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I should do something with Ghost. Hey, I know. I’ll use it to store guides and technical write-ups on my shared hosting web server. I’m guessing it runs on ruby, python, or php so this shouldn’t be a prob-oh. Node.js. Well that idea was nice while it lasted.

Sanwa MA-TB39 Review

Hi. I’ve not seen any reviews of this mouse elsewhere with many pictures, so maybe this quick review will prove useful. Some context: I’ve been using thumb trackballs for about 8 years. I first started out on the Microsoft Trackball Optical, but only for a short while before I lost it during a move. The next trackball I bought in 2008 was the Logitech Trackman Wheel, which I use to this day at work. It’s pretty worn, but works just as well as the day I received it. I would gladly buy another for home, but am not willing to drop more than $100 on it. Logitech no longer manufacturers them. In 2012, I bought myself Logitech’s Wireless M570. Oddly enough, I’ve only gone through 1 battery on it, but the whole thing feels cheap, light in weight, and the cursor isn’t as responsive as it was on the Logitech Trackman Wheel. Earlier this year (2014), I began looking for a worthy replacement. Nothing stood out, as it seems everyone defaults to using the M570. I stumbled across a post on /r/trackballs from a user who mentioned the Sanwa MA-TB39. Sanwa may be familiar to you if you ever played on arcade cabinets; they’re a top manufacturer for arcade joysticks and buttons. The only downside is this mouse is sold only in Japan. However, it can be found on Rakuten or eBay. I purchased mine on eBay new in-box for $44 (USD), including shipping, and today it arrived.

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I had a few first impressions. 1) The ball is a tad bit bigger than the blue M570 ball, which I like. Feels more robust. 2) The incline is flatter compared to the M570 and Trackman Wheel. I’m still trying to get used to this. After years of my hand being arched using these things, it feels strange for it to lay as flat as it does. 3) The mouse itself is bigger (longer) than the M570 and Trackman Wheel.

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By the way, it’s very shiny. I’m interested to see how well this holds up over the next few years. The paint on my Trackman Wheel has mostly been worn away. Right away, it feels better than the M570 and it definitely has some weight to it. The ball feels more responsive and rolls smoother than the M570, but is on par with the Trackman Wheel. It also rests on 3 metal bearings, as opposed to Logitech’s trackballs, which are ceramic. I’ve heard of reports of the metal bearings in the Microsoft Trackball Optical wearing away at the ball, but only time will tell with this one.

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I’ve only used this on OSX and Linux, but neither had any problems. I had to drastically decrease the sensitivity in both, as the cursor was flying all over the place. Most people may be dismayed to hear that this only includes the standard 3 mouse buttons: left and right-click, and a center click-wheel. I know there’s a pocket of people who love to use these in WoW, so this may be a showstopper if that’s your sort of thing. The buttons make a pretty solid and audible click. I’ve yet to open the chassis, but there are 5 easily accessible screws on the bottom so this shouldn’t be a problem. As far as precision goes, it can switch between 800 and 400 CPI. I’m not sure which one it’s set to out of the box, though. Rakuten’s product description says you can switch between the two by clicking the scroll wheel and right button at the same time. There’s no indicator upon a successful switch, so I have no idea if this feature actually works; I can’t tell a difference before and after. It’s probable that this only works under Windows if you have the Sanwa driver installed. Oh yeah - there’s a cool red LED that lights up when you move the scroll wheel or ball.

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In conclusion, this mouse is definitely a replacement for the M570. My only 2 minor complaints are: 1) It takes some effort to pull the ball out of the socket. The hole on the bottom is too small to use to push it outward, so you have to use some muscle to pull it out (and hope you don’t have sweaty fingers). 2) There are no rubber pads on the bottom. Instead, there are 5 felt circles, although they seem to do the job of keeping it in place on my desk. I could probably replace them with rubber pads if I cared enough. It’s a shame this isn’t sold in the US and an even bigger one that Logitech’s only thumb trackball is a wireless, cheap version of the Trackman Wheel. Here’s to hoping Sanwa produces these for a long time.

Questions? Want more pictures? Head over to my ask box.