August 28, 2007 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Help me pick an ergonomic mouse/trackball and ergonomic keyboard which suit my needs.

I am looking to go ergonomic for the sake of my arms and wrists. I have been researching trackballs and mice, and it seems that the following 4 are all pretty good:
Logitech Trackman Wheel, Logitech Marble, Kensington Ultimate Mouse, and Evoluent VerticalMouse 2.
However, I do need the following features: scroll wheel, at least 4 buttons (gotta have middle click and back/forward for browsing!).

I am wondering what you MeFites use and like. Is there a mouse/trackball not on that list that should be?

Also, I am looking for an ergonomic keyboard under $100. It seems the best I have found is the Microsoft Natural Pro, but am I missing something? Once again, MeFites, help my aching wrists, what do you suggest?
posted by LoopyG to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you really need back and forward buttons? Opera and Firefox both have mouse gestures.
posted by box at 11:49 AM on August 28, 2007

From someone who hates mouse gestures, forward/back are must-haves for me.

I like the MS Natural Pro a lot, I've had several (they have 1-2 year lifespans). I'm currently using the Natural Wireless Laser Mouse, which is not a trackball, but fits my hand and is a little easier for others to use at my computer, which is always a problem with the trackball. It does need a good wrist rest, though; I have one of the long beanbag types that I rest my entire forearm on.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:21 PM on August 28, 2007

Best answer: I have a Goldtouch ergonomic keyboard that I love. Actually, I have two now; one for work and one for home. It's above your price range, but I find the adjustable feature of it to be immensely useful. As I've gotten used to it, I've moved the two sides further and further apart, to make my wrists ever more comfortable.

The RSI doc I saw a few months ago raved about the Logitech Cordless Trackman Optical. I got one of those, and I do like it quite a bit. It has all the buttons you asked for. He specifically said to avoid the ones that put the trackball under your thumb. "Whoever designed those things should be shot."
posted by autojack at 1:00 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Personally, I spend a couple hundred buying ergonomic mice, and now use a Logitech that is fatter than your average mouse, and feel fine. I did buy a cord that keeps the wire elevated, a teflon mouse pad, and telfon stickers that go on the bottom of the mouse from gamer websites.

I would advise against anything like gels or bean bags that you rest your wrist on, I think that was the real problem I was having.
posted by andrewzipp at 1:04 PM on August 28, 2007

I use this ultra flat Cherry keyboard and this simple Logitech Bluetooth mouse.

I actually figured out that a wireless mouse is easier to move - with a decent hardplastic mousepad - less effort, less strain.

Also: my wrist troubles got 'cured' by a better chair and desk (better sitting position). I guess it's more a question of the whole posture, then a single device.
posted by homodigitalis at 1:25 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I use the evoluent vertical mouse that you mentioned, and I really like it. My hand and arm feel much more comfortable using it, though I still have to be careful not to wrest my hand on the desk. Lazy habits die hard, and letting the side of my hand rest on the desk ended up causing pain after several weeks with this mouse, just as letting my hand rest flat on a normal mouse caused pain in the past. As homodigitalis mentioned, the setup of your working environment and the habits you develop for holding your arms and hands properly are much more important than the particular equipment. If only there was a magic anti-RSI bullet... <sigh>

Oh, and if you share your computer with anyone on an infrequent basis, be aware that this mouse will probably drive them nuts. You'll get used to it after using it for an hour or two, but for some reason people find it very confusing if they just want to "drive" my machine for a couple minutes. Depending on your outlook, this can be a hassle or an unadvertised benefit.

Also, in case you're looking at the evoluent "mouse friendly" keyboard, I'd say save your money. I like it, but I can't say that my arm stays in a straighter line with the mouse than it would have otherwise. And even though I don't use the number pad a lot, it's basically useless on the left side of the keyboard - they didn't mirror-image it, so the number keys don't line up with where your fingers want to be.
posted by vytae at 1:40 PM on August 28, 2007

"I still have to be careful not to REST my hand on the desk..." not "wrest"
posted by vytae at 1:41 PM on August 28, 2007

Microsoft has a new ergonomic mouse that I really like, the Natural Wireless Laser 6000. It's extremely comfortable once you get used to it and its not so extreme as a vertical mouse.

It has back and forward buttons.

I use it with the Microsoft Natural 4000 keyboard (which also has back and forward buttons).

You can get each for under $50.

And they match (color wise)if that helps.
posted by mphuie at 1:58 PM on August 28, 2007

Response by poster: As for posture, I definitely agree. I was trained during my youth by my chiropractor to sit up straight, and do a good job of that. I am careful to adjust the chair-to-keyboard height difference so that my arms are straight. But not resting my wrists on the desk is a habit I constantly fight with.

I would consider using mouse gestures instead of back forward, but I currently hate the gestures, and would like to avoid if possible.

One thing I forgot to mention in the original post, is it possible to have two mice set up at once? I would like to have a traditional mouse set up so others can drive my computer for short times, or I can switch for times when I just need a traditional mouse.
posted by LoopyG at 2:06 PM on August 28, 2007

I use the Kensington Orbit optical because I keep it on the left side (It's symmetrical). I've got a very old M$ natural keyboard on a tray that allows for the drawer to be tilted with the top down, so that I'm forced to hover my fingers to type.

I've also got an adjustable footrest because I'm pretty short.

I'm going to have to check out these newfangled navigating keyboards, though.
posted by lysdexic at 2:10 PM on August 28, 2007

Response by poster: autojack. Have you had any problems with the buttons on that logitech mouse? I have heard that right-click is hard to do since you need the pinky finger. I have also heard that the buttons tend to crap out after a few months use.
posted by LoopyG at 2:10 PM on August 28, 2007

As for others driving the 'puter, the trackball is on the left, but is right-handed, so I can move it over. The combination of my funky keyboard and it's funky position pretty much guarantees that I'm the only one using this box.
posted by lysdexic at 2:11 PM on August 28, 2007

"is it possible to have two mice set up at once? "

Yep, you can have as many Mice as you have USB-Ports.
posted by homodigitalis at 2:34 PM on August 28, 2007

A year or so ago, I reluctantly hooked a Logitech TrackMan Wheel to my machine for lack of any other mouse. After a couple days getting used to it, I decided I'm never going back. It feels really intuitive and reduces hand strain quite a bit - not to elimination, of course.

Funnest feature? Instead of pressing PG DWN & END to get to the bottom of a webpage, click in the scroll wheel and SLAP the ball to get it spinning and scrolling the page for you. It's way slower and way funner. Maybe I'm amused too easily.

So, yeah, short answer is that I recommend the Trackman to anyone who asks, and a few who don't.
posted by EatTheWeek at 3:17 PM on August 28, 2007

Best answer: I've been working on computers for 12+ hrs a day for over 10 years now and have never had sore wrists thanks to my Microsoft Natural Keyboard.

Recently I upgraded to the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and it's just as good, has a nicer action, and groovy hot keys :)
posted by katala at 6:05 PM on August 28, 2007

Response by poster: Well last night I went to Fry's electronics (a chain in CA and Texas), since I have $140 of store credit there. I got the Logitech Cordless Trackman, and so far I am liking it, but we will see how it holds up in the long haul.

At katala, I saw that keyboard there, and at $60 its a bit pricey. I would have gotten it if it was wireless (a necessity for me). I will be looking into if they have a wireless version.

I seem settled on a trackball, and if I don't like the one I got then I am going to try the Kensington Ultimate next. If that doesn't work either I am going to go with the Evoluent Vertical mouse.

So, the MS Ergo 4000 seems to be a good keyboard, any recommendations for others?
posted by LoopyG at 9:48 AM on August 29, 2007

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