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Mouse, trackball and pen-tablet

Introduction

The disadvantage of computers is that a lot of mouse movements and mouse clicks are needed to perform simple tasks. It would be better if the computer was adapted to us, rather that we adapt to the computer.
Through voice recognition and a camera which observes eye and hand movements, the mouse and keyboard will become largely redundant in the future.
But I think that input devices will always remain necessary.
So it is best to try what the best solution is. And regular changing of input device is also good.

Homemade foot mouse

foot mouse
My homemade footmouse has its own page.

NoHands foot mouse

nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse nohands foot mouse
Brand and type: Hunter Digital NoHands Mouse

Normal mouse

normal muis
The most common normal mouse is an ordinary optical three-button mouse with scroll wheel. The third button is usually located beneath the scroll wheel.
In one mouse I have set the spring of the scrollwheel lighter, and with another mouse, I have installed less heavy switches. That turned out to be more comfortable for me.
After about five minutes I already feel the drawbacks of a normal mouse in my neck.

A wireless mouse doesn't have the clumsy wires. The photo shows the mouse and the receiver.
wireless muis
This wireless mouse has two batteries. Those heavy batteries make the mouse harder to move around.

The following mice are compact wireless mice, with only one battery.
compact wireless mouse
Brand and type: The left mouse is a Logitech M215, the right one is a mouse from Ebay.
Both mice are smaller than normal, and both have only one battery. Thus they move lightly.
The Logitech mouse costs about 15 euros, and the mouse from Ebay costs a few euros. Both use 2.4 GHz for the connection to the computer, and both have a small switch on the bottom.
The difference between the mice is however quite large. Clicking and scrolling with the Logitech mouse is much better. Also the Logitech mouse works on more surfaces without problems. The only disadvantage of the Logitech mouse is that there are no glide pads on the bottom. The plastic housing is the same plastic that is used for gliding over a surface. So with wood it has too little friction, and with a fabric it has too much friction.
Yet it is useful to have a mouse like that within reach.

Below is the Logitech Gaming Mouse G700. The small red M215 mouse is next to it.
Logitech G700 Logitech G700
The Logitech G700 is from 2011. The mechanical build quality is bad. After a few years, half of the buttons don't work wel anymore.
The small mouse is generally easier for me, but the G700 has a number of programmable buttons, which can be handy sometimes.

Mouse for use in bed

mouse for use in bed mouse for use in bed mouse for use in bed
Brand and type: Logitech M515
In 2012 I paid €25 for this mouse.
Surfing the internet and wachting TV is something I also do while I'm in bed. My page "using a computer while lying in bed" is about that.
It was very convenient for me that Logitech made a mouse that is specially desigend to be used in bed. It is a wireless mouse with a flat and closed bottom, so dust can't get to the optical part. The mouse has a sensor to detect if a hand is above the mouse, and it doesn't work if no hand is detected.
The mouse is quite heavy and it requires two AA batteries which makes it even more heavier. Sometimes it does not detect my hand, for example if I only want to scroll and my hand is about 2 or 3cm above the mouse. The cover for the battery comes off easily.
But in the end, it is a handy mouse to be used while lying in bed.
The mouse is actually ment to be used on the couch, it is a "Couch Mouse".

Trackball

trackball
A trackball is less stressful for my neck than a normal mouse.
Yet my foot mouse is much less burdensome than a trackball.
With the trackball, the fingers are hovering above the ball and buttons, so a trackball is still not a good way to operate the computer.
At this moment I have one button set to make the ball function like a scroll wheel. But that is bad for hand and fingers, because then my fingers constantly hover over the ball, even when I am just reading a simple web page.
For people with RSI it seems that controlling the ball with the fingers is not good.

This trackball has the ball on the side and a scrollwheel.
trackball
With this mouse the ball is not operated with the fingers, but with the thumb. This relieves the fingers some. However, when I operate the trackball with my thumb, it puts more stress on my neck than when I operate the ball with my fingers.

The trackball below has the ball almost in the middle and is wireless.
Logitech trackball
Brand and type: Logitech Cordless Optical TrackMan®
Price: 55 euros.
In 2010 I paid 30 euros for a second hand.
Unfortunately, this trackball is uncomfortable for me. The ball is too heavy and does not run very light, and the buttons on the left are too close together. The position of the trackball should be slanted, in order to move the cursor straight forward.
The maximum distance to the receiver is sometimes only 1 meter.

Below is a wireless presenter/trackball.
wireless presenter-trackball
Price: 15 euro.
There are different brands and types of such a presenter/trackball, which look roughly the same. In 2010 I bought a cheap one for 15 euros.
The distance to the receiver can be up to 8 meters. The ball of the trackball is too small and too light, en some mouse-buttons are missing like the middle mouse-button. There is also no scrollwheel.

Vertical mouse

vertical mouse
Type: Anir
This vertical mouse relieves the fingers. The fingers and hand don't have to hover above the mouse anymore, but can rest. Sliding the mouse is however difficult, because the weight of my hand rests on the mouse and movement is inconvenient. I noticed that I can't use the mouse in a relaxed way. The left-right movement of the mouse is stressful for example for the wrist.
In the mouse were two pieces of metal to make it heavier. So I also had to move that weight around, therefor I removed those pieces of metal, and that was an improvement.

Palm Mouse

Palm Mouse
Type: Palm Mouse (Fujitsu FID-824)
This "Palm Mouse" has a button for the thumb. With that button the cursor can be controlled. The more the button is tilted, the faster the cursor moves. This works reasonably well, because the motion is done with a magnet and magnetic sensors.
I don't use it very often, the Logitech MX Air mouse is much better.
This is Palm Mouse is from 1998 and cost $ 50 at the time. I bought a couple of them in 2009 for 8 euros each.

Handheld mouse

handheld mouse
This "handheld mouse" has a trackball on top and two switches on the bottom side. The mouse can rest in your lap, so that's fairly relaxed to operate. But even when surfing the Internet I have to occasionally type something on the keyboard, so I often have to alternate my hand between the mouse and the keyboard.
I bought the brandless handheld mouse on the picture for 5 euros, but the quality is so poor that it can't be used.

Gyroscopic mouse (air mouse)

Logitech MX Air gyroscopic mouse
Brand and type: Logitech MX Air
This gyroscopic mouse (also called "air mouse") controls the cursor by tilting and rotating the mouse.
The Logitech MX Air has a built-in cursor acceleration and is very precise. It is not necessary to point the mouse towards the screen, it can be held skewed or in any direction, and works just as well.
On the mouse is a scroll area, and the mouse also works on a table as a laser mouse.
I use this mouse regularly. Most of the time I sit with my arms half folded, leaning somewhat against the table. The mouse points sideways and upwards, but that's not a problem for this mouse.
I paid 75 euros for a second hand air mouse (in 2008).

Gyration gyroscopic mouse
Brand and type: Gyration GyroTransport
This mouse has an electro-mechanical acceleration sensor. It reacts more slowly and is not as accurate and useful as the Logitech MX Air and it can't scroll and does not work on a table. The quality of the sensor is insufficient, because it happens often (sometimes every five minutes) that the cursor on the screen floats to a side, without me moving the mouse.
Because it is not very accurate, it has a button which much be pressed to move the cursor. Normally the cursor is stationary. This way you can press the mouse buttons while the cursor is stopped, because otherwise the cursor would move if a button was pressed.
In 2009 I paid 30 euros for this mouse.

Finger mouse

finger mouse
This is a finger mouse that can be put on a finger. The optical part at the front must be kept flat on the table. If it is on my finger, it is difficult to keep the front flat on the table. And typing is difficult with such a thing on my finger.
It is also possible to hold it like a pen.
I used this some sometimes, but since I have the Logitech MX Air, I don't use it anymore.
I bought the brandless finger mouse on the picture for only 5 euros, and on most smooth surfaces it works well.

3D mouse

3D mouse
Brand and Type: 3DConnexion CadMan
I wanted to try this 3D mouse, because it has 6 axes (move and tilt/rotate in all directions).
But using it was more stressful for my neck.
This 3D mouse is intended to use it for CAD design and 3D drawings, and it is only suitable for just that.

Pen-tablet

pen-tablet
Brand en type: Wacom Volito2
A pen-tablet works reasonable. Yet I use it very little.
I bought a Wacom Volito2. The area on which the pen is "writing" was rough, to imitate writing on paper. In my opinion it was too rough, and I have made it smoother with very fine sandpaper. It is now half as rough, and that was an improvement.
The disadvantage is that the pen-tablet is used for two things: To click buttons on the screen and to draw. By clicking on buttons, a sensible and audible click is needed, and for drawing the tip of the pen should be very flexible.
I assumed that Wacom is a good brand, but the pressure sensitive part of the tip of the pen consists of a piece of conductive rubber, which is pressed against a circuit board (like the buttons of a remote control). The quality of this was so bad, that soon it was not working properly any more.
The driver for Windows causes sometimes problems. When I looked into that, the driver appeared to be unnecessary complex and poorly made.

Below is a wireless pen-tablet.
wireless pen-tablet
Brand and type: UC-Logic TWL530 (Lapazz TWL530, TWL-530)
Price: 40 to 110 euros.
In 2010 I paid about 60 euros including shipping.
This wireless pen-tablet is sold under various brands.
At some points it is better than the Wacom Volito2, and at some points it is worse. The buttons on the pen are difficult to press. A battery must be placed in the pen, this is not needed by the Wacom pen-tablets. It turns into standby quite fast. To wake it, a button on the side must be pressed.
This pen-tablet works also without a driver as if it were a mouse.

Touchpad

touchpad
Brand en type: Ergo Touchpad
This is a simple touchpad. It is actually a Cirque GlidePoint without housing. Moving the cursor, clicking, right-click, scrolling, and dragging is working reasonable.
With a touchpad I don't have to hover my fingers above a mouse buttons. This is much better, but to place the cursor on the screen is slower and less accurate.
I bought this touchpad in 2009 for 27.30 euros, directly from www.ergonomictouchpad.com

Head mouse

There a few kinds of "head mouse" or "head tracking software". The most simple way is to use a webcam, which detects the moving of the head.
I tried two free programs:
• HeadMouse 2 (University of Lleida)
• eViacam
They both worked evenly well with a good webcam.
But moving the cursor is tiresome after a while.
Due to my neck problems I set the sensitivity of the software high, so I had to move my head only a little. That makes it very hard to precisely position the cursor.

Last change to this page: March 2013