In recent times I've been converted to using a trackball for all non-gaming, daily PC use. Since doing so I've had less fatigue, fewer cramps in my hands, and it's been an overall more pleasant experience than I could ever have imagined. The weapon of choice? The Kensington Orbit.
There is another Orbit, though. At first glance, it looks identical, but the ball is red, not blue. In many regards, it is the same, but in one important way, it's different. This is a wireless Kensington Orbit trackball with Scroll Ring, an updated version of the original Orbit wireless.
That immediately makes it appealing, because one less cable trailing across the desk is always welcome. But is it worth getting over the regular one when it's already so affordable? For many, I think it is.
Bottom line: Everything good about the regular Orbit without the cable and some quality of life improvements.
- Great design, comfortable to use
- Wireless over 2.4GHz and Bluetooth
- Integrated DPI switch
- Companion app issues
- More expensive than regular Orbit
- Wrist rest moves about too easily
Kensington Orbit Wireless Trackball: Price and availability
The Kensington Orbit Wireless Trackball with Scroll Ring is available to order now from Kensington's website. There are two colors available, including black with a red trackball and white with a silver trackball. Both cost $50.
Kensington Orbit Wireless Trackball: What you'll like
The original Orbit Wireless had a different design, but the newest version has been updated to mimic the regular, wired Orbit. That's a good thing, because the design is superb, despite looking a little uninspiring at first glance. It's ambidextrous, for one, which immediately makes it more appealing than the "ergonomic" trackballs out there which usually only cater to right-handed folks.
The key to the Orbit, though, and what makes it one of the absolute best trackballs you can get, is the scroll ring. It's hard to find the right words to describe how much better it is to scroll with than a scroll wheel, but take my word for it, once you've tried it you won't ever want to go back. Its position around the trackball means you merely have to flick your thumb or ring finger to scroll up or down. It's so comfortable.
The top of the Orbit is wide, too, and it doesn't get bogged down with trying to cram in additional buttons the majority won't need. It keeps it simple with two massive buttons on either side of the trackball, exactly where your thumb and pinky finger will rest. Your hand basically drapes itself over the Orbit and there's minimal movement after that. Just slight finger movements, which is what makes it such a good choice for those who suffer from fatigue like myself.
These buttons can be remapped though with the companion application, though there are limited functions you'd really want to apply. But, for example, I mapped a click of both buttons together as a play/pause feature for media. The application should also do many other things, but there's more on that below.
New to the Orbit Wireless over the regular Orbit is an integrated DPI switch (four stages from 400-1600 DPI) on the bottom, right next to the switch to go between 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth. You also find the battery door underneath because the Orbit Wireless takes regular old AA batteries. I don't mind this, though some might because as a parent I have an endless supply of AAs ready to pop in at short notice. But you're not likely to be swapping them very often, anyway.
The trackball itself is optical and aside from the color, looks and feels identical to the regular Orbit to use. It's completely friction free, and based on the durability of my own Orbit, it'll last the course without wear.
Kensington Orbit Wireless Trackball: What you won't like
The only thing I really don't like about the Orbit Wireless is the same thing I don't like on the regular Orbit. The included wrist rest is a nice touch and it's useful, but it's also not very good. Personally, I prefer not using it anyway, as the position of my hand feels better, but the point is more that it's just not very good. It sort of clips to the lower portion of the Orbit Wireless except it doesn't really.
It just sort of sits there, it comes away far too easily, and it'll move about more than you'd want a wrist rest to. It's a shame because it is comfortable, but it's just so frustrating to actually try to live with.
There are also some companion app issues, though these could also be exclusive to Windows 11, which I've tested it with. There are settings for DPI and scroll speed in the app, as well as to enable and disable acceleration. Only they do nothing. You have to use Windows' built-in mouse tools to make any fine changes.
I don't know whether it's Kensington, Windows, or a combination of both, but it renders the companion app mostly useless. Other manufacturers, such as Razer, have no issues even with Windows 11, so I'd lean towards it being a Kensington issue. Either way, unless you actually want to remap buttons, don't bother downloading it.
Kensington Orbit Wireless Trackball: Competition
One of the closest competitors actually comes from Kensington, and that's of course the regular Orbit. Aside from having a cable and no DPI switch, it's basically the exact same product but costing less. If you're on a tighter budget or aren't bothered about going wire-free, it's a solid alternative.
At the other end of the scale, you have the Logitech MX ERGO. It's more expensive than the Orbit Wireless, but it's also wireless and has more customizable buttons for you to take advantage of. It's a very different design, with a thumb-operated trackball attached to an ergonomic mouse, but it's a top-quality product.
Kensington Orbit Wireless Trackball: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a good value wireless trackball
- You're not interested in extra buttons
- You want a truly ergonomic way to work at your PC
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You're a gamer
- You require deep customization
Ignoring the usual caveats that come with a trackball, primarily, they're not that good for gamers, the Kensington Orbit Wireless is a fantastic choice. Price and feature-wise it's pretty much right in the middle of Kensington's lineup, and I'm happy that it's essentially just the regular Orbit with the wire chopped off.
That alone is enough to make it worth buying because, like its wired sibling, it's extremely comfortable to use, good value and the scroll ring is a thing of genius.
If you've been on the fence about switching to a trackball, the Orbit Wireless is arguably the best one to make the leap of faith with. It won't bog you down in unnecessary buttons and features, it doesn't care which hand you want to use, and, wrist rest aside, is hard to really fault. Give your wrists a treat and get one of these.
Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine