Kensington Optical Expert Mouse – Review & Teardown

Trackballs have a long history as an input devices for computers. (The very first trackball invented used a 5-pin bowling ball as the ball device. ) However, in recent times it seems as though the popularity of the trackball is in decline. Finding them in retail stores seems to be more and more difficult. After coming to the realization that I’ve tried just about every type of mouse in existence – and still having no success with my wrist pain – I decided to give trackballs a try. My first real experience with a trackball was with a form of industrial trackball that was clearly designed with ruggedness first, and user comfort second.

A typical industrial trackball. Ruggedness first, comfort second.

A typical industrial trackball. Ruggedness first, comfort second.

Regardless of the shortcomings of the design, I found that using two trackball mice simultaneously (one for each hand) worked marvelously for my wrists. Being able to click with one hand and control the positioning with another seemed to work quite well. In addition, you could alternate between which hand was doing the clicking, and which was doing the positioning. Having had success with using two old industrial trackball mice, I decided that it would probably be worthwhile looking into obtaining a better trackball mouse. The old industrial mice used rollers which accumulated dirt and fuzz over time. Furthermore, the buttons were rather difficult to press and required a fair bit of force for one finger. After doing some research I decided on trying the Kensington Expert Mouse. This particular mouse seems to have relatively favorable reviews online, and comes with a 5 year warranty from the company.

Kensington Expert Mouse Optical Trackball

Kensington Expert Mouse Optical Trackball

I ordered it from Amazon.com as that was the cheapest place I could find it. Instead of just doing a text-based review, I decided to do a review of the mouse in video form as well.

I ended up taking the mouse apart as the scroll ring seemed rather rough and like it was catching on something. I didn’t notice any “Warranty Void if Opened” stickers on the mouse so I’m guessing that the warranty is still intact. The mouse itself was rather easy to disassemble and there honestly was not much inside. The easy disassembly is quite nice in case the inside becomes dirty and needs to be cleaned.

Trackball Disassembled

Trackball Disassembled

Side View

Side View

Trackball cup upside-down

Trackball cup upside-down

Unfortunately there wasn’t much that I could do about the scroll ring. The entire cup that the ball sits in is one solid piece of snap together plastic. You can see little white ball bearings that the scroll ring rides on though; perhaps if I had some sort of plastic lube I could have lubricated them. [Aside: apparently I’m not the only one with some issues with the scroll ring.] That said though, the trackball itself is quite nice. I did note that initially the ball was difficult to move when first taken out of the packaging. However, after handling the ball somewhat and rubbing my finger on the 3 ball bearings that it sits on, the movement was much smoother. Despite some concern voiced online about the driver software having issues with Windows 7, I did not have any problems. I suspect that Kensington has updated the software since those complaints as the software driver I downloaded stated that it was copyright 2011.

Trackball Software

Trackball Software

Trackball Software

Trackball Software Version 1.1

Overall, I’m rather pleased with the trackball – It’s working quite well and I have no complaints other than the scroll ring roughness. Of course, time will tell. I plan on using the trackball as my main pointing device for the next few weeks and see how my wrists fair.