With a lot of videos of 3D Design, I thought I would review the SpaceNavigator Standard Edition by 3D Connexion
The SpaceNavigator is a 3D Mouse, this allows you to easily navigate around 3D Design programs, and also video games. Some popular programs it works with are SolidWorks, AutoDesk, SketchUp, Cinema 4D, and Photoshop. There are many more, to see a full list you can go to their website www.3dconnexion.com
I would like to start off with the design of the SpaceNavigator. It has a small, very sturdy design. It has a 3D Nob that is made from a smooth plastic, and is curved so holding it is very natural and comfortable. Every 90 degrees around the 3d navigator are grips, similar to what you find on the “F and J” keys on your keyboard. These let you know if you are holding the mouse the correct direction when focused on the drawing. On either side of the knob, there is a button on the mouse. These buttons can be programmed to preform different tasks, such as switching camera views, opening a calculator, or deleting. The software even lets you create your own shortcuts for these buttons. The buttons feel a little loose and they slide back and forth. Also when clicking the buttons, it doesn’t really “click” like a mouse clicks. It feels cheap, but any area of the button you click, it will get picked up, and preform the task required.
The weight of the mouse is nice and heavy, so it doesn’t move when you are navigating your design. But it isn’t so heavy that taking it with you in a laptop bag won’t be annoying. They do make a special SpaceNavigator for laptops though. The exact weight of this device is 1.06 lbs, or 479g. To further prevent the mouse from sliding, they added a ring of rubber on the bottom of the mouse. This worked very well the first few days until dust collected on it, and then it started to slide. Cleaning the dust off isn’t that difficult, but you will have to do it every few days.
The appearance of the mouse is very appealing. It is very sleek, and fits in nicely with other computer peripherals. It also has some blue LED’s around the 3D Knob, which can be disabled through the software if you don’t like them. Personally, I like the lights; it allows me to easily find the mouse when working at night, or to remind me if I have the mouse plugged in or not.
The SpaceNavigator uses a wired USB Connection. The cord is 5feet 8 inches, which is around the same length as most normal mice for computers. This allows you to position your navigator exactly where you need it. The preferred location is to the left of your keyboard, or the right if you are left handed. This allows you to use both your mouse and navigator at the same time, and have access to your keyboard when you need to enter dimensions.
The software you use with the program is very simple, and even has a trainer in it. You can adjust the sensitivity and speed for each direction on the mouse, and reverse axis if required for any direction, or all directions on the mouse. Furthermore, you can modify the buttons functions in the software, and you are not limited on the shortcuts since you can create your own. With the newer development software, it is possible to make your SpaceNavigator preform as a 2D mouse even, and have it work with various other controls, such as media players. But I am still using the stable release since I don’t require those extra features as of yet.
We talked about everything except the use of the mouse, and that’s the most important part. I have to say, this mouse integrates so easily into programs, and increases production, and enjoyment while working in 3d programs. You can simply fly around your work, and view any angle you need without messing around with crazy key bindings and mouse buttons. The movement feels natural, and clean. There isn’t any jumping, or skipping when preforming movements, even when moving in multiple directions at once. The camera moves where you tell it to. The buttons on the mouse are just an extra, and I like to use them for delete, and switch camera views. To get to a state where you can easily use the SpaceNavigator will take a few hours. I got use to it fairly quick. The trainer that comes with the program really helped with learning how to use the mouse. I would say after a day of using the mouse, you will be a pro at it.
Overall, I would recommend this mouse to people who love doing 3D Design. It is so smooth and easy to navigate around sketches and designs. I have noticed a huge improvement in the duration it takes to draw sketches, and the ease to rotate to an exact point to view it. Also, it is much more enjoyable to feel like you are holding the product you are designing; it feels like you are bringing it to life.
If you would like to get this mouse, it costs about $100 US Dollars or $75.00 if you are a student.