-click button that works well. I'd like the lower thumb-pad section of the button to be my right-click button, but I don't have that choice. That's not horrible, because the pinkie-placed right click button is easy to get to and hold down when right-dragging stuff.

When you DO use the scroll wheel, it moves easily, clicks easily and there are buttons atop and below the scroll wheel that you can set for automated scrolling. AND there's a little lock that serves as an aid for when you want to move groups a LONG way on the screen and don't want to accidentally drop the group somewhere along the way. Quite neat.

This trackball device is certainly useable. It's got some heft, although it ways less than my original NON-wireless Logitech Trackman and considerably less than the doorstop that was the Microsoft Trackball. Still, it feels comfortable. And given that the only other legitimate scroll-wheel enabled trackballs out there were the featherweight Logitech Trackman Wheels (of which I have three), it's the best deal out there.

But shop around. Indeed I did get Staples to match the Tiger Direct price, which was 19 bucks less, before tax. Judge whether that means I have a good guy running the local Staples or that Staples makes so much money on the product, that they could still sell it to me for 25 per cent off without blinking an eye.

I honestly don't know which.

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