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3DConnexion – The CadMouse Pro Wireless

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.

Ergonomics

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.

Durability

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.

Triple Connectivity

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.

Cost

In the UK, the CadMouse Pro Wireless ships for free at £99.00 plus VAT. This package includes the CadMouse Pro Wireless, Carry Case, Universal Receiver and a 1.5m USB Cable.

Conclusion

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.

The CadMouse Pro Wireless. The precision ergonomic mouse for CAD professionals, in my humble opinion. You can find it at www.3dconnexion.com.

SCB

DISCLAIMER:

I was provided with a CadMouse Pro Wireless by 3DConnexion, free of charge, as a Not for Resale (NFR) unit, on the premise that I would test the device and publish a blog with my findings.

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AutoCAD 2019 – There can be only ONE….

For those of you old enough to remember the movie Highlander, when the Quickening starts there can be only one. Apart from the stunning Queen soundtrack, it was a great movie, and Connor MacLeod (actor Christopher Lambert) of the clan MacLeod was THE one, combined with incredible support from famous co-star Sean Connery as Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, who (unfortunately) does lose his head.

As they say in the movie (and the Queen song), it’s a kind of magic……

(For those of you that like a bit of Freddie and the band Queen, here’s the link to the album, A Kind Of Magic – CLICK HERE).

So, here we go, why ONE AutoCAD?

ONE AutoCAD

In the world of the new version of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2019, we have only ONE too. When you subscribe to AutoCAD 2019, you get ONE subscription, but the many faces of AutoCAD; Architecture, Electrical, Mechanical, MEP, and various other flavors. This not only gives you a specialized AutoCAD by allowing you to work in various disciplines and verticals, but also gives you various workflow improvements too. However, Civil 3D has been omitted from the ONE AutoCAD intentionally, and I am sure Autodesk have their reasons for that.

Design Toolsets

When you log in to your account portal, you will see that it has changed and the view of your subscribed AutoCAD you get now is one (pardon the pun) of many, listing all the products under your main AutoCAD subscription. You will also find that the view of AutoCAD in your Autodesk Desktop App has changed as well.

What’s nice here is that you can select all the AutoCADs to be trialed or you can select individual flavors of AutoCAD to be trialed. This is especially advantageous if you are already a vanilla AutoCAD user and want to test a specific flavor of AutoCAD to see if it fulfills your needs and requirements. For those of you that just want all the flavors, but for one price, it is a great move by Autodesk also.

On your desktop, each flavour of AutoCAD will still have its own individual icon (just to clutter your desktop, I guess…an untidy desktop is a sign of a great mind, right?), plus, there will be no change to the DWG Launcher. You know, that little gizmo in Windows that allows you to open all DWG files using AutoCAD as the preferred application to do so.

Web and Mobile

There have been some great improvements in AutoCAD 2019. One of these is the ability to save your desktop AutoCAD designs directly to AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile. If you go to the Quick Access Toolbar (top left of the desktop AutoCAD application window), you will see the new icons there that not only provide you with the facility to save to web and mobile but also go directly to those saved cloud-based designs and open them directly in the AutoCAD desktop again as well. This is also available in the AutoCAD application menu. These cloud-based files go to A360 Drive in the usual way.

Save to Web and Mobile

So, what’s new with AutoCAD Web and Mobile then? Well, AutoCAD Web is much enhanced to give a highly sophisticated browser-based AutoCAD interface, that is quicker and faster. I won’t bore you with the techie stuff, but suffice to say, you will be using the equivalent AutoCAD executable (EXE) in your browser, the same as you would be on your desktop. This makes for a much-needed boost to what was (sometimes) quite a jerky, laggy web-based application in the past.

You will find AutoCAD Web at web.autocad.com and if you are using the subscription version (it comes with full AutoCAD), you get a great new command panel incorporating some of the more familiar AutoCAD drafting icons, that even have a preview, just like desktop AutoCAD.

AutoCAD Web

What’s also new is the referencing capability of AutoCAD Web. You can add reference drawings (XREFs) at your leisure, and if they are saved in the cloud in the same location as the host drawing, using the save to web and mobile options in your desktop AutoCAD, they will operate in the same way as relative XREFs that you might use locally.

Something I love (yes, love, not just like) is that you now have the native AutoCAD window and crossing selection tools in AutoCAD Web. They work in the same way as your desktop AutoCAD and provide a rounder user experience. We have grown used to these methods of selection, and it is great to see Autodesk taking the desktop user experience tools in to the web-based version. It is by no way perfect yet, but I can see AutoCAD Web getting to a point where your AutoCAD desktop will become fully mobile. The hardware is there now; such as the Apple iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface Pro, that have the grunt under the hood to run AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile well.

What makes AutoCAD Web even more like desktop AutoCAD is that there are even some keyboard shortcuts included as well. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a keyboard shortcut or two? Trust me, as a seasoned AutoCAD user (thirty years this year), I am a big fan of keyboard shortcuts!

Overall, though, I have to say that I am mightily impressed with the new AutoCAD Web. It has been well thought out and gives you a great browser-based AutoCAD experience that relates back to your desktop AutoCAD this time. And with regular updates promised by Autodesk, I can see AutoCAD Web developing at a quick pace to bring you a much slicker experience with AutoCAD Web on the web. Did I say ‘web’ enough there for you?

New Features and Enhancements

Back to the desktop AutoCAD now. Autodesk have added a couple of new features to AutoCAD 2019.

On the new Collaborate tab in the AutoCAD ribbon, you will find the DWG Compare command. This new feature is, quite simply, excellent. I wish I’d had it years ago. You can now compare two separate DWG files and AutoCAD creates a new comparison DWG file, highlighting any differences between the two compared drawings, using colors and revision clouds, providing tools to iterate between each difference and zoom in to each difference automatically.

DWG Compare

Another great new feature on the Collaborate tab is Shared Views. You can upload your designs directly to the web in to the Autodesk Viewer, a cloud-based viewer. You can invite other collaborators to view your design by way of a private URL that can be emailed to the respective team members. Also, in the Autodesk Viewer, there is a Comment feed that allows all invited users to comment on the shared design and link their comments to the design as well.

Shared Views

You may also notice that there are enhanced icons in AutoCAD 2019 that look different too. To bring AutoCAD 2019 in line with the 4K monitors out there, over 5000 icons have been revamped and redesigned in the ribbon, status bar and application menu. They provide a slick, professional look to AutoCAD that looks modern and clean. The cartoony icons now have a tidier, minimalist look that I have to say I prefer.

Enhanced Icons

Conclusions

Autodesk are taking AutoCAD to a new level with this release. Not only are you getting numerous flavors of AutoCAD as one subscription package, but you’re also getting a great web-based offering too, along with some cool new features and enhancements in the desktop application, with cool command icons. And don’t forget, you STILL get seamless DWG compatibility with AutoCAD for Mac too.

Overall, a nice AutoCAD offering from Autodesk, and I love the new AutoCAD Web, but I would still like to see more new features and enhancements in the desktop AutoCAD, especially on the new Collaborate tab. Collaboration is becoming more and more prevalent in this age of email, webmail and the cloud, and I hope to see Autodesk take advantage of that movement to make AutoCAD even more mobile in the future.

Happy AutoCAD’ing!

SCB.

PS – As some of you may know, I provide online AutoCAD learning content over at LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com. You’ll find all the new AutoCAD 2019 Essential Training material below: –

LinkedIn Learning – CLICK HERE 

Lynda.com – CLICK HERE