As well as my previously mentioned Unicomp keyboard, I also decided to purchase a Logitech Trackman Wheel Optical. It's basically a thumb-oriented trackball that resembles a standard mouse (with regards to clicking, scrolling, etc).

Adjusting to using the trackball was extremely easy. I have one at work and one at home. I haven't been able to use it for games yet, so I've still got a second mouse around for that (more on that in a bit…)

I found the sensitivity to be a little low for my liking. There is a driver for Windows that allows you to adjust the sensitivity and acceleration of this mouse, but this requires running their software. Xorg has this built-in, but that level of device-specific tuning is not exposed easily. After playing around with xinput and xset, I've settled on some xorg.conf.d rules that accomplish the same thing:

# /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/75-trackman.conf
# Configuration settings for Logitech Trackball

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier      "Logitech Trackball"
        MatchIsPointer  "on"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
        MatchProduct    "Logitech Trackball"
        Driver          "evdev"
        Option          "MinSpeed"                  "2.00"
        Option          "MaxSpeed"                  "3.00"
        #Option          "AccelFactor"               "0.40"
        Option          "AccelerationNumerator"     "5"
        Option          "AccelerationDenominator"   "1"
EndSection

The biggest issue I experienced was in Windows 7. The software for this trackball, and the software for my Logitech G9 mouse are different. They have the same name, but they do not seem to be able to configure each other, requiring both the be installed and running. That said, they don't seem to interfere with each other either. I find it somewhat sloppy, but I don't use Windows for any serious work anyway so it hasn't become an issue.

The ball doesn't sit on rollers like old mechanical trackball mice, but on three slick pads. The ball movement is tracked optically. The pads seem to collect a fair amount of gunk. I clean it out every few days, though I haven't noticed any ill effects yet (other than needing to wash my hands more often).

Pros

  • Don't have to swing your arm all over
  • I find it quite relaxing to use
  • Can put it on your leg and lean back in your chair

Cons

  • Software required to configure for Windows
  • Windows software doesn't work for other Logitech mice
  • Pads holding ball get dirty rather quick. Your mileage may vary.

Conclusion

For "desktop" use, it sure beats a mouse. It is definately worth $30, without question.