Best Trackball Mouse: Finger vs Thumb Control

Traditional mouse designs cause wrist pain and shoulder strain because they are not designed for comfort. Trackball mouse designs are much more ergonomic, which is why they have become so popular

Benefits of trackball mice

  • Reduces arm and shoulder strain
  • Saves desk space
  • Can be used anywhere in theory (e.g. on a couch, in bed)
  • Programmable with extra buttons (e.g. forward and back)
  • Performs better than a traditional mouse for many tasks

Thumb vs finger controlled trackball mouse

There are generally two types of trackball:

  1. Thumb controlled models where the cursor is controlled by moving the trackball with your thumb
  2. Fingertip controlled trackballs where the ball is usually larger and moved by your fingertips
Thumb controlled trackball mouse

The thumb controlled trackball means that the ball is moved around by your thumb. Your hand sits on the mouse in a similar position to a traditional mouse with similar right and left clicking keys and a scroll bar.

Benefits of thumb controlled trackball

  • Can be used anywhere – in bed, on the couch, etc
  • Familiar hand position to a traditional mouse
  • Smaller and more lightweight than the larger trackball designs (see below)

Limitations of thumb controlled design

  • Not as precise. For example, the Kensington Slimblade has a larger trackball and laser-assisted precision

Best thumb controlled trackball mouse

Model Best forPriceBuy it
Logitech M570 Wireless Mouse Trackball
Best basic thumb trackball mouse at a reasonable price point. Well made, sturdy, reliable$Amazon UK
Amazon US
Logitech MX Ergo Advanced Wireless Trackball
Higher spec than the Logitech M570 in terms of both feel, precision and responsiveness. Also much lighter$$Amazon UK
Amazon US
Fingertip controlled trackball

The second type of mouse controls the cursor with your fingers. These are usually ambidextrous meaning you can use either right or left hand, or both. These are often used by professional designers and film editors because the larger trackball gives some added precision.

Benefits of a finger controlled

  • Greater precision from a larger trackball
  • Models such as Kensington Slimblade literally have laser precision
  • Ambidextrous so can be used with either hand

Limitations of the finger controlled design

  • Can be quite big and heavy
  • Less well suited to using on the couch or in bed

Best Fingertip Controlled Trackball Mouse

Model Best forPriceBuy it
Kensington Orbit
Scroll wheel is a lifesaver if you're scrolling up and down a lot. Large trackball and very precise$Amazon UK
Amazon US
Kensington SlimBlade
Large trackball that uses two laser sensors for extra precision. Used by graphic designers and film editors. Ability to scroll using the trackball too$$$Amazon UK
Amazon US
Logitech Marble
Smaller, more "couch friendly" fingertip controlled trackball$Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other things to consider when purchasing a trackball mouse

  • Do you want a wired or wireless mouse?
  • Do you want a scroll wheel?
  • What size and weight work best for you?

I have not included answers to all of these questions (and more) in this guide because I wanted to focus on thumb vs finger scroll designs. If you visit Amazon using the tables above you can find out whether the mouse meets your exact requirements