So late last week I was working on my laptop instead my normal workstation and I realized exactly how much of a productivity increase adding a 3D mouse really made. The improvement is significant enough to call for the first (of very few posts) about computer hardware.
About a year ago, when I was shopping for a new workstation, a friend recommended adding a 3D mouse. he said, “I know they are a bit pricey, but get one – even the basic model. You’ll never be without one again.” Once I began pricing 3D mice, they were less expensive than I had expected. I selected a Space Explorer by 3D Connexion. When comparing the feature sets, this model is about middle of the pack for features and price. There are others with more programmable buttons and features, and others with less.
Within the first few seconds using it, I saw what all the hoopla was about. The speed increases were immediate. I’d estimate the reduction in modelling time is 30-40%, right out the box, with no tweaking or customization. Basically, a 3D mouse puts all view related movements in your left hand while you are free to make selections with your normal mouse on the right. The stock button assignments are pretty good, but with some simple tweaking the programmable buttons issue whatever commands you want. The assignment is flexible and changes based on the modeling mode you are in – Part, Assembly, Welded Part, etc.
The higher-end the models have more programmable buttons which are even more beneficial for some, but this works for me.
I’d give-up my left hand before being without a 3D Mouse again.
If you are a using 3D CAD – any platform, almost any software – you need a 3D Mouse. Convince your managers. It’s money well spent.