Getting a new computer peripheral is kind of like getting married. Between here and happily-ever-after, you find yourself buying all kinds of accessories you never thought of before you made the commitment. Such is the case, to some degree, with the Contour RollerMouse Red. To be sure, it works fine with just the standard palm rest you get in the box. But what if you want less palm support, or more? What if you work while standing and want a super-extension you can lean your arms on too?
Choices, choices. Having tried all possible RollerMouse Red configurations at least once, I’m here to help you navigate the options. Let’s begin with….
No palm support
Yes, this does deserve a spot on the list, if only to discourage you from actually doing it. The RollerMouse Red surface can indeed be reduced to bare metal, but that approach is not for the faint of heart or tender of hand. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that aeronautical-strength aluminum gets a little less cold as you work, but it never gets any softer. Really, the only way I can see using the Red without a palm support is if you’re so short on space that there is no other alternative. (Such is the case with certain rolling medical cart applications, I’m given to understand.)
Standard palm support
This is what most users will want to stay with, hence the name. While adding little to the depth or height of the RollerMouse unit, it provides a smooth and cushioned resting place for one or both hands. There’s not too much to say about the standard support; what there is, I pretty much covered in my original RollerMouse Red review. It’s a very solid default choice, so if in doubt, just stick with it.
Way too much palm support
For no extra money, you can upgrade your RollerMouse Red to an extended palm rest. However, that doesn’t make it free. That just means you’re spending something else to get it, namely the priceless inches of depth between you and your computer monitor. The extended palm rests adds a little more than two inches of extra space between you and your keyboard. That may not sound like much, but in ergonomic terms, two inches of additional reach can make two miles of difference.
Should you choose the extended palm rest? If you like your keyboard close, the answer is definitely no. If you use a chair with arms and have trouble getting close enough to your work, the answer is again no. (Although the Contour stock pictures include one of the extended palm rest hanging happily from the front edge of a desk, I can’t get that to work at all in the real world.) The only way I can see using the extended palm rest is in a situation where you use a chair without arms and lean on your work surface instead. But if that’s your setup, the next choice may prove more nearly ideal.
Armed and dangerous
The world of office furniture has a nice term for cheap chairs. They’re called “task chairs,” which is a nice way of saying, “this chair will keep you up off the floor while you work, and not much more.” Task chairs are easy to spot because they generally cost very little, lack adjustments other than height, and come without arms.
That last feature (or rather, lack of a feature) is a real problem. Holding your arms mid-air all day puts a brutal load on your shoulders, and will probably end up costing you more in lost productivity than a better chair would have cost in the first place. But before you go out and spend a few hundred on a high-end office chair with adjustable arms, you might want to consider a two-for-one deal. Contour’s ArmSupport accessory, which clamps straight over the RollerMouse body, allows you to rest your forearms as you would with a chair – only more so, because the arm rests are bigger and positioned closer to your work. Along with the RollerMouse unit itself, you’ll spend about $400 – and get a pretty awesome pointing device in the bargain.
I’ll soon be writing up a more complete review on the ArmSupport Red, but for now, let me just say that it’s good for three types of applications: 1) The aforementioned armless chair; 2) standing, walking, or hybrid desks; and 3) situations where an unusual degree of arm support is called for, as in a support extending all the way from your elbow to the business end of your wrist.
Number 3 on that list actually describes my own situation, which I’ll be writing about as time permits. Subscribe at the top right of this page for updates, and I’ll see you next time!
Disclosure: This review was made using complimentary samples from Contour Design.