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There's not a lot of competition out there, so if you're looking for a solid trackball with ergonomic benefits, this is the one to buy. However, the $99 price is a little on the high side for someone looking to dip their toe into the trackball world.
If you took me back to the beginning of 2017 and asked me what kind of device would make a comeback this year, a trackball would be very low on my list of suggestions, but alas, here we are.
Logitech has just released its MX Ergo trackball, and it’s definitely making some waves out there. Considering the company hasn’t put out a new trackball in almost 10 years, the excitement is understandable.
But we’re not here to talk about whether or not it makes sense to make a trackball anymore. We’re here to figure out whether this particular trackball is worth spending your hard-earned money on.
As far as other trackballs to choose from, there aren’t many. You can find some cheaper thumb-controlled models such as the ELECOM M-XT3DRBK and Logitech’s own M570. There’s also the premium-priced Kensington Expert, but that’s a finger-controlled model.
If you think you’re going to go out there and choose from hundreds of trackballs, you’re going to be disappointed. Being the only model in its price range doesn’t mean it’s worth getting, though. But fear not, because we’re going to dig in and figure out whether you should use this mouse to solve your hand and wrist problems, or whether you should look elsewhere.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers for the MX Ergo mouse. While not the most exciting, it’s nice to know exactly where your $100 is going!
- 380 dpi average (Between 320 dpi – 440 dpi)
- 8 buttons
- 32-foot max range
- 500 mAh battery with up to four months power per charge
- Left and right click life around 10 million clicks
- 5.22 in (132.5 mm) x 2.02in (51.4 mm) x 3.93in (99.8 mm)
- 9.14 oz with metal plate attached
- 20-degree angle adjustment
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s jump in and actually look at using the MX Ergo and see how it performs.
I haven’t used a trackball since sometime in the early 2000s, and that was actually an ambidextrous model. With those, you use the middle finger instead of the thumb. I tell you this to set the stage that I’m not a trackball enthusiast. The MX Ergo is a right-handed model where your thumb moves the cursor and your fingers do the rest of the work.
The first thing that caught my attention about the Ergo is how big it is. It weighs in at a hefty 9.14 oz and is 5.22 in x 2.02in x 3.93in in size. I have fairly long fingers, and I feel like my hand fits quite well.
Logitech seems to have designed it where the buttons are close together, but with extra space on the side. This should make it so anyone with small hands can still use the Ergo comfortably as well.
On first use, it’s easy to see that there’s an adjustment period. Even on a laptop, I generally move the cursor around with my pointer or middle finger, so using my thumb is pretty foreign.
After about 30 minutes of mousing around, it started to feel moderately natural for basic computing tasks like browsing the web and using Kodi. We’ll dig into using the trackball for more advanced computing tasks later on. I’ll say that I definitely feel more comfortable with a traditional mouse still, but I could see myself getting used the Ergo.
As far as the design of the mouse, it looks quite nice. As mentioned before, it’s rather large and weighty. This is important for making sure it doesn’t slide around as you apply force.
Further aiding in the goal of keeping the mouse firmly in place is the grippy metal plate on the bottom. Whether I was using the mouse on the arm of a recliner or on a desk, I never once had it slide.
Speaking of that metal plate, it’s actually one of the most critical design elements of the MX Ergo. It connects to the bottom of the mouse via strong magnets and adjusts into two different positions. It moves by about 20 degrees, allowing you to set the trackball higher or lower, depending on your preferences.
Seeing as the whole point of this mouse is ergonomics and pain relief, this level of flexibility is critical. Personally, I preferred tilting it so the trackball was higher (which means pushing the right side down), as it felt more natural. Your preference may go the other way.
Moving onto the buttons, there’s the aforementioned thumb-controlled trackball and a scroll wheel that goes up and down as well as left and right. There’s also two traditional mouse buttons, two extra buttons, and one that switches back and forth between two computers. Lastly, there’s a precision button that slows down the mouse cursor for smaller movements. Simply put, all the control options you need to effectively mouse around are there.
For connecting to the computer, there’s Logitech’s Unifying Receiver (which lets you connect multiple devices to one dongle), or Bluetooth. They’re both easy to get up and running, so it just comes down to personal preference.
You won’t be using disposable batteries with this mouse. Instead, it comes with a built-in rechargeable one. The USB charging cable is included in the box. Logitech says you can get about four months of life on a single charge. Of course, that’ll vary depending on how often you use the mouse and for how many hours a day you’re mousing around.
In our testing, I never actually charged the MX Ergo, and I never turned it off between uses. After over a week, it’s still running strong and showing no signs of dying. If you’re worried about getting a rechargeable mouse because you think it’s another device that you’re going to have to charge every night, you can relax knowing that won’t be an issue.
Using The MX Ergo
I should say that, thankfully, I don’t suffer from any hand or wrist pain. I’m not in a position where I can say that using this mouse relieved an issue I don’t currently have. However, I can say that using the MX Ergo for extended periods of time didn’t introduce any new pain.
I’ll start by saying that there’s no chance I’d replace my standard mouse with this or any trackpad. I don’t have a condition that would require such a change, and for my money, there’s nothing like the feel of a traditional mouse.
One instance where the trackball is vastly superior to a regular mouse is on the couch. Because you’re not actually moving anything around, you can comfortably sit back and use a trackball on all kinds of surfaces.
I mainly used the MX Ergo for three common computer tasks — general web browsing, image editing, and PC gaming.
Web Browsing and Basic PC Usage
For just using Facebook, watching videos, and even working on articles for MakeUseOf, the MX Ergo delivers a fantastic experience. Tracking is accurate, and the aforementioned ability to use the mouse on the couch is great.
Logitech Flow is a slick feature for general usage, as you can program the mouse to work with two different computer and switch back and forth with one button. You can even copy and paste across two linked computers as long as you have Logitech Options installed on both (you’re going to want to download the software anyway, as it allows you to adjust settings for trackball).
This is the one place where I could actually see myself going with a trackball over a regular mouse. You get more flexibility. There’s no need to worry about space or having a flat surface. If you have PCs in different places, this is great. Logitech’s promise of 20% less strain may prevent pain later in life, even if you feel fine now.
Precision is incredibly important in image editing, and it’d be hard for me to give up a normal input device. I’m accustomed to editing with a mouse, and that makes change hard. However, I also use Photoshop on a laptop’s trackpad quite frequently, so I’m not completely opposed to change.
Adjustment period aside, it’s not a terrible experience, and the button that slows the cursor down is useful for making small selections. If you must use a trackball for medical reasons, I could definitely see you getting your image editing done in the same amount of time once you worked through the adjustment period.
Truthfully, I just couldn’t see myself using the MX Ergo for gaming. I tried Dota 2 and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, and in both, I saw a substantial dip in my ability.
Even if I had to make a change, I can’t see myself feeling comfortable enough for games. There’s just too much switching between moving quickly and precisely for it to stand toe-to-toe with a traditional mouse. I’d sooner just switch to playing controller-based games if I needed to.
All in all, I can say with confidence that this is the best trackball on the market. Of course, there’s not a lot of competition because there isn’t a ton of options to choose from. Most other models out there are cheaper and lacking the premium features offered by this one.
If you’re in the market for an ergonomic mouse and you think a trackball is for you, I can definitely recommend grabbing the MX Ergo. If you already own a trackball and want a newer, more advanced model, then this is an easy purchase to recommend.
For anyone who’s never used a trackball before, my concern is that spending $100 without knowing that it’ll work for you is a bit scary. If you can make it to a store to get your hands on one first, I’d recommend that.
For someone like me, who’s never used a trackball and isn’t suffering from any kind of hand or wrist problems, I can’t say you should run out and buy one. Personally, I have no intention of dropping my regular mouse in favor of the Ergo, and I’d venture to guess that most PC gamers and hardcore PC users will feel the same.
Long-winded summary aside, it’s really hard for me to make a recommendation on this trackball. On the one hand, I wouldn’t use it all the time to replace my mouse. On the other, I’m not in a position where I need to. In the end, it does what it sets out to do almost perfectly, and the only thing holding it back from being a perfect trackball is the price.