The tendency to constantly upgrade software applications and tools in the computer aided design community is one that has been well documented and a design enthusiast can simply look to Autodesk as the perfect example of a manufacturer that consistently upgrades its products—even when not needed—for its teeming fans.
Borrowing a leaf from Autodesk’s playbook, 3D Connexion planned to outdo themselves and their initial 3D mouse—the Space Mouse wireless—by releasing to the public an upgrade or newer version known as the Space Mouse Pro. 3D connexions job was to produce the device—which they did—and now, our job is to let you know if this product is a hit or miss. So here is our review.
Once again, we will be making use of the grading system employed in reviewing the Space Mouse wireless and this system will take into consideration, 3 aspects relating to the Space Mouse Pro and its usability/functions.
The three aspects to be considered are; its features, ease of use, specification and pricing. At the end of the day, a final score will be awarded to this 3D mouse as well as a recommendation based on its capabilities.
Introducing the Space Mouse Pro
The space Mouse Pro is the second wireless 3D mouse designed and developed by design power house—3D Connexion. The device which was designed as heir apparent to the—now ordinary looking—Space Mouse wireless comes with beautiful aesthetics that will make the most ‘anti 3D mouse’ designer want to test drive its features and uses…And yes it does look that beautiful. The mouse is made up of these three basic components like its predecessor;
- A controller Cap—for 3 dimensional movements
- An aesthetic base—which serves as a support base for both the controller cap and side buttons
- A micro USB receiver—to make near field/wireless communication possible.
After purchasing the device and unpacking—which is quite easy—the first time user will first marvel at its beauty before noticing the other components of the box which consists of an installation DVD and the micro USB receiver. Next, to use the Space Mouse Pro, you connect the USB receiver to your computer, hit the start button and are welcomed into the world of navigation with a 3D mouse.
The Features of the 3D Space Mouse Pro
3D Connexion definitely took the challenge of outdoing themselves seriously.
In terms of ergonomics, there can be no doubt that this device is better crafted than its predecessor and it is equipped with the normal features as well as some extra ones as outlined below:
- The controller cap—at the head of the device is the controller cap equipped with Connexion’s patented 6 degree of freedom technology which was developed to make navigation easy and fun to do with the 3D mouse. To also ensure that the user’s grip remains firm, the 4 groves at the sides of the controller cap makes a return to simplify the movement and navigation processes of the Space Mouse Pro.
- The Wireless Base—3D Connexion ensured that the controller cap gets all the support it needs by providing a broader and wider base which both supports the navigation cap and the several buttons at the right and left sides of the mouse pad/base.
- The Right-sided Buttons—at the right hand side of the base there are several navigation buttons designed to serve both viewing and panning functions. Therefore, the user can now make use of specific orthographic views and angles when interacting with a 3D workspace.
- The Left-sided Buttons—the buttons at the left are replacement keys for traditional functions such as right and left clicking. These buttons can also be customized according to the user’s requirements thereby eliminating the need for constantly returning to your keyboard to access some shortcuts/functions.
Using the Space Mouse Pro
The first step to using the Space Mouse Pro is definitely installing the required drivers and customizing the 3D mouse to meet your own specific requirements. At our end, carrying out these functions was a walk through as most of the information you need are on the 3D connexion website.
Also installing and updating the needed drivers should be done via tutorials from the website. After learning these basics, the next step was designing a simple 3D model on MAYA which provided the information for outlining the pros and cons below:
- The Space Mouse Pro—if adequately calibrated—eliminates the repetitive gestures and functions that CAD is notorious for, due to the fact that once you customize the 15 available buttons to meet your needs, regular visits to your keyboard will be a thing of the past.
- 3D Navigation—working with the Pro can be likened to reaching into your computer with your hands and manipulating any sketch or model you want. The device really gives you such control and navigation abilities.
- Going Wireless—eliminating the need for connecting cords while working on your office desk is always a big advantage.
- It is poised to be the navigational device of the future so getting conversant with it is recommended.
- Pricing—when compared to its predecessor or your traditional mouse, the price of the Space Mouse Pro can seem a bit steep.
- Ease of use—getting used to the functions of the device might take some time and its two handed functions may be a bit strange to new users.
Specifications and Pricing
Minimum System Requirements
* Windows XP Professional (SP2, SP3), Windows XP Professional x64 Edition (RTM, SP2 and SP3)
* Windows Vista (RTM, SP1 and SP2, all editions)
* Windows 7 (RTM and SP1, all editions)
* AIX 5.2 ML04 or newer
* HP-UX 11 or newer
* Linux Redhat Enterprise WS 4, 5, Novell SuSE Linux 9.3, 10, 11
* Sun Solaris 9/04 or newer, Sun Solaris 10 (x86/x64)
* USB port
* Apple OS X 10.8
* Apple OS X 10.7
* Apple OS X 10.6
Pricing—at $279, the Space Mouse Pro could be seen as a huge investment by some.
Finally, it is important to note that we believe the pros of using the Space Mouse Pro wireless far out weights the cons and its acceptance into the main stream CAD community will definitely be a pleasure as more designers acquire the device. So with a score of 4.3/5, the Space Mouse Pro takes a bow.