My main input device for the past couple of years has been a graphics
tablet. I originally decided to try it out because I was doing a lot of
intricate graphics work, and found the pen to be much easier and faster to
use than my old trackball for this. But one thing I didn't know when I
it was how much I'd come to appreciate the included puck.
The manufacturer refers to it as a "mouse", but it's really a puck. Whereas
a mouse is only capable of sensing relative velocity, a tablet can sense the
absolute position and rotation of a puckit's essentially a graphics pen in
the shape of a mouse. So when you're using a puck, there is a direct 1:1
mapping of points on the tablet to points on the screen. No need to ever
search for the cursorit's always right under your hand. And no matter
how far you travel, you never have to lift up the mouse and move it over to
get all the way there. Any point on the screen is always a single arm
movement away. This might not seem like a big deal on a smaller
monitor, but when you're dealing with larger amounts of screen real estate
(I'm currently sitting in front of a 30" monitor flanked by two 24" monitors,
all connected to the same system), losing your cursor becomes a constant
The only drawback to the puck is that I can't use a different one. It's not
terribleit looks like your basic 5-button mouse with scroll wheel. But it's
not great, either, and the included software for customizing the buttons is
somewhat lacking in functionality. I'd love to use some other kind of
mouse for the form factor, but I'm unwilling to give up the absolute
positioning of my beloved tablet.
So, what to do? Well, the sensor in the puck is a passive device, so it
requires no batteries. If such a sensor could be built into an adhesive
label, you could simply attach that label to the bottom of your favorite
wireless (or even wired) mouse, and voila! Instant puck. The kit would
also include some thin felt for the bottom, for ease of gliding across the
tablet surface. You'd need a special driver for the mouse that would
disable its pointing functionality but allow you to customize the buttons
(luckily, such software already exists).
If I could only use one of those crazy 13-button mice with my graphics
tablet, I think I'd be in nerd heaven.