Logitech just unleashed a new entry-level wireless trackball that feels good, looks fine and works wonderfully. The new Ergo M575 adds some features previously found only in its high-end MX Ergo trackball, including one that port-deprived MacBook owners will appreciate.
Plus, at $49.99 list, it won’t break the bank. If you’re interested in trying a trackball, for whatever reason, this is a smart choice.
Logitech Ergo M575 review
Probably the biggest addition to this inexpensive trackball is Bluetooth LE support. That means you can actually use it with your modern MacBook without a hub (or with an iPad). Logitech’s previous entry-level wireless trackball, the M570, relied on one of the company’s Unifying receivers. Those tiny dongles (one is included with the M575) work great if you have an old-school USB-A port available. However, if you’ve got nothing but USB-C ports, you’re SOL with the old model.
The second worthy addition is compatibility with Logitech’s free Options software, which opens up worlds of customization possibilities. Options lets you set the actions triggered by the trackball’s three programmable buttons to execute particular functions — like a triple-click, or opening the Mac’s calculator app.
Even better, you can set the custom functions for use in all applications, or specify different actions for specific apps. For instance, you might want to use the front button to open the calculator for quick number-crunching in Numbers, but have it trigger Look up in Pages to serve up definitions. Obviously, you can get pretty granular.
Options also lets you tweak the all-important trackball speed to satisfy your scrolling desires. (Logitech’s previous entry-level trackball, the M570, relied on the company’s outdated Control Center software, but it is being updated to work with Options.)
And, in a bid to avoid a “medical device” look, Logitech added subtle, nautilus-like ridges to the trackball’s palm rest. Plus, the Ergo M575 comes in graphite and off-white color options. Both pack a sparkly blue orb for your thumb to dance upon.
Why use a Logitech trackball?
The “Ergo” in the Ergo M575’s name stand for “ergonomics,” aka “the study of people in their working environment.” Ergonomics is all about building comfort and safety into work equipment. In the case of a trackball, that could mean alleviating pain associated with mouse use, or (if you’re lucky) keeping you from experiencing a repetitive strain injury in the first place.
During Logitech’s press briefing for the M575, the company said 15% of computer users in a recent study reported daily pain in their arm or wrist. That can happen, in part, because some people push their cursor up to 17 miles in a year, Logitech says — and that can take a real toll on the body.
“It’s a significant issue for a lot of people, and they’re looking for solutions in order for them to keep doing what they love,” said Lars Lauridsen, a senior product manager for Logitech, during the briefing.
To that end, Logitech’s ErgoLab builds prototypes of new devices and conducts studies of how the various designs affect muscle tension and other physical measurements. The resulting lineup of ergonomic products from Logitech includes mice, a high-end trackball and a curvy keyboard, all built with customer comfort in mind.
Work-from-home fuels peripherals boom
Unlike a mouse, a trackball requires very little space on a desktop. That makes it ideal for cramped spaces. Also, since a trackball just sits in one place and responds to your thumb’s commands, you can put it virtually anywhere: on a sofa arm, on a TV tray … hell, you could even strap one to your outer thigh if that’s what works for you.
Logitech says it has a dedicated base of trackball users who gravitate toward that type of peripheral for various reasons.
“Some [choose trackballs] for precision and comfort because they think trackballs provide that better than mice,” said Lauridsen. Others are advanced users working with large images in computer-aided design. They appreciate the minimal movement necessary to zip through those huge files.
Hands on with the Logitech Ergo M575 trackball
I’ve been using the new Logitech Ergo M575 trackball for a week or so. For me, it’s a flashback. I’ve used several different trackballs over the years (including one from Logitech). I’ve dealt with a lot of RSI pain in my decades of pounding on keyboards and throttling mice, and at certain times a trackball has brought relief.
That said, in the past I’ve experienced “trackball thumb.” Extensive use of a thumb-based trackball can cause pain in your thumb. (Other trackballs, which you control with your fingers, offer a different experience. Plus, they can be used by left-handers. The Ergo M575 is for righties only.)
In my opinion, using any mouse or trackball exclusively for hours on end eventually can cause discomfort or injury. I’m no ergonomist, but I’ve found over the years that switching among a variety of input devices — a fantastic standard mouse like Logitech’s MX Master 3, a great upright variant like the MX Vertical Mouse and one of Apple’s Magic Trackpads — brings the most comfort. If my index finger starts to hurt from too much clicking, switching to a trackpad or trackball can bring relief.
But then I’m lucky, in that I often receive review units and can try them all out. In the end, how a particular peripheral feels is quite personal. Having dealt with RSI for decades, I tend to switch things up fairly often. If you can afford it, using multiple input devices for different work situations — or just to change up your hand position — can be a very powerful solution.
Logitech Ergo M575 vs. MX Ergo trackball
At $49.99 retail, the Logitech Ergo M575 offers an affordable option for the trackball-curious. It’s not as advanced as the company’s MX Ergo trackball, which offers more buttons and scroll wheels in addition to an adjustable angle that lets you really dial in your optimal hand position.
The high-end MX Ergo also comes with a built-in rechargeable battery. The new Ergo M575 comes with a single, disposable AA battery, which Logitech says can last up to two years. However, the M575 costs only half as much as the MX Ergo, and it works reliably.
With a 2,000 DPI sensor, the Ergo M575 is highly precise. (“On a trackball, a standard is around 300 or 400 DPI because it’s much more sensitive,” said Lauridsen.) The MX Ergo goes up to 2,048 DPI.
Taking the time to set up application-specific customizations through Logitech’s free Options software lets you really tweak either of these trackballs’ functionality in smart ways. The MX Ergo just offers more buttons, and hence more options.
One other advantage the MX Ergo has over the M575: The high-end one can utilize Logitech’s Flow software to work seamlessly across multiple devices. (It can even go between Macs and Windows PCs.)
The Ergo M575 doesn’t pack all the advanced features of its big brother — you wouldn’t expect it to at half the price. But if you’ve never tried a trackball, and you want to see how one might work for you, the Ergo M575 is a solid option.
Buy from: Logitech