Most people don’t spend a lot of time pondering their computer mouse. This is evident as the “cheapness” of the standard mice that come with new PCs seems to be reaching ever-greater heights. I suppose that as long as the mouse works, that is enough for most users. I admit, however, that I am not a typical PC user (AAII’s IT department can attest to that). Furthermore, I am part of the minority of people who prefer a trackball to a traditional mouse. This has been the case since I got my first laptop 17 years ago when I was a sophomore in college. Over these last 17 years, all but one of the trackballs I have used have been from Logitech. For the last several months I have been using Logitech’s latest trackball offering, the Wireless Trackball M570. While it is difficult to improve on such a mature design, I have been pleased with what I have seen.
Setting up the M570 was about as easy as could be. The trackball uses one AA battery, which was included in the packaging. The M570 is wireless, which means you are not tethered to your PC by a cord. The mouse comes with a USB wireless receiver that you plug into your computer. Depending on the number of USB slots you have, this could be an issue, since you effectively lose one. Once the receiver was plugged in, I was up and running. While there is no software you are required to install to use the M570, you can download Logitech’s free SetPoint (Windows) or Control Centersoftware to program the trackball buttons and adjust settings.
If you have never used a trackball before, the M570 will take some getting used to. It is somewhat amusing to see the looks on the faces of people who try to use my PC. They recoil from the trackball almost as one would from a snake. However, for someone familiar with Logitech trackball devices, you will find it very similar in shape. It is designed with the trackball, buttons and scroll wheel positioned to fit your right hand (sorry, lefties).
To navigate the pointer you use your thumb to roll the trackball. If you find yourself outshooting your mark with the pointer, you can adjust the sensitivity of the trackball with the optional free Logitech software. The trackball itself glides effortlessly, and I feel that a trackball is much more precise than a traditional mouse, a plus for gamers and graphic designers. If the trackball begins to stick, you simply flip the M570 over, pop out the trackball with a pen or pencil, wipe it off, clean the contacts inside the case, and pop the ball back in.
Another reason why I prefer a trackball is that you don’t need as much desktop space to move around as you do with a mouse. The location of a trackball is fixed, which makes it preferable for those with space limits or keyboard trays. Furthermore, you don’t even need a flat, solid surface to use a trackball, meaning you can use them virtually anywhere.
From an ergonomic standpoint, I think that trackballs are more comfortable to use than a traditional mouse. While it may be that I have just become accustomed to using a trackball, I find that my wrist starts to hurt after using a mouse for just a short period of time. With a trackball, however, I never experience any discomfort.
The M570 is a five-button mouse. Like many mice these days, there is a scroll wheel for quicker up and down navigation of documents and Web pages. I found the scroll wheel to be a little stiff, but I think the M570 is designed that way, since the scroll wheel is also a middle-click button and the stiffness prevents accidental scrolling while middle-clicking. Flanking the scroll wheel are the typical right- and left-click buttons. Logitech has also added “back” and “forward” buttons to the M570, which are invaluable if you do a lot of Web browsing.
Using Logitech’s setup software, you can program the buttons to fit your needs and adjust the sensitivity of the cursor.
The USB Unifying wireless receiver you plug in to operate the M570 also allows you to add a compatible keyboard, number pad or even another mouse to the same receiver without having to take up additional USB ports.
One of my biggest complaints with other wireless Logitech trackballs I have used has been the battery life. Since wireless trackballs are not plugged into the PC, they require a separate power source, usually two AA or AAA batteries. Past experience had me replacing the batteries seemingly every few months. After several months of use, I have not yet had to replace the battery in the M570 and, according to Logitech, I shouldn’t have to for 18 months of “typical” use. If this is truly the case, it would be a significant improvement over previous models.
As I said from the onset, trackballs cater to a niche group of users. Personally, I think they are more comfortable than traditional mice, an important consideration for someone with carpal tunnel issues. My only complaint with the M570 is the stiffness of the scroll wheel, which is only a slight annoyance. The ability to connect additional wireless devices with the Unifying receiver, as well as the vastly improved battery life, makes the Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 the best trackball I have ever used.
Logitech Wireless Trackball M570
$59.99 (currently $43.99 from Amazon.com)
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.