If you’re going to spend $120 for a mouse, it had better be a mighty fine one—but after spending a few weeks getting comfortable with a new breed of ergo-rodent, I’m confident in saying that the Evoluent VerticalMouse 3 Wireless is worth every penny.
When I first met the VerticalMouse, I thought it was a gimmick. First, it’s an odd-looking beast, somewhat resembling the dorsal fin of an obese shark. Second, it seemed to be a solution in search of a problem—after all, I’ve been mousing for over 30 years and my arm feels just fine.
But after climbing the inevitable learning curve required by a new way of performing a tried-and-true operation, I freely admit that I’m a convert. Grasping the VerticalMouse with my forearm in a comfortable hand-shaking position, using its five well-placed buttons, and benefitting from its precise 1,200-dpi resolution, I’m experiencing comfort and control I never thought possible.
The reason for this added comfort is simple. With your arm at a more natural angle—that is, with your wrist at a right angle to your desk—your forearm’s bones (the radius and ulna, for you medical types) and muscles aren’t unnaturally contorted. The VerticalMouse’s buttons are … well … vertical, so clicking them is accomplished by a gentle squeeze.
Not that the VerticalMouse is perfect. Despite the mouse’s sky-high price, Evoluent doesn’t provide an OS X–compatible driver—which is a shame, considering that its Windows driver is chock-full of fine customization features, such as the ability to toggle among three pointer-speed settings, click locking, and even an audio-visual break reminder. Using only OS X’s Keyboard & Mouse System Preferences pane, you’re limited to two of the VerticalMouse’s three finger-operated buttons and its scroll wheel; the third finger button, thumb button, and scroll-wheel buttons remain vestigial. Fortunately, however, those additional buttons come alive when you install the USB Overdrive or SteerMouse drivers; unfortunately, either of those utilities costs an additional $20—though, to be fair, each also gives you a battery of additional controls. (I used USB Overdrive in my testing.) Moreover, there’s no left-handed version available.
The VerticalMouse is a bit hefty, as well; with its two (included) AA batteries installed, it weighs a full 6.7 ounces. Some mousers may find this weight a literal drag, but I felt that it was an aid, as it helped keep the VerticalMouse from overreacting to the sideways clicking of its finger buttons.
The mouse’s interference-busting 2.4GHz wireless signal is picked up by a USB dongle, solid black save for a blue LED that tells you when it’s receiving a command. This compact 1.5-by-.5-by-.25-inch unit won’t block any adjacent USB ports, no matter how closely spaced yours are.
Macworld’s buying advice
Even if you’re not already experiencing pain from the unnatural forearm rotation required by traditional mice, the Evoluent VerticalMouse 3 Wireless will provide comfort and control you never anticipated. Sure, it takes some getting used to, but the first person to use a steering wheel instead of a tiller probably required an adaptation period as well.
[Rik Myslewski has been writing about the Mac since 1989. He has been editor in chief of MacAddict (now Mac|Life), executive editor of MacUser and director of MacUser Labs, and executive producer of Macworld Live. His blog can be found at Myslewski.com.]