First of all, the controller features a cushioned wristpad that quickly converts to either right- or left-hand use. (It is designed to work in conjunction with a traditional mouse.) And, the navigational ball in the middle of the pad is smaller than in previous Spaceball versions, which Labtec says provides greater control and comfort. Programmable function buttons are placed to the side of the ball to prevent the user from having to reach over to depress them (a source of physical stress). And a newly coated ball surface provides an easier grip and better control.
These little improvements, says the vendor, add up to big relief for CAD/CAM/CAE operators, computer animators and modelers, and almost anyone working in mouse-click intensive 3D applications. (The more mouse clicks, the better the chance for certain types of repetitive stress injuries).
Other features new to the 4000 FLX are an improved, 4th-generation PowerSensor (the proprietary technology behind the ball), enhanced 10-bit electronics for noise reduction and "driftless" action, and upgraded software that al lows for 23 customized, pro grammable software functions.
The Spaceball works with Unix and Windows 95/98/NT environments. The price is $695. (Labtec; Vancouver, WA; 360-896-2000; www.labtec.com)