Short Takes: Kensington TurboRing Trackball
Posted By Van Smith
Date: October 2nd, 2001
Cluttered desks and mice don't mix -- unless you are talking about the mammalian variety. Because my desk tends to be overflowing with stuff, I have gained an appreciation for static input devices, in particular trackballs. Although my favorites are the optical varieties such as the Microsoft Trackball Explorer, when I saw the Kensington TurboRing Trackball, an old fashioned mechanical-optical device, on sale at CompUSA for only $10, I decided to give it a try since I needed a trackball for work.
CompUSA has this device on sale this week for $20 plus an additional $10 mail-in rebate. Even at twenty dollars this trackball is a good buy. In fact, it is currently being sold on Kensington's site for a penny short of $70.
The device is about the same size as other large trackballs such as the Microsoft Trackball Explorer. The trackball itself is fingertip operated which is usually easier to adjust to than thumb-balls.
The "TurboRing" is a rubberized scrolling mechanism that encircles the trackball. Backwards compatible with Microsoft's scroll wheels, the scroll ring direction can be specified in the bundled software. The scroll ring is intuitive and easy to operate and probably makes more sense with finger operated trackballs than the older scroll wheels used with Microsoft's offerings.
I am wary of mechanical-optical trackballs since many feel "screechy," and tend to slip offering imprecise cursor control. However, the TurboRing Trackball has a dependable action that is comfortable, accurate and almost as effortless as optical trackballs.
The Kensington TurboRing Trackball is a native USB device, but can be connected to PS/2 mouse ports with the bundled adapter. An included software package can be used to control button assignments and scrolling directions. If you don't want to use the software, the trackball will still work fine -- even the scroll ring will work with default PS/2 mouse drivers under Win2k.
The trackball supports all major operating systems including Macs. Connecting the TurboRing to the PS/2 mouse port offers slightly more seamless compatibility in that the driver disk is not needed.
Although ergonomically designed, it is not the most comfortable trackball that I have used -- not uncomfortable, but the wrist support swoops down too quickly making the device a little less comfortable than the much more expensive Microsoft Trackball Explorer.
The only significant flaw of the TurboRing Trackball is the great difficulty involved removing the ball for cleaning. Very significant pressure must be applied to the lever at the bottom of the device to pop out both the ring and the trackball.
The Kensington TurboRing Trackball is available in right-handed versions only.
Kensington offers a 90-day no risk trial, as well as a five-year replacement warranty and and toll-free support.
For ten bucks the Kensington TurboRing is a bargain. Although the large ball is very difficult to take out for cleaning, the mechanism seems to be more reliable than those in other Kensington trackballs that I have tested in the past.
I wouldn't be happy with the device for $70 since this is more than I paid for my Microsoft Trackball Explorer, but for the price that CompUSA is charging this week, the TurboRing Trackball is an exceptional buy.
The Kensington TurboRing Trackball offers a reliable, large, fingertip operated trackball along with a novel and easy to use scrolling mechanism that is backwards compatible with Microsoft's scroll wheels. The rubber coated scroll ring is nice innovation that makes sense when used with finger operated trackballs.
Supporting both USB and PS/2 ports, if you need a good cheap trackball, the Kensington TurboRing Trackball is very good choice.
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