“Ouch!” I vividly remember saying toward the end of a long work day, shaking my wrist in an attempt to dispel the tingling sensation shooting through it.
It would be another eight months of trying to brush off my burgeoning repetitive strain injury before I started getting seriously worried. I realised the time had come to invest in better equipment.
The first thing I actually bought (before my Kinesis Advantage2 keyboard) was the Logitech Trackman Marble trackball mouse.
So how have I found it? Read on, friend, to find out!
But first, let’s discuss ergonomic mice in general.
Things to consider before buying an ergonomic mouse
Before buying an ergonomic mouse, there are a number of factors to consider.
Size relative to your hand
A mouse should fit in the palm of your hand. You shouldn’t have to contract your hand too hard or reach too far to click the buttons and scroll.
Current physical issues
The type of ergonomic mouse suitable for you will depend on any specific issues you currently have physically.
For example, if you’re dealing with thumb discomfort, then a thumb operated trackball mouse would be a poor choice.
If you’re suffering from carpal tunnel pain, then vertical mice may be a good pick since they take pressure off this area and engage the shoulder instead. Conversely, if you have shoulder issues, then you’ll probably want to avoid mice types that demand more movement in this region.
Note: I’m not a medical specialist, so this is not medical advice — make sure you talk to a qualified professional where appropriate.
You’ll also want to consider whether one hand or arm in particular is currently feeling overworked. In that case, you’ll want the ability to use either hand for your mouse to distribute the work.
For this you can look for an ambidextrous mouse, which will have a neutral shape on both sides and can be used by either hand equally well.
What do you need to do on your computer?
If you need to do high-precision graphics work or competitive gaming, trackball mice may not be your best bet.
That said, and I say this as a tech professional who uses my computer heavily, a trackball is precise enough for virtually any normal use scenarios.
Now that we’ve covered a few things to be mindful of, let’s get into my experience with the Logitech Trackman Marble.
Logitech Trackman Marble Review
The Logitech Trackman Marble is a popular (wired) trackball mouse designed with ergonomics in mind.
With a central trackball and ergonomically positioned buttons, it attempts to take strain away from your wrist and make for a much more comfortable mouse experience.
So does it deliver?
Personally, my first impression of using this thing was “wow, this feels comfortable”. I’d dabbled with a fairly cheap vertical mouse before and by comparison this one felt much better to use.
After several months of use, I still stick by this feeling. It is very comfortable and has been a great improvement over my previous “standard office issue” mouse. However, there is one major design issue with the Logitech Trackman Marble — it does NOT have a built in scroll wheel or capability.
There are some potential workarounds for this. Generally, these seem to involve third party software that enables scrolling. However, when I looked into this it seemed clunky and awkward to use.
For example, you’d need to scroll by holding a button down while moving the trackball, which involves a fair amount of hand tension as a movement. This seems kind of stupid when the whole point of this thing is to increase comfort.
That said, I find it still quite usable and many users online aren’t too bothered by the scrolling issue. If you’re anything like them, you may find this mouse a great pick.
- Compatible with both Windows and Mac
- Reduces strain in wrist and overused “mouse fingers” (index and middle)
- Smooth cursor movement
- Can be used by both hands equally well (ambidextrous design)
- Convenient forward and back buttons for internet browsing
- No built in scroll wheel
- Not wireless
- Not the best pick if you have thumb issues, since clicking is transferred to the ring and thumb fingers
Finger Operated Trackball
The Logitech Trackman Marble features a red trackball, which engages a different group of muscles to normal mouse use. It’s mid-sized at around 40mm and looks like a speckled alien egg:
Traditional mice tend to require extra “left and right” motions, or radial and ulnar deviation. This can result in additional strain on the wrist.
A trackball design avoids these movements and can therefore help take the strain off muscles or tendons that are sore from traditional mouse use.
The trackball is also very versatile in terms of how it can be manipulated. You can move it with any of your fingers or using a variety of different muscle groups (fingers, hand or arm).
Therefore, distributing work across a range of different muscles and tendons becomes possible, reducing the risk of overloading the same small muscles.
Thumb and Ring Buttons
In a traditional mouse, the click buttons are located at the front and center. With the Logitech Trackman Marble, these are moved to either side of the trackball.
This means that the thumb and ring (or little) fingers can be used for clicking instead of the normal index and middle fingers. Therefore, stress is alleviated on these overworked fingers and other fingers can carry the load.
Convenient Back and Forward Buttons
In addition to the basic left and right click buttons, this mouse comes with smaller “back and forward” navigation buttons.
These allow you to easily navigate backwards or forwards when browsing the internet. While this may seem like a somewhat minor feature, it cuts out the regular mouse movement required to click on the ‘back and forward’ icons in your browser.
This can make general internet use noticeably more comfortable and is one design feature I’ve definitely appreciated.
As mentioned briefly earlier, one other huge bonus with this mouse is it can be used by either hand equally well.
Many mice, often even other ergonomic ones, are designed to be used by only one hand (either the left or the right).
The problem with this is: the same exact muscles, in the same exact hand, take the load all the time.
With the ambidextrous design, the Logitech Trackman Marble avoids this problem and allows the load to be distributed across both hands. This avoids overworking one hand and can relieve symptoms for many sufferers of wrist or hand discomfort.
Since cursor movement is generated by manipulating the trackball, and not by moving the mouse itself, the Logitech Trackman Marble can remain stationary during use.
For people working in space constrained environments (say a small desk or even cafe), this is a handy feature and makes for a more comfortable experience.
What Others Are Saying
This mouse is fairly popular online as an affordable trackball mouse, a fact that pushed me to buy it originally.
One YouTube commenter notes the durability and value for money:
“I’ve had this trackball mouse for over 13 years, and it still works the same as the day I bought it. … Using a trackball mouse takes some time to get use to coming from a regular mouse. But after a couple of weeks you’ll wonder how you ever lived without using a trackball. I know there’s better trackball mouses out there, but this budget friendly device has worked so well, I never saw a reason to buy a more expensive one.”Will Bx, YouTube user (source)
Other users online have found it quite useful in alleviating RSI symptoms, and have also found ways around the scrolling issue:
“I’ve used this trackball for 5 years now. No choice was left due to RSI injuries building up. It resolved everything going on at the time, career extended. I love it and once I stop playing games competitively I’ll get rid of my Zowie ZA13 that I keep just for that purpose. The only thing I could imagine them trying with it is adding SlimBlade style ball scrolling. I don’t think I’d like a physical scrollwheel. Just too much going on / redundancy when you can use the ball itself if it’s implemented well.
I use it left handed, with the left side small button set to middle-mouse and the right small button to back. I rarely miss the scroll wheel since most apps support middle-click scrolling. Get yourself a Trackman Marble and a keyboard with Trackpoint and you might never have RSI ever again.”Mark, commenter on trackballmouse.org (source)
“I have been using this trackball for awhile now with Logitech SetPoint, which allows me to assign scrolling to the trackball buttons. In my opinion this compensates well for any lack of a scroll wheel/ring and has become second nature to use. And my RSI issues have largely disappeared. Highly recommended to anyone wanting to try a trackball and right now I see no reason to change for a ‘better’ model.”Steve, commenter on trackballmouse.org (source)
This is another affordable and widely loved trackball mouse.
It is fairly similar to the Logitech Trackman Marble in design, featuring two big buttons on either side of the trackball and an ambidextrous form factor.
It has one BIG thing the ole’ Trackman is sorely missing though — a scroll ring! This does the same thing as a scroll wheel, but is shaped as a ring around the trackball for convenient access.
A built-in way to scroll as well as all the other benefits of a trackball mouse makes this a compelling alternative.
Check it out here.
Logitech MX Ergo
This one looks a bit like if the Logitech Trackman Marble and a high quality normal mouse had a baby.
Instead of a central finger operated trackball, it has a thumb operated trackball on the left side. It also has a scroll wheel and left / right click buttons at the front that resemble a traditional mouse.
On top of this, it is wireless and has a tiltable base for maximum ease of use. Essentially, where features are concerned, it is the “give me it all, thanks” option.
Have a look here.
Elecom DEFT Pro
This is a mid-sized trackball mouse with a thumb scroll wheel built into the side and a few more buttons.
By default, you can left click with your thumb, and right click with any finger. That said, the extra buttons (8 in total) allow you to customise button functionality for maximum comfort.
The Elecom DEFT Pro also supports either wireless connectivity or a wired set up depending on preference. For the cable-phobic, this is a nice bonus.
You can check it out here.
The Logitech Trackman Marble is, in my opinion, a substantial step up from a traditional mouse.
With a smooth trackball and ambidextrous design, it makes for a very comfortable mouse experience.
That said, the exception to this is scrolling, due to the lack of a built-in scroll wheel or scroll ring.
For some people, myself included, this is a fairly major design omission. Others have been fine with the software workarounds for this issue, so your mileage may vary.