I can’t say that it’s been the first thing I go to when opening Civil 3D, and I kind of wish I did though. Using the Space Explorer tends to reinforce the fact most work in Civil 3D is done in 2D. The video card demands that Civil 3D puts on a system doesn’t make exploring large models in a fluid 3D model space convenient. Waiting for the program to crash at one wrong move can be a bit disturbing. Since the 3D mouse doesn’t work in Object Viewer, it doesn’t make it easy to isolate an object to reduce the processing loads. The exterior buttons on the Space Explorer help reduce the need of having you left hand firmly planted on the keyboard. There are buttons for ESC, CTRL, ALT and SHIFT to the left of the 3D mouse. The buttons are customizable so you may change them to other commands. The two buttons to the bottom are Panel, which brings up the control panel for the mouse and the Fit which is zoom extents.
To the right of the 3D mouse are buttons for views Top, Left, Right, Front and 2D. I can see where these would really be handy for modeling work, but I don’t find them useful when using Civil 3D. Once again these buttons can be changed to other commands.
At the top of the mouse there are additional buttons. The 1 and 2 default to nothing in Civil 3D, but once again they are customizable to Civil 3D Commands. The – and + are to increase or decrease the zoom factor or you can set your own commands.
The real strengths of the 3D Mouse are strongly realized when utilizing it in other programs. Flying around in Google Earth makes seem more like playing a video game while searching for the new project site. The photo explorer that comes with the device zooms in on pictures quickly without delay that some of the Microsoft picture viewers have.
So how much does it cost? It costs $299 and 3DConnexion is nice enough to provide a payback calculator to help you convince your boss to get it for you.