Review: Evoluent VerticalMouse 4 improves on its successful predecessor

At a Glance
  • Evoluent VerticalMouse 4 for Mac

    Macworld Rating

It’s been about eight years since I first looked at Evoluent’s VerticalMouse 2 for another publication. The company is now at the fourth iteration of its ergonomically focused input device, appropriately named the VerticalMouse 4 (or, more specifically in the case of the model I tested, the VerticalMouse 4 Right Mac, as it’s designed for righties.)

A Macworld colleague reviewed version 3 of the Vertical Mouse four years ago, and while the device’s overall design hasn’t changed much in version 4, what has changed has improved for the better.

The VerticalMouse’s physical design remains unchanged since version 3: Your hand rests on the mouse in a handshake-like orientation that’s more natural than the usual palm-down position. According to Evoluent, this natural position is better for your hand, wrist, and arm, though the company doesn’t claim that the mouse prevents or alleviates repetitive-stress injuries.

Adjusting to the VerticalMouse does takes a bit of time, especially if you’re accustomed to a traditional mouse or a trackpad. Though I don’t suffer from chronic RSI, I immediately felt considerably less tension in my forearm and wrist. For several days, however, the VerticalMouse just didn’t feel secure enough in my hand. And instead of resting my thumb on the thumb rest, initially I would unconsciously grip the VerticalMouse at its widest part, just below the thumb rest. (After a day of consciously reminding myself to do so, I was able to use the thumb rest comfortably.)

Evoluent now includes software for customizing the mouse’s buttons.

The VerticalMouse has six buttons: two on the sides of the thumb rest; three on the front side, positioned underneath your fingers; and a scroll wheel/button. The mouse also has a toggle button to let you instantly speed up or slow down the Mac pointer’s tracking speed. The scroll wheel has discrete “notches” as you rotate it (my preference is for a smooth scroll wheel), and as a button it’s so stiff that I had press my thumb against the thumb rest to offer opposing resistance, else I’d push the whole mouse over.

Perhaps the biggest hardware change from version 3 to version 4 is that the new VerticalMouse is no longer wired—it connects to your Mac using Bluetooth. The company says a single AA battery should give you about three months of typical use.

But the most-welcome change from when I last used a VerticalMouse is the bundled software driver that lets you customize the mouse’s buttons and adjust the pointer and scrolling speed. The software is straightforward and doesn’t have any special enhancements, but it’s a relief that Mac users no longer need to spend extra money on USB Overdrive or SteerMouse.

Evoluent offers two versions of the VerticalMouse 4 for Mac. A special $100 black version with chrome-plastic trim is available exclusively at the Apple Store. A $110 white version is available from other retail vendors. (The black version is labeled as “Mac,” while the white version is instead called “VerticalMouse 4 Bluetooth,” but the two mice are identical other than the color.)

Unfortunately, the VerticalMouse 4 for Mac is available only for right-handers. Evoluent has a $100 left-handed VerticalMouse 4, but instead of Bluetooth, it connects to your computer using USB. (The lefty model is gray plastic instead of black or white.) The VerticalMouse 4 Mac is also fairly large—Evoluent recommends that folks with hands smaller than 7 inches from the tip of the middle finger to the crease at the wrist opt for the VerticalMouse 4 Small, also a wired model and also available only for righties.

Bottom line

The VerticalMouse 4 puts your arm in a natural position while using your computer—a step in the right direction towards reducing stress and lessening your risk of RSI. It takes some time to adjust to the VerticalMouse 4, but you’ll be better off in the long run.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Puts arm in natural position
    • Includes native driver with customization options

    Cons

    • No left-handed wireless version available
    • No wireless version for smaller hands
    • Button action on scroll wheel is stiff
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