The box that the HandShoeMouse arrived in proudly claims that this is "the only mouse that fits like a glove" although I'd take issue with that. You don't wear it like a glove, but rather it wears you. The glove analogy does hold up when it comes to the pre-purchase ritual, however, as this is the first time I have ever needed my hand to be measured before I could purchase a mouse! The vendor website guides you through the process, with a separate order route for right and left handed users. It's not overly complicated, which is handy if you'll excuse the pun, and simply involves a ruler and some accurate measuring of the length of your hand.No ordinary rodent
So why all the palaver? Simple: this is no ordinary mouse. Not that you need me to tell you that, look at the pictures for goodness sake. Have you ever seen anything like it? The thing has the appearance of a stingray, with smooth flowing lines that defy conventional mouse design rules. That's because this mouse design has evolved with the help of a group of mechanical engineers working in cooperation with Dutch Erasmus MC (Erasmus University Hospital Rotterdam) department of Biomedical Physics and Technology plus the Neurosciences and Anatomy department in order to link anatomy and technology with a goal of eradicating the type of strains normally associated with mouse usage.
This is the mouse re-invented...
I'm a writer by profession, author of 22 published books as well as a freelance journalist of some 20 years standing. I know all too well the dangers, and pain, associated with prolonged mousing: the design is such that it's almost always too small for the hand, and the shape almost always forces your fingers and wrist into an unnaturally awkward grip. In other words, a mouse just ain't naturally comfortable, buddy. Period. Indeed, I've experienced muscle tension in my neck, shoulders and arms but most of all over the years I have developed a repetitive strain injury (RSI) to my wrist and thumb area which means that for the last couple of years I have taken to both wearing a special splint when I type and using a trackball instead of a mouse as this required less movement and is more comfortable.
Grip and Pinch
The designers at Hippus identified that forceful gripping or pinching, next to hovering of the fingers above the buttons is a major cause of tension in the deep neck muscles which can lead to a reduction of the space between first rib and clavicular bone which could even translate in pressure on nerves and a restricted blood flow in arms and hands. In turn this can cause everything from headaches to reduced mobility and a loss of force in the hand, as well as that pain that I know all too well about of course. The strange stingray device, then, was designed specifically to prevent this forceful gripping and pinching.
I was, I will admit, more than a little skeptical at first. Especially given the rather inflated price tag for the HandShoeMouse. I've never spent that much on a mouse, even a top of the range, bells and whistles wireless Microsoft optical trackball doo-dad is cheaper. But I bit the bullet and went through the hand measurement process to discover that I needed a 'medium' sized right handed mouse which arrived just a couple of days later.Installation and Use
I opted for the wired model, although a wireless version is available, and installation proved quick and painless on my Windows 7 powered test machine. No special drivers were required and within just a few seconds I was up and running with my arm resting on my desk as the instructions explained, and my hand falling ever so comfortably into place on the HandShoeMouse. The left and right buttons were where you would expect, and the (non-programmable) scroll wheel equally so - glib remarks aside, the thing is that the strange stingray shape meant that my hand was forced into a hugely comfortable position where the usage of all three came very naturally indeed without any need for exaggerated movements. The fact that I didn't need to continuously lift, or hover, my fingers to prevent accidental switching and pressing was immediately noticeable. My hand simply rested continuously on the mouse body in a totally relaxed fashion, and was much more comfortable than my trackball. I didn't feel like I was gripping the mouse at all, it really did just fit like a glove. Neat.
I did need to clear a lot of desk space first though, as this is no pocket-rodent but a damned huge beast of thing. Because I had opted for a BlueRay Track (BRT) version of the HandShoeMouse, I didn't need to worry about an oversized mouse mat as the device works fine on pretty much any surface courtesy of the high resolution 1000 dpi double lens optical system sensor.
Although I would have to have been using this mouse for at least six months to a year before I could report back with any meaningful degree of confidence that it has reduced the amount of discomfort I suffer when working, I will say that in the short time I have been using it I have certainly noticed that it takes longer for me to become uncomfortable and I that's quite an achievement as I've not been wearing my hand splint either! I will, of course, report back in six months and update you with the longer term verdict.
I must point out that prices vary between the US and Europe. Expect to pay Euros 125 for the same specification HandShoeMouse as reviewed, including taxes and delivery, for European orders.
Edited by Dani: formatting and corrections