SolidBox Review: CADMouse

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 all of the other mouse options available to CAD users?

SolidBox Review: CADMouseThat last part is an important distinction. We all use a mouse, but until now, there has never been a mouse designed for CAD. 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 and 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, plus an absolutely-necessary-for-CAD scroll wheel with solid and precise feeling movement, a “gesture button” slightly behind the scroll wheel, and a pair of buttons to be controlled by the thumb called the QuickZoom buttons. The extra mouse button sits between the standard Left Mouse Button (LMB) and the Right Mouse Button (RMB), and it’s another way to control rotation of your model in addition to the scroll wheel. I’ve found it most natural to use my middle finger to utilize this new button, and it is easier than figuring out which finger to use on the scroll wheel to rotate a model.

SolidBox Review: CADMouseThe 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 that 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, as precise zooming-in is still easily accomplished with the scroll wheel. However, if you prefer not to use a 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 and it had dire consequences. If you are editing any document or web page and accidentally hit it, that data will likely be lost. 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

SolidBox Review: CADMouseFirst off, the CADMouse feels different than most right-handed mice, even the higher end options. Although the footprint of this device is no larger than what you’re probably used to, it feels bigger in your hand. Great care has been taken to ensure that the CADMouse is the most ergonomic mouse on the market. It’s designed for long-term use, and you’ll really notice less stress in your wrist because of 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, 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?

SolidBox Review: CADMouseAfter 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 aftQuickZoom button zooms out so that the whole model is visible, instead of changing the view from the shortcuts menu or zooming 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.

 

Gripes

SolidBox Review: CADMouseThe 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, so if you’ve entered a lot of information into empty fields on a web form, or if you’ve spent a lot of time adding and aligning text and pictures in a web page editor and accidentally hit that button before saving, your info will be lost. This is a problem with many other mice as well, but I found that particular button to be in the way more than with other mice outside of SolidWorks.

And although the last gripe can be managed and mitigated with attention, the fact that it is a wired device (at this moment) cannot be ignored. I love a wireless desktop, and 3Dconnexion has made excellent strides in providing wireless options for our left hand, but the CADMouse must be tethered to your workstation. For most people, this is no big deal, as the wired mouse is 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.

Bottom Line

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, and the CADMouse blends beautifully with my SolidWorks workflow. Like 3Dconnexion’s left handed devices, there is a slight learning curve that requires the user to force themselves to break old habits in order to form new, better ones. Luckily, the break-in period for this device is much shorter than say, the SpacePilot Pro, 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.