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.