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3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Pro Wireless Review

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless Female hand

Around a month after 3Dconnexion announced their latest product, I received a test unit of the new 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Pro Wireless. I’ve only ever owned and used the entry level 3Dconnexion devices in the past and always thought the professional series, although nice to have, really were a little bit over the top. Admittedly, if I’d had some spare cash lying about or I could have written off the purchase cost against my business taxes, I probably would have at least purchased the SpaceMouse Pro. I am a tech geek after all. With that in mind, I was keen to see how this shiny new toy? shaped up over the next couple of months. I decided on roughly two months, since that was the stated battery life. So how does it stack up?

Stated Benefits

  • Complete Wireless Freedom — Real-time 2.4 GHz wireless connection and a two-month battery life. When it does need recharging, for uninterrupted productivity simply connect one of the supplied USB cables.
  • Professional Performance — SpaceMouse Pro Wireless automatically recognizes your application environment and based on your personal configuration, maps commands to its four Function Keys.
  • View Your Work From Every Angle  Detect errors, explore alternatives, and present your work more effectively for review with SpaceMouse Pro Wireless’s 6DoF navigation and QuickView Keys.
  • Minimize Hand Movements —Conveniently positioned keyboard modifiers provide quick and easy access to Control, Shift, Alt and Esc functions, reducing the time you spend moving your hand to the keyboard.
  • World-Class Ergonomics And Build Quality  Full sized, soft-coated hand rest for maximum comfort.15 tactile, fully programmable buttons.
  • Flexible Connectivity  With a choice of two USB cables, either plug the USB receiver directly into your workstation or use the included Twin-port USB Hub.
  • The 3Dconnexion Experience – 3DxWare® 10 allows you to customize and optimize your SpaceMouse Pro Wireless for peak performance. Easily tailor settings and buttons to your application and needs.

Connectivity

The wireless benefits are clear, if needed I can re-position the device anyway on my desk unconstrained. I have enough cables kicking around my desk as it is, so this was a welcome addition. As it was with the SpaceMouse Wireless when it landed on my desk. I did find it curious that 3Dconnexion provided the Twin-port USB Hub, they mentioned it would come in handy during meetings in the board room where the PC being used for the presentation maybe be stashed away somewhere. The 1.5 meter cable would to expose the USB receiver in those instances. I honestly have never had any issues with connectivity, although to my surprise a couple of CADPRO’s clients have suffered some issues. They were each solved by moving the USB receiver away from the metallic casing of their workstations. I’ve since heard of people having connectivity issues with 2.4 GHz wireless keyboards and mice as well, again extending the receiver away from the case solved the problem. I’ll chalk that up as a win for 3Dconnexion.

3Dconnexion USB-Hub Right-Iso_Receiver

But, there is a less obvious, albeit inconvenient benefit, of 3Dconnexion providing this Twin-port USB Hub. I now have access to two 3Dconnexion space mice, this puppy and the SpaceMouse Wireless I received last year. While I’m at my primary desk I now use the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless exclusively, but with the SpaceMouse Wireless hard sided Carry Case, I’m able to safely cart that about with me on my travels each week. So what’s the inconvenient benefit? 3Dconnexion haven’t managed to unify their USB receivers yet, and although there are a decent number of USB ports on my HP ZBook 15 mobile workstation, they aren’t in abundance and certainly not enough to justify taking up two slots for 3Dconnexion. I need to keep one USB port spare so I can plug in devices Ad-Hoc. This is where the Twin-port USB Hub comes in handy for me. I have both receivers plugged into that, then it plugs into the slot which used to be exclusively occupied by the SpaceMouse Wireless receiver. A bit of a pain yes, but all I have to do is hide it around the back et voila, no big deal. Of course, 3Dconnexion’s well established attention to detail dictates they wouldn’t be happy about this either, I’m sure they have their reasons and I have no doubt they are working to rectify the situation in the not too distant future.

Alright, enough of the moaning. There are two great things I have discovered about using a Professional 3Dconnexion device. They are both the reason why the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless has earnt it’s permanent space on my desk, it’s not small, so it does need a right to be there.

6DoF navigation and QuickView Keys

SpaceMouse Wireless 6DoF navigation and QuickView Keys

This collection of buttons were the ones I was most eager to get my thumb on. While the Autodesk view cube is pretty handy, there are times I find it fiddly to get to the view I need. I’ve been using SolidWorks a bit as well recently as a result of supporting Autodesk’s CAM product in Australia and New Zealand. So this has been my savior, because, well, the SolidWorks view cube sucks in comparison to Autodesk’s. However, it wasn’t any of the four peripheral buttons in this set that I have found the most useful. It’s the Axial Rotation lock button which sits proud, all important like, just above all those around it. That self confidence justifies this little buttons power… I’ve often found myself having to go back to my keyboard, or regress to the orbit command just so I can rotate and pan my 3D view or 2D sketch without tumbling the view away from the orthogonal elevations. It really does break your train of thought, you don’t realize quite how much, until you are able to tap that button and nudge the puck to pan around the sketch you’re trying to manipulate.

Keyboard Modifiers

The next major realization I had with the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless was the collection of four buttons on the left side of the device. The Keyboard modifiers. Honestly, I haven’t used 3 of them all that much… yet. SpaceMouse Pro Wireless Keyboard Modifier ButtonsI’m sure I will get to using those more as time goes by and my hand relaxes into using it more naturally. But it’s the very real benefit of using the CTRL modifier button with Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks when orbiting around your model and selecting multiple and possibly random objects. In the past I would orbit my model, then move my hand to press the CTRL key on my keyboard, left click on my mouse to add that object to my selection set, theeeen back to my 3D mouse… urgh. It’s hard to read, let alone do. The crazy thing is I thought it was acceptable until I’ve experienced this first hand in a few different situations. Not only is it more productive (the most important part after all), but I can now create way cooler tutorial videos for Inventor, Inventor HSM and HSMWorks. I only have to pause orbiting momentarily now, just enough time to position and click my mouse, then immediately start orbiting onto the next object. I love it, and so will you, if you get to sit down and use it this way for an hour or so.

Battery Life

I’ve had this productive belle sitting on my desk now, for just over two months. I think I’ve turned it OFF a few times overnight. I didn’t put it on charge as soon as I received it and started using it immediately. I’m NOT designing 8 hours a day, but I’m in and out of Inventor and SolidWorks a number of times a day and generally that means I’ll have a fiddle and poke. So in all reality, I’m not using it anywhere near as much as a full time drafter should be. I’ve charged it twice. So my particular version isn’t really meeting the numbers stated by 3Dconnexion, but it has been on, albeit inactive, 24/7 for most of that time. In all reality, I still think that is quite impressive and it seems to recharge pretty damn fast. It just hasn’t bothered me in the slightest.

Final Words

Once again 3Dconnexion have turned out a fine product. The versatility of having a wireless device is a no brainer, you can move around the office with it far more easily, either collaborating with colleagues or presenting in the boardroom. The SpaceMouse Pro wasn’t a broken product, it’s proven and well designed, there really wasn’t a need to deviate too far from that. So would I pay for one out of my own pocket now? Yes! The prices have come down for these devices compared to a few years ago and I think once you have spent a little time with one, most people will realize a ROI pretty quickly. If not it simply makes using CAD more fun and precise. For those bouncing between multiple CAD products, the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless means they can force a consistent navigation and interaction experience across all the applications, when the standard user interface methods are completely different from one another. That’s a huge boost and has certainly proven useful for me now, switching between Inventor and SolidWorks so often.

It still surprises me that most CAD users still have no idea these things exist! Virtually every time I go to see a customer, one or more of their staff will be immediately intrigued by my SpaceMouse Wireless when I pull it out of my laptop bag and place it next to my workstation with a satisfying thud. We need to find ways to get the word out there further and get more CAD users buying and making use of these wonderful tools.

3Dconnexion announce their next device – SpaceMouse® Pro Wireless

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless ISO

Today 3Dconnexion have announced their next product, the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Pro Wireless. Following on from the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Wireless last September, this product is a natural progression for the Professional series of 3Dconnexion hardware range. At first glance little has changed, but its the thought put in under the hood, with a nod towards user experience and flexibility which make this new product worthy. While the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Wireless was visually a completely new product, essentially replacing the 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator. The SpaceMouse Pro Wireless is a logical evolution of what isn’t an old product anyway, however, 3Dconnexion clearly state in their press release that the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless is “all-new”.

The all-new SpaceMouse Pro Wireless offers professional 3D performance without wires.

3Dconnexion is proud to announce the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless , the first wireless 3D mouse with a comprehensive selection of professional features.

I asked John Moseley, Director of Global Marketing at 3Dconnexion, if the design team had decided to stick with the original puck design (pre-SpaceMouse Wireless), or tweaked it since their last product release. Instead of solely answering that question, he came back to me with a number of details not found in the press release:

  • The SpaceMouse Pro Wireless puck design is basically the same with the exception of the silver ring, which is a feature of our Professional Series.

Apart from the obvious extra features (buttons, hand rest), there are a few differences vs. the SpaceMouse Wireless

  • Doubled the battery life by fitting a larger battery capable of two months of operation between charges (based on 8 hours per day, 5 days per week).
  • Extended wireless range – in optimum conditions the SMPW will work up to 20 metres away from the USB receiver. Optimum generally means the USB receiver is placed in the supplied USB hub and placed on the desktop (i.e. not hidden / obstructed under the desk).
  • Two extra items in the box. A nice Twin-port USB Hub and a 0.5m USB cable in addition to the standard 1.5m cable. The goal here is to give users flexibility in how / where they place the USB receiver and charge the product.
  • USB receiver storage hole – on the underside of the product we created a slot for the USB receiver to be placed in when the user is taking the product from A to B. You can see this on one of the images (the USB receiver is shown inserted in the hole).

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless bottomDedicated storage hole for the USB receiver

“With the SpaceMouse Wireless, the world’s first wireless 3D mouse, 3Dconnexion revolutionized the market. Now the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless raises the bar even higher, delivering the same wireless freedom to 3Dconnexion’s professional series of 3D navigation devices.”

Antonio Pascucci, vice president of products at 3Dconnexion.

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless benefits

  • Complete Wireless Freedom — 3Dconnexion 2.4 GHz wireless technology for a real-time connection to your digital content and a two-month battery life. When it does need recharging, simply connect one of the supplied USB cables and continue working.
  • Professional Performance — SpaceMouse Pro Wireless automatically recognizes your application and assigns commands to its four Intelligent Function Keys. Go one step further by assigning a four-section on-screen radial menu to any of the device’s 15 buttons—providing easy access to even more of your favorite commands.
  • Keep Your Eyes On What Matters — SpaceMouse Pro Wireless’s On-Screen Display provides a convenient on-screen reminder of the commands assigned to its Intelligent Function Keys, allowing you to focus on your designs—not a keystroke cheat sheet.
  • View Your Work From Every Angle  Detect errors, explore alternatives, and present your work more effectively for review with SpaceMouse Pro Wireless’s 6DoF navigation and QuickView Keys.
  • Minimize Hand Movements —Conveniently positioned keyboard modifiers provide quick and easy access to Control, Shift, Alt and Esc functions, reducing the time you spend moving your hand to the keyboard.
  • World-Class Ergonomics And Build Quality  The SpaceMouse Pro Wireless has a full size, soft-coated hand rest for maximum comfort. Each of its 15 tactile, fully programmable buttons are perfectly positioned for maximum efficiency. Furthermore, it’s packaged into an expert design built with the highest quality components.

3Dconnexion USB-Hub Right-Iso_Receiver

  • Flexible Connectivity  Either plug the USB receiver directly into your workstation or use the Twin-port USB Hub (included as standard). With a choice of two USB cables, it’s easy to connect and charge SpaceMouse Pro Wireless whatever your desktop setup.
  • The 3Dconnexion Experience – 3DxWare® 10 allows you to customize and optimize your SpaceMouse Pro Wireless for peak performance. Easily tailor settings and buttons to your application and needs. Take advantage of exciting new features. Design, create and navigate in brave new ways.

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless top_02Are you ready to go pro? Click here to find out everything you need to know about SpaceMouse Pro Wireless today.

Pricing and Availability

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless will be available in early July. Check the 3Dconnexion website or local resellers for pricing.

About 3Dconnexion

3Dconnexion’s 3D mice revolutionize the way people interact with 3D applications, providing a more natural and intuitive way to interact with digital 3D content. 3Dconnexion 3D mice provide an intuitive, balanced and cooperative work style that results in increased productivity, improvements in creativity and enhanced comfort.

Supported by today’s most popular and powerful 3D applications, 3Dconnexion’s award-winning 3D mice serve a wide variety of industries and are used by engineers, designers, architects and artists across the globe.

Stay up-to-date with all the latest company and industry news via the 3Dconnexion blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Imagery Courtesy of 3Dconnexion.

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BricsCAD V14 Now Supports 3Dconnexion 3D Mice

BricsCAD-regular-horizontalBricsCAD V14 now supports 3Dconnexion® 3D mice, the premier 3D navigation devices for engineers, architects and 3D professionals. BricsCAD, that offers all the familiar .dwg CAD features and 3D Direct Modeling, now got even more powerful. Users can simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate 2D/3D content while the standard mouse is free to select menu items or parts of the model.

Highlights of BricsCAD’s 3D mouse integration include:

  • Intelligent 3D Navigation — The 3D mouse automatically follows the point of interest to continuously determine the optimal center of rotation. When combined with 3Dconnexion’s patented 6-degrees-of-freedom navigation, users benefit from the most natural 3D navigation experience ever.
  • Multiple 3D Navigation Modes — Including Object, Helicopter, Camera and Target Camera modes, enabling the user to customize the 3D mouse experience to their workflow.
  • 2D Navigation Mode — 3Dconnexion 3D mice also deliver value in BricsCAD’s 2D modes by allowing users to simultaneously pan and zoom the worksheet.

“We are excited to introduce 3Dconnexion 3D mouse support in BricsCAD V14,” says Erik De Keyser, CEO of Bricsys. “We have delivered a rich 3D mouse integration, that provides smooth and intuitive navigation across 2D and 3D workflows, complementing our goal to enable modeling and designing at unmatched speed.”

BricsCAD V14 supports the entire line of 3Dconnexion 3D mice, including the new 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Wireless, the world’s first wireless 3D mouse.

Says Erik De Keyser: “3Dconnexion devices give users the ability to navigate their 3D world with more precision, speed and efficiency—improving designs and the design experience as a whole. We’re excited to now bring that functionality to BricsCAD V14.”

About 3Dconnexion

3Dconnexion’s 3D mice revolutionize the way people interact with 3D applications, providing a more natural and intuitive way to interact with digital 3D content. 3Dconnexion 3D mice provide an intuitive, balanced and cooperative work style that results in increased productivity, improvements in creativity and enhanced comfort.

Supported by today’s most popular and powerful 3D applications, 3Dconnexion’s award-winning 3D mice serve a wide variety of industries and are used by engineers, designers, architects and artists across the globe. 3Dconnexion’s European headquarters are in Munich, Germany with offices worldwide. Stay up-to-date with all the latest company and industry news via the 3Dconnexion blog, Facebook and Twitter.

About Bricsys

Bricsys® is a global provider of dwg engineering design software brought to market under the BricsCAD® brand. With relentless commitment to the success of the BricsCAD community, Bricsys is focused on providing an industrial strength CAD software platform and industry leading support at a compelling price to customers in the AEC, GIS, civil engineering, process and power, and mechanical CAD markets. Founded in 2002, Bricsys is a founding member of the Open Design Alliance.

For more information visit www.bricsys.com.

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Working around varying hard drive letters for Autodesk Inventor

William Warby - Hard Drive

In my new job working for an Autodesk Reseller, it’s quickly become apparent what a pain in the backside enforcing single project files is in larger design offices. Single Project files, in most cases are a must when you have Autodesk Vault deployed within the company, but there is also a decent argument for employing the same approach with Autodesk Inventor. The main problem with enforcing this policy within these larger design offices, is the range in specification of the workstations, specifically varying hard drive letters.

Everyone has had a hand me down PC at some point in their career, it was probably at least 3 years old by the time you had it, right? Well as time marches on, those PC’s inevitably require some form of upgrade, RAM, GPU or Hard Drive. It seems there are a number of PC’s out there which have needed larger secondary hard drives installed, I’m not entirely sure why they are necessary when you have network storage, nevertheless this is the reality. The trouble comes in those scenarios because the CAD data is often stored on these secondary hard drives…. which means the drive letter the CAD data is store on varies from PC to PC within the office. Pre-Inventor 2013 you could rely on the relative paths in the Inventor Project File sorting themselves out as you moved it between hard drives, the drive letter just didn’t matter. It has always mattered with Vault when it comes to enforcing the Working Folder, which from a CAD Management perspective is highly desirable. Along comes Inventor 2013 with it’s shiny new Materials and Appearance libraries… If you need to modify any of the stock Materials or Appearances, then Autodesk recommends you create a custom library, rather than editing the default Inventor one. The trouble is, these Material and Appearance library files don’t follow the same relative path rule, they are full paths…. which means their path includes the drive letter. Arghh!

There is a fairly easy workaround though, hopefully Autodesk tidy this problem up someday. In the meantime check out my video below to see how combining a local share and mapping a network drive will save your bacon.

Image Credit: William Warby

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Lenovo 30 inch Professional Monitor Review

I was offered the opportunity to take some quality time with the 30” Lenovo ThinkVision LT3053p WQXGA IPS LED backlit LCD professional flat panel monitor. I’d never had the opportunity to use a display that large, so I was excited to say the least.

Lenovo LT3053pwA Flatpanel Monitor

I thought I’d offer some perspective here. My day-to-day Dell 23 inch monitor (right) is a nice large display, but it is dwarfed by the Lenovo 30 inch ThinkVision monitor (left). You really need to see it to believe it.

A very large box showed up in the office. I tried to get a good picture of all of it, the there was no decent way to capture that in a single image. There is a lot of stuff for a monitor. What was in there?

Lenovo 30 inch Monitor Box Contents

  • Monitor
  • Stand
  • 2 USB cables
  • DVI, HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort cables
  • Hood / Shade
  • Cover
  • Instruction and calibration sheet
  • And a lot of Styrofoam

Specifications

USB Hub (5 ports: 1 x USB3.0 w/ Battery Charge 1.2, 2 x USB3.0, 2 x USB2.0)

VGA, Dual-Link DVI-D, HDMI1.4, DP1.2, MHL connections

USB Keyboard and Mouse Switch

ThinkVision PIP Anywhere Solution (software)

DaisyChain support

Detachable tool-less full ergo stand (Lift, Tilt, Pivot, Swivel)

Bundled Professional Hood

Max. Resoution 2560×1600

Brightness 350 cd/m2

Max Colors Built in Screen 1.07 billion

Contrast Ratio 1000:1

Display Type Backlit LED

Dot Pitch 0.251mm

Height 471.05mm (18.55 in.)

Width 690 mm (27.17 in.)

Depth 62mm (2.44 in.)

Weight 11.5 Kg (25.35 lb.)

Power Consumption + Units 88 W

Height Adjustment Metric 110mm (4.33 in.)

Monitor Technology AH-IPS

Viewable Image Height 400.8mm (15.78 in.)

Viewable Image Width 641.28mm (25.25 in.)

Stand Lift Tilt Swivel Pivot

Swivel +/-45 degrees

Tilt -5~30 degrees

Vertical Viewing Angle 178 degrees

MSRP: $1599 USD (Amazon.com)

The Lenovo ThinkVision 30 Inch Monitor

I enjoyed using the monitor. It’s BIG, clear, and of good quality. With the exception of a small technical issue that slowed us down a bit (discussed later in the section), there was nothing bad to say about the unit.

I started the review at a resolution of 1920×1080 because the NVIDIA Quadro professional workstation graphics chipset on one of the workstations used to test the monitor could not support its full resolution. Fortunately, we got past the technical holdbacks and were able to complete the review properly.

Appearance

The ThinkVision flat panel is black and attractive, with little frills or wasted space on curvature or fairings in the name of ‘frilly appearance’. I have always liked the Lenovo look, and this monitor is consistent with those lines. The frame is about 1” wide, not too bad considering the size of the unit. The thickness is stated to be 2.44 in., however the frame and display portion is only about 1 in. thick (remainder is taken up by electronics on the center rear section along with the stand mounting section). Controls were on the front side of the frame, at the lower right hand corner as expected.

Lenovo LT3053pwA Monitor buttons

The stand snaps firmly into small recess in the rear of the unit and requires no tools to install or remove. The stand / monitor recess and mount design takes less room than others that I have seen and is well thought out. This makes the rear of the unit simple and attractive as well.

There was nothing in or about the monitor that suggested a lack of workmanship. The unit was attractive and easily installed. The stand was sturdy, but adjusting the stand was a bit awkward. Let’s face it, that monitor is big, and will require more than a single hand to elevate. The exterior of the stand was plastic, and the tilt and rotate resistance was limited by friction joints. However, the stand held the unit properly, and I never experienced any fault with the stand. Once adjusted, the unit held its position well, and resisted vibration from the work area.

Ports, Connections, and Cool Features

It took me a bit of time to get a grip on all the connections that the unit comes with. Along the bottom of the unit is an array of USB / HDMI / VGA / MHL / DVI / DP ports.

Lenovo LT3053pwA Bottom view

The ThinkVision 30 in. monitor allows video inputs from DVI, HDMI, and MHL (Mobile High Definition Link) connectors. MHL allows displays from mobile devices to be viewed on the monitor while the mobile device is simultaneously charging. I didn’t try it but it sounds cool, especially if that functionality will work with PIP.

The monitor also provides a hardware switch that allows users to easily swap between multiple workstations, and keep a single display / mouse / keyboard without purchasing additional switching hardware. A USB cable is supplied to bridge the monitor and the workstations. Once connected, users simply have connect both displays and their keyboard /mouse setup. When it is time, the displays and controls between the workstations are swapped by the push of a button.

Lenovo LT3053pwA side view and connection panel

Lenovo has thoughtfully added an output panel so that audio and auxiliary USB connectivity is maintained with whichever workstation is in focus. (That yellow USB port is powered for charging).

PIP (Picture in Picture) anywhere support is available with a software install (provided). This allows users to select which display input channel they want to display in a PIP inset. This way they don’t miss the game while working. Audio from that source can be piped through the monitor’s output audio connection too.

The unit comes with a hood that helps keep direct light from room lighting off the display for better viewing and calibration.

Using the Monitor

I used the monitors for everything from CAD, Image editing, and landscape for numerous simultaneous support applications such as having my single bar Twitter client, Outlook, and Chrome up simultaneously when using CAD applications on the other monitor.

Initially I had dreams of mounting this beauty to the wall and putting all my communications and SharePoint panels up at once for quick viewing. Fortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity, and it would really be a shame to waste the beautiful color capabilities on communications software.

View Angles

The display remained bright and clear from viewing angles up to about 45°. Beyond that angle, the display was still completely legible, but generally darker, consistent with back-lit LCD.

Document Reviewing

It is by far the best PDF display I have ever encountered, and would rather have these documents up on the Lenovo Monitor than having them printed out. I can get an entire 18”x24” on the screen, and read it quite vividly without zooming. This makes reviewing construction plans and component details a pleasure. Having this display adjacent with my CAD monitor made it much easier to gather information from print documents, as looking at them no longer required me to look down at the table constantly; instead a mere glace to the left helped me maintain focus on what I was doing.

Color and Intensity

The Lenovo flat panel monitor supports optional color calibrations and has wonderfully rich display colors and nice brightness that my other monitors lack. Whenever I needed to do anything that was color intensive, I simply slid the application over to the lenovo display (plus the contrasting result packs a lot of punch, seeing the colors come alive when swapping from the lesser display to the Lenovo).

Kanazawa Japan shown on Lenovo Flatpanel monitor

The image above is from my home away from home in Kanazawa Japan. This is the closest I have ever seen the beautiful scene since I left. Thanks Lenovo for bringing this to life again (how I got this shot of the monitor in action to come out ok I will never know).

Color Calibration

This ThinkVision LT3053p display came with a calibration report from the factory. I visited a couple color calibration web sites and reviewed the unit performance using their tools. I understood that this method was not ideal, however purchasing color calibration hardware was not on my to-do list.

The unit performed as advertised and I was successfully able to distinguish between colors down to the 2-3% margin. I tried to capture the results in an image, but found it nearly impossible to reproduce the color shading accurately without hiring a professional photographer.

For fun I tried the color calibration evaluation on the lesser monitor I am using, and thought the colors were moderately acceptable, until I slid the web page over to the Lenovo display. To my surprise I found color bands being displayed on the calibration chart that I didn’t even know were there. I’m really going to miss this unit.

Design work

At first, CAD at a resolution of 1920×1080 was nice and bright, but not the full MSRP worth of wonder. Upon getting the resolution up to where it needed to be on a digital signal, I was impressed. The colors really popped, and especially so on a black background typical of AutoCAD. The lines were quite crisp, and I was even able to finally distinguish all of those useless colors in the outer bands of the AutoCAD 255 color spectrum; and yes I mean all of them. Another example was working through some problems with an overlap of lines and interpreted intersections; the operation was necessary to revisit. The crispness and definition on the ThinkVision monitor made the operation easier, and required much less strain on the eyes.

CAD wasn’t the only sweet deal. There was one other arena of design software where the Lenovo paid off well. Validation! The vivid colors, brightness, and clarity were well matched to the color contours of analysis software.

Lenovo LT3053pwA Flatpanel Monitor Software  Lenovo LT3053pwA and CAD Software

I was having trouble getting these images to come out well without bringing my wife and her Nikon in. I hope it will still deliver the great impression it left on me.

The Technical Glitch

I mentioned earlier that there was a minor technical glitch. The HDMI port input was originally thought to cut out intermittently on both machines I tested with; however the analog port was fine at the lesser resolution. Lenovo was happy to swap the monitor out, but I was determined to work through the problem. Rewiring the whole thing with new cables, using the HDMI cable to the lesser monitor, and picking up DVI on the ThinkVision cleaned everything up. (It may well have been a flaky cable).

A note about docking stations: If the analog output channel on certain docking stations is used for either of multiple displays, the max output of the entire array is set to that of the analog signal. I don’t understand all the technical issues related, but losing the analog VGA signal was the final piece of the odd puzzle we were experiencing.

Conclusions

Lenovo’s ThinkVision 30” backlit LED monitor is truly a professional unit. It is well made, bright, and vivid. I doubt that I will be satisfied with lesser displays in the future.

I have always said that “I would never go paperless” as viewing documents on a display was frustrating and useless. This unit however changed my mind, and after a short period with the ThinkVision monitor, I only print paper plans for the benefit of others.

This is a pricey tool? Sure. However one thing I learned was that we only buy good quality tools. If a well-lit display full of powerful, accurate colors is part of your job, then this tool will likely be a great investment for you. I don’t think that professional artists or anyone needing the landscape will disappointed in with Lenovo’s 30” professional monitor, even at the MSRP.

Disclosure: D&M tested this monitor at the request of Lenovo, without fee or benefit. The monitor will be returned to that company.

My time with 3Dconnexion’s SpaceMouse Wireless

Old 3Dconnexion Navigator Vs New 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Wireless

Back in October 2013, 3Dconnexion announced the release of the world’s first wireless 3D mouse, utilising 2.4Ghz technology in combination for the first time with their patented 6DoF sensor. I’ve had the privilege of using one since late September, so this review is long overdue. A number of things got in the way of writing this up, initially 3Dconnexion‘s Release 10 of their 3DxWare software & driver was buggy. I wanted this review to cover some of the excellent changes in that driver, so I felt it was only right I waited until it had a fighting chance. In 3Dconnexion’s defense they fixed those bugs by Christmas, by which time I was swamped. Last week they released a new version of the driver in readiness for the 2015 release of Autodesk products, interestingly it contains some lovely additions.

Hardware

The 3Dconnexion recipe is a successful & well respected one, their hardware is rock solid & performs flawlessly. I owned the SpaceMouses’ predecessor the Space Navigator for 5 years & it never missed a beat, not even once. Bearing this in mind it’s clear they didn’t want to change too much here, while being extremely keen to change things up. The key was to change just the right amount. So have they?

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Wireless - Low Isometric

They’ve retained the base quality & functionality of the Navigator, but modernised the look & feel of the device. It now somehow feels as if its build quality has surpassed the Navigator as well as having a far more ergonomic product. The 2 buttons are larger, with a more comfortable contact point for your thumb and ring finger. I think that contact surface helps to improve the feel of the click, it’s smoother while being more positive, over time it just makes the device more enjoyable to use than its predecessor. 

You don’t realise how much of an inconvenience the old cable was until it’s gone. Once you have used a 3D mouse it’s extremely hard to do without it, so there was always a degree of comfort in the knowledge the device was wired. Wireless peripherals of years past, have been notoriously battery hungry and there simply isn’t anything worse than sitting down for a day of mouse jockeying to find the darn thing is flat (dead). So, have 3Dconnexion got the wireless setup sorted for this 3D productivity puck? YES! I nearly always forget to turn it off, admittedly I’m not using it 8 hours a day in my new job, but I am probably using it ~10 hours a week. I’ve charged it twice since September. I’m also secure in the knowledge that if the battery does die, unlike some hardware companies, 3Dconnexion weren’t d*cks about connectivity. They used a standard USB mini port, so you could always nick one from a nearby electronics device when you find yourself in a bind.

Beyond these points, the SpaceMouse Wireless still navigates around 3D space in much the same way as its predecessor. 3Dconnexion devices are a balance of highly functional hardware and intuitive productive software. So let’s see how that performs.

Software

3Dconnexion 3DxWare Config

With the release of the SpaceMouse Wireless, 3Dconnexion released 3DxWare 10. It brought with it a brand new architecture. They rebuilt the application and drivers from the ground up, so they could start from a fresh foundation. The Inventor add-in reflects this, gone is the configuration dialogue of old. You now have to configure everything via the 3DxWare dialogue running in Windows. At first glance it appears the contextual options have been removed, but digging deeper you realise they have created an even more powerful setup. You can now choose to assign up to four contextual commands to each button, which you can then click or configure it in a more traditional single contextual command manner.3DxWare Radial Menu config

With an Inventor Assembly document active, swing over to the 3DxWare dialogue, click on buttons, then you are able to assign one of the preconfigured radial menu’s to either or both of the buttons.

3DxWare Assembly Radial Menu

Here is a more detailed walkthrough for customising the SpaceMouse Wireless buttons in a single contextual manner:

1. With a part open launch the 3Dconnexion Properties tool from the taskbar.

2. Make the following changes in the 3DxWare dialogue, make sure you leverage the excellent search tool by typing in ‘2D Sketch’. Once selected click close

3DxWare Config 2D Sketch

3. Create a 2D Sketch in the part and the 3DxWare Buttons menu will now show Inventor – Sketch

4. Make the following changes using the same method as previously. This time customise both buttons. Notice I have ‘Finish 2D Sketch’ on the same button as ‘2D Sketch’ in the Part environment:

3DxWare Config General Dimension

5. Now you can quickly create 3 driven dimensions to drive the overall size of your component in all 3-axis for your Parts List & BOM. Bish, Bash, Bosh!

At first the setup of the driver seems weird, but it all makes sense once you poke around a bit. Autodesk’s command naming still doesn’t help matters when it comes to finding commands to assign to buttons. The Measure command for example, lists half a dozen results all called Measure, why it doesn’t say Measure Distance, Measure Angle etc.. is beyond me. Fortunately a bit of trial & error sorts it out.

I would use the Radial Menu’s extensively if 3Dconnexion enabled support for selecting the commands in the radial quadrants by moving the 6DoF puck in the appropriate direction. Having to move the mouse to click seems like an inefficient way to do it, I’d like to be able to do it exclusively from the SpaceMouse, rather than having to include the traditional mouse as well.

Summary

It Rocks! What are you waiting for? Go buy one.

disclaimer: 3Dconnexion provided Design & Motion with a sample of the SpaceMouse Wireless for the purpose of testing & providing product feedback to their team. I offered to write this review of their product & in no way have they imposed any restrictions on this article.

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