Input Device: Trackball, Touchpad, Pen Tablet, Joystick, Jog Wheel

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page lists different type of input devices.


Mouse, the classic input device. Modern ones features laser tracking, and thumb wheel.

Apple's Magic Mouse

Apple magic mouse
“Apple Magic Mouse”, on the right. Apple Mouse [photo by Ben Dodson.]

Apple Magic Mouse. The entire surface is smooth. No buttons. No scroll wheel. It works by touch sensitivity, like a touch pad. And you can use “gestures”. For example, to left click, tab on the left side with one finger. To scroll, move your finger on the surface up or down. To zoom, touch the surface with two fingers and widen your fingers.

Is this good mouse? No. If you want to impress your friends, yeah. If you want it for industrial use, for example, heavy gaming, long hours in image-editing or editing in 3D Modeling Software, it suck badly. Tire your fingers, rub your skins off.

Apple Magic Trackpad

Every few years, Apple comes out with shiny and novel toys. Actually i don't recommend them. If you are a casual computer user, yeah Apple's input devices look great and work well. If you are in any way using the computer professionally, such as serious gaming, PhotoShop or visual artist, creating 3D Models, or programing (heavy Emacs), Apple's creative input devices are usually less efficient and less ergonomic than the humble homely standard ones.

See also: Apple Keyboard Problems

Drawing Tablet

Now, if you do a lot image editing or drawing, you need a pen tablet, absolutely. This is something i can recommend.

Best Trackball

Jog/Shuttle Control

Hate pressing buttons for sound level control? Get this.

MIDI Controllers

Akai MPD226 multi effects processor
Akai Professional MPD226 Multi Effects Processor Buy at amazon

I'm not sure these can be setup or modified so that they actually send keys. If so, they beat the all the rest.

if you know, please leave a comment.

this software “bome software”, seems to convert midi to key-strokes.

Akai MPK Mini MKII keyboard controller 71
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII 25-Key Ultra-Portable USB MIDI Drum Pad and Keyboard Controller with Joystick Buy at amazon
Akai LPD8 pad controller 97947
Akai Professional LPD8 Ultra-Portable USB Pad Controller for Laptops Buy at amazon

3D Controllers

Many gaming and 3D modeling software can use a specially designed input device. For example, Second Life, Google Earth Mouse Navigation and Keys, Flight Simulator, and other 3D Modeling Software .