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Evoluent VerticalMouse 4

June 30th, 2011
An ergonomic and comfortable mouse.

This innovative mouse includes seven controls, thumb and little finger rests, and a cursor speed control. The vertical shape relaxes your wrist and may prevent injuries, such as carpal tunnel. I am not a fan of the mouse that came with my iMac, so Iíve tried a variety of mice with varying success. I have small hands, size 7 to be exact, so most mice feel too big for me. My favorite mouse is the simple Mini Pro from Contour Design, but I managed to break two of them over the past ten years. They donít like to be tossed and stepped on, which happens when I travel. In my search for better ergonomics, I read about the Evoluent VerticalMouse.

The VerticalMouse 4 looks very different from any other mouse youíve seen. Instead of resting your hand on top of the mouse, you use it from the side. Itís a similar orientation as when you shake someoneís hand. This oddly shaped mouse takes a little time to adjust to the way you hold your hand, because of the sideways orientation. Evoluent shows why it is better for your hands in the graphic below.

You can use the mouse on a pad or not, but it moves faster on my drafting table than on a mouse pad. The rubber-like material is easy to hold and you donít need to grip it tightly.

A Close Look

The VerticalMouse 4 ships in a simple cardboard box with an instruction card that includes ďComfort Tips.Ē It plugs into your keyboard USB port, but also works plugged into a USB hub. After you marvel at its design and style, you will notice that it includes seven controls, including a scroll wheel. The plastic buttons are generally placed for easy access. The small version that I tested is black and purple, while the regular version looks more silver and black.

VerticalMouse 4 Regular

Out of the box, the buttons on the right side are set so that the top button is the normal double-click, the middle button opens Dashboard, and the bottom button is your right-click or option-click. Needless to say, I often open the Dashboard when I want to option-click. Next to the middle button is a small glossy button that controls the pointer speed. This is the first time Iíve seen this kind of control on the mouse itself, instead of in a mouse system preference and it does come in handy when you want speed up or slow down the mouse pointer.

A small display with red LED lights on the top of the mouse lets you know what speed is activated. The thick rubber scroll wheel, placed between the first and second buttons, includes texture that makes it easy to control. The final amenity on the right side is an extended lip so that you can rest your little finger comfortably. The lit Evoluent logo in a bright florescent green turns off when you sleep your system. This means it doesnít drain the battery of your laptop.

VerticalMouse 4 Small

The left side or thumb buttons, which are new to version 4, are easily accessible with your thumb. They include a top button that gives you a thumbnail view of all your open windows, which is similar to Exposť on your Desktop. When your thumb is not active it sits in a comfortable depression between the two buttons. The bottom button does nothing, nada, zip. Now, it seems you should be able to program that to do something useful, but this mouse, which is advertised for Mac users, has no Macintosh compatible software yet. Software for Windows ships with the mouse, so that you can program any of the buttons in that system. Unfortunately, they include a mini disc, which you can be sure, some Mac user will insert into their drive. The only way to extract one means a trip to an Apple repair shop. At the very least Evoluent should remove that disc when shipping the device to a Mac user.

Macintosh Software

Evoluent claims they will have Mac software available in mid-2011, but in the meantime, they suggest you use USB Overdrive, Steer Mouse. Be forewarned though, USB Overdrive requires a machine restart, which I didnít appreciate because I was in the middle of a number of projects when that dialog appeared. Neither product supports the Apple Magic Mouse, plus there are a number of caveats for each program. In short, read their documentation carefully before buying either program. BetterTouchTool is also compatible with the VerticalMouse. I opted not to install any third-party software.

The Mouse in Action

I used the mouse for a couple of weeks before I decided that it does help with wrist strain, if you do not do anything special. What is special? Games are special! I often relax with a game or two of Bejeweled 3 or Chuzzle in between tasks. These games depend on fast mouse movement and the VerticalMouse is certainly up to the challenge. The problem is that I tend to twist my wrist in towards my body while quickly moving the mouse around. This torques the wrist and may create or add to any burgeoning carpal tunnel problems. Therefore, I donít recommend the VerticalMouse when you play mouse-action games. It also took some getting used to using my ring finger to push the option-click button, because I previously never used that finger for mouse actions. I did not have any problems when editing photos though, because the responsive mouse does not jump around. You can easily click into tiny areas; you just need to practice using it due to the different orientation. The only odd problem I encountered was while writing this article in TextEdit. All of a sudden the mouse became unresponsive, but jumped around the page, and deleted text arbitrarily. I was not able to determine the cause of this anomaly quickly and it disappeared in minutes, along with half my article. Upon checking the site, the culprit may have been the shiny surface of my desk, so I put it back on my mouse pad.

VerticalMouse 4 Regular for Left Hands

The VerticalMouse is light, which reduces hand strain, but it might be too light for large, heavy hands. Iím afraid, I canít advise you on that front. I also wonder how well it will stand up to long term use, because it feels more delicate than other mice. It also collects dirt more easily, but can be wiped with a damp cloth. As noted above, I tend to be hard on my mice. I have killed off a Razer DeathAdder, a Contour Design Mini Pro, an Apple, and a Saitek mouse in the past seven years alone. Obviously, I need a brick with buttons.

To decide which of the VerticalMouse products is best for you, Evoluent suggests you download their drawing of a hand to determine whether the Regular or Small VerticalMouse 4 is a better fit. The VerticalMouse comes in left and right versions of the regular size, but the small one is only available for right-hand users. Evoluent also offers a wireless version. If it came with Macintosh software, I might give this mouse 4.5 stars, but as it ships now, I only give it 4 stars. If you donít play games, nor care if a button or two doesnít work exactly the way you want, you might like it. It seems like a good mouse for browsing and other everyday tasks.
-Seven mouse controls.

-Rests for thumb and little finger.

-Right and left versions of regular sized mouse.

-Convenient speed control.

-Comfortable grip.

-No Macintosh software yet.

-No left version of small sized mouse.

-Not good for fast mouse action games.

-Seems fragile.

-Needs regular cleaning.