Zooming around online maps for real: SpaceNavigator

Fly around maps with this custom mouse for online maps services.

Not to be confused with a giant button, the SpaceNavigator is for exploring online maps. CNET Networks

Here at O'Reilly's Where 2.0 conference, one of the few and the proud gadgets on the exhibition floor is 3Dconnexion's SpaceNavigator mouse. Calling it a mouse might be an insult though, it feels more like an airplane steering yolk.

Launched in November, the mouse integrates with big Web maps services like Google Maps and Microsoft's Live Maps. Users can navigate the maps with very little effort, pushing, pulling, and twisting the circular handle. I spent about five minutes with it on the show floor, and walked away from the booth dangerously close to purchasing one.

The mouse works on Mac, Windows, and Linux. 3DConnexion also claims the mouse integrates with 100 other 3D applications, including Adobe's Photoshop CS3.

The SpaceNavigator retails at two price points: $59 and $99. The more expensive version is actually the same piece of hardware, you just get extended support options and commercial licensing.

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