Which mouse will work better for you? It depends on your taste and type of use. You will find trackballs are not a good fit for you, and that’s okay. Or you will find that vertical mice are not fit for you, and that’s okay.
Just see what you primarily use your computer for, and then go from there to see what kind of device would work best for your needs. You already know you want an ambidextrous design to switch it up. Great, what else do you need, and what can provide that?
This post will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of an ergonomic vertical mouse and a trackball. You can decide, Should I choose an ergonomic vertical mouse or a trackball?
Regarding the mouse choices, the two more popular choices are vertical mice and trackballs.
A vertical mouse is essentially a regular mouse tilted on its side, so people looking for a quick and easy adjustment period will prefer the vertical mouse. The best ergonomic trackball option for those who are suffering from thumb pain, wrist pain, and RSI, the Ergonomic Vertical Mouse focuses on ergonomics first.
By hierarchizing hand placement and position, vertical mice provide comfortable and beneficial mouse movements under perfect conditions. A trackball mouse will not be as comfortable or easy to use at first, but trackballs make up for it with productivity and convenience after a short adjustment period.
Trackballs save desk space, reduce arm and shoulder movement, and allow ambidextrous use. Though your hand may be more pronated than a vertical mouse, trackballs will also use your hand and fingers more efficiently.
Which one should you choose?
Let’s examine these two mice and see which one is right for you.
Design and Build Quality
Vertical mice and trackballs have the same relative build quality at a given price point. Their inherent differences in each mouse design contribute to their overall build quality, including weight, size, and shape.
Vertical Mice are light and ergonomic.
Vertical mice, like regular mice, depend on light weights and smooth skates to smoothly slide across your desk. Vertical mice also tend to have taller shapes that are ergonomically designed to fit within your hand while in a “natural handshake position.”
Tilting the mouse to a vertical position means you won’t have the “downward force” necessary to control a vertical mouse like you would a traditionally shaped mouse. Ergonomic designs mean that left-handed users will have a hard time finding the right choice.
Trackball Mice are heavy and efficient.
On the other hand, trackball mice benefit from heavier housings because they are stationary mice. More weight means more quality and less likelihood of the trackball moving around on your desk.
Trackballs come in multiple shapes and sizes, mainly based on whether it is a thumb or finger-operated trackball, ball diameter, and where the ball is mounted. Trackballs are also offered in ambidextrous and lefty designs, and some may have more buttons to increase productivity and efficiency.
Grip Type and Hand Position
How you hold a mouse is crucial for comfort and ease of use. Traditional mice usually allow various mouse grips, including palm grip, claw grip, fingertip grip, and hybrid positions. The issue comes from “over-pronation,” or having your palm face flat.
This can cause your forearm bones to cross over and overlap and, in turn, put pressure and stress on the local nerves. Vertical mice and trackballs look to correct these issues in different ways.
Vertical Mice fight over-pronation
Vertical mice aim for your hand to rest in a “natural handshake position,” which limits pronation. The vertical position and size also limit the viability of “fingertip grip” for smaller hands. Without downward force and gravity working in your favour when clicking and controlling the mouse, the fingertip grip becomes more unstable with a vertical mouse.
“Palm” and modified “claw” grips work well for most hands, especially if your thumb is angled and placed lower on the mouse to allow for more downward force and control. Vertical mice tend to solve the issue of over-pronation and thumb strain.
Trackballs fight convention
Trackballs aim for minimal movement in your arm, elbow, and shoulder. Some trackballs allow for vertical positions, such as the MX Ergo Plus and Kensington Pro Fit Ergo, but these are usually limited to thumb-operated right-handed trackballs. Trackballs allow you to use your thumb or fingers to operate the ball, and which you choose will determine which grips you can use.
Side-mounted thumb balls allow all three grips to be used and everything in between due to a traditional button layout. Top-mounted finger balls tend to force you into a specific grip type but ambidextrous control. As trackballs are stationary, the ease of use will be related to the shape of the device and the smoothness of the bearings. Trackballs tend to solve the issue of stretching too far from the centre.
The Ideal Gaming Mouse
The right mouse and mouse grip are crucial for comfortable and reliable gaming. Which mouse and grip you choose will typically relate to your playstyle and character role; this includes aiming, flicking, and weapon technique.
Vertical mice are better for arm-aimers.
Can you game with an Ergonomic Vertical Mouse? Of course, but you have to find the proper grip first. Vertical mice tend to work best with palm and claw grips. As we’ve established above, this tends to be because of a lack of downward force needed for control and stability, especially while aiming and clicking.
Both arm and wrist aiming are possible, but using your wrist may feel strange at first if you aren’t used to a more ergonomic mouse. Palm grip and arm-aiming will feel just as natural on a vertical mouse, especially for snipers and hit-scan players.
Flicking may initially seem awkward but is more straightforward with lighter vertical mice. The vertical orientation may make flicking feel fatiguing for your wrist. Arm/elbow flickers at high sensitivity will have no issues.
Trackballs are a class of their own
Are trackballs good for gaming? Perhaps not at first. Gaming and using a trackball, in general, may seem awkward if you’ve only ever used a traditional mouse. This is especially true of top-mounted finger balls because you will be forced into using a new way of controlling the cursor and a new button layout to get used to. Side-mounted thumb balls will have no issues with the layout.
Depending on sensitivity, DPI, and acceleration settings, you may not get enough range of motion in your thumb to move your cursor as well as a finger ball, Ergonomic Vertical Mouse, or traditional gaming mouse. Flicking is possible with fingers or thumbs.
You will essentially flick and spin the ball more force and speed, going into “free-spin” mode. This simulates the effect of flicking, and you will need to stop the spinning with your thumb or fingers if you overshoot.
Choosing Based On Desk Space
Gaming with a traditional mouse usually means you have to worry about deskspace. Depending on your mouse, in-game settings, and playstyle, you may need a ton of desk space to aim and move with your gaming mouse.
Vertical Mice Require More Space
The deskspace dilemma holds equally true with vertical mice, perhaps even more due to the vertical orientation and the range of motion required. Arm aiming and general usage at a low DPI setting require considerable desk space.
If you use a keyboard without a tilt, you may be straining your arm and shoulder by moving too far from the center. Higher DPI will be essential if you wish to minimize physical movement and maximize cursor movement.
Trackballs Are Stationary
On the other hand, trackballs are stationary and won’t require you to stretch past the position you have chosen. Your arm and shoulder will thank you, especially if you are using a full-sized keyboard.
Trackballs also allow for greater freedom in desk placement, especially if you have a wireless model. You won’t need a unique mousepad or desk mat, as the smoothness will not depend on the surface you use it on. If you can get used to using one, a trackball proves to be an excellent solution for those with limited room for placements and movement.
Benefits/Downsides of ergonomic vertical mouse and Trackball Mice
Vertical mice and trackballs solve many problems on paper, but they don’t come without their trade-offs. Why do your forearm and hand muscles hurt? Because you haven’t used them before. Most of us have used a standard mouse for years, not out of choice, but because it’s what we were given.
From a young (and more flexible) age, we are familiarized with the traditional mouse and its use. So much, so that alternative options like vertical mice and trackballs feel foreign at first.
Vertical Mice may feel clumsy at first.
Vertical mice, as the name implies, tend to stand taller and more upright than normal mice and even trackballs. This may mean that when reaching for your mouse, you knock it over or collide with it rather than cradling the mouse. The vertical orientation also means you must get used to clicking “into” or “toward” the mouse and not simply “downward.”
The lack of downward force means a lack of control that we are used to; clicking may not feel natural or may register a slight drag due to horizontal movement. Smaller hands may also have difficulty using vertical mice with sure grips, especially fingertip grip when using an Ergonomic Vertical Mouse that tends to work better with average-to-large-sized hands.
Trackballs might be painful for you.
Trackball mice may feel awkward to use, and there are very few options that are as well designed as vertical and traditional mice. Trackball comfort may be very volatile, as usability is determined by multiple factors, including hand size, trackball type, ball size, overall size, angle of the wrist, and ergonomics. Finding a trackball that fits your needs may be more complex and time-consuming, especially if you find a Logitech M570 uncomfortable.
Thumb balls tend to feel better in hand but may lead to thumb fatigue, strain, and even injuries like De Quervains, which attacks the overused tendons in your thumb and wrist. While neither Ergonomic Vertical Mouse nor trackball are a bad alternative, they may not be the right fit for you. What’s important when looking for new alternatives is to try and give yourself some time to adjust.
Which Mouse Should You Try?
So, should you try an ergonomic vertical mouse or a trackball?
Ergonomic Vertical Mouse is for
If your concern is with forearm and wrist ergonomics, as well as RSI like Carpal Tunnel and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, you should go for an Ergonomic Vertical Mouse. Vertical mice are not for people concerned about desk space or having a productivity-driven mouse. Arguably, the single best Ergonomic Vertical Mouse is the Logitech MX Ergo, a premium mouse at a premium price.
If you’re a lefty, your options are unfortunately limited.
Trackballs Mouse is for
If your concern is deskspace, speed and precision, and productivity-driven designs, then trackballs are your choice. Trackballs come in a much wider variety of designs, and although the choice may seem overwhelming, you can likely find a great fit if you are willing to adjust. Trackballs are also an ideal choice for those who may not be able to control or use a mouse with their hands.
Suppose you’re looking for a more vertical option. In that case, the Kensington Pro Fit Ergo is a “vertical thumb ball” explicitly designed to fight over-pronation, and the Logitech MX Ergo Plus allows you to adjust to a near-vertical tilt. If you aren’t looking for a mouse that takes time to adjust, then consider a vertical mouse, or stick with a regular mouse.
Logitech MX Vertical
Arguably the best Ergonomic Vertical Mouse on the market today, the Logitech MX Vertical is a premium device that is comfortable for all hands and provides Bluetooth and 2.4ghz wireless connectivity. The angle of tilt is 57 degrees.
The Logitech Unifying receivers and Flow technology allows you to use a single mouse with multiple devices and even copy files from one to the other, provided each device has a receiver and is on the same network.
Logitech MX Ergo Plus
Another premium Logitech option, the Logitech MX Ergo Plus, is a thumb-operated side-mounted trackball with a secret weapon: adjustable tilt.
You can choose from 2 angles, up to 20 degrees, without the included base. When adding the base, however, you can get to 30 degrees of tilt with a bit of added height. This level of adjustment makes the Logitech MX Ergo Plus one of the most ergonomically friendly thumb balls on the market (provided you are a righty).
Elecom Deft Pro
The Elecom Deft Pro is an ergonomic finger ball with a productivity-driven design. With more buttons than your fingers know what to do with and three different connectivity options, including Bluetooth, 2.4ghz wireless, and wired, the Elecom Deft Pro is an excellent choice for right-handers looking for a trackball that will help you do more.
Vertical Mice and Trackballs are two mouse alternatives that solve many problems but may introduce a few of their own. For mouse users looking to prevent RSI and improve comfort without venturing too far from tradition, the Ergonomic Vertical Mouse presents a compelling ergonomic option. Roll with a trackball for more adventurous users looking for a change that could improve productivity and efficiency.
Whatever you choose, it is essential to give it a chance, but don’t ignore any new pain or strain. We hope this guide has helped you learn more about vertical and trackball mice.
Thank you for reading!