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Succeeding the mouse?

A sucker for novel input devices, I've ended up with a cabled, half-inch-thick credit card-sized mouse and a loose gel wrist rest. Minimalist or what? Actually just trailing edge and rather flat. But, driven mad with novo-philia, I recently bought a desktop-based 3dConnexion Space Navigator for around £40. It looks like a solid, inverted school-desk inkwell.

Anyone who remembers virtual reality will remember the Spaceball, a rather beautifully designed £2,000 3D hand-held, desktop guidance device the size of a baseball and stuffed with sensors and tiny strain gauges which enabled you to navigate through the virtual world. Well, the Space Navigator is grandson/daughter of Spaceball. My justification for acquiring it was my downloading of Google SketchUp. After a day or two of dogged acclimatisation I've learned to use it to rotate and zoom and pan and go up and down. It does this just as well with the AutoDesk range of 3D apps and similar – as well as Google Earth. But, and this is the big thing. You still have to use the mouse. If you can do things with just one tool your natural instinct is not to use two. So maybe the Space Navigator has a role as a presentation device. Or, with its natty ring of blue LED-light just above the stainless steel base ring, simply as a cool upside-down inkwell desk ornament.

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