Review: Is Kensington’s Orbit Trackball A Mouse Killer?

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Kensington’s Orbit Wireless Mobile Trackball is just one device in the long lineage of trackballs but houses a handful of added perks to make it a worthy opponent to the conventional mouse.For those unfamiliar with the long-standing peripheral, trackballs are mouse replacements that look almost like an upside-down version of the antiquated mouse-ball-operated optical mice of the earlier decade. Instead of being pushed along like a conventional mouse, trackballs lie stationary as a free-flowing ball dictates the on-screen cursor by the user’s fingertips.

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The Kensington Orbit follows the same formula, but with added 2.4GHz wireless for a strong, unwired connection and a touch sensitive ring around the trackball for ease of scrolling through documents or web pages.

The ambidextrous trackball is symmetrical so can be easily configured for either left or right hand use. This leads us onto the customising TrackballWorks software that allows for macro key creation, key function assigning, pointer speed and scrolling speed.

The only components of the trackball are the large but sensitive left and right keys, the trackball itself and two touch-sensitive strips that wrap around the trackball like a ring at fingertips’ reach. Otherwise, there’s also an on/off button under the unit – pairing the device is as simple as plugging the small USB dongle into the desired PC and then turning on the device.

 

The TrackballWorks software allows the typical ‘right click’ key to be configured, and a right+left key click to be mapped also. Pointer speed can be adjusted, including acceleration from fast to slow to control for larger swipe speeds. Macros can be set from the pointer menu, where alt, shift or ctrl can be held to enable ‘slow pointer’ mode or to control single axis movement. Scrolling speed is also customisable, with an ‘inertial scroll’ option for more fluid motion.

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The pad is ergonomically shaped in a way that makes it a breeze to use, with the right pressure for buttons and perfect alignment of the touch-sensitive panels. These panels make documents and web pages a breeze to scroll through, with the right tweaking letting you hot swap between pages with a simple swipe of the finger.

The ball itself easily pops out and makes for simple cleaning if need be. Its smooth but slightly patterned to stave off fingerprints while remaining slight on the touch.

The Trackball probably won’t replace your home mouse, but if you sift through countless multi-page PDFs or are a design professional with the need for an alternative pointer, the Orbit is quite the catch. It could do with some more buttons for extra customisable hot-keying, but the simplicity has its own shine to admire.

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