Xbox 360 Trackball Controller: First Impressions

*UPDATE* The full review is up!

It was very pleasant surprise to see an Xbox 360 Trackball Controller arrive in the mail, Monday. If you’ve followed this blog in the past, you realize how long I’ve been waiting to see someone put out a functioning trackball controller for any console. Thanks to Jay Garcia for coming to the rescue.

I was hoping to do a review this week, but to be fair, I’m giving myself more time to get used to the controller before making any conclusions. I can, however, tell you what some of my initial impressions are:

  • Great care has been made to make the Xbox 360 Trackball Controller function well, physically. The relocation of the “right thumbstick click” button to the underside of the controller works well, and I quickly got comfortable with it.
  • The ball sinks about halfway into the controller. At first, this seemed odd, because most trackball mice have the ball more “nested”. However, I think this was a great decision, because it creates more space around the ball for the thumb to play with. Also, because of this design, the ball does not lock into place and can be lifted out at any time for cleaning.
  • I was told that the controller works very well with Call of Duty: Black Ops, so I’ve primarily been playing that game with the device. I did, however try Battlefield: Bad Company 2 to compare. I could not get the controller to feel as consistent with that game, but before I come to any conclusions, I’ll ask the developers if they have any tips. *UPDATE* Jay Garcia explained how to calibrate the controller for each game, and it worked BEAUTIFULLY in Bad Company 2 – More to come in my review.
  • The first thing I noticed is that I could perform a much wider range of movements than I could with a thumbstick. For example, in Black Ops I was able to set mouse sensitivity to 7 of 10, making near-twitch movements, as well as ultra-fine, highly subtle adjustments to the cross-hair position without any difficulty.
  • For people who are accustomed to using trackball mice on the PC, very fast “twitch” motions over a high range on the trackball might not have predictable results. I’m waiting to get more comfortable with the device before making conclusions.
  • The controller comes with two trackballs, one black plastic one and one heavier, metal ball bearing. The metal ball certainly has nice visual appeal, but I am sticking with the plastic one for now.

I hope to have a more complete review, soon!

3 thoughts on “Xbox 360 Trackball Controller: First Impressions”

  1. I’ve had my “Modded by Jay” black wireless Xbox 360 controller for about a week. My learning curve is longer than most as I’ve always been a Southpaw on the 360, if for no other reason than I have used a Madcatz Panther XL in FPS PC games for over 15 years (trackball is on the left and joystick is on the right). So now I’m having to learn not only the trackball on the wrong side, but the 4 way stick as well. I am improving, and figure within a few more weeks I’ll be back where I was before. The game I’ve been playing is no other than COD Black Ops, and now with the new map pack. I can say this unequivocally, there simply is NO WAY I could ever go back to a standard Xbox 360 Controller after having this. The ONLY controller I would swap for on the Xbox would BE a Panther XL. I’m HOPING in getting these two geniuses together (Jay and Steveo) and maybe come up with a solution??? (Biggest wish list of my life). For PC users converting to a console this IS the only viable option I have found…(For Now Anyway, hint…hint)

  2. Patro
    I am also a Panther XL user. My kids surprised me with a PS3 this Christmas. If I had done some research I would have returned it and switched to an XBox just so I could have bought one of these controllers. What a great product….I can see how you would have an issue with the ball on the other side…..I can only hope this technology can be made available for the PS3 controller as well. I know I would buy more than one!!

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