It’s been six years since I first reviewed the Evoluent vertical mouse. Since then the Evoluent has undergone some expected generational revisions, but its core design principle of the “natural” handshake position for mousing remains the same. I recently got the opportunity to acquire a latest-gen Evoluent vertical mouse, called the VerticalMouse C, and I’ve spent some time checking out Evoluent’s latest tweaks to the product.
Compared to previous iterations, the Evoluent VerticalMouse C seems to better “fit” the natural grip of my hand. While the working angle remains the same as far as I can tell, the body shape of the mouse has taken on a more asymmetrical or forward-thrown aspect. In addition to making it feel better to hold, this looks really cool.
Speaking of looks, Evoluent’s fourth generation has introduced a reflective chrome finish to one side of the mouse. Aesthetically this is a nice touch, but the reflective surface could provide an unsettling glare under some lighting conditions. Similarly, the color-changing Evoluent logo looks great in room light, but becomes slightly blinding in the dark. (Which isn’t an issue for me as my eyes hate working without lots of backlight, but I know of gamers who appear to want their dens as black as pitch.)
A recap of the Whole Vertical Mouse Thing
In case you’ve been living under a rock – or a blocky, off-white mechanical mouse – since 1993, let’s recap the main reasons you’d want a vertical mouse in the first place. According to the school of thought that drives designs like the Evoluent, much of the main commonly suffered by mouse users can be traced back to the horizontal (“wrist-twisting”) design that still persists among the vast majority of mice. Even the more common “ergonomic” designs – the small, curvy mice often hawked to gamers in the big-box stores – don’t fully un-twist that wrist. Enter the vertical mouse, an innovation Evoluent claims to have single-handedly developed in the 90’s. With your hand very nearly in a thumb-up position ready for a handshake, the un-twisting is complete and – so goes the theory – pain should be lessened. As with every system and innovation out there, especially in ergonomics, your mileage may vary.
My Evoluent experience
The Evoluent vertical mouse (or a previous generation of it) is one of very few ergonomic mice that I’ve actually used, day-to-day, for more than a week or so. Unfortunately, that period of “more than a week” was before my previous review, and thus is currently about six years in the past. During that time, I recall the previous-generation Evoluent being quite handy and nice to use, largely due to its well-designed and stable driver (on which more in a moment).
While writing this updated review, I continued to use my One And Only Pointing Device, the RollerMouse Red, but kept the Evoluent plugged in and parked on the legal pad just to my right. (Blogging trade secret: I often gaze at or finger the product I’m writing about for inspiration, even if I’m not actually using it at that time.) In what I guess is a pretty significant endorsement, my hand kept wandering over to grab the Evoluent mouse and use it, despite the fact that using any mouse with clickable buttons tends to mess up the nerves in my hand. I finally had to unplug the thing to make myself return to the RollerMouse Red and its health benefits.
The grimy truth
One thing I do remember from my long-ago first Evoluent test drive is that the buttons seemed to have a liking for grime and collect as much of it as possible. At the time I speculated that this might have to do with the surface material itself, which in that iteration of the mouse was smooth and semi-glossy. If I was right about that, the Vertical Mouse 4 should prove less vulnerable to the issue; the button material has changed to a tacky-feeling black plastic – comfortable to touch but probably not as inclined to get grimy. (It also doesn’t show fingerprints.) I didn’t use it enough this time around to test the theory in actuality, so your grime mileage may vary.
The driver of the getaway car
Evoluent has always offered a driver that is, in my opinion, one of the better ones out there. Evoluent Mouse Manager, which may be downloaded free from the manufacturer’s website, offers more options than you could ever want. Not only can you customize the primary functions of the mouse’s five buttons; you can also create secondary functions using Button 5 (under your thumb) as a sort of Ctrl key. (And yes, you can reassign that function to another button as well.)
Supremely-enlightened power users will also be excited that all of the above button functions can be customized per program. That means, for example, that you could map keys you frequently use in AutoCAD or Photoshop to easily-accessed buttons on the Evoluent, but only while the program in question is active. The rest of the time, the buttons retain their default function. I remember experimenting with this some when I had an Evoluent before. If there’s a fault with the Evoluent system, it’s only that the sheer number of possibilities can be a bit overwhelming and difficult to keep track of.
Evoluent continues to evolve
It’s nice to see a product that’s great to start with continuing to get better over time. The Evoluent Vertical Mouse 4 is an improvement over previous editions in shape, functionality, and even aesthetic appeal. For me, it remains a top recommendation.