Alternatives to Mice Like Trackpads Are Slower

I wanted to buy a mouse a few months back and, being a geek, I looked at various alternatives:

Trackpad

Trackpads come with laptops, but are also available as external accessories for desktop computers. I have Apple’s Magic Trackpad 1

which is an excellent trackpad if you use only Apple products, but it isn’t suitable for precise work like photo editing. This is bad — I need a pointing device that works for everything I do, not just for some.

When I switched to a mouse after months of using a trackpad, I found that I was flying through tasks. It was as if I was walking through knee-deep water all this while without realising it. Not a good sign. So I stopped using a trackpad.

Vertical Mouse

A vertical mouse is, as the same says, a mouse turned sideways so it’s vertical, which is supposed to be ergonomic, since your wrist is in a natural position (as if you’re extending your hand for a handshake), rather than rotated ninety degrees.

But it doesn’t work well in practice: I found that when I click, the force of the click causes the mouse to move sideways, making me miss the thing I was trying to click. Or even start an unintended drag. When I tried to prevent that from happening, I ended up gripping the mouse tight, which defeat the point of an ergonomic mouse. Or I had to move the cursor where I wanted to, then wait, then gently and carefully click. Which is too much effort for something we do hundreds of times a day.

Research corroborates that vertical mice are slower than normal ones.

TrackPoint

Lenovo ThinkPad laptops have a pointing stick at the center of the keyboard:

It’s counter-intuitive because unlike a mouse, which you move to move the cursor, the trackpoint is like a joystick — it stays in one place, and detects which direction you’re pushing it to move the cursor in that direction. It’s pressure-sensitive: the harder you push, the faster the cursor moves.

The other counter-intuitive thing is that you don’t click using the trackpoint. You click the button on a traditional trackpad that’s located below the keyboard. So the trackpoint handles only one function of the mouse (moving the cursor) not the other (clicking).

Unfortunately, the trackpoint is slower than a mouse.

Trackball

Then there are trackballs, which most of us haven’t used:

A trackball is basically an upside down-mouse, with the ball on top.

Trackballs were the norm in the 90s on laptops:

It turns out trackballs are slower than a mouse, too.

In conclusion, all these alternatives to mice — trackpads, vertical mice, trackpoints and trackballs — are slower than mice. Stick with a mouse.

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