Kensington’s Orbit Trackball Mouse Has All The Features

| Quick Look Review

A trackball mouse is one of those things you either love or hate. If you fall on the love side, you should definitely take a look at the Orbit Trackball Mouse recently released by Kensington.

Kensington Wireless Mobile Trackball

It works wirelessly, using a USB dongle and two AA batteries which are included. You install the batteries, plug in the dongle to a convenient USB port, and the mouse is ready to go. There are no drivers involved.

It features an ambidextrous design and the ball is centered.

Top view of the Orbit Mobile Trackball

The mouse is 2 x 7 x 6-in and weighs 9.6 ounces. The following image gives some idea of the size. The top is curved to fit the shape of a hand and there are large buttons on either side. The bottom features rubberized feet that help hold it in place. 

Size comparison with iPhone 4

The mouse is compatible with OS X and carries a five year warranty. The MSRP is U.S.$59.99. I found it on Amazon.Com for U.S.$48.26. The package includes the mouse, two AA batteries, a copy of the warranty and an instruction guide.

Using the product

I am not accustomed to using a trackball mouse, but I found this mouse easy to use. It could not have been easier to set up — install batteries, plug in dongle, turn on. The ball moves smoothly, but not so quickly that I found it hard to control and I discovered that I like the fact that one does not move the mouse itself — much easier on the wrist. I also appreciate the fact that this mouse must be a favorite of many left handed users.

As a right handed user, I appreciate any mouse nowadays that does not have to be anchored on the left side of my MacBook Pro because that is the only place I can find a USB port. I also like the shape of this mouse and the fact that it fits my hand nicely. The left and right side buttons are around two inches long, allowing for different size hands and fingers. 

Do I recommend it?

I do. If you prefer a trackball mouse then you certainly should check it out. It is from Kensington, has a five year warranty, and works well. It is adaptable for left or right handers, can easily move from computer to computer, and feels comfortable and sturdy when in use.

Product: Orbit Wireless Mobile Trackball

Company: Kensington

List Price: U.S.$59.99

Pros:

Well designed trackball mouse, easy to use, 5 year warranty.

Cons:

None identified.

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9 Comments Leave Your Own

MOSiX Man

Looks like the best truly portable trackball I’ve seen. I typically prefer Kensington pointing devices (I have a Kensington Expert Mouse trackball here at home), and unlike most pointing devices that get the ‘portable’ label, this looks like it would be comfortable for somebody with big hands like mine. I especially like that they kept with their tradition and put the ball on top.

furbies

Nancy

Did Kensington also release a System Preference/Driver to go with the Trackball ?

I used to use Kensington’s USB 5 Button Trackball, but the driver supplied back then caused no end of grief.

ilikeimac

The mouse is 2 x 7 x 6-in

If the mouse is 7-inches from tip to tail, your “size comparison” photo is way off. The iPhone 4 is only 4.5 inches tall, yet the photo shows it being taller than the 7-inch Orbit Wireless.

plug in the dongle to a convenient USB port

Why do they make a dongle instead of using Bluetooth? Are there that many non-Bluetooth laptops? Is pairing too difficult? Is the licensing onerous?

MOSiX Man

@furbies: Kensington has an all-in-one package that installs the drivers as well as their ‘TrackballWorks’ preference pane which allows you to configure all of the doo-dads on the device. TrackballWorks works great for me, so far, and I’ve been using it for better than a year.

(Kensington used to have a ‘MouseWorks’ preference pane, which they used with all of their pointing devices, but it ran into trouble with the introduction of Snow Leopard, at least partly due to the fact that the drivers it worked with were 32-bit and didn’t work so well on 64-bit Macs.)

MOSiX Man

@ilikeimac: Sometimes, bluetooth mice and/or keyboards can be a bit annoying. In cases where you have to turn them off and on all the time, they often have to be re-paired. When others around you are using the same (or similar) bluetooth devices, it can get really fun, as one person ends up controlling the mouse pointer on someone else’s computer.

Also, typically, bluetooth devices tend to be more susceptible to wireless interference than devices just labeled as ‘wireless’. At least that’s been the experience of myself and numerous people I know. For example - I work in an office in which there are numerous 2.4GHz 802.11g/n wireless base stations in use, for testing network connectivity applications. In our QA lab, connection to bluetooth devices is on/off every couple seconds, whereas I’ve used wireless mice with dongles, there, with no issues. Now I admit to that being an extreme example, but it illustrates one pitfall of bluetooth devices.

MOSiX Man

If the mouse is 7-inches from tip to tail, your ?size comparison? photo is way off. The iPhone 4 is only 4.5 inches tall, yet the photo shows it being taller than the 7-inch Orbit Wireless.

I just looked on Kensington’s site, and the side-by-side images they have of all of their trackballs shows the Orbit being maybe 2/3 the length (front to back) of the Expert Mouse, which is 6” from front to back. So, Nancy’s comparison picture seems to be accurate. However, Kensington’s own spec sheet for the Orbit states that the dimensions of the device are 2.00” x 6.00” x 7.00”, with the 2” being the length, 6” being the width, and 7” being the height. There is no way that the Orbit is 7” from front to back or side to side, and it’s inconceivable that it’s 7” tall. I think there is simply some inaccurate information on that spec sheet.

Mike R

I was a diehard trackball user for the last decade. Then Apple released the Magic Trackpad. I’ll still use a trackball for the times when I have to <shudder> use a Windows PC but having gestures on the desktop Mac is stellar and I simply cannot see going back to a mere trackball.

To MOSiX Man’s comment about bluetooth, I have both the bluetooth Apple keyboard and the Trackpad with utterly no problems in a fairly noisy RF loaded household and even in the situation I used to view with trepidation…. changing batteries… is a non-event with both devices.

MOSiX Man

@Mike R: Granted, I haven’t experienced problems with the Apple bluetooth keyboard or mice that I (and/or family members) have used at home. So, the problems I’ve had with bluetooth devices may have been due to the quality of the device and/or the outrageous amount of wireless noise in our lab.

Regarding the Magic Trackpad: I have one on loan from a friend, and I really like it. It works especially well with the OS X 10.7 beta/GM. smile However, I still find that my hand jumps back to my Expert Mouse (I have them side-by-side) most of the time. Maybe I’m just too used to the trackball. I’d definitely take the Magic Trackpad over a standard mouse, any day.

Mike R

Mike R: Granted, I haven?t experienced problems with the Apple bluetooth keyboard or mice that I (and/or family members) have used at home. So, the problems I?ve had with bluetooth devices may have been due to the quality of the device and/or the outrageous amount of wireless noise in our lab.

There is that… You have an extreme case in a lab environment and I can see issues with bluetooth there while a proprietary dongle-based connection may be more solid.

I still find that my hand jumps back to my Expert Mouse (I have them side-by-side) most of the time. Maybe I?m just too used to the trackball. I?d definitely take the Magic Trackpad over a standard mouse, any day.

I was the same… had both and used both but as time went on and gestures, along with the real productivity gains with them became more and more apparent, it finally reached the point where my trackball is in a drawer as a backup. However, I have a feeling that, unless something was on fire, if the Trackpad failed, rather than taking out the trackball, I’d immediately head to the nearest Apple store to get a replacement.

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