The trackball is a contentious kind of peripheral. Most people point to the mouse or the trackpad as superior ways to move a cursor across the screen, but for a small subset of nerds, myself included, there is nothing as gratifying or exact as a trackball. A flick of your thumb and the cursor screams across huge swaths of the screen. It’s absolute power, and there are few companies brave enough to put that power at the fingertips of average person. But Logitech’s thumb-oriented M570 is the stuff of legends, and the company’s finally rolled out an upgrade that might just be perfect.
The $50 Logitech Ergo M575 is a whole lot like the M570 that Logitech has been selling since 2010. There’s a sparkly ball you control with your thumb, two buttons to the ball’s right, and then left- and right-click buttons with a scroll wheel set between them. If you’ve used the M570 or the earlier wired TrackMan Wheel, you’ll instantly be familiar with the setup. Logitech seems to have settled on a design that works and thankfully doesn’t deviate too much from it.
This is a relief after the Logitech MX Ergo launched in 2017. I loved that one when it first came out. It was the first Logitech trackball to support Bluetooth, and it had a satisfying scrollwheel and a neat trick where you could adjust the angle of it. But the trick got tiresome after a year, and when the MX Ergo struggled to wake my computer via Bluetooth because its batteries were too low, I quietly returned to my older M570 and didn’t look back.
The MX Ergo felt like it was trying to reinvent perfection with unnecessary add-ons. The MX575 just feels like a natural evolution of 20 years of near-perfect design. There’s a series of gentle ridges along the palm rest that ostensibly give it better grip, but really just feel pleasantly different and more comfortable than a smooth surface. On the bottom, there’s a switch to flip between rock solid Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless, and another to power it on and off. (Logitech includes a USB-A receiver that you can stow in the base of the device when not in use.)
The trackball works by resting on top of three tiny ceramic balls. A laser is emitted from the inside of the mouse and hits the trackball. Moving the trackball along the ceramic balls causes the laser to bounce back toward the mouse. If the trackball or the small ceramic balls get dirty, the mouse will instantly feel less responsive, but the balls will occasionally get clogged with dust and old dead skin (cool) and need to be cleaned off. While Logitech forced you to rely on a tool to clean the MX Ergo, the M575 just needs a poke of your pinky to pop the ball out and access the ceramic balls inside. It’s a common enough task that easy cleaning is welcome. I’ve had the M575 about three weeks and have already cleaned it once.
That trackball, by the way, is a lot more sparkly than the one found on the M570, and a bit more garish than the dull silver one found on the MX Ergo. Logitech says that the color and the amount of sparkle both affect the accuracy of the laser. The default DPI on the M570 and the M575 was about 400 DPI. But with the M575, you can adjust it up to 2000 DPI. That’s entirely too much DPI for me, but I like the idea that I can tweak it if I actually want to.
But I’m not sure I ever would. The M570 was practically perfect, the MX Ergo was curious and experimental, and the M575 feels like a nearly flawless iteration of both. I’m hard-pressed to point out issues I have with it or additional features I’d like to see, apart from the ability to program the mouse’s memory. Right now, if you want to adjust DPI or tweak which button does what, you’ll need to download software from Logitech, install it on your computer, and get to programming. With more and more peripherals packing enough storage to remember your settings, it seems like a minor improvement that would be very much appreciated.
But apart from having to download some software when I want to tweak a setting, the $50 Logitech M575 trackball is a fantastic way to control a computer. So why are you using an old-fashioned mouse again?