Computer Accessory Reviews

Cutting, Coloring, and Compositing with the Logitech ERGO M575 Wireless Trackball

IS THE LOGITECH M575 TRACKBALL THE BEST MOUSE FOR EDITORS, COLORISTS AND COMPOSITORS?

After toiling through years of post-production with a traditional mouse, the random pains through my wrist, forearm and even shoulder meant that it was time for a different way to navigate my screens. I’d used many different types of mice, from a variety of manufacturers – they all had their pros and cons, but the ergonomics were all the same for the most part. So, I decided to look into trackballs. My brother had a pretty cool, albeit rather large, trackball that he swore by – it was basically four buttons surrounding a large ball. I found a few like that which had potential, but I continued to explore my options and eventually stumbled upon the Logitech ERGO M575 Wireless Trackball. This looked intriguing – it was shaped similarly to a conventional mouse, but kept the user’s hand elevated and rolling off at an angle to the side. I’d read somewhere that this was a much more natural and relaxing position for the hand to be in, and helped prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. This alone had me interested, but the fact that one used their thumb to move the trackball also meant that I wouldn’t be moving my arm around constantly, and I could keep my fingers on the buttons. I was sold!

Immediately, I ran out and bought one… and felt as though I’d made a terrible mistake. I found myself constantly moving it around like a mouse. “Why isn’t the pointer moving?” Oh right, I’m meant to use my thumb… No problem, except when I did, I’d overshoot my target by a mile – it reminded me of my challenges on the putting green. Nothing like turning a Par 3 into a Triple Bogey! Thankfully I’m pretty stubborn though, and the next day I found the M575 sitting on my desk, challenging me to another game of pin the tail on the donkey. I played along, and my brain began to quickly rewire itself. That was many years ago now, and I haven’t looked back.

A photo showing a white Logitech ERGO M575 Wireless Trackball on a desk with a keyboard and laptop, with an out of focus woman in the background flipping through a magazine.

HOW I USE IT

One of the great features of the Logitech M575 is the ability to program the buttons. Not just for the entire operating system, but also for individual programs. I reprogram the Back/Forward buttons for all of the programs I use regularly, and the Middle (Wheel) Button most of the time. In fact, if I find myself using different shortcuts more frequently in a certain project, I customize the buttons specifically for that project. Sometimes I program one button to copy and another to paste for instance, which also works with grades in Davinci Resolve. I might then switch one button to go full screen and another to add a serial node, or show the finder, if I’m referencing files on the desktop frequently… lot’s of options really. You can even take it a step further with one particularly awesome feature in the free Logi Options+ software – Smart Actions. This feature lets the user record different keystrokes, allowing a single button to perform more complex tasks. I use Smart Actions regularly now – sometimes programming the Middle Button to do a RAM Preview of every second frame in After Effects, or set it up to copy and paste in a single click in Premiere Pro. This lets you move the playhead to where you want to paste a clip, then highlight a clip anywhere on the timeline and click the wheel. These shortcuts save me a lot of time, which ultimately lets me focus on the work rather than fumbling for the keyboard.

A photo showing a white Logitech ERGO M575 Wireless Trackball surrounded by blue, and a woman's hand with yellow nail polish reaching for it.

WHAT MAKES IT GREAT

As mentioned, I’ve been using the ERGO M575 for many years now. The connectivity has been solid with both Bluetooth and the Unifying USB Receiver. I actually can’t think of any time where it lost the connection, except when I first connected it to my PC workstation via Bluetooth. In this instance, the connection was quite choppy, with almost a fluttering effect as the pointer moved around the screen. The connection then dropped and refused to reconnect, even after a reboot. I did some research and discovered that it was because I hadn’t set up the WiFi 6E Antenna that came with the ASUS ProArt Z790-CREATOR Motherboard on that build. Once the antenna was added the connection was solid, with no lag or dropped connections. I even connect the M575 to a PC and MacBook Pro simultaneously – one with Bluetooth, the other with the included USB Receiver, and with the push of the button on the underside it switches between them seamlessly.

Once I retrained my brain to move the trackball rather than the whole unit, I found maneuvering around my screens to be faster and more efficient than with a traditional mouse. I even cranked up the speed in the preferences eventually, making it easy to cruise across two 27″ monitors with a long swipe on the trackball. Yes, when the speed is cranked, finite movements can be a little difficult on a 4K screen, but practice gets you there. And, it has indeed alleviated many of the issues I was feeling in my wrist and arm.

The battery life is quite good too. I generally stick to rechargeable batteries for computer accessories and haven’t had any issues, although I certainly don’t get anywhere near the 24 month battery life Logitech claims is possible. You can see the battery life in the Logi Options+ software, but the pointer will lag when the battery is dying, so it’s pretty obvious when it needs to be changed. The M575 also ships with a AA battery, which is nice.

The setup is simple on both a Mac and a PC, and the software is straightforward and easy to use. A Logi ID account is needed to use Smart Actions, but this also allows you to save your settings which is pretty handy. Once it’s setup, it’s rock solid and shouldn’t require much thought. However, the trackball area does need to be cleaned occasionally. The trackball will skip or lag a bit when it’s collected too much dust. All you need to do is pop-out the trackball and clean the contacts in the bowl, then pop the trackball back in.

Overall, I haven’t been able to find much downside with the Logitech ERGO M575. There is a bit of mental retraining needed, but it doesn’t take long and the effort is absolutely worth the time spent. They seem to have dropped the scroll left/right function between Logi Options and Logi Options+, but I didn’t use those functions enough to be bothered by it… still, it would be good to see them brought back. A third button would be helpful too, but I suppose there’s an upsell for that…

CONCLUSIONS

Is the Logitech ERGO M575 Wireless Trackball the best mouse out there for editing, color correction and compositing? For me, so far, yes. Not only is it ergonomically sound, but the ability to program the buttons with basic functions, and more complex Smart Actions, also make it a very worthwhile purchase. I have done some initial testing on other trackball units and one of the vertical mouse options out there, and the M575 is still the best input device I’ve tried to date.

Having said that, technology never sleeps, and there are a lot of new offerings out there right now, so I’ll be putting together a review of what I consider to be the best mice for post-production soon. Sign up for an MPM MEMBERSHIP today and leave your suggestions for worthy mice in the comments below!


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Logitech ERGO M575 Wireless Trackball

Rob Neilson

Rob Neilson began working in motion pictures over 30 years ago. His credits span numerous departments, currently working mainly as a colorist, editor and producer in Canada, in and around the Vancouver area.

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