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-- by Hailey Lynne McKeefry
Sometimes, maneuvering a mouse on your desk feels more like you're competing in the Indy 500 than taking a drive in the country. Designers invented trackballs to provide a more sedate pace by helping users conserve movement, but traditionally these devices have been bulky and dull. The Kensington Orbit Trackball, however, is truly outstanding in terms of style, ergonomic design and utility.
Both right- and left-handed users will find the Orbit equally comfortable, with good-sized buttons. While the trackball itself is a bit small, cursor control is precise. The Orbit's size makes it easy to slip into a notebook case.
The Orbit's stable beta software makes setup a snap. You can create customized profiles for applications, with specifications for button functions and cursor and clicking speeds. Predefined profiles for several applications are included.
Optional settings include Slow Cursor, which delivers slow and precise movement; Brilliant Cursor, which guides the cursor toward hot spots; and Axis Only, which restricts the cursor to straight-line movement. Defining button functions is simple using the software's graphical representation. The program also supports AutoScroll, which lets you scroll or zoom through any document without using scroll bars or menu screens.
Users who prefer a mouse will probably want to stick with the Microsoft Intellimouse. However, for those who want the precision of a trackball, the Kensington Orbit is a hands-down winner even over the Kensington Turbo Mouse 5.0, a perennial four-button favorite. The Orbit's design and style make it a more comfortable choice, and it won't take a huge bite out of your budget. With its $59.99 price tag, comfortable design and robust software, the Orbit earns a spot on our WinList.