When it comes to navigating around your desktop, what’s your preference: using a trackpad,  a trackball or a mouse?   …….. or are you really a fan of the touch screen and like the idea of using a stylus?  In the end, don’t they all achieve the same outcome and complement they keyboard in a similar way?  This article provided by Brisbane Computer Repairers Affordable Computer Repairs and provides the ins and outs of trackballs.  There are also articles on our website regarding trackpads and mice – and even keyboards and a number of other computer related issues.

The Ins and Outs of Trackballs

General Information

A trackball is a device to move the cursor on a display screen (monitor) and is generally used instead of a mouse.  Trackballs can be separate devices connect via USB cable, wirelessly or via Bluetooth.  Indeed some are built into keyboards (wired, wireless or Bluetooth).

Generally speaking (and this is a general article on Trackballs as we cannot detail all makes and models), trackballs are inverted or upside down mice that rotates in place within a socket.  The user rolls the trackball to move the cursor the same as they would use a mouse.  Then by clicking left or right buttons which are identical in function to a mouse buttons items or icons can be selected or position the cursor for text manipulation.

Comparison with a Computer Mouse

Compared to a mouse the trackball can move in an unlimited are whereas a mouse may have to be lifted and re-positioned again.  Trackballs can be used on glass surfaces unlike a mouse and can be used on dense materials which can stop a mouse functioning effectively.

Trackballs Functionality

Trackballs can get some getting used to due to the novelty of the device but once the user has got used to it the ball can be used with thumb, palm or fingers.  Trackballs are often used on CAD (Computer Aided Design) workstations and such programs that users find more convenient for their use.  Trackballs usually have buttons similar to a mouse or trackpad for left and right clicking and usually have other buttons to use as well.  The Trackball was invented in the era of radar plotting systems after the Second World War and modern Trackballs although much enhanced use basically the same techniques and design.

Who Uses Trackballs?

Many computer “gamers” favour the trackball and some mice feature a trackball in them, such as the Logitech Cordless Trackman.   People who use them claim that they are more durable and reliable than standard mice and of course they use less of the desktop when in operation.  This is especially important in areas of limited work areas, such as military ships planes and vehicles.

Trackballs are also seen in public display terminals where a mouse, due to limited space is inconvenient.  Rack mount computers in areas such as data centres often use trackballs due to limited space and their simplicity and ruggedness also make them ideal for industrial applications.

The other area which sees trackballs used is in ergonomic areas where people have mobility impairments and having an alternative pointing device has become very important to these users.  Other considerations are not as limited in areas such as armchairs or in bed or in environments such as boats where the rolling motion can upset the cursor position.  Trackballs can be thumb or finger operated (as in trackpads) but again they do get some getting used to. Elderly people sometimes have difficulty holding a mouse and simultaneously clicking buttons whereas the Trackball allows them to do just that with more ease and less errors.

ins and outs of trackballs

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