Many of us spend far too long behind our computers, and this can lead to some unpleasant consequences. One of these is repetitive strain injury (RSI), which is a condition affecting nerves, muscles or tendons often associated with, but not limited to, computer-related work. Today we're looking at Microsoft's Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, an oddly but ergonomically-shaped rodent meant to prevent - or alleviate, if you're already suffering - RSI, especially Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which affects the wrist.
The package you get here is really simple, consisting of a wired receiver, pair of AA batteries and the mouse itself. There is also a quick-start guide and software CD with Microsoft's excellent IntelliPoint software.
Unfortunately, the receiver does not act as a charging cradle despite its large size, but you can always use rechargeable batteries with a separate recharger. Microsoft quotes a not inconsiderable six-month battery life for normal use and there's a battery indicator that flashes red when they're low so you won't be caught unawares.
However, it's still a pity since most other Microsoft mice we've reviewed recently (such as the Explorer and Laser 7000) have come with charging cradles. It also raises the question as to why the receiver has to be the size of a normal mouse compared to previous models that use a little USB dongle?
Moving on to the mouse itself, the first word that springs to mind to describe it is 'odd'. This is not because of its styling, which is modern and smooth, or its colours, which are an attractive combination of greys, silvers and black. Rather, it's the shape that is unlike any other mouse. While nothing as outlandish as the Zalman FPSGUN or 3Dconnexion's SpaceNavigator 3D, the Natural 6000 is more spherical than your average mouse.
What this means is that it's shorter lengthways and much taller than a traditional mouse. It's tilted design also turns and lifts your palm far higher off the desk to reduce the pressure on your carpal tunnel and wrist. When I first used the Natural 6000, I thought it was very uncomfortable, particularly in the way it altered the angle of my wrist, which took some getting used to, especially since I have been using an ergonomic mouse-pad with built-in wrist-rest. But after giving it some time, it really grew on me. How you hold it is also very important. First, you should adjust your chair so that your forearm isn't resting heavily on the desk. Then you should rest the side of your hand on the desk and allow your hand to naturally flop over the mouse from the side.