back to article I work therefore I ache: Logitech aims to ease WFH pains with Ergo M575 trackball mouse

The modern workplace isn't just hopelessly dreary – it may also be ruining your health. Repetitive motions from keyboard and mouse usage can conspire to smite your wrists with carpal tunnel syndrome, for which surgery is often the only cure. And that's before we get into the osteopathic wreckage caused by a career spent plonked …

  1. Paceman

    Pretty sure these existed back in the late 90's early 2000's - not a new idea...

    1. Random Handle

      They're a cludge unfortunately. Back in the day (maybe 10 years discontinued) Logitech made the Optical TrackMan - ergonomic/off-centre trackball where the thumb handled left click and the middle 3 fingers the ball - fantastic things they were. You can still get them on Ebay though even second hand they go for over £100 .

      There was some kind of patent issue (would love to know the details) which prevented Logitech continuing this design hence they switched to these awful thumb-ball or non-biased (symmetrical) centre ball designs (trackman marble etc) - all useless if you need precision, and physically uncomfortable in the case of the centre balls.

      I guess it was Elecom (Japan) who owned the patent as they produce a couple of trackballs (small and huge) with the same ergonomic design as the original Trackman. The large one is corded only AFAIK, but certainly the best trackball I've used - also have a couple of the smaller versions which are cordless, though too small for my hands.

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        No! Thumb operated FTW!

        The problem with your fingers is that ALL of the tendons that move them pass through the carpal tunnel, and if any of them start to swell for whatever reason then you're on the downward path to carpal tunnel syndrome.

        The tendons for your thumb are all external to that tunnel, and so if they start to swell ...... you don't even notice.

        1. jonathan keith

          I use a wired Elecom Huge trackball (link to review), which has the ball under the fingers and the scrollwheel under the thumb, principally because years of using traditional mouse scroll wheels has permanently fucked the second joint of my index finger. (Thank you Far Cry, Battlefield 2 et al.) So, horses for courses.

          1. jonathan keith

            Furthermore, I use that in conjunction with a "left-handed" keyboard for additional ergonomic-posture benefits...

            1. poohbear

              Easier to put mouse / trackball on the left .. than right hand can access the nav keys, enter, etc.

        2. Random Handle

          >The problem with your fingers is that ALL of the tendons that move them pass through the carpal tunnel

          CTS is down to wrist posture not finger use - musicians rarely get carpel tunnel syndrome despite many 10Ks of hours of intense finger use, as correct wrist posture is taught (or learned though pain) early.

          With the old logitech (RB-22?) and current Elecom's your thumb is still working hard (clicking, holding clicks etc) whilst fingers barely move. The thumb ball designs still require your fingers to handle clicks, hold downs so it doesn't get you off the CTS hook if your wrist is unsupported or raised.

          Thumbs are pretty poor at precision generally (even simple linear movement on a surface requires rotation and both joints bending) it's why we paint with our fingers not our thumbs.

        3. jgard

          Not so my friend. You've obviously never heard of 'de Quervain’s tenosynovitis'. I can confirm from personal experience that it hurts like a c**t, and not in a good way! It also required surgery to get rid of it.

          Fot those interested, the top google result describes it thus:

          "a painful condition that affects the tendons in your wrist. It occurs when the 2 tendons around the base of your thumb become swollen. The swelling causes the sheaths (casings) covering the tendons to become inflamed. This puts pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain and numbness."

        4. Andrew Scaife
          Holmes

          Wrong

          You certainly DO notice when your thumb tendons start to swell. That's what ended my love of my Trackman Marble and the next model I replaced it with. Three steroid injections into my thumb joint gave short-term relief. The fourth steroid injection into my thumb joint by a consultant, plus the hospital-moulded thumb spica splint cured my De Quervain's tenosynovitis, thankfully. Changing from arm movements of a mouse to thumb movements don't stop the wear and tear on your body, they just refocus it onto your thumb. I can recommend the Contour Rollermouse devices though: once you get used to rolling the equivalent of a pencil in the pen rest of an old-fashioned wooden desk, you can stop the pain of De Quervain's and the lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow.

      2. Julian 8

        The first trackman I had was a cable version from the earlier 2000's

        I have the M570 which is wireless and pretty much the same

      3. rcxb

        BAH!

        With one little twitch of my thumb, I can send the cursor all the way across multiple monitors with a thumb trackball. You'd need to really contort your finger to try that with a poorly designed trackball, and I would have to slide a mouse straight out the window. Now try doing that for hours on end...

        With your thumb, it's the same simple motion as cleaning a pair of glasses. Ever seen somebody use their index fingers for jobs like that?

    2. Julian 8

      M570 - got a few - so I wonder what the difference besides colour ?

      Mine hook into the universal receiver so I have the keyboard and if the other half wants to work here she uses a logitech standard mouse also hooked into the univeral reciever - no cables to faff with

      1. KarMann Silver badge
        Coat

        M570 - got a few - so I wonder what the difference besides colour ?
        Well, funny you should mention colour. I think the big difference is Bluetooth in this M575. And those extra buttons are a bit of a change in design. But mostly Bluetooth.

        ETA: And thank goodness. I've preferred Bluetooth for trackballs & mice since long before Apple jumped on the Bluetooth bandwagon, leading to manufacturers like Logitech finally starting to include it. I hated having another IR or RF dongle for every pointing device & keyboard that I couldn't get in a Bluetooth version.

        1. ChrisElvidge

          Bluetooth mice

          I used to use BT but found, when dual-booting Linux/Windows, I was constantly re-pairing said mouse whenever I changed OS. Now, using a mouse+dongle combo, I just switch OS and mouse follows.

          1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Bluetooth mice

            The USB connects to my KVM switch. WFH has been real nice since I got that and can use my M570 with both work (laptop) and personal (tower) PCs.

            Also, it's one button to switch versus 5 different button pushes to select HDMI input on the monitor (it has 2, which was nice for a while).

          2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: Bluetooth mice

            I used to use BT but found, when dual-booting Linux/Windows, I was constantly re-pairing said mouse whenever I changed OS.

            I use a Logitech M720 mouse over Bluetooth with a dual-boot laptop. The trick is to pair a different connection on the mouse with each O/S. It supports three connections, and switching between them is just a matter of pressing a button on the side of the mouse.

          3. sebacoustic

            Re: Bluetooth mice

            never mind re-booting, every time my (Fedora 33) laptop goes to sleep it fogets about that bluetooh mouse. Using a dongle mouse for now. Am I doing it wrong?

      2. MOV r0,r0

        Me too. And little bags of replacement microswitches and a soldering station since the M570 used to have a three year warranty in the UK but Logitech dropped it to one.

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "Pretty sure these existed back in the late 1990s early 2000s"

      Yeah, they did, and we're taking another look at them.

      C.

    4. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Gimp

      > Pretty sure these existed back in the late 90's early 2000's - not a new idea...

      But does it have the MagSpeed scroll wheel of the MX Master?

      If so, I will buy one.

    5. HelpfulJohn
      Unhappy

      Are these any good?

      I got one of these things - a finger ringy mousey - for my lady when her arm functionality was reduced due to a car hitting her. [ https://duckduckgo.com/?q=finger+mouse+ring&t=ffsb&ia=web ]

      She hated it.

      Are they good for avoiding Tensosynovitis and CTS?

      I also got her a sort of vertical-orientated trackyball thingy. [ https://evoluent.com/ ] She hated that, too. She tried to use it double-handed and was sad when it didn't really work properly.

  2. PermissionToSpeakPlease

    So effectively an upgrade to my old trusted M570 trackballs. I absolutely love them.

    Try it out, and don't look back! I don't see how anyone can be happy dragging a mouse around.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      For work, I can agree. Personally, I have been using cordless mice for ages now and I'm quite used to it, so feel no need to change. But for gaming there is no substitute - especially in the FPS genre. You need to move that mouse to precisely where you can blow the zombie's head off and a regular mouse becomes instinctive, natural - no trackball can compete.

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        I disagree – I use my M570 for FPS, and I find it has better precision.

    2. alexbourne247

      Totally agree with this. I've been using an M570 for years after suffering from RSI - and I no longer get the pain.

      Having the Bluetooth option might make me upgrade as the USB dongle is a pain...

      1. CuChulainn Silver badge

        Pain

        I must admit that at some point well into my time with trackballs I did start experiencing pain, but it was in my wrist as a result of resting it on my desk. It wasn't carpal - just the pressure of my wrist on the desk. I actually had a hard callous because of it.

        I got round it with one of those gel-filled wrist rests. No problems ever since.

    3. HereIAmJH

      Logitech poor quality buttons

      I have been using these since the corded versions came out. Back when they were US $80. I, unfortunately, have stacks of the M570s. The left button keeps failing after 6-12 months of use.

      I finally just gave up and bought a Jelly Comb bluetooth trackball from Amazon. Exactly same design, but bluetooth with a rechargeable battery. You're supposed to be able to pair it with 3 different devices. The buttons feel like much better quality. But I have a problem with it going to sleep, which can be really frustrating.

      I've been threatening to scavenge right-buttons from my trackball scrap pile and replacing failing left buttons. Maybe it's time to pull out the soldering iron and do it. I can't see me buying any more Logitech gear. The quality is gone.

      1. MOV r0,r0

        Re: Logitech poor quality buttons

        Left & right button switches are Omron D2F-01 with a grey or white top and it should say "Japan" on the top moulding as the China produced ones are garbage. Under the scroll wheel is an Omron B3F for which B3F-1002 with the yellow top is common and B3F-1002-G is the same thing with gold contacts.

      2. CuChulainn Silver badge

        Re: Logitech poor quality buttons

        To be fair, that was only with the M570. It was a known issue.

        You can still find DIY sites which explain how to replace them, and which replacements work - much better quality and a better click response, too.

        There isn't the same problem with the later devices as far as I know. The MX Ergo, which I've been using for several years, has certainly stood up (and I have a spare just in case).

        The only potential issue with the Ergo is the battery, which is rechargeable. At some point, it's going to fail - and mine did. It was the Devil's own job finding a suitable replacement. Not the mAh figure, but the physical size, and the cable configurations.

    4. Ian 55

      I've used M570s for years because they are great, but...

      .. the plural is because the sodding cheapskates at Logitech put rubbish switches for the main buttons in the M570, so after a while, you end up double-clicking every time.

      Given how long it's been a known issue, it's disgraceful that they continued to use them,

      The MX Ergo is the alternative. Even if the marketing is a bit misleading in terms of their adjustable angle: you can have 0 degree tilt or 20 degrees tilt, nothing in the middle.

      Why they've never done a left-handed version of either is beyond me.

      1. Ian 55

        Re: I've used M570s for years because they are great, but...

        Oh, and the other issue with the MX Ergo is that they've made the hole you use to push the ball out for cleaning smaller for some unknown reason. The blunt end of a pencil / rubber will no longer fit through the hole, so I've had to get something else for its weekly clean.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I've used M570s for years because they are great, but...

          To be fair, that's a first world problem but it's surprising it wasn't picked up during user testing. It wouldn't have needed a major redesign.

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I know someone who, upon starting his first computer based job, trained himself to use his left hand to control the mouse in addition to his right. He would then periodically switch the hand he controlled the mouse with.

    This is anecdotal, but there's no reason it would not help reduce the risk of RSI in his dominant wrist. Some people might find the training in process easier than others.

    Any other tips out there? Does anyone switch between mouse and graphics tablet, or between touchpad and rollerball?

    1. theOtherJT

      I was told to do this by a - I was going to say "grey-beard-sysadmin" but she was a woman, so maybe we'll skip the beard, but a senior unix admin anyhow - I met many, many years ago when I was still at school. It was one of the better bits of life advice I was ever given and I wish I'd started doing it earlier.

      1. K
        Devil

        Sacrilege..

        Un*x admins don't use Mice ... only command line, VIM or Emacs.

    2. simmondp

      I'm a "lefty" but many years of computer support means that I'm equally happy with a mouse in the right hand.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Coat

        I'm a 'righty', as it were, but discovered a word years ago to describe both of us:

        ambimoustrous

        thank you.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          What about those web sites that, er, require you to use the opposite hand?

          1. Alumoi Silver badge
            Joke

            What opposite hand? It's in the middle!

          2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Oh, they are so 'cuspy'.

            (I think it means nice and cute in a tech way, but it has been long time.)

        2. dr john

          Perhaps you heard ambimoustrous from someone who heard me say that decades ago!

          Normally I get a strange look when I say it.

      2. genghis_uk

        To be honest, I have always thought that right-handed people are wrong to use the mouse in their right hand anyway. As a lefty*, I have always used a mouse/trackball in my right hand as it leaves my left hand free to use a pen, telephone etc.

        *most letfy's are ambidextrous because they have to be

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      I haven't had a mouse for about 20 years - I use IBM or Lenovo trackpoint keyboards. Very convenient and my desk can be as untidy as I like.

    4. Caver_Dave
      Happy

      I regularly swap, but then I started out as a lefty, before attending the local infants school that would tape left hands to the desk if you didn't comply with right handedness (early 1970's rural England!)

      I had one job where everything in the SCADA like system was performed with the mouse only, and very repetitive if you had a bank of a particular module. I had to swap mouse hand every 30 minutes!

      The only downside was that my left second finger used to lock straight towards the end of the day (which could have been cured by swapping the mouse buttons over when swapping hands - but I never got round to it!)

      A useful trick to the armoury.

    5. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      I consciously trained myself to be as ambidextrous as possible when I was in my 20s (when I had to work on a lot of kit in awkward confined spaces), so swapping hands with a mouse is more-or-less automatic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "when I had to work on a lot of kit in awkward confined spaces"

        Same here. Working on cars or DIY both require the appropriate hand to fiddle with things. It is interesting watching people swap things between their hands when they could just as easily use their non-dominant hand to do something.

        Apparently the non-dominant hand is only about 10% inferior - but most people don't exercise it enough to minimise the difference.

        My left is good at doing fine things - but not at rhythmic ones like using a saw or hammer.

        As the saying goes - "I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous".

    6. A K Stiles

      Swapping hands

      Yep - another lefty, though I spent a lot of time on shared computers so the mouse was generally on the right. When it was just my machine the mouse was on the left. I originally swapped the mouse buttons but eventually settled on leaving left button as the left button and giving it the middle digit instead.

      It is a skill that has come in handy time and again when providing support or giving training and when doing a task that required considerable numeric keypad entry in combination with mouse use (not a great interface design!).

    7. dr john

      I have been ambimoustrous (my patented word for someone who has no problem using a mouse in either hand) for decades and that greatly reduces the strain on the wrists and tendons. I swap the mouse from hand to hand so often now it just happens automatically. Even if playing a game.

      I did get sore fingers and wrist in the 80s from playing computer games which back then could be very mouse intense. Haven't had any problems since I started switching hands.

      The big obvious problem with this trackball is that it is a handed device - right hand only operation as far as I can see. So it would bring no relief if someone was sensitive to RSI and did need to swap hands for a rest. And, of course, a left-handed person would be forced to use it with their not dominant hand. I noticed these problems when using a similar trackball someone lent me many years ago, and decided to give it back to him.

  4. RockBurner

    It always confused me that trackballs aren't more widely known about, they should be the mainstream option and the mouse secondary (IIRC they pre-date mice anyway).

    The one advantage a mouse has over trackball is that you can make a mouse slightly smaller, but it still needs far more operating space than any trackball, nullifying that advantage completely.

    Ironically the best mouse I've ever had was the Microsoft Trackball Optical (20 years ago), the Logitech M570 has just about caught up with it ergonomically.

    I started using them when I realised that my shoulder muscles were aching each evening because I was moving my right arm almost all day, from waking to sleeping. Commuting on a motorcycle meant I was constantly using my right wrist (for those who don't ride, the throttle and main braking controls are on the right handlebar), working with a mouse was constant movement of the arm etc etc. Switched to a trackball in the mid-90s (iirc) and never looked back, it's the first thing I insist any new employer buy me for my operating kit, no-one has refused yet, and if they did, I'd just buy myself a new one and charge it to expenses anyway. ;)

    I recommend trackballs to anyone who'll listen. :)

    1. Thomas Steven 1

      Never found a replacement for the Trackman Marble FX T-CJ12

      Used to love my Marble FX. Had 2, then Logitech stopped making them and never produced as good a trackball since. I used to love the way you could flick the mouse across multiple screens and stop it at exactly the spot you wanted. Also awesome for FPS gaming as you could spin round much quicker than most other players and aim precisely with it. All the subsequent thumb operated trackballs produced a far less satisfactory experience IMO.

      I'm a trackball evangelist too, just the best trackball ever made stopped being made a long time ago.

      1. RockBurner

        Re: Never found a replacement for the Trackman Marble FX T-CJ12

        Looks like there's a few on t'bay at the moment - go on - treat yourself. ;)

      2. diguz

        Re: Never found a replacement for the Trackman Marble FX T-CJ12

        Still have one of those, as you said, never found a replacement, and unfortunately i can't use it anymore because of the lack of driver support and because my ps2->usb converter doesn't even recognize it properly... and without the usage of the red scroll button i can't use it.

        Still using my microsoft elite keyboard from the same period (late 90s) though, thankfully it came with a usb adapter in the box.

        1. RockBurner

          Re: Never found a replacement for the Trackman Marble FX T-CJ12

          Googled the unit and came up with this:

          https://www.amazon.com/review/R25FHVUR73YCLN/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm

          Have you tried a powered PS2 adaptor?

        2. Robert Moore
          Thumb Up

          Re: Never found a replacement for the Trackman Marble FX T-CJ12

          As a replacement (Sort of) for the microsoft trackball, that is no longer supported in Windows, I would suggest this:

          https://www.kensington.com/en-ca/p/products/control/trackballs/orbit-scroll-ring-trackball/

          Works just as well for lefties, and after a day or two the scroll ring starts to make sense.

          I have two of them one for work and one for home.

          1. Weeble

            Re: Never found a replacement for the Trackman Marble FX T-CJ12

            >> As a replacement (Sort of) for the Microsoft trackball, that is no longer supported in Windows

            Which versions of Trackball on which versions of Windows?

            Any links to write-ups?

            A very worried Trackball Explorer addicts needs to know!

            1. brotherelf

              Re: Never found a replacement for the Trackman Marble FX T-CJ12

              Still works fine in my VMs, and it registers as a five-button HID anyway, but I guess the specialized driver that, amongst other things, let you tilt the x and y axis, won't work anymore.

              Still a fan of these beasts. Bought one in 2003 and it's still going strong.

      3. Persona Silver badge

        Re: Never found a replacement for the Trackman Marble FX T-CJ12

        Those things never ceased to surprise me. I occasionally saw them on peoples desks but not very often. However whenever a floor at work was emptied out for refurbishment there were always three or four in the pile of discarded kit in the corner of the room all destined for the bin. I now wish I had picked them up as you can get a lot for them on ebay.

    2. HelpfulJohn
      Pint

      Me, too.

      I used to use a tracky for years at work to reduce end-of-shift aches and pains. I even installed one on our home machines. The wifey hated it so I went back to mouses. As I was using a real rat at home, switching to a dead one at work became too much of a hassle so I stopped.

      I still have trackballs but they are all old-timey mouse-port types and very, very few modern machines have a hole that fits them. I suppose I could track down a Mousey-port-to-USB adaptor but that feels like too much work.

      [Beer Icon because they don't have a cup-of-tea one.]

  5. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Been using a Logitech MX Ergo for a few years - always wanted a trackball - friend had great things to say - bought it - a month later bought another one to have at work. Just amazing. I couldn't live without it now - and have been considering getting a third one as a spare.

    Built in battery that charges via USB. One mouse can work on 2 devices(either 2 USB, 2 BT or combination of the two). Really great if you have 2 systems running at the same time and need to swap between them.

    1. someone called ross

      Same here, got a couple of the 570s as well but the mx ergo is so much better, especially as it uses normal bluetooth and can switch between two connections.

    2. CuChulainn Silver badge

      MX Ergo

      The other thing I like about the Ergo is how you can set up Options Flow so that you can scroll seamlessly between two computers, and that you can cut and paste from one PC/laptop to another as if they were the same machine.

  6. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    The M570/M575 are pretty much the home version. Switch to the MX Ergo (https://www.logitech.com/en-gb/products/mice/mx-ergo-wireless-trackball-mouse.html) if you're using for several hours a day, and your right wrist will thank you even more.

    I switched to the old wired version of the M570 (Trackman Wheel) a couple of decades ago to combat RSI. Since then I've upgraded to the M570 and now the MX Ergo. And it keeps my wrist healthy for what a wrist should be used for!!!

    The other thing that I swear by is a decent mechanical tenkeyless keyboard. This allows me to get the mouse and typing area of the keyboard close enough together that I don't get tendonitis in my shoulder twice a year.

    1. Ian 55

      Yep, with a separate USB numeric mechanical keypad, for when you miss those keys. Cost about £12 from China.

  7. Dwarf Silver badge

    Half Mouse, half trackball

    Reminds me of an old trackball in the mid 80's that worked on some CAD software (bitstick). It was a huge great thing with massive buttons. It seemed to work OK, but it was noisy with all the whirring of the rollers within it.

    Those had one big difference to the thing in the picture, it could be used by lefties. Seems that the manufacturers of things where they add the word "ergonomic" seem to forget that a good chunk of their potential customer base can't just swap hands due to the way they are wired.

    Its similar for the flight yolks on flight simulators, but at least with that, you are using both hands and haven't had decades of training with rodent-hand-eye coordination to overcome.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Half Mouse, half trackball

      The mechanical-design folks at my work all swear by super-fancy multi-way controllers made by 3dconnexion. They are all suitable for use by lefties, too.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Half Mouse, half trackball

        > 3dconnexion

        They used to sell their most basic version (looks like a hockey puck) for a ridiculously bargain £30 or so, as long as you promised not to use it for commercial work - and I sometimes kick myself for not getting one. It's pricey now. It responds to being moved in each axis, plus being tilted in each axis.

        The fancy version takes the same puck and mounts in amongst programmable buttons and a display.

        I played briefly with one at work, but I suspect that I wouldn't get the benefit unless I trained my muscle memory.

  8. duckmeister

    Where's the Lefty Version

    I've been using the Logitech Marble trackball for at least twenty years, maybe longer, and also switched from right-handed to left-handed use due to RSI-related shoulder injury. I'm happy that this particular model has been continuously available, as I've worn out two and had to replace them. I would be interested in a product like that reviewed here, but must have a lefty model and I have not seen one. The Marble is not side-specific so it works, but as has been mentioned it does require use of the fingers, and so is a bit of an additional strain on those of us who have issues with the Carpal Tunnel - yes I've had both hands "done." Don't know that it has helped much but didn't make anything worse.

    1. Steve Channell
      FAIL

      Re: Where's the Lefty Version

      I find this right handled prejudice deeply offensive, with constant discrimination against left handled people troubling... but on a serious note..

      Many years ago, I joined a consultancy that took what appeared to be a forward looking decision to equip consultants with ergonomic logitech mice to go with the nipple mice of our Toshiba laptops.. as a lefthander I found them unusable.

      1. AndyFl

        Re: Where's the Lefty Version

        I remember a few years ago having to get really insistent to the IT bods at a company that I was working at to get them to change a contoured mouse which you could only reach the buttons when you were using the right hand. The ridges in the plastic actually hurt if you tried to use it for any length of time with the left hand and assuming you could contort your fingers to reach the buttons.

        They came out with the line that everyone else seemed OK with the damm thing at which point I let rip about discrimination against left handed people ranging from the way doors and cupboards open to the placement of the bog rolls in the company toilets. The whole thing seemed to be a revelation to them.

        We have non-discrimination rules about everything except handiness, maybe it is time to add that to the list.

        1. HelpfulJohn

          Re: Where's the Lefty Version

          "We have non-discrimination rules about everything except handiness, maybe it is time to add that to the list."

          Yeah, god luck with that. I tried for decades, it never progressed much further than "Oh, dear, he's whingeing ... again." and that was in a place that was absolutely fantastic for helping with disabilities, differences and illnesses. They were damned good people to work for but chirality did not seem to be a disability they recognised as debilitating. [In a way, it's analogous to back pain. It's a completely invisible dysfunction.]

          Not even when I suggested they try spending a week only using their off-hand, their left to experience some of what we sinister gauche people encounter all day. I'm not sure any of them took me up on that challenge but if so nothing came of it.

          Me, I adapted, poorly, to a Dexterous world. Still mostly do, as most lefties are required to.

  9. TheProf

    Wireless

    Why are these wireless? Surely a device that ISN'T going to move around a desk could be wired into a USB port.

    1. RockBurner

      Re: Wireless

      Probably fashion. But it also means they're usable for (say) controlling a video you've cast to the TV and can just have the trackball sitting on the sofa arm. ;)

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wireless

        Used the work lappy in "easy chair" and did exactly that.

        Usually I keep it on the top of the desk next to said lappy for work, but move it next to the fully keyboard on the special tray/shelf to use my personal tower. The USB receiver runs through the monitor switch; no trouble with either PC.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Wireless

      Why are these wireless?

      Lack of USB ports on modern devices?

      1. HelpfulJohn

        Re: Wireless

        "Lack of USB ports on modern devices?"

        Something that prevents me from buying a new machine from Apple. More and more it is stopping me from considering other PC makers, too.

        The drive towards anorexic, tissue-paper thin toys is nuts.

    3. Glockster
      Angel

      Re: Wireless

      Seriously, are you a programmer who spends 40/50 hours a week on a computer? I've got some dinosour eggs you might be interested in. I've been wireless, and committed to logitech rollerball technology since they first introduced the device way back when and I love it… Now I do think there overpriced, however, I've got 2 MX Ergo mice and still enjoy the benifits. One Major fault though, nothing for lefties, hmmnnn?

  10. James Dore
    Thumb Up

    Crikey, the TrackMan Marble rides again. I had an Apple Desktop Bus version of this in 1998, and still have several USB versions at home and work. They're fantastic, extremely comfortable, and need less space than a mouse which is great for my cluttered desks.

    1. CuChulainn Silver badge

      Trackman Marble

      At the time, the Marble was one of the best devices you could get.

      The M570 took things up a notch - except for the poor quality switches, which were relatively easily replaceable with better ones. The MX Ergo took it even further, though.

      I switched to trackballs 20 years ago and have not used a regular mouse since

  11. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Hand and finger exercises

    My mother has difficulty worth her hands now, due to arthritis, and I found these exercises on the Interpleb:

    https://www.emedihealth.com/hand-finger-exercise.html

    She claims they are helping. You can also get various hand strengthening aids from climbing stores, putty to squeeze, and 'Powerfingers' (R) to exercise the antagonist muscles that extend the fingers. As a (very mediocre) rock climber I do find they can help to balance the muscles. Of course, much of the problem with carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by poor posture, including letting your wrists rest on the surface of the desk while typing, which puts the mechanics of the wrist in a bad place. (Any physiotherapists please correct me if I'm wrong).

    I hope this helps.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Hand and finger exercises

      Some people (climbers, musicians etc) swear by the Powerball for strengthening arm muscles and relieving RSI. The gyroscope ensures that the wrist is always straight.

      I am not a doctor etc.

      I did surprise a physiotherapist once by regaining full movement of a healed wrist very quickly after the cast was removed... I put it down to bitter beer being rich in silica (from the hops) which is implicated in bone repair. Credit also goes to doctor who reset the bones - if you're going to break a limb, do it near a ski resort: those medics are well practised at bone setting and it shows in their work!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best thing ever in a shared office

    No one has mentioned the MAJOR benefit of the Trackmans - they stop anyone else mucking about with your PC - your colleague might lean over with a helpful 'here i will just show you' but 30 seconds later after they have driven the cursor into some random corner they will relinquish control and let you get on with things. In my experience it even works with the PFY sent to 'sort out' your PC (which helps massively keeping them from noticing that the icon for 'Dull work data' actually launches a sophisticated crypto-currency mining app using the big Cray in R&D).

    1. Ian Entwistle

      Re: Best thing ever in a shared office

      I add to this by using a Filco Majestouch Ninja with the tiny letters on the front of the keycaps rather than the tops. you immediately see people recall in horror and leave you to it. :)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Used to use one of these Logitech balls back in the early 2000s. It was initially very nice and helped my RSI, but needed so much cleaning and by the end of the day my thumb was exhausted. Eventually gave it up as just didn't have precision of mouse.

    1. CuChulainn Silver badge

      Cleaning

      Dirty Boy!

      Back in the day, I used to be the office 'tech assistant' - nothing to do with my actual job, but this was when some of the secretaries were literally in tears over WordPerfect for Windows (6.0a, if I remember) replacing WP 5.2 DOS (if I also remember), and I knew how to use it.

      We had one guy in the office who ate at his desk and NEVER washed his hands. He'd eat potato chips, spread butter on bread, peel oranges, everything, and yet his idea of 'cleaning his hands' amounted to rubbing them together when he'd finished eating. His screen would have little pixellated areas because of the juice he'd managed to spray on it, and his keyboard was full of crumbs.

      One time, he was having trouble with his mouse not moving. I opened it up, and I swear the cavity was solid with a greasy black gunk. I almost threw up.

      Trackballs have a similar problem. Grease from your thumb gradually gets scraped off by the ball mounts and you notice a slight resistance building. How long between cleans depends on how mucky your hands are.

      You find that if you pop the ball out, then wipe your finger over the mounts, tiny little disks of gunk fall off - and if they build up on the sensor lens that can lead to further apparent problems.

  14. Peter Prof Fox

    No brainer

    It's always exactly where you left it, so no need to fumble for it after keyboarding.

    Never runs out of space.

    It actually fits the (right) hand. Rest you hand on it while browsing and scrolling etc.

    The pointer doesn't move as you get hold of it.

    The pointer doesn't move as you shuffle your papers.

    It keeps its orientation so you don't have to adapt every time.

    Rest your elbow on the chair arm while reaching for it and using it.

    If the cat lays down on your computer bench it doesn't click anywhere randomly.

    Also, when the cat is in in 'just in case you'd forgotten your friend, it's nearly lunch time' mood, taking an interest in the human's activities, 'what's this do?' doesn't result in a game of poke the movey-mouse.

    The MX570 has an issue with the micro switches under the buttons failing after a few years of use, but otherwise is robust enough for general use.

    1. Handel was a crank

      Re: No brainer

      You missed out "chuckling at a colleague that tries to use your computer and wonders why the pointer fails to move as they push the mouse around your desk"

  15. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Which is better: the Marble Man or the M570?

    I have both and have mentioned them frequently.

    The Marble (wired USB) was by go-to in the office. At the time, I scrolled less -- used the keyboard to flip slides, pages, etc. -- and had the work-issued wireless mouse for scrolling work. The Logitec software also had a crude scrolling workaround using one of the extra buttons.

    The M570 stayed at home for the family PC. I occasionally used it on the rare day I did WFH.

    Then pandemic. The M570 became priceless, especially having a scroll wheel. I've been doing a lot of work in Visio this year, and the crude Marble attempt just doesn't work; I need zoom (CTRL-scroll) and pan (SHIFT-scroll) more than I need vertical. And with a KVM switch to share it with the home PC, I'm set.

    I was picking up some stuff at the office earlier this month and thought about grabbing the Marble just for kicks, but I left it there. (No one's gonna' touch my desk anyway.)

    What would YOU do in this situation? Ever had to choose?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Which is better: the Marble Man or the M570?

      MX ERGO. No question.

      1. CuChulainn Silver badge

        Re: Which is bett: the Marble Man or the M570?

        Agreed.

        Plus you can seamlessly scroll between computers using Flow, and copy/paste text and files between them without needing flash drives or FTP.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Which is better: the Marble Man or the M570?

      Throw it in the recycling and get a real mouse.

  16. Herbert Meyer

    left handed

    To reduce shoulder strain on a right arm with an old injury, I use a Left Handed trackball from Elecom. Perhaps I am less right handed than most, but I find it very comfortable. It is thumb operated, the mirror image of the Logitech.

    Before I quit smoking, I would somehow manage a cig, a pencil, and a mouse or trackball with my right hand, simultaneously. I should have applied those skills to dealing cards. I would be a poker champ. Or dead.

  17. Sloppy Crapmonster
    Devil

    I have one of these Amazon Basics ripoffs: https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-G5W-Wireless-Trackball-Mouse/dp/B07G28NF3L/

    It's not awful, but my ball sticks.

    1. onemark03

      Your Amazon Basics ripoff trackball

      If the ball in your trackball sticks, this might be due to the dust that normally accumulates in such devices. If your device permits, try to remove the ball and use an old toothbrush to get rid of the dust. Then replace the ball.

      I had a Logitech trackball for years and had to remove the dust several times a day. Then I changed to a Perixx Permice-520 this June and now I only have to remove the dust every few months.

      Good luck.

      1. CuChulainn Silver badge

        Re: Your Amazon Basics ripoff trackball

        And something else.

        Periodically, I clean mine using a decent cleaner (used for cleaning the inside of my car windscreen), then put a tiny bit of silicone grease on the ball, wipe it around with paper towel, then completely wipe it off with a clean towel. The tiny residue of silicone makes it glide perfectly.

      2. HelpfulJohn

        Re: Your Amazon Basics ripoff trackball

        " ... If the ball in your trackball sticks, this might be due to the dust ..."

        For "dust" read "skin patches coated in salts and oils".

        Also micro cats hairs. Micro-hair, not usually micro-cats. Perhaps also breakfast bits that are secondarily transferred by way of fingers, thumbs and pads.

        Some actual inorganic dust from soil samples, printer detritus and other sources may also be present but a lot of the clog in mouse-balls is dead bits of users. Humans shed. A lot. It's good for forensics. :)

        Cleaning your rat, whether right-side up or dead is often a good move.

        Keyboards, too.

    2. Glockster
      Happy

      FYI

      Any device used by your hands for a long period is going to suffer a build up of oils, jelly dounuts, etc., so periodically, remove the ball, get your 70% rubbing alcohol, wet a clean cloth and wipe down the ball thoroughly, take a cotton ear swab, dip into the alcohol (be mindful of stray fibers) and clean the 3 contact points, inside the ball housing as they collect a lot of dirt. Be sure to be careful about not leaving any fuzz or the like on the little lasers. Put back together and wala? A new rollerball!

  18. Fading
    Facepalm

    I have the Elecom trackball....

    Sitting on my desk in the office. Unfortunately I've been WFH since March. I have noticed though that the previous issue I had with using a mouse at work has not been so bad since WFH (I get bouts of cubital tunnel syndrome) . I put this down to having a nice weighted M65 mouse rather than the cheap plastic tat that was supplied by Dell.

  19. TomPhan

    Elecom

    Big range of trackball mouses from them, and they're a company who doesn't want to ignore 10% of the population.

  20. Andrew Scaife
    Happy

    Contour Rollermouse FTW

    Because the cursor movement is by your fingertips resting on a horizontal roller you move without moving your arms, and use with either both hands or whichever is your dominant. So you position a compact keyboard like a Bakker Elkhuizen toward the monitor(s) with the Rollermouse nearer you (and get the one with the deep wrist rest or you'll need to add one), and you move your hands forward and back just enough to use either device.

    No, I don't work for them, but my employer kindly paid for me to have a workplace assessment when lateral epicondylitis threatened my work capability, and this is the solution they provided. It worked for me (Yay! No more pain!), and when I retire in a few years Contour will get my money for a personal purchase, not Logitech, although I'll always have a soft spot for them.

  21. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    Trackballs rock!...

    I suffer from RSI following years of mouse use snd poor posture in NHS - "spend on the patients"

    I have found even a grotesque Kensington trackball helps.

    Now have a wireless Logitech trackball (forget the model but even linux reports battery level) which I love. My wife hates it, Interestingly, she's fine with linux desktop ("it's just a computer") but not the mouse

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other major advantages of a thumb operated trackball mouse

    - You don't get afflictions of the elbow or shoulder, since they don't move when using the mouse.

    - It can be placed on any surface anywhere, desk armchair or lap, as it doesn't move. (I believe that the optimum position, like the keyboard is as close to the body as possible.)

  23. Robin 12

    I have seen something similar in the 90's but not sure what brand it was. I have used these for over a decade and my kids are also using them. My one child loves it for computer gaming. I use mine for CAD and other drawings on Linux.

    https://www.kensington.com/en-ca/p/products/control/trackballs/expert-mouse-optical-trackball/

    There is a wireless and wired version. Available on Amazon.

    The switches do wear out in years of use but are easy to replace if you can solder. The only issue I have had in all the years with all of them other than switches is I lost a sapphire ball which is used to support the big ball. These are not supplied by Kensington but I found a place that sells them and fixed two broken ones. The wrist pads wear out but you can order replacements.

    I have used this with carpal tunnel and other issues with no strain.

    I tried the thumb track ball and found that the strain on my thumb was just to much.

  24. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Does it exist for left-handed mutants like me or are we once again considered as a despicable minority which can be safely ignored?

  25. Big_Boomer

    Vertical Meeses

    I used a finger trackball, similar to the Kensington Expert, that came built into a keyboard WAY back in the early 90s and I loved it. It had a really large ball (2 or 3" diameter) so you could flick it and it would keep rolling until you stopped it. It was perfect for fine precision work such as photo editing as well as for gaming (Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, etc.). When it died, I just couldn't find another finger trackball of the same type and could not get on with the thumb trackballs of the time, so I reluctantly went back to mice.

    After a recent bout of carpal, my employers bought me a Penguin from Posturite, which is available in small, medium, and large sizes and is a "vertical mouse" so avoids the twisting of the wrist that exacerbates carpal tunnel problems. It works so well, that I bought one for home use and it is superb for everything with the one exception of fine precision work. Mine is the large and suits my massive hands (I wear 5XL motorcycle gloves) just fine. It is fully ambidextrous with a simple switch to choose between lefty and righty and to my eyes looks more like an Orca than a Penguin. Now that I know that finger trackballs exist again, I may have to try one.

  26. Francis Fish

    I've used one of these designs for years

    TBH the main reason I use it is real estate. You just have to place your hand on it and move the cursor. I also set the first button to be a carriage return rather than back. So you click, get the confirmation box, and press return without having to move your hand.

    The scrolling comment is interesting - I spin the ball when I want to get across screens, which is also something you can't do with a conventional mouse.

  27. Miklonweb

    I have used both at home and at work the Logitech M570 and found it excellent. Space saving, responsive, quiet (no scraping and slapping around the desk) and very comfortable to use. Do not get taken from your desk because people find them initially difficult to use. Looks very similar to the new instance.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wired version please

    I've a history of losing untethered mice. I run a messy desk so it can get lost in the chaos, fall off the desk into god-knows what piles of crap or I've even absent mindedly carried it to another room. I guess I could glue a bit of string to anchor the mouse but I also run a second PC and use a KVM switch, wireless doesn't work well with that - and when the batteries run out have I got spares? (Yes, somewhere in the chaos - probably). But part of my strategy to avoid RSI is to swap to left handed mousing some of the time and this one is asymmetric so I guess that wouldn't work anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What?

      You don't need a mouse, you need some therapy…

  29. codemonkey

    Sore Thumb

    So, I think that pushing a mouse right, has actually given me a sore thumb..it's somewhere in deep in the "muscle" of the thumb and at the base. I may try one of these track ball things....thing is...can it handle Warzone? :D

  30. Ian Entwistle

    Optical trackman user here, had it so long I cant actually remember when i first got this but it was the replacement for a Microsoft trackball ( also finger driven ). realising I couldn't find another finger driven one for sale currently i kept an eye on fleabay and gumtree for them, as has been said they went for daft money( i saw 450 for an unopened one once) until one day a second hand shop in Glasgow posted one on gumtree for 30 quid... so I have one at home and one at work ( when i ever get back there... )

    To compliment this I have a Filco Majestouch Ninja keyboard with the tiny letters on front of keycaps. No one ever tries to " take control" of my machine locally, only ever by remote access now :)

    I do always wonder why IT professionals who typically earn good money in their majority use the cheap nasty basic kit that comes with equipment. Mechanics spend fortunes on tools, tradesmen buy decent quality tools, to us surely the KB and rodent are our tools that we interact with so having decent quality is a sensible thing making our physical effort as comfortable as possible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because the stuff that comes with the computer is better than the third-party garbage.

      I want a QUIET keyboard with short keythrow. Apple makes the best one out there, the only problem with the standard one is that it doesn't have a numeric keypad, but the good one can be ordered. The only thing those mechanical keyswitch keyboards are good for is beating the user when the machinegun noise finally gets to you.

      And Apple's current mouse is amazing. Nothing to gunk up, rechargeable so no need to change batteries, and one of the most comfortable mice I've ever used.

  31. hoola Silver badge

    Used them for years

    I switched to the TrackMan Marble in the 1990s when we started using computerised kitchen planning software. It was so much easier with the thumb ball than a mouse. The accuracy and fact that the cursor would not wander of its own accord made a huge difference. We all ended up using them after I go mine because they we so much better. I have used them or the wireless replacements ever since at home and work. Occasionally you need to take the ball out and remove the gunk of the contact points but that really is a minor point compared to the benefits.

  32. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    I've been using their M570s for years but:

    1. The switches fail in about a year and a half.

    2. You will end up with an inflamed forefinger and thumb because of the force needed to actuate the switches, and repetitive pressure on a small area of the thumb.

    Despite these issues, it's still my go to all time favourite mouse. I just wrap my fingers in cling film around ibuprofen gel every so often. Their software works so much better than anything else out there. You can program all the buttons. I just wish it had a tilt mouse wheel, to scroll sideways. Come on Logitech, you made the Tilt Mouse and it was great! Shove a tilt into one of these!

    1. CuChulainn Silver badge

      Switches

      But you CAN replace them for something far better,

      Dodgy switches in the M570s was a known issue. The ones you replace them with are much better rated in terms of presses, and have a better feel. I repaired two while I was still using them. Still have them as spares.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

        Re: Switches

        I can't find the switches for the two small buttons nearest the ball! Where the heck do I get those? Very small and low profile. They're on a little board of their own.

  33. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Padding away

    I have had a joint fused in each hand, loose joints, this one moved too much began to wear out so got fused. Post op I cannot rest my hands when typing, they MUST be up in the air. I use a trackpad, have bluetooth one for taking with me if I might be using another machine. This means I can lock my wrist and move my whole arm taking the wrist out of the equation.

    Post op my thumbs can be a bit of a problem, the thumb bone you see articulates with the side of the little bone which got fused to the long bone of the index finger which now doesn't move like it used to. I get extendor tendinitis in my thumbs. That thumb ball would have me whimpering on the floor crying 'who took the last ibuprofens?'.

    So no, I shall not be considering this though for others with carpal tunnel for eg it looks like it might help. Though they really need to come in different sizes. Not everyone's hands are the same size.

  34. Adam Trickett
    Linux

    Great but not long lasting

    Had a wired one and the M570. Both great but the cheap switches fail.

    Bought replacements and soldered them in, so far they are lasting well. I've WHF for about 4 years now and couldn't use a mouse on a regular basis anymore. Don't really need it to be wireless most of the time, but useful if you're using it away from the screen, eg. TV or presentation - but that's not very common for me.

    1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

      Re: Great but not long lasting

      I would replace the left button switch but one of the small buttons nearest the ball is also kaput - can't source those tiny stitches or the small board they're part of. Cursed to buy more M570s... My plan is to eventually have enough dead mice to make a live mouse.

  35. Glockster
    Meh

    New Device?

    I think the only thing new about this roller ball / mouse is the color, it's white. I've got 2 MX Ergo RB mice and I'd be hard prssed to tell any meaningful difference except for the price, there both over priced. Please, Logitech, you guys make great stuff, I'm a fan, so please don't tell me you made this because I ache? Were not that stupid you know…

  36. mjflory

    Pronation

    Years ago I realized that much of my hand and wrist pain came from the pronation (wrist rotation analogous to roll of an airplane) required to use my Trackman Marble. I kludged a stand of sorts to tilt the TM by about 45 degrees and I felt much better. Since then there have been a couple of trackballs with this sort of tilt built in -- among others, the Logitech Trackman Ergo has an optional stand -- and recently I've been using a Kensington Pro Fit Ergo Vertical Wireless Trackball (https://www.kensington.com/en-gb/p/products/control/trackballs/pro-fit-ergo-vertical-wireless-trackball/). It tracks well, it's easy to pop the ball to clean out accumulated crud, and my only problem has been its tendency to switch itself from WiFi to Bluetooth once in a while. (I suppose I'm brushing one of its innumerable buttons by mistake, but I now know which button to push to unswitch it.) The Kinesis Advantage has eliminated the pronation pain I had from flat keyboards and the tendonitis that almost kept me from working thirty years ago hasn't come back.

    1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

      Re: Pronation

      Ibu is great for finger pain - the advantage is wrapping your fingers in clingfilm after first applying a lot of ibuprofen gel is that you don't damage your kidneys. Bring on the Logitech Mind Mouse™

  37. hayzoos

    I used a corded PS/2 trackball from Radio Shack for many years until it wore out beyond repair. By then it was no longer available for replacement. It differed greatly from the most popular trackballs. It was about the same size as a mouse. It had the ball about where the scroll wheel is on most mice these days. It was flatter than today's mice or even most mice of those days. The right and left buttons surrounded the ball most of the way around either side. Behind the ball was a small click lock button for click and drag simplicity. Ergonomically the motion was shared between fingers, hand, and arm so not very tiring or overtaxing of any particular appendage. It was symmetrical so suitable for left or right handed organic interface. I frequently used it on a reclining chair arm as easily as on a desk. If this was available again in modern connectivity, I would get as many as I could justify.

  38. VicMortimer
    Flame

    I hate these things so much.

    Before remote access to user workstations was a thing, I'd carry a real mouse as part of my 'goes everywhere' kit just in case some f-ing asshole had a f-ing trackball. These days I will pull out my laptop and remote the asshole's computer from their desk before I'll touch one of these things.

    I'm convinced the real purpose of these is to make putting the mouse pointer where it needs to be such a pain in the ass that far less work ever gets done.

    And carpal tunnel? Seriously? These things are FAR less comfortable than the worst mouse I've ever used, and I've used some bad ones.

  39. Raphael

    I'm on my second MX Ergo, the first lasted me just over two years.

    https://www.logitech.com/en-nz/products/mice/mx-ergo-wireless-trackball-mouse.910-005180.html

    I have a dodgy wrist (TFCC tear and 3 surgeries) and it, along with a MS Ergonomic keyboard, means I can use a PC for more than an hour without needing lots of painkillers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What was the failure mode?

      Is the second showing similar signs?

  40. dmartin

    Microsoft Trackball Explorer.

    Probably pre-2000, certainly USB-1

    Big trackball on top (fingers), scroll wheel and LR clicks under thumb.

    Great. Had to buy another just in case mine died. Would be unthinkable!

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