At SolidBox, our goal is always to present products and services based on real-world necessity. It’s never our goal to cram useless or redundant tools down our customers’ throats. We would never sell a solution that we wouldn’t use ourselves. So, when 3Dconnexion announced the release of a right-handed CAD device that will take the place of your standard two button mouse, we naturally had to ask, is there room in the market for this device? How could 3Dconnexion add functionality to make it stand apart from the many other mouse options available to CAD users?
That last part is an important distinction. We all use a mouse, but manufacturers have never designed a mouse for CAD. Granted, standard mice get the job done. If they didn’t, we’d already have a mouse designed for CAD. However, once you perform the initial setup to optimize the CADMouse for your SolidWorks workflow, you’ll immediately see its value. You’ll also likely wonder how you got along without it.
What sets the CADMouse apart from your old friend sitting next to you at this very moment? First, there’s a third mouse button in addition to the familiar two. There is also an absolutely-necessary-for-CAD scroll wheel with solid and precise feeling movement. And lastly, a “gesture button” is slightly behind the scroll wheel, and two thumb-controllable buttons called the QuickZoom buttons. The extra mouse button sits between the standard Left Mouse Button (LMB) and the Right Mouse Button (RMB). This button is another way to control rotation of your model in addition to the scroll wheel. Admittedly, I’ve found it most natural to use my middle finger to utilize this new button. Besides, I find it easier than figuring out which finger to use on the scroll wheel to rotate a model.
The gesture button is an alternate spot to store certain commands that you use frequently. If you’ve ever used mouse gestures in SolidWorks, this button provides a wheel with four choices. This is very similar to the one found in SolidWorks. Although not difficult to access, I didn’t find myself using this gesture button too frequently.
The last two buttons to discuss are the thumb-operated QuickZoom buttons. These buttons provide excellent feedback with an obvious “click” to accompany QuickZoom action. The aft button proved to be more useful with its quick zoom-out functionality. This is simply because precise zooming-in is still easily accomplished with the scroll wheel. However, if you prefer not using scroll wheel, this is your best option for zooming in quickly on your model. One word of caution; on more than one occasion, I accidentally pressed the QuickZoom zoom-out button in applications other than SolidWorks. This had dire consequences. If you are editing any document or web page and accidentally hit it, you will likely lose that data. More on that later. There’s all kinds of juicy tech wizardry to geek out about under the hood of the CADMouse, so click here to ready about the complete specs on this device.
On The Desk
First off, the CADMouse feels different than most right-handed mice, even the higher end options. While this device’s footprint isn’t larger than what you’re likely used to, it feels bigger in your hand. 3Dconnexion has taken great care to ensure that the CADMouse is the most ergonomic mouse on the market. Indeed, it’s designed for long-term use. You’ll truly notice less stress in your wrist due to how your hand falls on the device. If you’ve ever suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome (as I have in the past), then you will greatly appreciate how relaxed you can keep your hand and wrist when using the device.
Ok, so it feels good. This should come as no surprise if you’ve ever held and used a 3Dconnexion device in your left hand. And I hope that you have all held and used a 3Dconnexion device in your left hand! Their team of engineers place ergonomics at the top of the checklist as a rule when designing a CAD device. But how do the CAD-specific functions of this device translate into the real world?
After living with the new CADMouse from 3Dconnexion for a few months now, I’ve fully incorporated most of the innovations found on this right-handed CAD device. The middle button rotation functionality allows you to keep your hand in the most comfortable position possible. After zooming in close on a feature, the aft QuickZoom button zooms out so that the whole model is visible. Therefore, you don’t have to change the view from the shortcuts menu or zoom out imprecisely with the scroll wheel. As mentioned above, I didn’t find the opportunity to use the gesture button very often. I also do not use mouse gestures in my SolidWorks workflow. So if you are a fan of mouse gestures, chances are you will find this functionality more useful.
The right-handed device is new territory for 3Dconnexion, so of course there are gripes to report. One lesson that I’ve learned with the CADMouse is to mind the aft QuickZoom button. This button acts like a “back” button in all other applications. Consequently, you may lose your information if you’ve completed a web form and press the button. The same is true if you’ve spent time adding and aligning text and pictures in a web page editor. This is a problem with many other mice as well. Yet, I found this particular button to be in the way much more than with other mice outside of SolidWorks.
And while it can be managed and mitigated with attention, the CADMouse’s cord cannot be ignored. I love a wireless desktop, and 3Dconnexion has made excellent strides in providing wireless options for our left hand. But unfortunately, the CADMouse’s cord still tethers it to your workstation. For most people, this is no big deal, as wired mice are still far more common than wireless enabled mice. However, the general consensus here at SolidBox is that wireless devices are preferable over their wired counterparts.
Otherwise, the CADMouse works just like you’d expect a high-end mouse to work. The driver support provided by 3Dconnexion is top-notch, and never once did the mouse act flakey or unpredictable. The idea is that any devices used to enhance your workflow should blend in instead of stand out. In this regard, the CADMouse blends beautifully with my SolidWorks workflow. Like 3Dconnexion’s left handed devices, the slight learning curve forces users to break old habits and form new, better ones. Luckily, the break-in period for this device is much shorter than say, the SpacePilot Pro. This is in large part because we’re already pretty familiar with how to manipulate a mouse with our right hand. After going back to my Logitech MX Performance mouse, I really missed the larger surface area of the CADMouse. Not to mention trying to find a third mouse button where one doesn’t exist.
That’s SolidBox’s two cents; but before you take our word for it, we encourage you to take advantage of 3Dconnexion’s demo program. Call us today to set up a 30-day demo to evaluate the CADMouse today.