The Handshake Approach
A “handshake” mouse designed for ergonomic comfort
Evoluent is a maker of ergonomic mice and keyboards, and we received one of the company's vertical mice for review. At a glance you can see that it's a very different design than the typical mouse, as it is intended to be used with the arm in a "handshake" position.
"The patented ergonomic shape supports your hand in an upright neutral posture that eliminates forearm twisting. Many users said the Evoluent VerticalMouse provides superior comfort and even relieved their wrist pain."
The vertical design has been implemented to reduced strain on the arm and wrist, but how much of an adjustment is there in moving to this orientation? How sensitive and accurate is the sensor? Depending on your workload, precision might trump comfort, but if the VerticalMouse can provide both it would be quite an achievement.
To test it out I resolved to use the VerticalMouse with my PC exclusively for a week. It was a startling change at first, feeling quite foreign in the first minutes. For someone who uses a standard mouse hours a day (sound familiar?) I felt like I wasn't in control as I attempted to move the cursor around, and I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to adjust. But I pushed on, and rapidly began to grow accustomed to the feeling.
Switching to something that promises to ease discomfort doesn't always mean instant gratification, as any seller of orthopedic shoes can tell you. There is going to be a period of adjustment, with the end result outweighing any initial hesitation – when it's effective, of course. I could spoil the review a bit here and tell you if I'm still using the mouse after a week (I am), but I'll fully describe my impressions below.
Information about the VerticalMouse C Right Wireless Mouse from Evoluent:
- PC: Includes driver for Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10 (32 bit and 64 bit) for programming 5 buttons. The driver is optional. VMC still has basic functionality without the driver
- Mac: Includes Mac driver for programming 5 buttons. The driver is optional. VMC still has basic functionality without the driver
- Linux: Fixed button functions without a driver. Third party drivers are available for some versions of Linux
- Battery: 1 AA battery, good for 3-5 months of average use
Thanks to Evoluent for providing the mouse used in our review.
- Evoluent VerticalMouse C Right Wireless Mouse – $109.95, Amazon
First we'll take a brief look at the packaging and contents. The box is unassuming enough, and inside the mouse is very well protected in a clear plastic clamshell.
As we received the wireless version of the VerticalMouse C Right, a USB dongle and battery is included in the package.
Everything about the mouse during this initial inspection provides a positive impression, as it is clearly a premium product (as the price suggests).
Looking around the mouse we start with the right side, which (as this is a right-handed mouse) contains the mouse buttons, which in this case include left, center, and right.
The scroll wheel is located between the first two buttons, and the small button below it is used to change the speed of the cursor, and there are a total of four speed settings. There are four small lights on the top of the mouse that indicate which speed level you have chosen, and these only light up during selection (the Evoluent logo also lights up briefly with a pulse effect during this time – a nice touch).
The left side of the mouse contains a concave area for the thumb to rest, with programmable buttons above and below. The finish on the body of the mouse is split between a very shiny plastic (as you can see from the photo, where the reflection of my camera is visible in the corner of the light tent) and a matte black plastic finish. The mouse buttons are a hard plastic, with a soft-touch finish on the left side lining the thumb wrest.
On the bottom of the mouse we see the sensor and battery door, which also doubles as a storage area for the wireless adapter.
As I stated above in the introduction, getting used to the mouse took some time. The period of adjustment was only a few hours for me, and by the second day I started to feel more comfortable – and more in control of the cursor. This last point was really my biggest issue at first. It tend to use more of a "claw" grip on my mouse, and with this vertical design the mouse was seated against my palm. Of course my arm and hand were also in the "handshake" position, with the right side of my hand pointing straight down at the desk (the mouse has a flange along the right side molded into the plastic on which the side of the hand wrests).
Even though it took a little time to get used to precisely mousing with my hand and arm in this new position, I immediately liked the feel of using the mouse buttons. With my thumb nestled into the left side, it was more of a slight squeeze to press the buttons, rather than a push. I found myself using my thumb with equal pressure for each button press. The scroll wheel was also easy to get used to in this orientation, and the wheel hardware felt very good. In fact all of the buttons felt very good, as I would have expected given the MSRP of $109.95.
What had changed for me after a adjusting to the VerticalMouse was a realization that the way I've grown accustomed to using my mouse isn't the best position I could put my hand and wrist into, and I had to admit that I didn't feel any of the usual fatigue I previously experienced after long sessions in Adobe Lightroom (an exercise that always made my wrist and hand ache after a couple of hours with my other mouse). There's no question that the vertical design really did make a difference for me..
I'll briefly touch on the Evoluent software for the mouse, which allows for complete customization of the mouse buttons. This works as expected, and I was able to tailor the mouse to my preferences easily.
A mouse is really all about preference, with personal habits dictating what will feel more comfortable. I will say that going back to a standard mouse after a full week with the VerticalMouse resulted in a surprising sensation that the horizontal position was "wrong" – or at least the way I'd grown accustomed to it has its problems. Obviously I will re-adjust, just as I did with the handshake position to begin with, but it wasn't as if I'd somehow "forgotten" how to use a standard mouse after a week. Quite the contrary; I still feel that I have slightly better control when editing photos with my horizontal mouse – but I also have years of experience in that orientation.
I think that for anyone who uses a mouse all day and experiences any discomfort, that trying out a "handshake" mouse like this one for a few days might just convince you to make a change. The hardware from Evoluent is outstanding, and I had an excellent experience all around with the VerticalMouse C during my testing. Ergonomic equipment is not "cheap", but nothing about this mouse was, either. It has an excellent fit-and-finish, feels very well constructed, and provides a solid mousing experience. The software is simple to use and allows for complete customization of each button, and the wireless connection was completely reliable. In short, I found no flaws in my time with the mouse.
There may be less expensive options out there for a vertical mouse, but I was very impressed with the quality of this mouse from "the inventor of the handshake grip", as Evoluent states on their website. The VerticalMouse C is a premium product that seems to live up to the exuberant positive testimony on the company's site. This does carry a hefty $109.95 price tag, but if you can afford it I can enthusiastically recommend that you try it out. You may just be converted.