Every once in a while somebody gets the urge to buck convention and invent a new way of doing something old. Or an old way of doing something new. Or they get really nuts and start banging a toaster with a wooden spoon and chanting prayers to the gods of technology.
But I digress. Here, for your reading enjoyment, is another mouse review. But wait! This isn't just any old mouse, no sir. This is the Evoluent VerticalMouse 3.
The Hardware – It's called a VerticalMouse...
The Evoluent VerticalMouse 3 (hereafter referred to as VM3 because typing that repeatedly will give me repetitive motion disorder) is a USB mouse. That's vertical. See, don't you love it when the name makes some sort of sense? By vertical I mean this: Imagine your mouse. Now take it and flip it on its side at a 90° angle. Now it is no longer an ordinary, horizontal mouse, it is a vertical mouse. Except that this mouse is built to be used like that, and your mouse is now useless sitting on its side like that.
It features a “gaming grade” optical sensor with a resolution of up to 2600 dpi and 5 programmable buttons. Did I mention it's vertical? Because it is, you know.
The Technology – ...Because it's vertical, see?
The VM3 is vertical to “promote a neutral wrist and forearm posture.” Supposedly this is to let your arm rest in its natural position and relieve strain. It works sort of like a handshake, except you're using a mouse instead of transmitting communicable diseases.
Appearance – No more vertical jokes, I swear.
The VM3 looks exactly like a big, fat PC mouse turned 90° on its side. There are three large buttons on the right hand side, along with a mouse wheel that doubles as a fourth button. On the left hand side, there is one button that would be the side button on a normal mouse. The whole thing is done in black and silver.
There's also a nifty button placed somewhat inconveniently on the bottom of the mouse for switching dpi resolutions. A cool little light above the button tells you what dpi you have selected: 800, 1300, 1800, or 2600.
Performance – Vertically challenged. (Ok, I lied.)
I used the VM3 to do a variety of normal computing tasks, as well as play several MMORPGs. (WoW, EQII, GW, and LotRO.) Wait. Let me rephrase that. I tried to use the VM3 to do a variety of normal computing tasks, and got frustrated trying to play several MMORPGs with it.
First of all, getting used to holding the mouse like this is not something you can do overnight. Or, possibly, ever. Holding this mouse in the “handshake” position is supposed to be ergonomic and ease stress on your wrist and forearm. Personally, I find that it makes my arm very sore after a short period of time.
Secondly, using a mouse in almost any application relies on the accuracy of the mouse. Therefore, when the mouse moves the the left every time you click a button, it makes it very difficult to do anything with the mouse. Instead of clicking on enemies to target them, I would find myself clicking the background next to an enemy. Instead of clicking the next track button, I would hit the rewind. The way that this mouse is held makes it next to impossible to click a mouse button without moving the mouse. At 800 dpi, it's not a big deal, but who uses 800 dpi for anything on a mouse with a 2600 dpi maximum resolution? And at 2600 dpi, the cursor is never where you want it to be when you click the button all the way down.
Conclusion – Maybe you can melt it down and sell it to a recycling firm.
I don't want to come off as someone who hates anything new because he likes it done the old way. On the contrary, I applaud innovation, but only if the product is actually useful. The VM3 is not.
There exists plenty of positive feedback for the VM2 and 3 on the Evoluent website. Some of the people are doctors. There was also a study done by a group of people at UC Berkeley that found the mouse “to be comfortable, easily adapted to, and promote a neutral wrist and forearm posture.” All of that is, of course, marketing.
What I think of it:
Contrary to what Evoluent says, I find my wrists' natural position to be lying flat, not held sideways. When I sit at my desk or on the couch, my hand naturally rests with my palm flat down on my leg or the arm of the chair or couch. I found holding this mouse to be unnatural, and actually painful after extended periods.
I can't play games with it. I can't use normal PC programs without struggling with it. In a word: Yuck.
Who I think can benefit the most:
If you absolutely need to try something other than a normal mouse configuration due to wrist or forearm injury, I would suggest trying this out. Otherwise, pass. Any other mouse on the planet would likely work better for you than this one.
Also, at the time of this writing, it's $80 on the manufacturer's website. Some of the top gaming mice cost much less than this.
I'm sure at some point in the past, others had the same thought: Let's create a mouse that stands on edge! Those others also probably came to the same conclusion I did: This doesn't work very well at all. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
Overall, the Evoluent VerticalMouse 3 gets 1 carpal-tunnel debilitated rodent out of 10.