Product Review: Logitech Marble Trackman

Today for our product review we will be taking a look at the ergonomics behind the Logitech Marble Trackman. Here is a list of the product reviews that we have done to date:

This is a unique looking mouse with some counter-intuitive design aspects… read more below!

PROS

Ambidextrous Design. The Logitech Marble Trackman mouse has a symmetrical design so it can easily be used with either the left or right hand. Ergonomically speaking, this mouse would have value both from the preventative and reactive approach.

  • Preventative Approach: Switching between hands reduces the accumulated and long-term strain that would otherwise occur in just one arm. This approach allows one arm essentially to ‘rest’ while the user’s productivity remains constant, albeit with some practice of non-dominant hand mousing.
    • Pro-Tip: Interested in non-dominant hand mousing? Well, my advice is to start whenever you can! It takes about a day to be okay with it, and about one week to totally master it.
  • Reactive Approach: The ambidextrous design can be incredibly useful in accommodating staff with chronic conditions (such as discomfort) or who are returning-to-work from an injury. The ability to easily switch between hands whenever the user feels uncomfortable may decrease time away from work. This has huge benefits for productivity, staff engagement, etc.

Re-Programming Possible. This last point, although technically considered a ‘positive’, is difficult to actually achieve, or would be considered to have low usability as it has to do with essentially re-programming the mouse. This can be outside of the skill set of many.

The default function of the large ball in the middle of the mouse is to navigate the curser within the screen. To scroll up or down the screen requires the user to move the entire mouse, just like a traditional mouse. Although this design does save some motions, I do not consider this to be ideal. The good thing is that the Marble Trackman’s designers have made it possible to program the mouse to allow the user to utilize the mouse in their preferred way. This is done by switching between using thetrackman ball as both a cursor (the original purpose of the mouse) and scroll functions (to be manually changed in the driver by the user). More on this below.

CONS

Counter-Intuitive Design. The assumption that many of my clients have had about this mouse is that the big ball in the middle will allow the user to use the mouse in a stationary position; no longer would they be required to move the entire mouse to navigate. They would simply move the ball instead. This function would be ideal from the ergonomics perspective, it would be able to eliminate frequent arm and wrist movements. Genius, right? Well, the KEY thing is that the mouse CAN be used this way, but it is kind of difficult to set-up.

As mentioned above, the default setting of this mouse is both counter-intuitive in design and in the method to re-program its functionality. Re-programming the mouse actually took me a long time to figure out! In other words, the usability of this function is low. It’s likely something only advanced users would be able to do efficiently. The whole basis behind this strategy is to essentially ‘unlock’ the large ball so that it can be used as both a cursor and scroll. The user would have to essentially re-program one of the two smaller buttons (darker grey in the pictures, they are set within the larger lighter grey buttons) to be a universal or auto-scroll function and then press these small buttons to switch between the cursor and scroll function.

On top of this, if this change was actually made, to continually press these smaller grey buttons to navigate, awkward (and somewhat forceful) finger postures would be required to activate the mouse. Of course, this would be considered to be an ergonomic risk factor. However, on the positive, this function would eliminate any side-to-side wrist movements that are associated with a traditional mouse design.

 Awkward Posture. Since the design of this mouse is in the traditional mouse sense, it requires a pronated wrist (palm down) posture to operate. This is considered to be an ergonomic risk factor as it is an awkward posture. Also noteworthy is to use the secondary mouse functions also requires awkward and frequent finger movements.

One Size Does Not Fit All. There is just one type of mouse size that is available. If the user happens to be within the ‘average’ hand size, then we are in luck. If the mouse is too small for the user, then there will be soft tissue compression between the surface of the desk and the part of the palm that is touching it. On the other hand, if the mouse is too big for the user, then forceful gripping postures may be adopted handle the device.

OVERALL

The concept of the Logitech Marble Trackman is very unique and has a lot of potential. However to get the full usefulness out of the mouse, some programming of the buttons will be required. This may be out of the skill set for some potential customers.

 

Through the administration of countless assessments in both private and public sectors, Darcie has gained a wealth of knowledge and built a successful practice in the field of ergonomics. She has extensive expertise in conducting office ergonomics assessments in large scale workplaces for all different types of scenarios, from simple adjustments to incredibly complex cases. Darcie also has vast experience in delivering training presentations on the various aspects of ergonomics “best practices” in the workplace. Darcie is a Certified Professional Ergonomist through the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics, as recognized by the International Ergonomics Association. She also has a Masters of Science, specializing in ergonomics. A little known fact about Darcie is that she once scored from half, off a free kick, in a university varsity soccer (football) match!

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