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Out of the box...

he mouse 01
This mouse arrives in a pretty, white, rather sober but very sturdy box. It shows a picture of the mouse, some images showing the effect of an ergonomic mouse. The language on the box is English – and English only.
There's a list of icons depicting the supported operating systems. It lists Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS and Linux. Two things popped into thought: firstly: "hey, cool! It actually mentions Linux!" ... and then... "ouch, it doesn't mention Windows 8." To take away all doubt, the mouse just works fine under Windows 8 too. Yet, for a product hitting the shelves in 2012, I think this is slightly embarrassing.

Okay... so far for the box. Next thing is opening the box. Inside, I find the big mouse, a mini USB-cable and a rather sober manual with instructions in English, Dutch, German and two Asian languages (I'm assuming it's Chinese and Japanese, but this is just a guess). Obviously, a mouse shouldn't need that much instructions, so 4 pages per language should be plenty.

The package says it's a wireless mouse, but my bluetooth doesn't seem to find it... so I connect the mouse to the USB-cord. Immediately a bright red light pops up underneath the mouse. Yes, we're rolling! Strangely enough, the mouse doesn't respond... Apparently, the red light only tells me the mouse is charging over USB wire.

I flip out the manual, and read all about the easy plug-and-play function. It says: "To use: plug your HEmouse or USB receiver into your computer's USB-port and Windows will find the new device driver (...) and register it automatically."

Since I can't seem to find the USB-receiver, I send a message to the retailer (as is mentioned in the manual: "If any of the (...) items is missing, contact your retailer immediately.") and tell him the USB receiver is missing. I get a reply pretty quickly that the USB-receiver is in the foot of the mouse, it's like a small rectangular stub. Now... that was something that should have been in the manual! No place in the whole manual mentions this.

Even the images on the website (the same ones as in the manual) don't show this:

he mouse drawing-2he mouse 02

As you see on the photo,the picture doesn't show all the details on the mouse. There's no mention of the red LED, and there's no mention of the USB-receiver (bottom, slightly to the right).

Human Ergonomics... what's in a name?

he mouse 00
No harm is done – we've got the mouse up and running. It's time to put it to some action! The mouse lies comfortable in the hand and I do enjoy the ease with which I can operate it. The mouse is very sensitive, and responds very well to slight movements. Even though I never used a mouse in this angle before, it's easy to adapt. Contrary to other solutions (I'm thinking of a tablet with a pen as pointer, or a joystick), this mouse actually feels comfortable to use for more than half an hour too.

Next thing, I took the mouse to work, and gave it to a few (6) colleagues to give it a spin. Reactions were very diverse:
One person thought the mouse was too big. She had rather small hands and didn't find it really comfortable.
One person thought the mouse was a bit to steep. He prefers a flatter mouse. It felt unnatural to him. None of the other people had this impression, even if I explicitly asked them. They actually were surprised about how comfortable it was.
Opinions about the weight of the mouse were different. Some liked the weight, one person thought the mouse was too light.
One person found it caused her forearm to twist differently – and this was good thing. But in her setup, she couldn't rest her wrist anymore. The mouse needed to be accompanied with a reorganization of the workspace.
One person was hesitant to try it, since her colleague was making fun of that crazy looking mouse. At the end, she was really enthusiastic about the mouse. The person making fun of the mouse also tried the mouse later on... and she too liked it. Isn't it ironic.
The rest for mouse and pink were appreciated. For me, the mouse was too small, it was my ring finger resting on the edge.

It's a mouse!

Apart from the ergonomics, this obviously still is a mouse! So let's talk about the typical mouse features. The on-off button and the DPI-settings buttons won't win any prizes for design ans aesthetics! They're just sitting there on the bottom doing nothing. In my experience, pushing the DPI-button didn't affect the mouse speed that much... but maybe that's just me. The mouse works just fine on many surfaces. While my plain old logitech sometimes gets in trouble on shiny surfaces, this mouse keeps doing its job without problems.

he mouse 03The mouse feels solid, looks nice and has just enough buttons to use in the office. And even though the manual says that not all buttons work in the non-MS operating systems, they all work just fine under Linux (Ubuntu).

For playing games, you wouldn't want this (or any vertical) mouse... for fast action moving, you tend to tense up your wrists for quick actions, and then the upwards angle will create more tension. Here you'll be better off using your decent flat mouse.

Website and online documentation

If you're selling ergonomic devices, you're touching the field of healthcare and occupational safety. You should expect some scientific background when visiting a company working in this area. Much more than the picture of a skeleton holding different mice, isn't to be found on the site.

The websites of HEmouse (www.hemouse.com) and their designer (www.r-go-tools.com) are little more than a webshop with the texts of the manuals on there... some more background information would certainly improve the credibility of the site. I'm talking guidelines on setting your workspace up ergonomically, suggestions on what mouse to choose in what situation, more information on carpel tunnel syndrome and other syndromes connected to ergonomics, references to scientic studies...

Competition

If you've seen a few ergonomic mice, you'll immediately recognize the Evoluent VerticalMouse if you see the HEmouse. It's clear where HEmouse got their inspiration, and who they want to compete with... they even put their own branding on the same spot Evoluent did...
When comparing the HEmouse to the Evoluent, the HEmouse lacks quite a few features: the DPI-settings is much more intuitive on the Evoluent's VerticalMouse 4. Also, the HEmouse only offers 4 buttons and a scrollwheel, while the Evoluent has an extra button for the ring-finger.

Obviously, the price is an issue here. If you don't need the gadgets like a customizable driver and fancy indicators for the pointer speed and a ring-finger-button, the price difference will steer you to the HEmouse. While the Evoluent VerticalMouse Wireless 4 will cost you around €140 ... you'll find the HEmouse wireless for half the price. Both the HEmouse (in development) and the Evoluent (currently) come in two sizes, so it's a matter of selecting the right size for your hand.

One final sidenote: If you're left-handed, HEmouse can't satisfy your needs right now. Currently, you'll have to go for the Evoluent – since the HEmouse only ships in a right-handed version.

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