Microsoft Trackball Explorer review

The trackball is often neglected by most users in favour of more traditional forms of mice. Traditionally dominated by Logitech and Kensington, the Trackball Explorer is only Microsoft’s second foray into the market. Microsoft is the only company to use optical sensors in trackballs. The trackball explorer has three such diodes.


Continuing with the styling introduced on the Intellimouse Explorer, the trackball explorer has a very feminine shape with a body of silver, darker grey buttons and a bright red oversized ball. When the mouse is plugged in, this, along with the red ring encircling it, is lighted up by the diodes, giving a similar effect as on the Intellimouse Explorer.

I was initially surprised by the size of the device. About 50% larger than the popular Kensington Turboball, the Trackball explorer is ideally suited to those with larger hands.

The Explorer is one of the only trackballs out there to feature a traditional scroll wheel, a bonus for those who have grown up to love this feature of other Microsoft mice. It lies between the primary and secondary buttons, on the left of the wheel. Unfortunately it is still not as convenient as the Ring employed on the rival Kensington Turboring trackball. Having said that, the Thumb operated button is still comfortable to use, as well as functional. The same can be said, for the most part, for the primary button. On the far left of the device, this oversized button shares the same position as on most rival trackballs. Unfortunately the button is hinged at the back, and these results in it being somewhat awkward if you do not have your thumb right on the end of the button.

The default secondary button is quite frankly horrible. It is far too small and is very awkward to reach. Rather than putting it on the right hand side of the wheel, as is common in all other trackballs, it is above the primary button. This means you have to move thumb away from primary button, over the wheel, and on to it. To add to this inconvenience, it is also undersized. No matter how I tried, it was still awkward to use and I ended up changing the secondary button function to the third button. This third button is on the right hand side of the device, along with the fourth. This can easily be pressed by your third finger, if you operate the ball with your index finger. For the most part it makes a comfortable secondary button, but I found myself hitting the fourth button instead of the third. Like the default second button, the third and fourth buttons are undersized. To put it in scale, they are about half the size of buttons on traditional Microsoft mice. With such a large device, it doesn’t make sense to have such small buttons.


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