Seeing laptops and other portable computers everywhere occasionally raises the question, ¡°Is there a future for desktop computing?¡± While I¡¯m sure many people possessing greater intellect than I have probed that topic to depths that I can¡¯t even imagine, desktop computing is, for the moment, still thriving in the world of professional content creation. For precise and powerful computing, nothing really bests a desktop computer. When considering the precision and power available in desktop computing, quality peripherals to match those qualities are needed in order to fully harness the potential of the full desktop experience. This brings us to peripherals like Kensington Trackballs; precision pointing devices with a few tricks rolled up their sleeves.
“Desktop computing is, for the moment, still thriving in the world of professional content creation.”
Despite often being a completely ¡°in the box¡± operation, where everything takes place inside the computer, video editing and post production are very much tactile practices. NLE (Non-Linear Editing) software is chock-full of keyboard shortcuts and tools that require very fine control. Often, at the highest levels of production, dedicated interface hardware takes the place of the standard keyboard and mouse. But for the majority of we mere mortals, a keyboard and mouse is usually what we are afforded. But never fear! Precise physical interfaces exist outside the upper echelons of large-budget video production.
After testing all the Kensington Trackball models I was given, with my MacBook Pro and iMac, two stood out as my favorites for video editing: the Expert Pro and the Slimblade. At the center of both of these options is a 2″ weighted ball, larger and heavier than the ball used for any of the Orbit models. Aside from the color, the same ball is used in the Expert Pro and the Slimblade. Having a larger ball provides a larger surface area for precise control of the mouse pointer. I found the extra precision to be especially helpful when scrubbing through video frame-by-frame in Final Cut Pro, and when placing or moving nodes in DaVinci Resolve. In addition to the larger ball, both of these trackballs have scrolling capabilities. When combined with the trackball, you can have complete control over color wheels, with the ball adjusting the color shift and the scroll action adjusting the brightness. Working this way is, in this writer¡¯s opinion, far superior to working with a standard mouse and trying to make miniscule corrections.
The ergonomically pleasing trackball?
The Expert Pro has a fluted rubberized ring around the ball, with smooth rotation and slight detents denoting the scrolling increments. While not fluid like the smooth scrolling offered by Apple¡¯s peripherals, incremental scrolling is important in video editing. The tactile feedback from the detents tells you exactly how much of an adjustment is being made to any given parameter, as opposed to a vague, smooth response that can have you applying filters or color grades incorrectly.
Kensington?Trackball 4-Button USB Expert Mouse
The Slimblade, on the other hand, features a very different and innovative scrolling mechanism. Using dual laser trackers, it detects when the ball is spun clockwise or counterclockwise on the vertical axis and scrolls up or down accordingly. While scrolling, a distinct ¡°click¡± can be felt and heard for each increment scrolled. It takes some getting used to, but I found the experience to be quite positive. The only downside of this scrolling method is that the pointer will occasionally move if the ball is not spun perfectly on its axis. Generally speaking, this is a non-issue. However, when color-correcting, you may find unwanted color adjustments being made while you shift the brightness in your color wheels.
Wireless for Experts?
The Expert Mouse is also available in a wireless version, as the Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball. While its chassis looks nearly identical to the Expert Pro Trackball, having the same shape and scroll ring, you will immediately notice that the ball is like the red one from the Slimblade and, more importantly, that there is no wire coming out of?the back. Instead of the conventional tether, the Wireless Expert Trackball gives you the choice of connecting to the included 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle or directly to your computer via Bluetooth 4.0. Wireless peripherals, especially those with Bluetooth, are always welcome on my desk. With the Wireless Expert Trackball, I can free up a USB port that can now be used for other data-intensive things like off-loading footage from a memory card or a hard drive, relegating the relatively low data requirements of the pointing device to Bluetooth. No wires also means that my desktop is now one step further from becoming a rat¡¯s nest of cables strewn about¡ªgood points all around in my book.
Kensington?Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball?
All of Kensington¡¯s trackballs are complemented with the TrackballWorks utility. TrackballWorks provides a level of control not usually available on standard mice. All four buttons on the Expert Pro and Slimblade are customizable (with the exception of left-click)¡ªeven chording gestures (actuating more than one button at a time) can be programmed. If that¡¯s not enough customization, you can have the mouse buttons do different things for different programs, if you so desire. For example, I set up the top two mouse buttons to perform undo/redo functions, while I have them set up for web navigation in Safari. The possibilities are only limited by the number of programs for which you¡¯re willing to customize the mouse.
Your Kensington trackball’s buttons can be customized.?
Kensington trackballs are an excellent option for anyone doing video editing or color correction. Yes, there are dedicated devices out there that can offer more specific program control, but those can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. For anyone who doesn¡¯t have that sort of budget, or really anyone looking for particular control and program-specific customization combined with standard mouse functionality, not to mention the desk-space savings, I highly recommend a good look at Kensington¡¯s trackballs.