February 23, 2009 The design of the trusty mouse has come a long way from its humble beginnings forty years ago and throughout its many incarnations it has remained a staple for any personal computer user. The latest spin on this ever necessary peripheral – and we do mean spin – is the Orbita Mouse. This new take on the mouse basically becomes the scroll wheel traditionally found between the left and right buttons.
At first glance the spherical appearance of this mouse is quite deceptive. The silicon outer casing gives a very simplistic appearance but it performs all the functions of a regular wireless mouse - and then some. The Orbita Mouse is fully rotational, and as such features a small white “orientation” button on its top. Pressing this button with the arrow facing forwards on the desktop uses an internal compass to set the ‘up’ direction for pointer movement on the screen, regardless of how the mouse is rotated. To ‘left’ or ‘right’ click the user pushes covered buttons on the top and sides of the mouse respectively.
The ball bearing base and cylindrical shape of the Orbita Mouse allow the user to infinitely scroll without stopping. This is much like an oversized dial combined with a ‘click wheel’ one may find on an iPod, presenting a very handy way to navigate quickly through large documents such as monster spreadsheets. Other ‘scroll heavy’ applications like 3D modelling and audio/visual editing programs would also benefit from this feature. A silver ‘jog dimple’ button on the top of the mouse allows the user to swap between vertical and horizontal scrolling, and can also be configured as a third mouse button.
Retailing at around US$100, the Orbita Mouse does look to have a learning curve, as it comes with both a ‘beginners’ and ‘fast’ set of ball bearings. Early reports suggest that it is quite sensitive to the touch too, as a wayward squeeze can result in an unwanted right click, and picking the mouse up does require the user to re-orientate the direction. So perhaps while not destined to become the everyman choice of mouse, the Orbita will almost certainly appeal to power scrollers.
It's one of those things that's easier if you see it in action - the vid below shows a demonstration of the Orbita being used to navigate Google Earth.