3Dconnexion cuts the cord for its latest 3D input device for CAD & BIM software. By Al Dean.
When we heard that 3Dconnexion was to release a new 3D input device we did wonder how it could improve on what is already a slick family of products.The company has pretty much nailed the design of its 3D mice which, when used in conjunction with a standard computer mouse, provide exact control over 3D CAD models — simply push, pull, twist or tilt the 3Dconnexion controller cap to pan, zoom and rotate your model while the 2D mouse is held in the other hand to work directly with the CAD geometry on screen.
The SpaceMouse Wireless is a new addition to the entry-level end of the product range and does exactly what the name implies. With the help of a small 2.4GHz micro receiver that pops into a spare USB port it does away with the untidy cable that trails from your workstation.
The device is powered by a Lithium-Ion battery that charges in around two hours via a micro-USB cable. It should give you a month of use between charges, based on 8 hours use per day, 5 days per week.
A warning light shows up red when it’s running low, but if that happens in the middle of the day, the device will also work with the cable plugged in.
There’s more to the SpaceMouse Wireless than just cutting the cord. The subtle form of the SpaceMouse has been updated giving it a more squared off profile. This cures one of the problems with the existing products — that it’s easy to get orientation wrong and send your model skidding off the screen.
There has also been some redesign work on the two fully customisable buttons that sit on either side of the device, in that they are now much larger and more accessible.
When pressed, each opens its own on-screen radial menu, providing convenient mouse-click access to four application commands. The good news is that if you’ve already got a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse, you’ll get this feature for free simply through a driver update.
The latest driver also helps ensure the products are compatible with the latest and greatest versions of a big range of CAD tools (Rhinoceros, Autodesk Revit, Autodesk AutoCAD, Trimble SketchUp, Graphisoft ArchiCAD, Nemetschek Allplan and VectorWorks).
In terms of build quality, it’s the same as the other products in the family — these things are built like tanks and German ones at that.
The addition of the battery and the base redesign makes it more intuitive and stable on your desk. The larger buttons make it more usable and the radial menus are excellent. They may be a simple addition, but they give you quick access to a larger number of commonly used operations.
All in all, considering this device will only set you back £109, if you don’t own one of the family, the SpaceMouse Wireless is well worth a closer look.