The last time you bought a computer system, how much attention did you pay to the quality of the mouse and keyboard? If you’re like most computer users, the answer is probably “Very little.”
Most of us simply accept the mouse and keyboard which come bundled with a system. But when you think about it, it’s those two components, together with the screen, that are really the most important for everyday computer use. It is via the mouse, the keyboard and the screen that we interact with our computer and thus our comfort, enjoyment and even our health are dependent on the quality of these three devices.
Admittedly, I’m something of a fanatic when it comes to mice and keyboards. That comes from spending anything up to 12 hours a day on the computer and having experienced times when my arms, neck and back all suffered from poor equipment and poor work practices.
So I was intrigued to give the Smartfish Whirl Laser ErgoMotion mouse a really good tryout. After all, how could I resist a mouse with an “anti-gravity comfort pivot”?
The Whirl comes in two sizes; the Mini is suited to portable computing while its larger sibling – the one I tested – is best for desktop use. Both models are wireless and include the convenient stumpy, compact USB transmitter which has become common.
When you look at the Whirl Laser from the side, it looks like a mouse mounted on a pedestal. ‘Ungainly’ is the word that comes to mind. When you first start using it, ungainly is how it feels. But only at first. The mouse itself feels comfortable enough under your hand, either right or left, but the gravity-defying, pivoting action takes some getting used to. The Whirl keeps your hand elevated above the mousepad and as you move it, your hand rocks around the central pivot point.
It’s that constant movement which is supposed to alleviate stress in your hand, wrist and arm.
Does it work?
The only way to really test a mouse is to use it for a solid length of time. A day or two is not enough to tell how comfortable it will be in the long run. So I delayed writing this review until I’d had the Whirl Laser under my hand for over a month.
After the first day, I was ready to return to my trusty Logitech Laser which, coupled with my favourite wrist rest (an ergoBeads Wrist Cushion from IMAK), has been my go-to mouse over the long haul. But I persisted with the Whirl for several days more and, by the end of the first week, I felt almost as comfortable with it as with the Logitech/wrist-rest combo.
After a month of use, I’m equally at home using either the Whirl by itself or the Logitech with the ergoBead bag, which is high praise. Most importantly, I can use the Whirl all day in complete comfort.
At $US49.95 the Smartfish Whirl is reasonably priced for a quality mouse and a worthwhile investment if you care for the well-being of your body. The Whirl Mini costs $49.95 as well.
Smartfish also makes a somewhat pricey ErgoMotion Keyboard which I’m looking forward to reviewing down the track. It’s hard to imagine anything making me want to ditch my old, indestructible, unergonomic Northgate keyboard (does anyone remember them?), but I have this funny feeling my body may love me for it.