It was a very exciting day a couple weeks back when my brand new shiny 3Dconnexion CadMouse appeared at my door. This was a try-site-unseen thing for me, as other than on the web, I had not seen, let alone tried a CadMouse in the real-world with AutoCAD or Inventor. So when my wife texted to say I received a parcel I could not get home fast enough to tear it open and take it for a test spin. I will warn you now that the shipping box will be much larger than you expect, why? because mine came with the optional honking (large) mouse pad!
I was initially disappointed that it was corded and not wireless, but I don’t sit on the couch watching TV while working on CAD anyways. With how the cord is braided and with the length of the cord I’ve never once wished for it to be cordless.
Installation was easy. I plugged it into my Windows 7 laptop / workstation and it was instantly recognized as a mouse. A quick trip to the 3Dconnexion website to download the drivers and it was up and running as a full CadMouse.
Now, for the best part of this mouse… its form! I’ve always looked for comfort in the mice I use, but this takes it to a whole new level. 3Dconnexion obviously put a lot of thought and research into the form of this thing as it just seems so natural, as your hand just lays on it so perfectly. You’ll feel this thing once and never want to go back.
The product brochure describes it much better than I can
“Smooth As Silk. Quiet As A Mouse
Helping people to produce better designs, faster and more comfortably is our mission. That’s why we paid acute attention to how materials and geometry affect static and kinetic friction during mouse movement. The 3Dconnexion CadMouse has optimally shaped PTFE feet that create the least static friction and result in near-silent operation.”
The big test for me is always the wheel… does it scroll but easily serve as a pan? Who doesn’t hate it when you go to pan and can never find that magical sweet spot with the wheel. With the CadMouse, the wheel scrolls and pans effortlessly (and quietly) and most of the buttons are easy to find without looking. I have had a challenge with the position of the right-click button, but in talking with Scott (who’s been using his longer) he ensures me it is because I’m using it as a regular 2-button mouse and need to get my third finger up there.
As a comparison here’s a shot of my old mouse vs. the CadMouse… is there any doubt why the CadMouse is superior?
Ok, but how’s it in action?
As I said earlier the form leads to ultra comfort and both the wheel mouse and separate middle-button pan / zoom work effortlessly. I did not like the initial configuration of the additional buttons, so I changed them. Which is a standard feature on all 3Dconnexion devices, product-specific configuration. This means I can have the buttons configured differently for Inventor, AutoCAD, Snagit, MS Word, etc. In fact, the CadMouse is so smart that I had a difficult time capturing screen shots of my Inventor and AutoCAD configuration as it kept switching to the configuration for Snagit!
For Inventor, I left the Wheel as zoom / pan and configured the Middle Button for orbit. By pressing the middle button, it turns on and off 3D Orbit, which I find much more convenient than holding F4 or Shift. The Quick Zooms I changed to be Zoom All and Previous View.
The Gesture feature is an interesting addition as by pushing the button a radial menu appears. I’ve left this “out-of-the-box” for now, mostly as Measure is already in the list.
So other than Undo I now have my most used features all available from the mouse, without the need for keyboard shortcuts, meaning I can keep drinking coffee with the left hand and working with the right… what could be better?
I primarily use AutoCAD for 2D drafting and design so my setup is a bit different than Inventor. I like the wheel button as zoom / pan and have made the middle button the escape key for quickly exiting commands and deselecting objects. I made the Quick Zooms be Fit and Undo. Again I have all my most used features available from the mouse.
I should add that I’m still tinkering with my AutoCAD setup, trying to get the most use of the buttons. The thumb buttons have gone back and forth between Undo/Redo & Fit/Zoom In. The Gesture Radial option, which initially I had to force myself to remember to use, is quickly becoming a favorite. As of right now I’ve switched three of the gesture options and will be running with this configuration for a bit. I really like the flexibility in making these adjustments, as I want to make maximum use of ALL the buttons.
The sticker price might be a bit of a shock, but think about it this way…. what else do you use day-in and day-out working all day (evening) long? The form of this thing is the winner and having 7-easily customizable buttons, readily accessible, just adds to the experience. 3Dconnexion has really thought of everything with this device, even down to designing a seriously smooth and much bigger than average mouse pad.
Featured Image by Hey Paul Studios
Disclaimer: 3Dconnexion provided this mouse and mouse pad free of charge for the purpose of providing product feedback. They have had no influence over this article beyond that interaction.