If we discuss microtrackballs for a moment, am I right in interpreting your post as “microtrackballs are annoying because they are hard to maintain”?
I didn’t find microtrackballs to be an inherently bad experience. I suspect that the “hard to maintain” had more to do with the technology used to implement them.
Apple used rollers to detect motion on the Mighty Mouse scroll ball. Was that a mistake? Ball-style mice had removable covers so the rollers could be cleaned. The scroll ball wasn’t removable, so it was the “roll it upside-down, vigorously on a rubbing-alcohol-soaked paper towel” trick, which sometimes took many tries and would fail again the next day. Lately it’s been running for months without a cleaning. Fingers crossed.
What if the scroll ball was optically tracked? Or if direct optical tracking under a transparent surface was used? i.e. if the scroll ball got the Optical Mouse treatment?
I personally like Apple trackpads. My sample size is small, but I’ve used each of these for years without complaint: PowerBook 1400cs, PowerBook G3 Bronze Keyboard, PowerBook G4 12” (1st gen), MacBook Pro 15” (Early 2008). I haven’t used the more recent ones at length.
Conversely I absolutely detest PC trackpads. I have never encountered a PC trackpad that I didn’t want to throw across the room. But “corporate policy” is an effective handcuff. Carrying around yet another pointing device when I already had 2 (several laptop manufacturers hedged their bets: trackpad AND a pointing stick - and they both sucked), just made me feel like I just piling on the absurdity if I carried a mouse too, and of course a dongle because Microsoft and PC manufacturers couldn’t figure out Bluetooth. So 2 more pieces of hardware, and it didn’t solve the 2 crappy pieces that were built in?
That about sums up the problem with PC manufactures. Instead of making a GD trackpad that actually worked, they’d put in a crappy one, hedge their bets and add a crappy stick too, and then Microsoft would fail everyone with a crappy Bluetooth stack, so everyone got a crappy BT mousing experience, so then Logitech wouldn’t use Bluetooth, trusting instead their crappy dongle with a crappy protocol, which would misregister, so they’d just make those radios FREAKING SHOUT LOUDER THAN ANYTHING ELSE and that caused interference to all Bluetooth devices in nearby vicinity, making the mouse makers go into an arms race on who could make the noisiest radio. God I hate the PC industry!
But I am open to the possibility that a mouse might be a better pointing experience.