If you’re already using a 3Dconnexion device, then the chances are you’ll either have the smaller devices at the entry level in terms of the SpaceNavigator or one of the all singing, all dancing SpaceMouse Pro or SpacePilot products.
What the company has just released is a new addition to the entry level product that brings along one thing that’s been missing from their existing tools – or rather, removes it.
The new SpaceMouse Wireless does exactly what the name implies. It removes the need to have those untidy cables trailing from your workstation and packs in a small 2.4Ghz micro reciever that pops into a spare USB slot.
Existing users will also be aware that the SpaceMouse products typically take their power from the USB bus. To get around this, the new product packs a Lithium-Ion battery in its base, charges via a micro-USB cable and should give you a month of use without needing a charge.
Unlike a lot of similar products, the good news is that time to get fully charged is around the two hour mark, so you can stick it on charge over night if you spot the warning light (it’ll show up red when it’s running low). If that happens in the middle of the day, the device will also work with the cable plugged in too!
There’s been a subtle update to the smaller product range, with the SpaceMouse Wireless having a more squared off profile. That cures one of the problems with the existing products – that it’s easy to get orientation wrong and send your model skidding off the screen because it’s the wrong way around. There’s also been some redesign work done on the two fully customisable buttons, in that they’re now much larger and more accessible.
Driver and menu updates
There’s of course, an update to the drivers. The 3Dconnexion team does a lot of work to not only ensure that their products are compatible with the latest and greatest, but also to add to the already comprehensive set of systems that their products work with. Whether the drivers are natively built into the host application or installed alongside it, they’re pretty much all there. Most of the system integrations are fully customisable in some form or another.
For this release, there’s been a new addition to the capabilities. Radial Menus have been introduced that are activated from the device’s buttons. Obviously in the case of the SpaceMouse Wireless, this gives you two sets. This means for your work horse CAD systems, you can have two sets of four commands available at your finger tips (see how it looks in Inventor below). Good news is that if you’ve already got a device, you’ll get this too!
Cost & a few thoughts
The SpaceMouse Wireless is placed at the top of the entry level, portable products (above the Navigator and the notebook editions). Even then, it’s going on sale at £109.
We heard about a new product coming from 3Dconnexion a little while ago and talked in the office about what it might add to its existing range – after all, the SpaceMouse products have evolved to a pretty slick set range as it stands.
The addition of wireless tech is pretty obvious and I’m surprised it has not been done before. In today’s wireless world, people don’t like cables cluttering up their desk and this helps take out what might be, for someone, that last remaining on.
In terms of build quality, it’s the same – these things are built like tanks and German ones at that. The addition of the battery and the base redesign makes it more intuitive and stable on your desk. The larger buttons make it more usable and I like the radial menus – it’s a simple addition, but it gives you quick access to a larger number of commonly used operations.
All in all, considering this thing is just a shade over a hundred quid, if you’ve not got one, it’s well worth considering. Bang on job, chaps!