12 Differences and Similarities: Trackball vs Vertical Mouse
You are here because you want a more comfortable mouse that does not hurt your hand if you spend several hours using a mouse.
There are several alternate mice options available in the market. But the two most popular advanced ergonomic design mouse choices available are the Vertical mouse and the Trackball mouse.
What are the Differences and Similarities
We have to analyze trackball vs. vertical mouse to find out what these mice offer.
We are all aware that trackball and vertical mice are the same if we talk about the functionality both are used for moving the cursor on the screen, but they differ in how they move the cursor and how you hold them.
Trackball and Vertical mouse types are very different and can greatly affect your experience of using a mouse.
Below table list the key differences between Trackball vs Vertical Mouse
1. You hold a vertical mouse like you hold a glass of water.
You place your hand on the trackball mouse like a traditional mouse and use your fingers to move the cursor.
2. You move the vertical mouse as you move the standard mouse to move the cursor.
You can move the cursor with your fingers or thumb with a trackball mouse.
3. The mouse is optimized for either left-hand or right-hand use. You can't use it with both hands.
A finger-operated trackball mouse can be operated with either hands.
4. Ergonomically sound design for hand.
Provide better ergonomics than a standard mouse.
5. Easier to adapt for users who are using a flat mouse.
Trackball mouse takes some time to get used to it.
6. Vertical mice use optical/laser sensors to track the pointer position when moved against the surface.
A trackball mouse also uses the sensor to track the pointer's movement when the trackball is moved.
7. Vertical mice require a suitable surface to track the movement properly.
The trackball mouse sensor does not require the surface to track; instead, it positions the cursor based on trackball movement.
8. The Vertical mice have a groove for thumb rest.
Finger-operated mice do not have the finger of thumb rest designs.
9. You have to grip the mouse to operate the vertical mouse
You don't have to grip the trackball mouse to move the cursor; instead, you use your fingers to rotate the ball to get the pointer to move from one point to another.
10. Vertical mice are lightweight as compared to the trackball.
Trackball mice are heavier than the vertical or any other mice due to the ball, and usually, the size is also bigger than vertical mice.
11. Vertical mice are travel friendly as compared to trackball mice.
Standard Trackball mice are not travel friendly due to their big size and weight.
12. Look much like a regular mouse
Nothing like any other mouse type in looks
What is a vertical mouse?
The vertical mouse is an alternative to a standard computer mouse which is a scientific ergonomic design to provide maximum comfort.
Vertical mice look much like a regular flat mouse, with the difference that vertical mice have buttons and a scroll wheel rotated 90-degrees or less.
Holding the tilted mouse allows the user to operate the mouse with their palm facing the side.
Vertical mice are useful for people with mouse pain and those who have difficulty using a flat mouse.
An ergonomic vertical mouse doesn’t need to stand perpendicular. The mouse could be tilted to a certain degree.
There are several vertical mice models available that allow you to set the angle according to your comfort level. Mouse tilt could be between 90 degrees to 50 degrees generally.
According to research findings available from the National Institute of Health.
"The fully vertical mouse reduced pronation"
Vertical mice can provide instant relief to your hand, especially for those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is a Trackball Mouse?
A trackball mouse uses a ball to move the cursor when moved with the fingers. The thing to note here is that you don’t have to move the mouse to position the pointer on the screen.
Instead, sensors beneath the trackball detect the movement in two axes and track the cursor movement when you move the ball.
A trackball mouse is good for hand health even if you use the mouse for several hours because you don’t have to move or stretch your arm to work with the trackball mouse.
A trackball mouse is available in two operating modes.
Finger operated mouse
The trackball of the finger-operated mouse is placed on top of the mouse. You can move the ball with your fingers with an exposed protruding ball.
A rotatable ring is placed around the trackball in a typical finger-operated mouse that acts as a scroller. You can move the scroll ring clockwise or anti-clockwise to scroll up or down. You can also set the scrolling speed of the ring scroller.
A finger trackball mouse can be used with any finger of the mouse, including your thumb.
You could also use your palm to move the trackball more; it can be used with both hands. A finger-operated mouse provides more flexibility in the way you operate it.
Thumb Operated Mouse
A thumb-operated mouse trackball is placed on the side of the mouse to make it easy to control with a thumb.
A thumb-operated mouse combines features of a traditional non vertical mouse and a trackball mouse.
You can find normal mouse buttons and a scroll wheel with a thumb trackball mouse, which could be helpful, especially for gamers and professional work like CAD design or photo-editing-related work.
A survey was conducted by a well-known trackball manufacturer, to find out why users choose trackball mice. The data unveil three interesting pieces of information about trackball mouse.
An increasing number of people, about 58% of users, switched to trackball mouse because of its speed and accuracy, 45% of users say trackball mouse is better ergonomically, and 38% of users say they use trackball mouse due to less space.
More In-depth Analysis: Trackball vs Vertical Mouse
Well, to understand which mouse is better for you, we have to examine both mice closely to identify what utility they bring to the table and in which condition and for what purpose they can be suitable.
Some key things that need to be examined are:
1. Shape of the mouse and Ergonomics
2. Overall Size and Weight
4. Useability in a specific condition
The shape of the Mouse and Ergonomics
Both vertical and trackball mice provide ease of use in their unique way.
The vertical mouse keeps your hand in a natural handshake position which is not the case with a trackball mouse. The problem is that when you hold the mouse palm facing down, your forearm bones (the ulna and the radius) are twisted as long as you keep using the mouse, as shown in the image below.
With the vertical mouse, you can avoid this problem from happening. Your forearm will be relaxed, and less stress will be on your wrist.
The vertical mouse can not be used with both hands due to its shape. There are plenty of vertical mice available for right and left-hand users.
Trackball mice are different in look and feel than all the widely available mice. They have their own class. Trackball mice have an exposed round ball on top or side with buttons around the ball, giving a unique look and feel.
A finger or thumb trackball mouse does not require you to move the mouse to operate the mouse, which means you don’t have to move your wrist repeatedly, which is good for your full arm.
A thumb trackball mouse also has standard mouse buttons for left and right click and a scroll wheel.
A finger-operated mouse has buttons around the mouse. Many Thumb mice are also available that are tilted for keeping your hand in a more neutral position, just like a vertical mouse.
Overall Size and Weight
Vertical mice are lighter than trackball mice because you have to move the mouse to work with it. The trackball mice do not require moving, so weight is not a big concern.
Vertical mice are relatively smaller if we compare them with trackball mice generally. Trackball mice have to accommodate a ball which requires a slightly bigger structure to incorporate the whole system to work properly.
However, a vertical mouse has all the same functional features as a standard mouse, except they are vertical or tilted to one side.
Trackball mice are heavier, and this is for a reason. You have to stroke the ball to move the cursor. The mouse must stand firm for this reason; trackball mice are heavier.
Since the trackball mice are larger and heavier than the vertical mouse, carrying them around could be difficult.
Vertical mice are smaller and have less weight, so it’s easy to carry. But vertical mice are not as compact mice as flat mice; they take up more space than regular mice.
Useability in a Certain Condition
If you work for long hours or have pain in your hand, using a vertical mouse is best. The vertical mouse can be a relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, and prevent forearm twisting.
There are vertical mice available for right and left-hand users.
Trackball mice are for sophisticated work that requires precision. Because the trackball mouse provides you with more granular control over the cursor movement, be ready; there will be a learning curve if you are new to the trackball mouse.
Once your mind learns how to use the trackball mouse, I bet you would not go back to the standard mouse.
Are Vertical or Trackball mice good for gaming?
Yes, you can play games with both mice, but there are some caveats.
Bothe mice do not allow typical mouse grip styles that gamers use for games, such as claw or fingertip grip. With a thumb-operated mouse, you might be able to grip the mouse with a palm grip, but it is more comfortable with a standard mouse.
For decades our muscle memory has been trained to use a flat mouse. It will take some time to get used to Trackball or vertical mice. This requires training and patience. Just think about the time when you first tried to paddle the cycle. You made mistakes fell several times, and finally, you get control of it the same way you have to work with these mice.
To address the maneuverability lacking in the game. Some vertical gaming mice have been introduced with a joystick placed on top of the vertical mouse. The joystick can be controlled with the thumb and is easy to use. It provides great control and smoother movement in the game, which could be difficult without a joystick.
Both Vertical and Trackball mice allow you to control the sensor’s sensitivity. You can adjust them as you feel they are fit for you.
In addition, you can also program the buttons on both types of mice to perform according to your needs. These features are considered essential for gaming.
Which mouse should you choose? Vertical or Trackball mouse?
Vertical mice are for those who want to mitigate problems like carpal tunnel or forearm problems and want the look and feel of a regular mouse.
If you intend to buy a vertical mouse, I recommend Logitech MX Vertical. It’s a bit expensive mouse. For a low budget, I would recommend LEKVEY Vertical Mouse.
A trackball mouse is for professionals who need precision in their work because it gives you complete control over small and slow movements. My recommended finger-operated mouse is ELECOM DEFT TRACKBALL because it is one of the few fingers operated trackball mice that has a scroll wheel on the side.
For the thumb-operated mouse, I would recommend Logitech MX Ergo. I like it because it allows you to tilt the mouse 20 degrees, which brings the advanced ergonomic design of the vertical mouse to the thumb-operated mouse.
We have compared and analyzed Trackball vs vertical mouse from all possible aspects. Both mice have their own unique features and ergonomic benefits and help reduce muscular strain.
The vertical mouse is the best choice for better natural postures of full-arm. It addresses problems like wrist or finger pain problems.
The trackball mouse is great for precision-based creative work.
Both mice require a learning curve, so spend time learning about them. I know the change is not easy, but it could be beneficial in the long run.
Is there an ambidextrous ergonomic mouse?
Yes, a finger-operated trackball mouse can be used with both hands because the ball is placed in the mouse’s middle and the buttons are arranged around it for easy access, allowing you to use it with both hands.
Are vertical mice available with wireless connectivity?
Yes, you can buy a tilted mouse that has a wireless connection. These ergonomic mice could have 2.4 GHz or Bluetooth smart technology for establishing connections with computers or supported devices.
Which mouse is batter for gaming trackball or vertical mouse?
Both mice are good for gaming. Since these mice take some time to get used to them, once your subconscious mind learns how to work with these ergonomic mice, you can play games just like other normal mice.
What kind of problem does a vertical mouse address?
A vertical mouse limits the over-pronation. Non-ergonomic mice could cause carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI.
Why do travellers use a trackball instead of a mouse?
Trackball mice may look bulky and heavy, which they are a matter of fact, but a unique utility that these mice offer is that you don’t have to move the mouse to operate it. So it becomes important when you are traveling and have to work at places where space is limited, a trackball mouse becomes very handy.
Are trackball mice better for the wrist?
Yes, one of the main reasons many users switch to trackball mice is that it provides far better ergonomics than traditional mice. You don’t have to move your wrist to move the cursor. Instead, you naturally use your fingers. This eliminates the muscular strain you put by using a regular mouse.