Q: When is an ergonomic mouse not an ergonomic mouse?
A: When it's an ergonomic mouse.
Yes, it's true: not all ergonomic specs are created equal. This is a basic truth that is often overlooked--we aren't all built the same, so until they find a way to make gadgets that morph as you use them, no device will be perfect for everyone.
Not that this prevents people from trying. Almost two years ago, I reviewed the Logitech
Cordless Mouseman 96 in the Canada Computer Paper
, praising the freedom of movement that comes with untethering your mouse. Its only major problem, I recently realized, was one of its best features--its design. Modeled after another popular Logitech mouse, it was sculpted to more or less fit the fingers of your hand. Your right hand.
Until I unpacked the new Cordless Wheel Mouse, it hadn't occurred to me that the 96 edition excluded southpaws. As the brother of a leftie, you'd think I'd be more sensitive to these things. The Cordless Wheel Mouse, on the other hand (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist) makes a few concessions and works for left-handers and right-handers.
In these days of funky-shaped mice, the Cordless Wheel Mouse's symmetric shape seems a bit of a throwback. But it works: it fits either hand the same way. Aside from its almost aerodynamic form, its only scant concession to modern design is the way the underside recesses every so slightly to accommodate a thumb.
Unfortunately, the Cordless Wheel Mouse's shape made it a little less comfortable for me than the 96. Whereas the 96 sensibly shaped the buttons to accommodate the fingers' natural tendency to spread out, the Cordless Wheel Mouse tapers toward the top, making things a little awkward. Of course, this is purely a matter of personal preference, but you can't say you weren't warned.
Still, this was only a minor inconvenience compared to the benefit of the wheel. Like other wheel mice, this lets you scroll (and, in some cases, zoom) windows without having to touch the scroll bar. As a repetitive strain injury (RSI) sufferer, I appreciate anything that minimizes hand movements. But as this is a cordless mouse, there's an added benefit: when I'm reading a long document, I can sit back in my chair and relax, the mouse in either hand, scrolling as I read--without the mouse touching the pad.
This simple act made me even more conscious of the little ways in which we tire ourselves out as we use computers. Even in an ergonomic chair with an ergonomic keyboard and an ergonomic mouse, your body tenses subtly as you keep one hand on the mouse or keyboard. When I use the Cordless Wheel Mouse, my shoulders, neck, back, and arms relax as I settle into a comfortable position which doesn't require me to reach a keyboard or mouse pad. Suddenly, reading long articles on the computer screen doesn't seem as onerous; I pay more attention to what I'm reading and, in the long run, I'm more productive. All thanks to one mouse.