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Product: TrackBall Explorer
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price: $74.95
Review By: Julien JAY


Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Setup and Design
3: Usability & Programmable Buttons
4: Conclusion

Every computer user knows that using a classic mouse is painful and can even cause wrist pain (after intensive hours of use) that imply some breaks needed to be taken: the exact opposite of productivity that businesses today need. Worst yet, working with a classic mouse isnít very accurate in terms of pointing when you have to edit, create or touch up pictures and it requires space on the desktop to move the device. Microsoft, probably one of the most innovative hardware suppliers of the world has just released a new pointing device named Microsoft TrackBall Explorer. If the concept isnít really new, as TrackBalls have existed for years, the architecture of this new one is revolutionary and it obviously uses the new enhanced Microsoft IntelliEye patented technology. Best of all it comes with all the features that made the success of the Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer, such as the scrolling wheel and the two new customizable buttons. The TrackBall concept basis is to provide users with a fixed pointing device that they donít need to move so they can save space on their desk. Itís really a relief for me to have at last a TrackBall that combines the best of todayís technology: optical sensor, and five buttons! Many of you may think that Logitech created such a trackball years ago: if so youíre wrong. Indeed Logitech introduced on the market in 1996 the first optical trackball but unlike the Microsoft one it used an Infra Red sensor, which is less accurate than the IntelliEye technology of Microsoft.

Microsoft TrackBall Explorer Features:

         Enhanced IntelliEye Technology - provides unsurpassed accuracy over time by enhancing the trackball-ball technology with an optical sensor and digital signal processor (DSP). The sensor snaps pictures of the marbled ball at a rate of 2,000 images per second and then translates changes between the images into onscreen movements. This technique, called image correlation processing, results in smooth, precise pointer movement. 

         The scrolling and zooming wheel lets users enjoy universal scrolling in their favorite applications directly from their mouse without having to use scrollbars. Users can zoom without using toolbars or menus.

         Two new customizable function buttons provide effortless Internet navigation with their forward and back default settings. The buttons, located on the left side of the mouse, can also easily be mapped to execute useful program shortcut commands, like print or cut and paste.

         Precision over time - With the new IntelliEye technology, there are no more mechanical parts to become worn or dirty inside the TrackBall! The only part to clean is the removable ball.

         A proven ergonomic design allows users to align their hand and forearm in a natural, relaxed position on the trackball. The shape of the TrackBall Explorer supports the entire hand and fingers, while the slope helps keep the hand and forearm aligned naturally. 

         Index controlled trackball. Unlike the Microsoft TrackBall Optical or other conventional models, the TrackBall Explorer is controlled by your index finger to avoid thumb pain after intensive use.

         The Microsoft TrackBall Explorer comes with a five-year hardware warranty.

Enhanced Microsoft IntelliEye Technology

You may wonder what makes this new trackball so special. Well, to still stay ahead of the competition Microsoft enhanced its innovative IntelliEye technology to make our lives just a tad bit easier by including an optical captor instead of the traditional mechanical parts used in a TrackBall. The benefits are double - first the accuracy of the TrackBall is impressive, but the best thing is that the TrackBall wonít get dirty - so you wonít have to clean inside or change them when these rolling parts fail. Such technology was already known, but until now only infrared sensors were used that made TrackBall less precise.

Microsoft IntelliEye technology employs a tiny chip with a sensor and digital signal processor (DSP). The sensor's glowing red light captures "snapshots" of the marbled ball youíll move with your index at a rate of 2,000 images per second. The DSP translates changes between the images into on-screen pointer movements. This technique executes 18 million instructions per second (MIPS) and results in smooth, precise pointer movement.

Traditional mice execute only about 2 MIPS, make a mouse with this new technology about 12 times faster than an ordinary mouse. The new improved IntelliEye technology used by this trackball is now 33% faster than before to achieve and unprecedented accuracy.

Features and Functions with IntelliEye Optical Tracking Technology

         Increased precision and better control: Moving parts can break or wear out with use. IntelliEye replaces the moving parts inside the trackball with a tiny optical sensor that will analyse the nice ball movements so you wonít need to move the device: it's a stationary pointing device. The completely digital design of Microsoft IntelliEye means the trackball will remain as responsive and accurate as it was the day it was purchased. 

          No more cleaning: Traditional trackball moving parts are susceptible to the accumulation of dirt, dust or grime, which cause pointers to stick or move erratically. With IntelliEye technology, there are no rolling parts to clean or will eventually break. The only thing to clean is the ball that gets dirty over time due to fingerprints.




Setup and Design -->


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