When you are using a mouse for your daily tasks, be it for graphic design, playing Fortnite, or designing CAD projects, you tend to use your dominant hand for most tasks.
If you are a CAD or graphic design professional, gamer, or architect, you probably have memorized the CAD keyboard shortcuts of your favorite program or game. The most work you can find for your non-dominant hand is pressing the keyboard shortcuts.
You can solve the issue of having to work with only your dominant hand by using a space mouse. This mouse comes with a joystick that can rotate in six directions, allowing you to easily carry out tasks such as Zoom, Pan, Rotate, and others with your non-dominant hand.
Another benefit of using a space mouse is that it has multiple buttons that can be customized to the shortcut commands you like.
Using a space mouse will ensure that your non-dominant hand also gets to do its fair share of work. As a result, you will be more efficient and productive. By using a space mouse, you will also give your dominant hand some break, and use it for other tasks such as selecting commands, which will make it less prone to injury or fatigue.
Using the conventional mouse for a long period of time, over weeks, makes you susceptible to health conditions such as Rotator Cuff Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
A space mouse will help to improve your productivity and efficiency. Moreover, it will reduce the strain that your dominant hand usually experiences.
Best Space Mouse for CAD – Comparison Table
|3DConnexion Space Mouse Pro||Best bang for your Buck||Read Review|
|3DConnexion Space Mouse Enterprise||Best Space Mouse (Editor’s Choice)||Read Review|
|3DConnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise Kit.||Complete Package (Best for Upgrading)||Read Review|
|3DConnexion Space Navigator||Best Budget Option||Read Review|
Benefits of Using a Space Mouse
Some of the benefits of using a space mouse include:
One of the ways in which you can improve your productivity is by using a space mouse. The mouse will make you more productive since you will be using it on the hand that is normally idle.
A space mouse can be programmed to carry out any function. However, most people prefer to use it for moving geometry around the screen and for Zoom, Pan, and Rotate controls.
When you get used to using a space mouse, you can use it in conjunction with a standard mouse. For example, you may be using a space mouse on one hand to Zoom or Rotate into an area of a 3D model that you want to edit. At the same time, you can be using a standard mouse on the other hand to select commands or menu options.
Majority of space mice have programmable buttons that you can manipulate with your non-dominant hand to work faster.
You can program the space mouse to center the screen or copy/paste with the click of a button. Even if you have been using keyboard shortcuts, you clicking a mouse button to accomplish a function is much faster.
The space mouse is used on your non-dominant hand in conjunction with a standard mouse on your dominant hand. Using the two mice will help to share the movement workload between the two hands. Instead of having your dominant hand doing all the work, you can handle some tasks with the non-dominant hand and, therefore, reduce the risk of suffering from RSI.
Now that we know the benefits of using a space mouse, let’s look at the best devices on the market.
Best Space Mouse Review
When searching for the best space mouse, 3DConnexion is one brand you will come across multiple times. The brand produces quality CAD pointing devices that are ergonomically shaped and sturdy.
The 3DConnexion space mice come with a 3-year warranty. The pointing devices range include the SpaceNavigator and the Space Mouse Enterprise. The SpaceNavigator is a simple joystick with 2 programmable buttons while the Space Mouse Enterprise is a top of the range model with an LCD screen and more than 30 programmable buttons.
The Space Mouse Pro features an ergonomic design. The mouse is quite large, measuring 8″ x 5.6″ x 2.3. However, when you rest your hands on it, the device fits all hand sizes.
On the upper part where your wrist rests is a soft, rubber-like material that ensures your fingers do not feel fatigue or pain.
The buttons are positioned strategically and you will easily memorize each’s location within a couple of days of using the space mouse.
There are 15 programmable buttons on the Space Mouse Pro. 4 large soft keys are at the top.
Reaching the buttons is easy. You will not have to reposition your hand from the joystick to reach them. Therefore you can continue navigating while pressing commands.
On the left-hand side of the CAD mouse are Keyboard Modifier buttons that allow you quick access to Esc, Shift, Alt, and Ctrl.
If you are working on a Windows machine, a virtual Numpad can appear when you tap a button. You can then input the data on the Numpad using the standard mouse.
You can bring up the virtual Numpad when you want to keep your hands on your space mouse or would like to access alt-key shortcuts like ø and °.
The mouse features a unique 6-degrees sensor that can detect input as small as 4 micrometers. Moving geometry around the screen with the joystick (also known as “controller cap”) feels very natural.
The navigation mechanism has a solid feel. When you get used to it, you will feel like you are rotating the geometry on the screen with your hands.
On the right-hand side of the joystick are 5 “QuickView” keys that provide instant access to 12 view. You can use the keys to easily change the context of your view, for example, to an overall view or assembly view to check for packing constraints or errors.
The mouse for CAD has a toggle key that allows you to quickly switch from 2D to 3D modes to easily navigate in sketching or drafting views.
The Space Mouse Pro is not the top of the range mouse from 3DConnexion. However, it offers the best value for your money. The CAD mouse has an enviable number of programmable buttons and is ergonomically designed. There is not much more you would want from the mouse.
The mouse’s space navigation is unbeatable. When using the device, you get to feel a real connection to the geometry that you are working on.
The top of the range space mouse by 3DConnexino is the Enterprise. This mouse has a full-color LCD screen on top that shows the icons of your favorite commands of the design or 3D printing software you are using.
Enterprise vs. Pro
The Space Mouse Enterprise is an upgrade of the Pro model we’ve reviewed above. The keyboard modifier buttons are on the left of the joystick, and include Esc, Alt, Ctrl, Shift, Space, and Enter.
The additional modifier keys mean you won’t need to lift your finger from the mouse for any command.
The Space Mouse Enterprise has 12 programmable buttons that can be mapped for any command.
The mouse’s LCD screen and buttons can be customized to change depending on the workbench you are using. For example, if you switch between solid modeling and drafting, you can program two different sets of shortcuts.
The Space Mouse Enterprise is the best space mouse on the market. The LCD screen makes it easy for you to select the icons of any design program you are using.
You can also improve your productivity when engaging in 3D modeling by using the 3DConnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise Kit.
This kit comprises of the CADMouse Pad, CAD Mouse, and SpaceMouse Enterprise, which are all you need for productivity.
If you would like to upgrade your CAD input devices, we recommend this kit.
If you are looking for an entry level space mouse, you should get the Space Navigator. This 3DConnexion space mouse features the same 6-degrees of freedom sensor that the higher end models have, i.e., you can Zoom, Pan, and Rotate with the same accuracy of the Pro and Enterprise mice.
The only thing missing in this mouse for CAD design is a built-in wrist rest and multiple programmable buttons.
The mouse has two programmable buttons that rest on your ring finger and thumb as you navigate. These buttons are easy to use and make you more productive. You can map your favorite commands in the buttons.
The “controller cap” or joystick is perfectly weighted and shaped. The Space Navigator is responsive and using it feels natural.
The base of the Space Navigator is made of heavy stainless steel since the mouse does not have a wrist rest. Therefore, the mouse feels a little heavier. Combine the heaviness with the grippy rubber feet and you can be sure that the mouse will not move across the desk as you use it.
If you have a small budget, you can go for the Space Navigator. The mouse will help to increase your productivity as you work on your CAD models.
The Space Navigator is compatible with a wide range of graphic design and CAD software, including Photoshop, ArchiCAD, 3DS Max, Autodesk Inventor, and Solidworks.
Editor’s Verdict: Best Space Mouse for CAD
If you have reached here, this means you have read this whole space mouse review. Here are our recommendations for the different CAD mice:
- Space Mouse Enterprise – The best space mouse on the market. Has dozens of programmable buttons.
- Space Mouse Pro – Our runner’s up on the list of the best mouse for 3D modeling or CAD
- Space Navigator – An entry level option. Best for beginners and those with a small budget. However, it does not have many programmable buttons.
- Space Mouse Enterprise Kit – Best option if you are looking to upgrade your CAD inputs. Comprises of a space mouse, CAD mouse pad, and SpaceMouse Enterprise.