|Min OS X: Any Version Requires: USB Port|
For many users, alternative mice can be a mixed bag. Some find the change in hand position or mousing style to be a great improvement of both comfort and efficiency. Others, and gamers especially, can be distracted by the learning curve ergonomic specialty mice such as trackballs demand. For some, these mice are a godsend. For others, they are an annoyance to be avoided.
The VerticalMouse 2 by Evoluent sets out to satisfy both camps. Featuring an "on its side" design that allows a neutral handshake position, the VerticalMouse 2 aims to reduce wrist discomfort and grip problems, allowing you to focus on your work, or for our purposes Macintosh gaming. The mouse is not trackball based, which should appeal to more traditional mousers. Overall, the mouse is a solid ergonomic offering that has a few flaws for Macintosh gaming.
First ImpressionsThe Evoluent comes with simple instructions, as well as support for both the PS/2 PC standard and USB. Thankfully, the mouse comes standard with a USB connector, so Macintosh users can simply plug the mouse in straight out of the box. As is true with most specialty mice, this mouse comes with no Macintosh software. This is disappointing, yet certainly not crippling. Alessandro Montalcini's USB Overdrive did an excellent job for me at enabling the two additional buttons beyond the left-click, right-click, and mouse wheel functionality that are natively supported by Mac OS X.
The small instruction sheet included with the VerticalMouse 2 not only describes how to install the mouse but also has a picture of a proper ergonomic setup. It includes tips on wrist support for your typing hand, how to add a miniature keyboard, and other ideas for reducing repetitive injury strain. I set up the VerticalMouse2 as the instructions advised me to: close to my side, but keeping my arm as horizontal as possible.
Holding the mouse is intended to feel like a handshake, which is probably the best way to describe the feel without actually touching the mouse. Your right hand comfortably rests in a vertical position on the side of the mouse, with access to a clickable scroll wheel and three large, responsive purple buttons. The left side has a small indention, which is a resting spot for your thumb. A centimeter above where your thumb rests is a fifth button which is an oblong, circular sliver. The entire back of the mouse is made of firm rubber that increases durability and prevents chafing. The buttons and front half of the mouse are a firm purple plastic, and the whole unit is of moderate weight. Since your hand rests on its side, the right edge of your palm is in constant contact with the surface you are mousing on, giving a strange dragging sensation for me that took a couple hours to become accustomed to. Evoluent suggests using a good quality mousepad to reduce friction if it becomes a problem.
My small hand completely wrapped around the mouse, making me wonder how someone with larger hands would fare. A large-handed person might have to place their palm actually slightly off the mouse, so as not to have their fingers wrap around the mouse's front. I imagine this problem is no more severe than it is for mice the are flat, however.