on February 4, 2004
Almost every day I work for hours using a Computer Aided Design program, and over the years have found the Kensington Expert Trackball to be an indispensible labor (and arm) saving device. You get so much with so little movement! I was looking to buy a new one.
I had misgivings about this product after reading some "Worse than Bad" reviews that were in this forum. Still, either because hope springs eternal or a fool and his money are soon parted, I went ahead and ordered one.
Out of the box ball rotation was _The Worst_ as others had said. I had deadlines, however, so decided to use it to see if anything would improve. Two hours later it had "broken in".
Trackball Wizards, my number five is on the trophy shelf. The Seven is AAMMAAZZIINNGG. Totally silent movement; virtually frictionless rotation; excellent functionality, and it has GOT to have one of the most eloquent designs of any input device on the market.
As an added bonus the scroll ring beats any scroll wheel I have used, anywhere.
Congratulations to Kensington for creating a truly superior product.
This is a superior alternative to the silver and blue USB model by Kensington with the awkwardly placed scrollwheel. Kensington brings back their award-winning classic design, adds a scroll wheel around the ball (programmable for lefties or righties!), a free attachable wristpad and all using optics - no more skin, hair and potato chip crumbs getting stuck in scroll wheels... it's all done using light.
My less than perfect rating is for the less-than-fluid turning of the scroll wheel. It sometimes feels like you're grinding coffee when you're turning it. Sometimes it's smooth like butter, other times, it seems to skip a little... and it's not due to debris, since it's been like this since I got it out of the box.
This is something Kensington needs to iron out in their next model.
Despite this one flaw, this is simply the best their is and there's a good reason why this mouse flies off the shelves at nearly 100 bucks a pop - it's because it's the best input device alternative to a mouse - ever - anywhere.
Do your wrist a favor and treat yourself to navigating in joy.
on April 5, 2006
I got this trackball because of wrist pains in my mouse hand. I will give my complete unbiased review here.
First, it is very pretty. The buttons are nice looking and easily clicked. The ball is a nice size.
The trackball comes with a wrist rest, however it is not comfortable if you use your fingertips to move the ball. In fact, the Kensington documentation states that your hand should "hover" when using your fingertips to move the ball. The reason is, when you move the ball towards you, your fingers have to bend and your wrist bends upwards. In order to keep your wrist straight, you have to hover your palm over the wrist rest. So why did they include a wrist rest?
The only other configuration possible is to rest the blade of your hand, pinky side down, on the wrist rest and use your thumb to move the ball. This position feels good, however I found I am much less accurate with my thumb. Also if you have any thumb pain, this position is not feasible.
The scroll ring is a very nice feature. However, as everyone else has found, it sounds like it has sand in it when rotated. I took it apart and lubed it with a plastic safe grease. Even though I worked the grease into the mechanism, the plastic bearings still make the grinding sound while saturated in grease. I can't get to them to see if they can be replaced without breaking the plastic, which has been melted closed.
The ball is large and very pleasant to use. It was stiff out of the box though. The ball sits on three very tiny red balls, which act as bearings. Over a few hours of use, the grease from your fingers will lube the bears somewhat. You can also remove the ball and put a small dab of grease on these bearings, replace the ball and spin it, then remove the ball and clean it. Clean up all the lube from the bearings so they don't get the ball greasy. Then ball is then VERY smooth, with none of the "static friction" that is mentioned in other reviews. The grease to use is Radio Shack Multi-Purpose Lube Gel item #64-2326. Any plastic safe, non-evaporating lube should work.
After two days of use, two of the three small plastic cups that hold the little red ball bearings for the main ball broke. It seems the only way for this to happen would be if I dropped the ball in the socket very hard, which I did not do. The little cups do seem that the are easily broken, though I have not read anyone else having this same problem, so it could be an isolated incident. I have contacted Kensington for a replacement. I hope they can help. If I can keep my broken trackball, I will take apart the scroll ring bearings and see if it can be improved.
The drivers for the device are superb, although the user interface is sometimes awkward. You can set actions for each of the four buttons or when you press the top two or bottom two at the same time. Further, you can have it do different actions when any of those buttons are pressed with ctrl, alt, shift, or any combination of the three.
The actions you can take are extensive. You can run an application, simulate a series of key presses, paste some text, close applications, show a customizable menu, maximize windows, etc. Good job Kensington!
The acceleration settings are very important. The trackball has to be accurate for small movements, yet you shouldn't have to paw at the thing to move the cursor across the whole screen. This cannot be accomplished using any combination of the "fine tuning" controls the driver provides. The acceleration curve they allow you to create is much too linear.
Fortunately there is still hope. On Windows, in your user's home directory, look in Application Data\Kensington\MouseWorks. You will find a KMW_Preferences.xml file. Edit this file with a text editor and you can define your own acceleration curve. To do so, under "Acceleration" set the "Level" to 1, then modify the numbers of the first "Multipliers" entry. I found 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 13, 20, 26, 36, 90, 90 to work exactly like I want. After editing and saving the file, run the kmw_prb_xml.exe file in your MouseWorks installation directory. This will causes your changes to the XML file to be applied. Then if you go to the acceleration page in the driver, you will see your custom acceleration curve on their little graph!
With my custom acceleration curve I can accurately make small movements for clicking links, menu items, and expanding folders while navigating a filesystem. Also, I can travel the whole screen height with just one movement of the trackball. Perfect! Kudos to Kensington for allowing the preferences file to be customized so easily and for providing such great options for configuring the button presses.
The device is really great. If Kensington would make the scroll ring silky smooth, the product would be absolutely perfect. As it is now, the scroll ring is slightly cheap feeling, but it is still such a great feature to have, I wouldn't use a trackball without it. A scratchy scroll ring is better than none and it can be lived with.
The durability of the bearings is still a question I have. I hope to find a positive response from Kensington regarding my replacement inquiry and hopefully the next one I get won't break.
The only other negative aspect is the wrist rest is useless for 80%+ of people who will use the trackball with their fingertips. In fact it is better to not attach the rest because you will find yourself using it, putting your wrist in a bent position.
It would be great to have a trackball that could be used with the fingertips and had a rest for the wrist. To see what I mean, detach the wrist rest that comes with the Expert Mouse. Put a book under the rest and use it that way. Pretty comfy huh?
In all, it is a good device. If my suggestions are fixed in the next version, it would be a KILLER device. Granted, I don't think there is another trackball as good as this one, but that doesn't mean this one should not be improved. As is, it is a bit overpriced. The ball, buttons, and plastics are nice, but the scroll ring and bearings don't have the quality of a $100 device. A more realistic price would be $45-$50. I see it can currently be found for $60 from Amazon after a mail in rebate, so that is a great buy.
Please Kensington, please fix the problems above and provide us with the BEST mouse replacement the world has ever seen!
UPDATE: I sent Kensington an email regarding my broken trackball and 90 minutes later they responded and have shipped me a new trackball. Now that is great service!
I took apart my broken trackball and inspected the bearings for the scroll ring. It uses rubber rollers on one side and tiny white plastic ball bearings for the other side. The rollers don't make any noise, the problem is the plastic bearings rub against plastic and metal. Greasing it does not help. The design is flawed and there is no way possible to fix the scroll ring so it rotates smoothly. Another reviewer mentioned that taking out the magnet helps. I don't recommend this as it does not reduce the noise and makes the ring rotate too easily (possibly on accident).
So Kensington has something to improve on, though even with its noise, I am glad to have it.
UPDATE: Unfortunately the MouseWorks software doesn't work on Windows 7. I have heard it also doesn't work with Vista. There are rumors it will work if it can be run in compatibility mode, but this only works for 32-bit Windows. 64-bit definitely does not work, and there is no workaround.
The trackball still works, you are just unable to change what the 4 buttons do and you have little control over the mouse acceleration.
I contacted Kensington about this and they suggested I sign up to beta new Kensington trackball software that will work on Windows 7. I did so, but apparently the software is not ready for the public to beta. As of 5/2010, it is unknown when the beta will begin.
UPDATE 9/15: 9 years later I'm still using the same Expert Mouse, so the first one breaking was an isolated incident and I'm confident this is a product that will last. I've gotten over wanting a wrist rest, my Imak SmartGlove keeps away wrist pain (though I don't rest my wrist when using the trackball). I see the standard price is now ~$70, which is reasonable. This is a great device, get one!
on January 20, 2007
As a longtime trackball user (with one of my favorites being an older model of the Kensington Expert mouse) I was very excited about this one. The features were outstanding, the trackball movement and precision flawless, and the scroll ring was very useful. However, the trackball housing itself is constructed on a very steep incline. Even with the wrist pad that's included, it put my fingers in a big strain to operate the ball (I have average sized hands). It's tilted up, so that you have to reach up and out to use the ball. This puts strain on the tendons of your whole hand, and also presses the nerve cluster at the base of your hand against the pad or table. After using it for about a week, my hand was in agony.
Earlier Kensington Expert Mice were almost flat, and were very comfortable. It's baffling to me why they made this change in the design.
Kensington did take this mouse back for a refund even though I had used it for a week (all I could stand). It may be that this unit is comfortable for someone with very large hands. I've gone back to my Logitech Marble Mouse, regretfully -- if not for the incline, the Kensington would have truly been the perfect trackball.
on August 30, 2008
I bought this product because I was suffering from repetitive stress injuries from using a mouse. Initially, I was ecstatic with this trackball. The interface is slick, the ball works well, and the scroll wheel worked superbly. But about 6 months into ownership, the scroll wheel stopped working. I contacted Kensington and they sent me a replacement for free. I figured it was just a freak incident. I was so pleased with this $99 trackball that I bought a second one for my work computer. Six months after purchasing that one, the scroll wheel died. I asked for another replacement and they sent one for my work computer. It's now about 6 months later and, surprise, surprise, the track wheels have both died again. I'll probably contact Kensington again and hope they'll send new replacements. But I'm definitely not going to recommend this product to anyone else. If the scroll wheel held up, I definitely would as everything else about it is great. But there is something wrong with the design of the scroll wheel. If that's an important feature to you, just be prepared to replace this every 6 months. I can't believe this is just a fluke when 4/4 have had the same problem.
on July 15, 2005
I just got my first bout of tendonitis and though I needed an all around upgrade to my keyboard and pointing device. I picked up the Kinesis Advantage keyboard which is amazing! The learning curve is difficult but well worth it.
I then picked up this Trackball with high hopes. Like the others have said, the construction is fine...if it had cost a lot less. This thing cost single digit dollars to manufacture. Cheap feel aside; I'm quite happy with the ball movement and tracking. The software looks pretty good with a lot of flexibility.
The scroll wheel is another story.....
This wheel grinds so much; I expected to find plastic shavings inside the case. After a few hours with it, I couldn't take it anymore. But, I don't know of many alternatives....so I took it apart and it is now 75% better.
Here is what you do (if you are daring enough): remove the four screws on the bottom. They are hidden below the rubber feet, which just peel off. You can now take the device apart. Once open, you will find a small metal bar mounted in the front right side of the circuit board. This is a magnet! In an attempt to give the stepped feel of some scroll wheels, the geniuses at Kensington decided to use a magnet. The magnet is attracting the metal of the scroll wheel (which has a series of squares cut into it for the optical sensor...sort of like the edge of a film strip) to attempt to snap it to each step. This design would be great, if the wheel had a proper bearing. So the magnet does nothing more than increase the friction of the movement. Remove the magnet by using a small screwdriver or pin to poke the plastic spring retainer from the center. The movement will be much better now!
I think it would also help to put a little grease in the wheel where the plastic rubs. You need to remove the two screws in the bottom of the "cup", where the ball sits. You should be able to figure out where the friction point is once you look at the underside of the cup. Be warned though, that many greases/oils can damage plastic so be careful. You might be able to find proper plastic grease at a hobby store.
Good luck! Hope that helps.
on August 23, 2007
If I were still living in a Windows XP world, this trackball would get 5 stars.
If I were only considering Kensington's attitude toward Vista support, it would get 1 star.
Here are the words straight from the horse's mouth:
"With the release of Microsoft Vista there is no further need for the Mouseworks application as key features and functionality formerly provided by Mouseworks is incorporated into Vista. Vista supports programmability and configuration needs such as acceleration, application launch (keyboards), settings for right or left handed users, scroll speed, et cetera. Our plan is to continue to tap into the rich functionality and configuration options which Microsoft Vista incorporates."
It would be great if this were true. However, it's simply false. Vista does not allow you to reprogram your mouse buttons at all, excluding the ability to "Swap left and right buttons."
Under Vista, you are stuck with the following buttons / functions:
* Left and right click (swappable under the Mouse control panel).
* Center click (top left button)
* Page back (top right button)
Features you are missing under Vista:
* Button programmability (launch apps, keyboard shortcuts, macros)
* Contextual application mapping
* Precise mouse sensitivity settings / velocity
* Contextual mouse sensitivity
If you plan to use Vista, this is not the mouse for you.
I would suggest Logitech as an alternative, however the truth of the matter is that there is no trackball on the planet that can compare to the Expert Mouse. The bottom line is that without Mouseworks, this trackball is simply way too expensive to be justified, considering it basically becomes a non-programmable 2-button trackball w/ scroll ring.
I have been using Kensington Turbo / Expert Mouse trackballs since the Turbo Mouse 4.0 on MacOS. It's a shame to see this company, who has always delivered the total package with hardwre and software, turn their backs on their customers like this.
on July 23, 2008
I've been using the 64213 for seven years now (since 7/31/01, paid $99 - it's great and well worth it), and wanted to get one of these as a gift for a friend.
They no longer make the 64213, which rolls on stainless steel rollers.
I was skeptical about the 64325, because it was different (optical). I thought that it would have a different feel (I was right).
I would like to recommend it over a regular mouse - for comfort, to prevent against carpal tunnel, and clutching, and for ease of navigation through virtual worlds like Second Life. I like the 64213 better, though, because of the size and feel. Maybe there's a used one available on e-bay.
Differences I've noticed:
1.) The stainless steel rollers in the 64213 give you more of a tactile connection between where you were rolling, and what the mouse is doing on the screen. You don't have that so much with the optical trackball. Also, the 64325 requires a lighter touch, which may actually prove to be good over time. I won't be able to say, though, because I'm giving it to someone as a gift (it's good).
2.) The length of the 64325 is shorter. I can understand that about the front, since there are no quick launch buttons (I've never used these on a regular basis), but I like the extended length in the front of the 64213 better, because I have a large hand. This isn't a big deal.
3.) The 64325 seems to be angled down a little bit more in front. I like the angle of the 64213 better. Maybe use one or two thicknesses of corrugated cardboard to raise it up. This isn't a big deal.
4.) The scroll 'ring' works ok, although I've read reviews to the contrary. I've never regularly used the scroll 'wheel' in the 64213 - Reason: I set my buttons as follows (please see pic):
If I'm viewing a web page (which is when I might use the scroll 'wheel' or 'ring') . . . I don't use the scroll 'wheel' or 'ring' . . . instead, I use the vertical slider of the browser, my top-left mouse button (Drag), and the trackball itself as the scroll 'wheel' or 'ring' . . . in my opinion, the scroll 'wheel' or 'ring' is redundant.
*To do Camera Zoom in Second Life, you put the mouse cursor in the distance, press the Alt key, and then Drag the mouse forward / around / backwards . . . I was previously holding down the Alt key, and using my top-left button to do "Single-Click" Drag - but that froze out my keyboard, and then I could no longer type in Local Chat . . . I just figured out that I can program any of these buttons to do "Alt+Drag+Click," which equals "Alt+Left Drag," in the MouseWorks software, under "Other Options... / Standard Clicks / More Clicks..." and now Camera Zoom works with no problem, and with even one less key to press! (the Alt key - please see pic). When I zoom around to build, though, it still does this, sometimes.
Other comments on . . .
1.) I tried the included palm pad support that you can attach. It didn't work for me, because my hand is large, and you have to position your hand relative to how it attaches. When I went to left-click on the bottom left button with my thumb, when my thumb came off of the button, I would hear a spring sound that you shouldn't hear. I overcame this by clicking a little bit further down on the button, while using a detached palm pad support that I got somewhere else (please see pic).
2.) It takes a couple of hours for it to be 'broken in,' for smooth trackball movement.
3.) They added rubberized feet to it, which is nice. I did this with the 64213 (it didn't have them).
1.) Use the 'Acceleration' and 'Fine Tuning' settings to get it just the way you want.
2.) It will bring my computer out of Standby when connected as PS/2, but not as USB (same with the 64213 - even when I verified that I had that option checked in properties).
on July 2, 2007
After much shopping and debate, I bought this Kensington executive trackball--I know, it's much more expensive than the others. But this expense is justified--espcially if you're having physical pain from the ergonomy (or lack thereof) of your workstation.
I've tried dozens, yes dozens of input devices because I spend 12 hours per day on the computer. There is no product superior to this one. The price is justified.
No other track ball will give you the 4 button programmability (which I don't use--There's setup fine right out of the box). You also get a perfectly designed wrist, pad wrest (that even covers the Kensington logo, so you don't have to stare at some marketing jerks bright idea). Modest. But the sin qua non, is the scroll ring. I couldn't find any other trackball that had it and it IS an indespensible tool.
In the first 5 minutes you use the trackball, it seems "slippery". But literally within 5 minutes of normal use, it becomes intuitive to your touch. I use a dual monitor setup, so I have to make sweeping mouse moves across two screens. I can do this easily without repositioning my hand on the ball. The buttons are very large and ideally places (for either left or right handers). It even comes with an ergonimics guide to help you setup your workspace to minimize joint stress. I also had fits with my mouse being difficult to control or to get into just the right spot for clicking on a small target. Without even loading the software disk that came with, this trackball moves the mouse perfectly--accurate, smooth. It is an optical reader, so I don't understand the other complaints about it needing daily cleaning. I'll check back to let you know if I find it a problem. But it may be a case of someone surfing porn with sweaty palms. It's otherwise hard to imagine a problem like that.
Anyway, I not much of a product reviewer (and at my age, I'm very difficult to impress). But this is clearly one of those few times, when I got what I paid for (and perhaps, a little more).
on May 26, 2011
I have tried them all, and this one is the best. Is it perfect? Is it for everyone? No.
The big advantage this unit has over the others has been overlooked by other reviewers. When I use this track ball, there are many hand positions that work well. Quite often I drape my hand over the whole thing and move the ball with the callouses of my pointing and ring fingers that are on the palm of my hand. I can rest my hand on the table and use a fingertip or two. One of those that I like the best is cradling the top of the ball in the nook of my #1 and 2 fingers, just under the knuckles halfway back on the fingers.
I use five or six different positions, and they are all comfortable and easy to be accurate with. The large diameter ball makes this possible, along with places on the housing that aren't buttons that fingers can rest on. I also put some of my hand weight on the ball. By using many different combinations of positions, the chances of injury is as low as it is going to get. I never get sore from the track ball, and I have been computing for a long time (please don't ask).
The scroll ring is also easily turned with a finger or two, or thumb. From the top or either side. It's way better than those thumbwheels. The ring to has a clicky feel when turned. It's made that way. If you don't like it you can take it apart and remove the magnet. The screws are under the feet, which are just stuck on, and there are a couple more under the ball.
Sometimes the ball is sticky out of the box. For a track ball to work, the friction of the ball has to be very low. This high friction goes away after a while, but you can't wash it away with soap and water for some reason. Another reviewer suggested greasing and polishing and I expect this works. Perhaps a solvent wash with alcohol. Maybe the oil from your skin gets in the plastic and lubricates it. If I give mine a spin right now it will go for 3 revolutions.
I have large hands, and this thing is perfect for me. If you have small hands it may not be for you. I threw the wrist rest away. It's useless. I often put the track ball on the arm of an easy chair, and my whole arm and hand are supported perfectly.
Setting it up for your own tastes with the software is important. It makes a huge difference. I use my computer mostly for programming and browsing, with some photoshop thrown in. Although I have a tablet, I can actually do better with the track ball in most cases when I use photoshop to fix pictures. For browsing, I have one of the upper buttons programmed to be the browser back button. That and the scroll ring will spoil you big time. Fair warning.
The one thing I would like is to be able to adjust how much pressure it takes to trip the buttons. I sometimes screw up and inadvertently hit the upper left button (back) when I don't want to. I can see Kensington rolling their eyes - it's always something...
I tried their new track ball, the slimblade, and it wasn't quite as good. The case and buttons were one and the same, so finding a place to rest hand and fingers resulted in a lot of unwanted button presses. Also, the buttons take different pressures depending on where you hit them. This unit doesn't behave that way. The buttons take the same pressure no matter where they are pressed. The rotating ball vs scroll ring was a non-issue. I went back to this unit because it's more ergonomic, even though it's a lot thicker.
I am about to buy my fourth one of these. I have managed to break several in different ways, through no fault of the manufacturer. In general these are pretty tough units. I have dropped mine off the chair arm many times and it has been ok. The cord is not tough enough to withstand a battle with the vacuum. The unit works well with a 10 foot usb passive extension cable (even though it's too long for spec). I can tell you that if you put it on the floor, and the dog steps on the ball, one of the bearing holders is likely to break off...