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What's The Best Thumb Trackball Mouse? 2017 Reviews & Picks

Updated on December 29, 2016
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My Favourite Wireless Trackball Mice: Innovative and Comfortable

Having been alive for approximately the same amount of time as the personal home computer has been around, I've seen various technologies come and go, often for the better. However, one technology that seems to stubbornly stick is the traditional computer mouse. A wireless thumb trackball mouse is a great way to improve your computing experience and free yourself from the tyranny of the cord!

Ever since it was created and widely adopted, the mouse has been one of the primary ways to interface with most operating systems. They can be clunky, imprecise and require a chunk of your desk space to use. The best wireless thumb trackball mouse will make navigation much easier and won't require nearly as much motion or desktop space; overall it is a much better technology. I even think they're superior to other types of trackballs, but more on that later. Image Credit: Mika Marttila (Flickr)

If you're curious about adopting a wireless thumb ball mouse, this article will offer a few reviews of my favorite models on the market today. We'll talk about all of the pros and cons of each item, including usability, durability and price point. We'll also talk about how a thumb trackball mouse works and what you can expect. Let's get started!

Reasons to Consider a Wireless Thumb Trackball

There are a few reasons why a thumb style trackball mouse is a good option compared to comparable items, beyond personal taste and usage. I'm convinced that once you get used to them, they're a better fit for most people.

  1. Less Movement:

    You'd probably be surprised by how much your hand and arm move around when surfing the web, writing an email or playing a game on your computer. There is a lot of motion and activity involved, and if you're an efficiency nut like me you'll want to make the best use of your technology. Much like how multi-touch has innovated computer usage efficiency, the wireless thumb ball mouse makes day to day use much easier by minimizing the amount of motion required to perform tasks. It may seem small, but you won't be able to go back once you've made the switch.

  2. Another key advantage that thumb mice with wireless technology have over conventional options is that they require very little space to operate. If your workstation is generally quite cluttered, or if you just don't have a large space or desk to begin with, a thumb style mouse with a trackball will be a major boon to your workflow. It's also great for computing on uneven surfaces where a traditional mouse wouldn't be able to handle it.
  3. More Precision:

    It's also my opinion that a thumb ball track mouse is a lot more precise, and it's great for anyone working in graphic design, development or programming such as myself because you can 'zero in' on items much more quickly and precisely. Even if you're just a casual user, you should notice a more enjoyable experience. I find a thumb track ball mouse is better than one that uses your fingers for the ball, something about the ergonomics makes it easier and more intuitive.

  4. Better Ergonomically:

    If you're a laptop user and you've been experiencing wrist or hand pain as a result of your trackpad, you're not alone. It's really important to make sure you use your computer in a sustainable and healthy way, and that includes the mouse. A good quality trackball thumb mouse is far better for your wrist, and requires much less movement, minimizing strain.

    They are also a lot better for those with impaired mobility that would make a conventional mouse hard to move around.

Logitech M570: Among the Best, Wireless, Thumb Controlled Trackballs

I figured I should start with what I consider to be the best choice for most people. The M570 by Logitech is an immensely popular product, and it's been developed based on previous wired models that were also big hits in their day. It's a great choice for people from all walks of life, and it's just as at home in the office as in the design studio.

The first thing you'll notice is the sculpted, ergonomic design of this product. It's mean to fit perfectly in your hand, and it's far more comfortable than many of the alternatives. It's a wireless model, so it runs on a pair of AA batteries that only need to be changed every year and half or so.

Wireless receivers used to be the bottleneck with devices like this, but this trackball thumb mouse is different, and it has a receiver that's hardly bigger than a quarter. It's a USB style receiver that's also compatible with other devices, so you can have six wireless products running off the same one if you need to. The wireless range is around 30 feet, so it's nice for home audio setups too.

It has the standard buttons you'd expect to find on most mice, but it also includes a handy 'forward' and 'back' button beside the main ones that lets you easily navigate through photographs or web pages. There's a scroll wheel, and the whole mouse is fully customizable and compatible with Mac and PC.

It's a thumb trackball mouse that I'd recommend for most people. Read the hundreds of reviews and you'll get a sense of why it's so popular.

DBPOWER® USB2.0 Wireless Finger Handheld Mouse Mice Trackball Mouse for Laptop PC
DBPOWER® USB2.0 Wireless Finger Handheld Mouse Mice Trackball Mouse for Laptop PC

Wireless or wired, this thumb ball track mouse is a nice option for travel with its easy use and built in laser pointer for presentations.

 
Thumb-Controlled Handheld Wired Trackball Mice Mouse
Thumb-Controlled Handheld Wired Trackball Mice Mouse

Wired handheld trackball mouse for thumb use is handy and comfortable, and operates like a conventional mouse on a flat surface.

 

Other Options - Wired and Wireless Thumb Trackball Mice

I consider the M570 to be the premier choice when it comes to this type of mouse. The fact is the competition just hasn't come up with a viable alternative yet that's at a reasonable price range, so for most people I would point them towards that one first.

However, if for whatever reason you aren't planning to go with the Logitech model, there are some alternatives. A common 'unbranded' style of trackball mouse for your thumb is a variety that's meant to be held in your hand as you use your computer. This can be really handy depending on your needs. If you're working somewhere without a flat surface to put your trackball down flat on, it's really a good option. Passenger travel, in particular, is a great place for this kind of mouse; they are typically pretty portable and a lot more accurate than a track pad or mini mouse.

Some of these trackball thumb mice will have the option of working while flat on a surface too, and a few can even be used as a conventional mouse when you need to. Most of them are wired, so that's a consideration.

I'd consider these to be along the lines of travel mice, and probably not a long term solution, but who knows, you may fall in love with it.

Who Would NOT Benefit:

A thumb track ball mouse is not for everyone.

A trackball style mouse, both wireless and otherwise, are often a great and healthy choice for a lot of people. However, they aren't for everyone.

If you experience arthritis in your hands and the joints of your fingers, or have experienced any kind of strain as related to your fingers or thumbs, it's probably not the best mouse for you. It trades wrist and arm motion for hand and finger motion, so it could be painful if you experience these issues.

I also don't recommend a thumb style trackball mouse to anyone with difficulty switching to new technology, or struggle with the sort of spacial movement required by abstraction like this. I know that some people struggle to get a handle on the difference between a regular style mouse and a trackball. I'm convinced that anyone can get it with time, but if you have difficulty being patient during that process, it's probably not for you.

All that said, many people I have talked to rave about their thumb ball mouse and wouldn't go back, so I do encourage you to consider taking the plunge.

Do you use a trackball mouse? What do you think? Would you go back?

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    • Daniel Saner profile image

      Daniel Saner 

      6 days ago

      I've been using thumb trackballs exclusively ever since my dad did the switch on our family computer when I was about 12. I wouldn't ever want to switch back. It's so much more comfortable compared to regular mice, and you can be so much more precise with them (there's a reason why they're very popular in artistic and medical fields). I also think that the time it takes to get used to them is grossly overestimated by most people, who may be confused when they first see one. Every single co-worker in my office has commented on the weird device I have here (M570) at some point. Many refuse to use it, but the few I've conviced to try started really liking it after an hour or so. And, going back to my teenage days, my Counter-Strike skills at LAN parties, where I always brought my wired TrackMan, belied anyone who thought that they couldn't possibly be suitable for gaming, haha. The truth is, with a little bit of practice, almost everyone will point much more quickly and accurately with a thumb trackball than with that antiquated pushy-mouse concept.

      Unfortunately, I shared the experience most people have with the switch quality in the M570. Most of mine started to do the involuntary double click after a year or two. For at least two, though, it fixed itself after a few more months, and they've been working reliably again since.

      I'm also very disappointed that Logitech stopped building wired versions. I personally don't see the advantage of wireless in a trackball – much less than with a mouse you actually move around. It's definitely not worth the added problems with batteries, connectivity, latency and interference.

      There are too many wireless devices in the usual office, or techie household. I definitely notice the interference problems with my M570, and the latency is not the best either. Plus, the connection is very fickle. You pretty much need to have line-of-sight visibility between the trackball and the receiver. Mine doesn't work if the receiver is plugged into a USB port on the back of my big tower, because the signal is not strong enough to go through the wooden desk. It's slightly better in a front USB port, but still drops occasionally. For an actually reliable connection, I had to install a USB extension cord, and have the receiver pretty much lying right next to the trackball now.

      I'm currently working on creating a long-term experience with the M570's successor, the MX Ergo. The design is slightly different and it takes a week or so to get used to when switching from the M570 (it's bigger again now, which I know many people were asking for after the reduction in size from the older TrackMans). The build quality seems nice and I haven't had any issues with the ball, wheel, or switches so far. I hope it'll prove to be of higher build quality than the average M570. Also, it uses a rechargable battery now. What I find really, really pointless though, and a definite design flaw, is that while you recharge it using a USB cable, you can still only use it in wireless mode. The cable is already there, why not also offer a USB operation mode to make *both* groups of people happy?

      Well, maybe next time. I'm already happy with the MX Ergo if just for the fact that Logitech showed they still care about keeping the thumb trackball alive.

    • profile image

      nali 

      17 months ago

      I also agree with Anita. I would like to add that, I have been buying this mouse at a rate of about 1 per year ever since they started selling them to the public, having graduated from their previous thumb trackball mouse that was wired, for a total of 16 years spent buying these mice from logitech once a year.

      Recently, however, the quality control has gone so far downhill that I am having to replace the m570 once every 3 months. Every single replacement has stemmed from the same exact mouse problems: Single right click yields double click, left click fails to function, ball/laser stops accurately tracking location, and in games (yes I know this isn't a gaming mouse, but I'm left-handed and 16 years worth of experience makes it hard to go back to a "normal" mouse - and as Jonathan mentioned, there really aren't many alternative options available.

      Replacing these mice at the rate of once every 3 months will cost you 120 dollars a year if you're buying from amazon, or 240 dollars a year if you're buying direct from Logitech.

    • profile image

      Jonathan 

      20 months ago

      I agree with Anita. The M570 is the best one in production currently but it's not the same quality as the old wired silver Logitech trackballs. My left click recently started acting the same way. I tried to open it up to see if I could fix it but after removing the screws, the case still won't come apart.

      Reviews on those handheld ones are not encouraging. Between accidental right clicks and loose balls, they don't sound user-friendly.

      I've also tried the Elecom (wireless) and Sanwa (wired) trackballs and those were disappointments. The Elecom is too small and stopped detecting the ball in under a year. The Sanwa is too big and I constantly accidentally right clicked. Eventually the sensor started getting flaky. Sometimes it doesn't light up and stops sending signals to my computer. I've had that one for under a year as well, using it in an office environment.

      If someone would make a good quality thumb trackball, I would pay $50 for it. If it was good quality AND had programmable buttons I might go up to $75. I'm trying out the Perixx PERIMICE-717 next so we'll see how that works out.

    • profile image

      Anita 

      21 months ago

      The M570 may be the best wireless thumb trackball, but sadly, that's not saying much. I've own three of them in the past four years. Every single one of them has stopped working within 18 months. The mouse buttons aren't designed for durability or long-term use. I'm a gamer, and eventually the button contacts gave out on every one of those M570s, resulting in either random double-clicks or refusal to click at all. Sometimes both on the same mouse - one button would double-click every time I hit it and the other button I had to hit five or six times before it would register the click.

      I've been very disappointed in general with Logitech's wireless technology. Their keyboard isn't very durable either. I've had two of those in the last four years and the space bar on both keyboards failed after about 18 months. And their touch-pad is the next thing to useless. I bought one hoping it would be a viable alternative to the trackball mice that kept failing me, and I ended up using it as a paperweight for eight months and finally throwing it away because it actually had less functionality than the touch-pad mouse on my laptop.

      Maybe for someone who puts their peripherals to less intensive use, the Logitech M570 mouse and wireless keyboard are good, durable products. But for somebody who is on her computer everyday, Logitech products leave a lot to be desired. I shouldn't have to buy a new mouse and keyboard every single year. Especially not at their price.

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