Toptrak. (trackball for computers) (Evaluation)
by Mike Hudnall
Are you mousebound? Short on scurrying space? Amazed at the maze of paper and equipment your mouse must negotiate? Kraft's sleek and capable Toptrak offers a sensible solution.
I put it on top of my monitor, on my leg, beside a keyboard--anywhere I can find a little spare room. It plugs into either a 9-pin or a 25-pin serial port, and the long cord gives you plenty of room to place it where you need it.
Kraft's memory-resident Speed Panel program lets you adjust sensitivity (how fast the computer responds to movement) up to 1150 dots per inch. Want to use Toptrak with programs that aren't mouse-driven? Try Kraft's Menukey program.
You'll like the way this trackball feels. It's smaller than other trackballs and contoured with rounded corners and a forward-sloping design to fit the hand more comfortably. If you want, you can pick it up and operate it with one hand, even more easily if you plug in the optional foot pedal (not the ideal tool for double-clicking). Large left and right buttons above and to the side of the ball give way with relative ease--only slightly harder to press than the buttons on some mice. Pressing the button directly above the ball achieves the same effect as pressing the right and left buttons simultaneously. The fourth button, just above the middle one, comes in handy with programs that involve dragging. You don't have to hold down the left button and operate the ball simultaneously. Just press once to lock the button. Then manipulate the ball and your cursor in the right direction, and press the locked button again to unlock it. Grooves run across it to provide tactile, as well as visual, differentiation from the other buttons.
I found the ball in this trackball a real pleasure to sue--smooth and responsive with no skidding or grinding. As far as I can tell, you can't remove the ball for cleaning as you can with other devices, so you'll need to keep this one from getting dirty.
Laptop users, take note. The Toptrak's low-current, compact design makes it a candidate for portable pointing, though it's not as compact as the current crop of notebook-specific pointing devices. If clutter cuts into your productivity and you're tired of mousing around, consider the Toptrak.