There are dozens of computer mouse types, which can be differentiated in terms of hardware, aesthetics, and performance.
Furthermore, there are numerous ways to categorize mouse types, whether it be through their connectivity, design, niche, or intended use.
Today, I wanted to touch on ergonomic computer mouse – the ones built with comfort and ease of use in mind. Let’s start with the basics first.
What Makes a Mouse Ergonomic?
Ergonomics is, by definition, the ‘study of people’s efficiency in their working environment’. That means that for a mouse to be ergonomic, it needs to help the user perform better, which can be done in any number of ways.
Lightweight computer mouse offer faster hand movements; programmable keys allow users to perform multiple actions more easily; configurable DPI is best-suited for people that are using their own mouse while sharing a work computer. Are these features ergonomic? Not really.
What makes a mouse ergonomic is the way it’s designed. For instance, the way the mouse is angled, the buttons are positioned or sized, and the way the click is softened; these are some of the features that separate ergonomic mouse from, for instance, gaming mouse.
The bottom line is that an ergonomic mouse supports the user’s wrists, promotes a healthier arm position, and allows the user to naturally browse, click, and multi-task. With that out of the way, let’s cover the basic types of ergonomic mouse.
Types of Ergonomic Mouse
I’ve changed dozens of computer and laptop mouse over the years, but I only started to notice the difference when I bought my first professional one.
Needless to say, it was an ergonomic mouse, so I wanted to dive a bit deeper into the technical side of things.
During my research, I’ve noticed significant differences between five distinct ergonomic mouse types, including vertical, roll bar, trackball, contoured, and sculpt ergonomic mouse:
Vertical Ergonomic Mouse
A vertical mouse is probably the most disruptive piece of technology in the field of computer-based ergonomics, as it could render regular mouse completely obsolete and useless in the next couple of years.
For starters, vertical mouse are supposed to be used with the wrist in an upright (vertical) position. Although this may look and feel counterintuitive to most people, it actually promotes more natural shoulder rotations, alleviating the stiffness and pain caused by the so-called ‘floating’, hardened shoulders.
While I was researching vertical mice, I discovered that many users pointed out finger support as one of the key benefits. When we are holding a regular mouse, our fingers need to grip the mouse; whether we do it consciously or by habit, most people tend to clinch their fingers, which puts a lot of stress on the wrist.
That’s not the case with vertical mice. The buttons are on the sides while the mouse itself is angled and accommodates a neutral hand position. Instead of raising a finger whenever you should click, a light press is all that’s needed to perform the same action.
One of the most important innovations that I absolutely loved about vertical mice is that you don’t need to move your entire arm when scrolling with this type of mouse.
Normally, I would need to move my shoulder, elbow, and wrist whenever I needed to move the cursor. With a vertical mouse, you would essentially glide across the pad from your forearm with it still being relaxed.
There are numerous high-quality vertical mouse models to be found on the market. I’ve tested and reviewed some of the finest representatives of this category, including Anker’s 2.4G Wireless Vertical mouse, and J-Tech’s Digital Scroll Endurance Mouse.
For professionals that don’t mind paying top dollar for premium quality, I would warmly recommend Logitech’s MX Vertical mouse. It’s the Premium Choice on my list for a number of reasons, including the classic two-button design, a dedicated button for customizable shortcuts, its high-pressure sensor, and more.
People that suffer from repetitive strain injuries or paresthesia (carpal tunnel syndrome) would probably benefit from using a vertical mouse the most.
Roll Bar Ergonomic Mouo
While I was browsing the web for the latest innovations in the world of ergonomic mouse, I stumbled across the roll bar. It would be a huge understatement to say that I was amazed, as I don’t exactly know if this is a mouse, a pad, or both.
Roll Bar, Roller Bar, or Roller Mouse; this new piece of technology is yet to receive a proper name, as each manufacturer has its own version.
Featuring a scrolling system that possibly drew inspiration from the nostalgic typing machine, oversized buttons like the ones you’d find on a gamepad, and a variety of other interesting functions that you’d not normally see on a mouse, the roll bar was proclaimed as the next big thing for professionals.
There are a couple of bases that I’d like to cover with this ergonomic mouse design. First of all, it’s supposed to be located beneath your keyboard, not on one of its sides. This means that you don’t need to extend your arms to actually reach the mouse, which is a game-changer for people that generally suffer from stiff shoulders while working long hours.
I’ve read that some people dubbed it ‘hard to use’, solely because you’re no longer gripping and moving a mouse; you would roll and slide a bar instead. Instead of clicks, the user would tap the bar.
In my opinion, the roll bar mouse is too much of a departure from traditional mice to be practical out of the box. Its learning curve may be shallow, but most people don’t have the muscle memory required to use mouse functions on something that resembles a keyboard extension.
Given that clicking and dragging our mice has become second nature to most professionals, the transition to rolling and tapping may present a bit of a challenge. However, I do find it remarkably interesting, and I warmly recommend giving it a go.
This type of ergonomic mouse is best for people that are better at typing than clicking; I would guess roll bar mice aren’t that perfect for people that suffer from arthritis, but they could certainly help those struggling with rheumatoid arthritis or repetitive strain injuries.
Trackball Ergonomic Mouse
A trackball mouse, or simply Trackball, is a type of mouse that is actually pretty old. It was officially launched by a British electrical engineer called Ralph Benjamin during the late ‘50s, and it was originally intended for military purposes.
With a simple joystick that could be manipulated as easily as an oversized pebble, the trackball was both easy to use and easy to make.
Fast-forward to today, modern trackball mouse are far more advanced and excel in virtually all fields of performance. In fact, a model such as Logitech’s MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Mouse could be considered a hybrid between a top-tier wireless optical mouse and a bleeding-edge trackball mouse.
The main point of using trackball mouse is to alleviate the shoulder tension and the pressure from your forearm, which are the most common side effects of scrolling with a regular mouse. Additionally, the features that resemble a traditional optical mouse are there to help you maintain your productivity while you are learning how to tackle the trackball.
I do need to point out that simple trackballs may be equal in terms of ergonomics to professional models, but they’re nowhere near as practical. For instance, budget trackballs such as Kensington’s Orbit are basically spruced-up traditional trackball mouse. They don’t offer the ‘extra’ benefits of optical mouse and are instead solely focused on trackball functionalities.
This type of mouse enables you to scroll with your thumb, or with your wrist; it’s actually perfect for PlayStation gamers, as it resembles the analog joystick of a standard PS controller. Professionals that grew up playing Crash Bandicoot will be able to pick up a trackball and master it in days.
Contoured Ergonomic Mouse
Were you ever in a situation where you wanted your mouse to have an additional click button? Well, apparently someone told Contour Design this, and they invented the Perfit Mouse. It’s more popularly known as the ‘Contour Mouse’, due to it being shaped after the human hand more vividly than most of the other ergonomic mouse types.
What makes this mouse different from others is that you can rest your entire hand on it. The contoured mouse features three click buttons, all of which have small grooves to accommodate the natural bumps on our fingers, as well as a thumb rest and side-scrolling wheels.
While I was learning more about this mouse, I realized that it’s not just made to help with ergonomics; it was also intended to boost productivity and efficiency. Designers, programmers, and content writers that click hundreds of times per minute could save hours each day with the extra click and streamlined slides.
I love the wider base, as it offers a better grip and more control, but I don’t know if people with smaller hands would feel the same.
There were several online reviews that Contour Mouse is barely more than a 3-click mouse. It doesn’t really support the user’s wrist, shoulders, or forearm in any different way than a normal office mouse would.
It’s also important to note that while using a contoured mouse, you can no longer scroll as per usual; this function is now moved to the thumb side, which could make you fight your muscle memory on occasions.
At the end of the day, the Contour Mouse is a decent ergonomic mouse type. It promotes easier clicking and superior grip and can boost your workplace efficiency.
Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse
The sculpt mouse is essentially a product, not an entire category, but it is different enough from the other styles of ergonomic mouse that it’s deserving of this slot.
Created by Microsoft a little over a decade ago, the Sculpt Mouse is petite, light, and easily one of the most practical ergonomic mouse for professionals out there. It looks great, and it was sculpted to be as smooth as possible, hence the name.
With a thumb rest on the side being the only groove on the entire mouse, it feels like holding a ball at times. This promotes natural scrolling and swiping movements while the miniature clicks were meant to boost the user’s speed.
In comparison to the other ergonomic mouse types, the Sculpt Mouse is the closest to a traditional optical mouse. It rocks a two-click design and features a regular scrolling wheel between them.
As far as ergonomics are of concern, its small size, super-low weight, and familiarity are probably among the biggest benefits it has to offer.
If I had to pick the best out of the five types of ergonomic mice we’ve covered today, I would pick a vertical mouse. It addresses the issues of improper hand posture, unnecessary arm movements, and stiff shoulders, and it’s absolutely the best type for people that are struggling with common office ailments, such as the carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries.
It ultimately boils down to personal preference and circumstances; you may like the roll bar much more than I did, just like you may find more uses for a contour mouse.
If you are searching for a quality, comfortable mouse, let me invite you to my reviews of the 8 best ergonomic mice for professionals. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments below; I wish you luck in finding the right mouse for your needs!
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