The Kensington SlimBlade Trackball Mouse has a number of big advantages:
- It is small and light enough to be easily taken along and used when traveling (approximately the same size as the Logitech VX nano).
- It connects to the computer using Bluetooth, so it saves a USB port, which is precious when my HP 2133 only has two of them.
- It has a scroll ball on the top, which allows both vertical and horizontal scrolling.
- Clicking a button on the top switches it from being a mouse to using the scroll ball as a trackball. This is invaluable when I am trying to use the computer on a train, and I have nowhere to put down the mouse.
I have been a dedicated trackball user for a long time (does anyone remember the Logitech Trackman Voyager? I still have one...), so I decided to give the SlimBlade a try.
The first and most important thing to say about the SlimBlade is that it works exactly the way Kensington says it does. I first tried it with Windows XP Professional, and it was detected and paired with no problem, and it works beautifully. Because of the size, shape and weight of it I tend to hold it in my hand and use my thumb for the ball and buttons, which I find very easy and natural. It works great in both trackball and mouse mode; the only minor disadvantages I can think of are that it doesn't have extra buttons (forward/back or whatever), and in trackball mode it doesn't have a scroll wheel (duh), but neither of those is significant to me. The pairing is automatically re-established when Windows is shut down and rebooted, so you can set it up once and not have to worry about it any more.
I have also tested it with Linux (Ubuntu 8.10 and openSuSE 11.1), it pairs and works just fine, essentially the same as on Windows. However, the pairing is lost on reboot, and you have to go into Bluetooth preferences, delete the device, and then add/pair it again. The whole process takes less than 30 seconds, but it's a bit tedious when you have to do it every time you boot.
Overall I would rate this as an excellent device, and I am likely to be using it instead of the VX Nano. Saving a USB port and being able to use it when there is no tabletop or other space to move a mouse are huge advantages for my use.