3DConnexion kindly sent me a CadMouse Pro Wireless to test and blog about, and I can safely say that, yes, it IS the ultimate wireless mouse for CAD professionals as 3DConnexion state on their website. Over decades of CAD use, I have used several brands of mice, and the CadMouse Pro Wireless is my new paradigm, my new standard for all other mice to live up to.
Overall First Impressions
The CadMouse Pro Wireless is a full-size mouse, and it looks big. Sometimes, you’ll buy a mouse on looks and button function. You’ll take it home, and after a few months of sustained CAD use, you think that it just seems too small. This is common with the mice you see specifically marketed ‘for notebooks’ that are designed for use by hobbits, and other small creatures from Middle Earth. Not so with the CadMouse Pro Wireless. Yes, it IS big, but it’s a large full-size mouse that’s fits really well in the hand, cradling the palm beautifully and allowing the thumb to reside nicely in the thumb rest on the side. It is a lovely piece of ergonomic design that has not given me that awful wrist ache/RSI that a lot of other smaller proprietary mice have in the past, making it great for those longer CAD sessions that we have to endure. I have to drive AutoCAD and Revit every day as I create video content for LinkedIn Learning, and it is a smooth operator. I have yet to feel any muscle or tendon pain whilst using it, and it is very comfortable in the hand for daily CAD use.
I love what 3DConnexion have done with the mouse buttons. You now have THREE mouse buttons, plus your mouse wheel, making a total of FOUR buttons you can use. This may look slightly weird initially at first glance, but, wow, it is incredibly useful.
This new middle mouse button is designed specifically for CAD users. It’s great for CAD application functions, and it can reduce that need for a forceful scroll wheel click, using (according to the 3dConnexion website) almost 60g less force. So, not only does it cut down on forceful clicks, but it also cuts down on that ‘dead finger’ syndrome many professional CAD users can get.
The three main mouse buttons have a concave design, allowing the fingertips to sit nicely on the buttons, positioning them as a natural extension of the hand when using the mouse. It gives a nice natural, organic feel to the mouse, especially when working in AutoCAD. The thumb rest I mentioned is also perfectly positioned to allow you to use the two side buttons, which is great, as they provide you with a zoom in and zoom out function when in AutoCAD too.
Scroll & Zoom Navigation
I used AutoCAD 2020 as my testbed for the CadMouse Pro Wireless, purely because I tend to zoom a lot when working on my DWG files.
AutoCAD 2020 needs a precision mouse for zooming in and out of 2D and 3D environments and a slick mouse wheel/button to scroll through long documents. The mouse wheel is also used to Zoom Extents with many double-clicks on the wheel during a regular workday. It did not disappoint. The mouse wheel is incredibly smooth for rolling up and down, and very responsive for clicking. In fact, I think, the Smart Scroll Wheel 2 on this mouse is the best I have used in over thirty years of AutoCAD use. The smoothness is exceptional.
As with all 3DConnexion products, you need to install the 3DxWare 10 Software. This then gives you the subtle QuickZoom buttons on the side of the mouse, operated by your thumb from the thumb rest. I loved this feature. Simply position the AutoCAD crosshair/cursor anywhere in a drawing and you could zoom in and out effortlessly with one thumb click. A lovely touch and the buttons are remarkably sensitive.
Another superb feature is the Radial Menu. With the 3DxWare 10 software installed, you can click on the Gesture Button located behind the Smart Scroll Wheel 2. Depending on what application you are using, you get a contextual on-screen menu with a simple mouse gesture, thus saving on mouse clicks, and making the user more productive.
The Radial Menu is contextual, so what you see in the image above is for AutoCAD. If you were in Revit or Inventor, it would have a different display, in context with the application being used. This is a feature I really enjoyed, as it is CAD-specific, and you simply don’t get this kind of interface with other proprietary mice.
As CAD users, we rack up the clicks. Like a long-distance lorry driver racks up miles that take their toll on their truck, our clicks take their toll on our mouse. On average, a CAD user clicks thousands of times during a standard workday, let alone a busy one. The CadMouse Pro Wireless is designed to handle over 50 million clicks to its main buttons, giving it the required longevity, we have learnt to expect from 3DConnexion products.
The CadMouse Pro Wireless has wear-resistant polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) feet that give incredibly smooth, precision movements. This combined with the 3-year warranty and a built-to-last design indicates to me that 3DConnexion want you to have a mouse that is a workhorse and they will happily make sure you are looked after should there be any issues.
Talking of looking after you, another very nice touch from 3DConnexion is the carry case. I have been through many mice in my CAD career. Putting your mouse in a case protects it from the day-to-day travel at the bottom of a laptop bag, thus making sure it still performs when you need it. It also keeps it clean and free from dust and dirt during travel and gives you a good place to store the USB wireless connector. Tailored and tested in the 3DConnexion labs, little touches like this are what 3DConnexion are good at.
Precision & Performance
The CadMouse Pro Wireless has a 7200 DPI optical sensor, and a 1000 Hz adaptive poll rate, making for a very sensitive mouse, perfect for the precision a CAD user needs. Combined with the PTFE feet, the control and sensitivity of the mouse is second to none, making the mouse an organic extension of the user. I found its use effortless in AutoCAD 2020.
The rechargeable lithium polymer battery in the mouse charges quickly, and based on eight hours of use a day, five days a week, it will provide the user with up to three months of use between charges. Charging is easy with the USB cable provided. I am also a great fan of an on/off switch on a rechargeable wireless mouse, and there is one on the underside of the mouse, thus saving valuable charge when not in use.
Many proprietary mice market themselves as wireless. Yes, they are, but they often require a USB universal receiver and have no Bluetooth connectivity, thus taking away a USB port on your computer or notebook. Logitech are a prime culprit. I travel a lot, and use a MacBook Pro 2018 model, with four USB C ports, so a USB universal receiver is useless to me. The CadMouse Pro Wireless, however, is truly wireless as it offers Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity (perfect for my MacBook Pro) as one of its three connectivity options. It also offers a USB universal receiver, plus you can run it from the USB cable provided. I love that when using the USB cable option, it also charges the mouse, plus the cable is insulated in tough fabric sheathing, preventing eventual cable insulation breakage that you see on other proprietary mice all too often.
As I mentioned above, a USB universal receiver is not something I would use, purely due to the mobile nature of my work with my MacBook Pro. However, static PC users can really take advantage of it. You can connect to numerous other 3DConnexion devices; the SpaceMouse Enterprise, the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless, the SpaceMouse Wireless, the CadMouse Wireless, plus of course, the CadMouse Pro Wireless. This gives great flexibility and allows 3DConnexion users to work with more than one 3DConnexion product at any given time.
As I mentioned at the start, the CadMouse Pro Wireless is now the new paradigm that I will be using as a benchmark against any other mice I come across for CAD use. I have a feeling that no other mouse will match up to it. It is a great investment if you are a CAD user, not just for its precision, build and materials either. Its ergonomic design gives you the peace of mind you need, knowing that it won’t give you that muscle/tendon/RSI ache you often get when using CAD during everyday work too. It’s not a cheap mouse, but it’s not an expensive one either, if you are serious about your CAD work.
Written by CAD FM Consultants cadfmconsult.co.uk