I use a mouse and keyboard a lot at work, and although I much prefer the keyboard, the software I work on is very GUI-oriented, which means a good deal of mousing. Consequently, I'm interested in finding a mouse that is friendly to my skeleton, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. I have fairly large hands, and finding a good ergonomic mouse has proven to be a challenge.
Some years ago, I tried the Evoluent VerticalMouse, but the height interferes with my frequent jumping between mouse and keyboard, so I returned to a regular mouse, and kept a lookout for other interesting designs. After recently upgrading some of my HIDs at home, I resumed my search for an ergo mouse to use at work.
The first one I tried was the HandShoe mouse, designed by Hippus NV, but it didn't live up to the hype. The designers made the strange choice of placing the highest point of the housing directly under my thumb's proximal knuckle; after adjusting my grip for that, it was pretty comfortable while at rest, but what really matters is movement, and that wasn't so good; involving my entire arm -- even my shoulder -- in mousing is not any kind of improvement. Although it had no driver issues, and some good features, like low-force button switches, the overall design concept failed to pay off.
I'm now trying the [large, wireless] Newtral 2 mouse, and it's not bad, but neither is it great.
When I plugged in the wireless receiver, it wasn't recognized as a standard HID device, although it started to work after a reboot ( notably the first HID I've ever seen that required a reboot ). Not terrible, but I wouldn't classify it as a typical "highly compatible" HID that I would trust to carry with me for use on other systems.
Although it has basic three-button support, its six buttons can be customized, but that requires additional software, which can be found on the manufacturer's website. I installed the utility without a problem, but it appears to want administrative rights, which seems a bit ham-fisted to me; getting it to launch automagically on boot will take extra effort. More importantly, when I run it, I get a system tray balloon that simply says "Warning", and when I dismiss that, I can click on the systray icon, and I get another balloon that says:
The system did not detect the gaming mouse!
Uh, gaming mouse? Alright, whatever. A right-click on the systray icon brings up a context menu with a single option: Exit. So it appears that I can't take advantage of the programmable buttons. Dag. For reference, my workstation is running Windows 7 x64 Ultimate SP1 ( with SharpEnviro alternative shell, though that shouldn't have any effect on peripheral support ).
One last logic-side niggle: there's a power-saving feature that sleeps the mouse when it is idle for a while, and that's cool, but other mice I've used with such a feature "come back" simply by wiggling the mouse. This one requires a button click, which isn't totally unreasonable, but it's a level away my natural inclination to just "shake it awake", and comes with that uneasy "will that click bubble into an app and do something undesirable?" feeling.
As for the physical aspects, it's definitely more "wieldy" than the HandShoe was, and feels like a typical mouse but with the benefit of the more relaxed wrist angle, one of the main things I'm looking for. The weight is good, light yet substantial, and if necessary, I can easily pick it up with a gentle pinch of my thumb and pinky. I tried the interchangeable flanges, and I find the "non-flange" the most comfortable.
The button action is rather stiff compared to what I'm used to ( mostly Logitech products, the Performance MX model being a favorite ) and also a bit on the loud side, but it's something I can get used to. Unfortunately, a seemingly common theme among mouse designers is rearward placement of the scrollwheel, and the Newtral 2 is no exception; with a "full resting" grip, the wheel is behind the distal knuckle of my middle finger, requiring my middle finger to arch significantly to use the wheel. In addition, the thumb well contains a set of protruding vertical ridges; I don't know what their intended purpose is, but they are irritating to the pad of my thumb. In order to avoid these two nuisances, I find myself sliding my hand back, off the mouse, returning to the "claw" style I'm trying to avoid in the first place.
Perhaps the most disappointing physical feature of the Newtral 2, because it's so easily avoided by choosing a high-quality, marginally-more-expensive part, is the mechanical power switch on the underside of the mouse. I like to switch peripherals off when I leave the office, but this switch is so dad-gum difficult that I almost need a tool, like a small flat screwdriver, to work it, which disinclines me from using it, even though it'll require me to change the battery more frequently.
The other mouse I was looking at was the Goldtouch KOV-GTM-B. Frankly, it looks so similar to the Newtral 2 that I wouldn't be surprised if they are designed by the same firm, and manufactured by the same Chinese factory ( the Newtral 2 claims Canadian design and Chinese manufacturing ). Still, it appears to have some design choices that may suit me better: the scrollwheel looks to be further forward than on the Newtral 2, and the thumb well lacks those stupid ridges. If the buttons are nicer, it might be worth another switch.
Perhaps I should be looking into a different type of tracking technology altogether. :-D
Communication with the manufacturer revealed that the Newtral 2 configurator only works on wired mice. Not the worst thing, but still disappointing.