on October 24, 2001
Explorer prices here.
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.