- Review Price: £104.58
Developed by Jelio Segalle, a brazilian surgeon, over the course of many years and with many prototypes and refinements along the way, the OrthoMouse certainly has had some thought behind it. The question is, can it deliver the goods?
Key to the OrthoMouse’s design, like most of these ergonomic mice, is the way it holds your hand in a more vertical, and thus natural, position and provides more support for your hand. This reduces strain on the wrist, pressure on the heel of the hand, and tension in your fingers. However, unlike some ergonomic mice that essentially leave it at that, Jelio has also thought about the usability of the mouse.
Instead of mounting the sensor bang in the middle of the mouse, OrthoVia has it positioned at the point where your fingers and thumb meet, somewhat like it were the nib of a pen. This gives the mouse a far more accurate feel, allowing you to make small movements with just your fingers just as you would with a normal mouse while maintaining an overall more comfortable position.
The combination works very well as we instantly noticed an improvement in comfort, particularly when it came to pain from pressure at the heel of the hand – the bit that normally acts as the pivot for conventional mouse movements. However, unlike some similar mice, like the Microsoft Natural Wireless 6000 and 3M Ergonomic Mouse, we were still able to maintain a decent level of accuracy, meaning everyday work was largely unaffected. That said, the sensor is a fairly basic optical one, rather than laser or Bluetrack, so didn’t track all that well on shiny surfaces – a decent dedicated mouse mat is a must.
Due to its sloping sides and hard plastic surface, it’s also not the easiest mouse to pick up for when making large movements, though you do get the hang of it over time. A couple of patches of rubber where the thumb and little finger sit would have sorted this out.
The next trick up the OrthoMouse’s sleeve is its modularity. Both the back end and the top section that sits between your thumb and fingers can be removed and replaced, with a choice of three sections for the back and two for the top. The back section essentially reduces or increases the amount of support the palm and heel of the hand get. The longest provides the most comfort, lifting your entire hand off the table or mouse mat but, because of this, it makes it more difficult to use your fingers for movement so you lose accuracy. Meanwhile the smallest almost completely eliminates wrist support, leaving only the angle of your hand and the button positions to provide the ergonomic improvements. We found ourselves sticking to the medium size piece as it provides a good compromise.
As for the top removable section, we rather failed to see what the point in this was as our hand didn’t really come into contact with it at all. One provides smoother, lower profile than the other so we guess if you have really big hands it might be more comfortable.
As well as holding your hand in a more comfortable position, the OrtheMouse also aims to reduce hand strain by having the buttons use a very light action – achieved by mounting the micro switches right at the base of the buttons thus making use of the law of levers to reduce the effort required. Sadly, as with the sensor, the use of rather poor quality micro switches means a Steel Series Xai, for instance, actually has a much lighter button action. Nevertheless, the OrthoMouse does still feel nice to use in this regard.
The final nod to better ergonomics on this mouse is its lack of a scroll wheel, which are notorious for really exacerbating finger pain from using a mouse. Instead OrthoVia has implemented a rather clever system whereby you press the button above your thumb to scroll up and below your thumb to move down. Press your thumb in and you have a conventional ‘middle’ button for ‘soft scrolling’ (a directional icon appears and you merely move the mouse in the direction you’d like to scroll) and whatever other functions you normally have a middle button for. Double and triple tapping the up and down buttons makes the scrolling faster giving you enough variation in pace that after a little bit of acclimatisation you don’t feel too hampered, though of course it doesn’t quite feel as intuitive or accurate as a proper scroll wheel.
All told, the OrthoMouse is certainly the most usable of all the ergonomic mice we’ve ever tested. From pointer movement, through button pressing and scrolling, it’s accomplished enough that day to day office work is not adversely affected like on many alternatives. It’s certainly a different story when it comes to gaming as accuracy and speed just aren’t sufficient. Likewise graphics professionals that are constantly using their mouse for accurate work would probably find it a little frustrating, though arguably they should be using a graphics tablet anyway.
The only stumbling block for the OrthoMouse then is its price. At around £105, it’s more expensive than any mouse we can think of bar the extraordinary Razer Mamba and for that money we’d want slightly better build quality with those non-slip rubber sections we mentioned, better micro-switches, and ideally a better sensor. Obviously one should be prepared to pay a little bit extra for a specialist tool but even so, this is a little too much for our liking.
The OrthoVia OrthoMouse is an effective way of reducing wrist and finger pain when spending all day using a mouse. It also offers better accuracy and general usability than many ergonomic mouse alternatives. However, it is a little too pricey for our liking, even accepting the premium for a niche product.
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