In the world of computer accessories, mice are generally among the forgotten poor. For most users, it will be enough to have two buttons, a dial, and reasonable sensitivity, and you’re done. With the Orbit Fusion and the Expert Mouse, Kensington seeks to break this model of “sufficiency”. Is this mission accomplished?
Never extremely popular, but never forgotten, either, the “trackballs”, better known by their English name of track balllook like mice as we imagined them in the early days of computing: a bit like science fiction devices, but retaining something undeniably retro.
The two devices provided by Kensington are no exception: impossible, after all, to miss the “highlight” of the show, in a way, that is to say the famous ball. This replaces the laser transmitter and the sensors located under any modern mouse. Or, in the prehistoric era experienced by this journalist, the weighted rubber ball which was under the mice, and which had to be cleaned at regular intervals, to prevent it from getting dirty.
The idea is simple. After all, why move the whole mouse, and thus risk getting tired, or even hurting yourself, if you can only use your fingertips? Like a master of technology, here we are at the controls of what looks like a spaceship, or even a futuristic interface from a movie from the 1980s or 1990s. “This is UNIX; I know this”, we want to exclaim, the first time we activate this type of mouse.
Moreover, the transition, during the first uses of the Orbit Fusion, and even more of the Expert Mouse, is like traveling in space without too much preparation. Of course, decades of computer use make us want to move our mouse. And as much as the trackball can be precise in moving its cursor, you have to get used to changes in handling.
The question of habit, moreover, will vary widely depending on the model used. So the Orbit Fusion feels like a more traditional mouse, in a way, with its ergonomic shape and its series of buttons on the left side, like a gaming mouse. If the right click is truly installed to the right of the trackball, which is located on top, the left click, but also the equivalent of the wheel click, as well as the “forward” and “backward” functions, very useful when browsing online, in particular, are all on this famous left side.
Of course, you will have to learn to manipulate your cursor with your fingers rather than with your whole hand and arm, just like you will have to get used to the scroll wheel, but within a few hours of use, a individual lambda should do this without difficulty.
The Expert Mouse, on the other hand, definitely looks like a sci-fi gadget. With its large size and its buttons arranged in a quadrilateral around the trackball, we are definitely leaving the world of traditional mice here, to enter something new. Or more specialized, depending.
Devices to tame
Ultimately, it is all the same two devices used to move a cursor on a screen, and to activate various basic functions related to said cursor: we therefore do not fall into an unknown domain.
However, we are also not in familiar territory, unless we have already used this kind of mouse for a long time. It will therefore be necessary to adapt accordingly. And for players, mainly fans of shooting games, in particular, or any game that requires combining mice and sharp reflexes, it is very likely that this adaptation will never happen: we will prefer, in fact, to keep a traditional mouse, possibly a mouse precisely intended for games, rather than having to subject oneself to long and frustrating hours of learning.
Otherwise, there’s very little negative to say about either the Orbit Fusion or the Expert Mouse. Both are cordless and use AA batteries. Both also have a small compartment to store the adapter for connecting to a computer, in addition to offering a Bluetooth connection. We would have liked the buttons of the Orbit Mouse, somewhat rigid, to be replaced by those of the Expert Mouse, whose click resonates pleasantly in the ear. But otherwise, anyone wishing to adopt a new method for using a computer will find their account.
The Orbit Fusion and Expert Mouse are priced at US$80 and US$109, respectively.