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Niche Product in a Niche Market

As an age-old and avid computer user, I've pretty much encountered and used the 4 more commonly known cursor control devices available in the market today: the mouse, the trackpad, the trackball, and the trackpoint. While I have no beef with any of the 4, I personally prefer the trackball because I'm an inherently lazy person. Why move your hand/wrist/arm when your fingers will do? I'm writing this post today to lament the fact that after 6+ years, there has yet to be a nice Bluetooth trackball available in the market by known brands such as Kensington or Logitech. It's a damn shame. But apparently the existing market for up-to-date wireless trackballs consists of me and probably a dozen other people scattered across the globe so neither of the two companies feel its worth it to come out with such a too-small-to-even-be-called-a-niche product. Fools.

Oh there has been attempts. More specifically, one attempt that ever made it to the masses. Simply named, The Ball, it was available for a brief time in late 2005-2006. Probably not a hit because it was basically an over-sized mouse with a trackball stuck on top. Didn't help that the company who came out with it had a bit of a shady reputation amongst Mac users as well. Probably still available if I looked hard enough but it doesn't look like something that would serve my needs since it only has 2 buttons.

Most recently, Kensington has released their SlimBlade Trackball Mouse which looks like they took Apple's Wireless Mighty Mouse, flattened it a bit and made it gray, and then stuck an extra button on it that let you switch the functionality of the tiny rollerball on top to function as a regular trackball. Intriguing and slim, but again, only 2 buttons.

What I would ultimately love to have happen is for Kensington to just release an updated Bluetooth version of their venerable Turbo Mouse Pro Wireless which I've been using for what feels like forever. I love this bad boy. I just don't love the big-ass receiver you need to plug into the computer to use it. As for the trackball itself, it's big, but comfy (especially with the wrist-rest that it comes with). It's got 4 big buttons surrounding the ball, a scroll wheel right above the ball, and then 6 programmable soft buttons (which I admittedly never use) at the very top. The entire thing is just very ergonomical and laid out wonderfully. Probably the oldest computer accessory I have that hasn't found its way to a landfill yet. Not only does it function as a trackball for me, I also routinely pick the ball out of its socket and just fiddle with it (like a hard stress ball) while pondering the mysteries of the universe or reading a particularly long blog entry. Throwing at unsuspecting significant others not recommended.

Every once in awhile I'll scour the Interweb to see if anyone's finally decided to test the waters with a Bluetooth trackball but so far, to no avail. I was going to email Kensington to see if they would finally do it but apparently I have to sign a submission agreement and mail it in. WTF, are we still in the 80's???

*sigh* So my search (and waiting) continues. Curses.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Niche Product in a Niche Market:

» When the Cutting Edge Isn't So Sharp from Absurd Singularity
For those who haven't seen the cluttered study in our lovely NJ home, my home computing setup consists of my 15" MacBook Pro and this lil' PC, sharing a Dell 24" LCD along with a wireless Logitech keyboard and Kensington... [Read More]

» The Slimblade Trackball from Absurd Singularity
Long time listeners will undoubtedly know that I'm a big trackball fan. So I was pretty stoked when Kensington announced their first new trackball in 6 years, the Slimblade Trackball. Yeah it wasn't wireless (grrrr....), but it was a... [Read More]

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 7, 2008 3:48 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Final iPhone Earphone Impressions.

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