Monday , November 30 2020

Better Logitech on the Nearly Faulty Ball

The track ball is a controversial kind of peripheral. Most people point to the mouse or trackpad as superior ways to move a cursor across the screen, but for a small subset of nerds, my own content, nothing is as satisfying or exact with a track ball. A flick of your thumb and cursor screams across huge swathes of the screen. It’s an absolute power, and few companies are brave enough to put that power at the fingertips of the average person. But Logitech’s thumb-focused M570 is the stuff of legends, and the company finally introduced a potentially perfect upgrade.

The Logitech Ergo M575 $ US50 ($ 70) is very similar to the M570 that Logitech has been selling since 2010. There’s a glowing ball you control with your thumb, two buttons to the right of the ball, followed by left and right buttons. with a scroll wheel fitted between them. If you have used the M570 or the TrackMan Wheel with earlier wiring, you will be familiar with the setup right away. Logitech seems to have settled on a design that works and thankfully it doesn’t deviate too much from it.


Logitech Ergo M575


Small but welcome development in trackball design.


$ US50 ($ 70)


Almost everything about it.


You must use software to make DPI adjustments or button assignments.

This is a relief after the Logitech MX Ergo launched in 2017. I loved that one when it first came out. It was the first Logitech trackball to support Bluetooth, and it had a decent wheel scroll and a neat trick where you could adjust its angle. But the trick got relentless after a year, and when the MX Ergo had trouble waking up my computer via Bluetooth because its batteries were too low, I quietly returned to my older M570 and without looking back.

The MX Ergo felt like it was trying to reinvent perfection with unnecessary additions. The MX575 feels like a natural evolution of 20 years of nearly perfect design. There are a series of gentle ridges along the palm rest that seem to give it a better grip, but really just feel pleasant different and more comfortable than a smooth surface. At the bottom, there is a switch to flip between 2.4GHz solid rocket and wireless Bluetooth, and another to power it on and off. (Logitech includes a USB-A receiver that you can keep in the bottom of the device when not in use.)

Photo: Alex Cranz / GizmodoPhoto: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo

The track ball works by resting on top of three small ceramic balls. A laser is emitted from the inside of the mouse and hits the track ball. Moving the track ball along the ceramic balls causes the laser to bounce back towards the mouse. If the track ball or small ceramic balls get dirty, the mouse will immediately feel less responsive, but sometimes the balls are full of dust and old (cool) dead skin and need cleaning . Although Logitech forced you to rely on a tool to clean up the MX Ergo, the M575 only needs a pocket of your pink to pop the ball out and access the ceramic balls inside. It is a common enough task that an easy cleaning is welcome. I’ve had the M575 about three weeks and I’ve already cleaned it once.

That track ball, incidentally, is a lot brighter than the one found on the M570, and a little more garish than the same boring silver found on the MX Ergo. Logitech says the color and amount of spark are affecting the accuracy of the laser. The default DPI on the M570 and M575 was about 400 DPI. But with the M575, you can adjust it up to 2000 DPI. That’s all too much DPI for me, but I like the idea that I can tweet it if I really want to.

Photo: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Interior Art

Photo: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Interior Art

Photo: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Interior Art

Photo: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Interior Art

Small ceramic balls.

Photo: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Interior Art

Photo: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Interior Art


But I’m not sure I ever would. The M570 was perfect, the MX Ergo was inquisitive and experimental, and the M575 feels like an almost flawless iteration of both. It’s hard for me to highlight issues I have with it or additional features I’d like to see, besides the ability to program the mouse memory. Currently, if you want to adjust DPI or tweak which button does what, you’ll need to download software from Logitech, install it on your computer, and get to programming. With more and more peripherals packing enough storage space to remember your settings, it seems like a minor improvement that would be much appreciated.

But aside from having to download some software when I want to tweak an installation, the Logitech M575 $ US50 ($ 70) trackball is a great way to control a computer. So why use an old-fashioned mouse again?

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