Review: Evoluent VerticalMouse 4

Review: Evoluent VerticalMouse 4
Gizmag tries out Evoluent's VerticalMouse
Gizmag tries out Evoluent's VerticalMouse
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Gizmag tries out Evoluent's VerticalMouse
Gizmag tries out Evoluent's VerticalMouse

While the future of the human–computer interaction is looking more promising by the day, for every Leap Motion or Oculus Rift in the wild, there's still millions of people who rely on a mouse to do their job – a device that by its very nature forces their forearm and wrist into a variety of unnatural positions, inevitably causing varying levels of discomfort and/or pain.

The VerticalMouse is far from a new product, with this being its fourth generation device in over a decade on the market. Despite several brushes with moderate to excruciating RSI in my mousing arm over the years, I've somehow managed to avoid it until this year. A recommendation from my physiotherapist pushed me over the edge about a month ago.

My initial impression was that the mouse was a bit lighter than I would have liked, and ultimately a bit less "premium" than I'd hoped given the US$99.95 price tag – the buttons aren't particularly satisfying to operate, with a bit more clack than clunk.

But these matters seemed utterly trivial after I'd actually plugged it in and used it for a couple of minutes.

If you've ever moved from an unergonomic desk to an adjustable or standing desk that's configured perfectly for your height, with your forearms parallel to the ground when using the mouse and keyboard, you might be familiar with the immediate feeling of relief in your mousing shoulder – almost like your body sighing.

The VerticalMouse gave me the same immediate relief in my wrist and forearm.

The vertical orientation seems to promote moving the mouse with movements of the elbow rather than the wrist, which feels a little odd at first but is easily adjusted to and obviously helps prevent wrist fatigue.

Mac users might miss the two-finger scrolling of their Magic Mouse or Trackpad, however I've solved this by keeping a Magic Trackpad on the left side of the keyboard for times when the scroll wheel just isn't cutting it.

The ability to tweak the pointer speed from the mouse itself came in handy more often than I'd imagined – designers and gamers will likely appreciate this. And yes, it's surprisingly capable for gamers, with five buttons to assign, and obviously far less wrist fatigue during those marathon sessions.

There's a variety of models available – the left handed and those of you with smaller hands have models specifically for you, there's wireless models with either a USB receiver or Mac-compatible Bluetooth, and the plain old wired, right-handed model I chose due to my distaste for batteries.

The verdict

Highly recommended. Anyone who does long periods in front of the computer, and especially those who experience discomfort or pain in their mousing wrist or forearm, needs to get hold of one of these.

Product page: Evoluent VerticalMouse

If it's so darned advanced, why isn't it wireless???
Robert Walther
I have been using a mouse since 1984, 12+ hours per day, I have never had a problem. Simple, mild expansion stretches of arm, wrist, hand and fingers will avoid and/or repair 'carpal tunnel' problems derived from mouse usage. Look up Shia Tzu and yoga for the correct exercises.
This looks like it could be a good gaming mouse. Bulky though, wouldn't want to carry it in my backpack.
There is a wireless version - it's mentioned near the end of the article.
I'm using the wireless version right now. I can only guess that the company offers the 'wired' version to customers who prefer that - although what the preference for a wired version might be is hard to say - maybe it's for people who don't want to have to buy batteries? (the wireless one runs on a single AA battery).
All that aside, I would also recommend it - it made a huge difference for me. Plus I like that I can program each of the six buttons to do actions that I want them to do.
Why don't you give a track ball a try? The wrist is - static - in the same position Evoluent's mouse plus it keeps my fingers in action to move the ball: just like pen writing. I am talking about a three fingers track ball like Logitech's Cordless Optical TracMan, not the "only for the thumb" recent ones.
Tim Hanlon
@Engadin: I still have a Logitech TrackMan in a drawer somewhere. It certainly helped me out a few years back, but I found it nowhere near as natural to operate with a neutral wrist, and harder (but not impossible) to control precisely when using design/music software.
The Skud
Seems to have helped the author and some posters, but looks weird to me. Up/down action gives me the impression of the same trouble from repetitive action producing pain down the track. Did telegraph operators (i.e. Morse Code), get RSI?
Sam Sams
One thing I do with my mouse is increase the speed in control panel settings so I only have to move it less than an inch to go from one side of the screen to the other. Far less work.
I have it on a small mat (I cut to size) which at the moment is sat on top of the num keys of the keyboard - so less movement from keyboard to mouse. Another good place would be on a little platform above the keyboard and in the centre - so you can easily reach with either hand.
I also weaken the springs inside the mouse to give a very soft button click.
David Pasquino
I've been using this mouse for nearly a year - and while it takes a little getting used to, it is totally worth it. I had the wired version and then upgraded to the wireless. Either way, I think, and agree, that if you do any extended work on a computer, this is an essential item to have.
Amazing how long live such an ergonomical disaster like a mouse can have, and still no real substitute. Things like a touch screen, trackball, voice commands, gesture tracking or eye tracking is just not as convenient or accurate. A touch pad is probably the closest.
It would be interesting to try this vertical new form factor. I have also been suffering on-and-off of with mouse strain, but I have been training myself to use the mouse with my dumb hand as well. As soon as I feel the strain setting in, I switch hands for a few weeks, letting the fatigued hand rest. It does go a bit slower for those weeks, but it helps a lot.
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