The mouse has been more or less a required peripheral since the invention of the Macintosh and the introduction of the first Windows operating system—the one that still required you to also install DOS first and then add Windows as a graphic interface on top of it. Over the decades, though, there have been a variety of mouse alternatives, like the trackball or the eraser-shaped pointing stick on ThinkPad laptops. Contour devise a unique approach to mouse input with the RollerMouse Red.
Rather than being a completely separate device, the RollerMouse Red is more like a palm rest for your keyboard. It is designed to be situated at the base of the keyboard and consists of a cylinder covered in rubber nubs that can easily roll forward or back and glide side to side on a bar. That cylinder and bar are the “mouse”.
The RollerMouse cylinder / bar can be depressed to click on things. Below the bar there is a panel of buttons with pads to either side. The buttons include one for “Copy” and one for “Paste”, along with buttons for left, right, and double-click of the mouse. There is also a scroll wheel. For my review unit, Contour included an optional palm rest that is extends the space below the bar for your palms to rest on.
Using the RollerMouse is fairly intuitive. Slide the cylinder left and right to move the pointer left and right, and roll the mouse forward and back to move the pointer up and down.
Clicking the bar is simple enough. The scroll wheel and buttons are located where your thumbs would naturally be while using the RollerMouse, so they’re easily accessible.
I really loved using the RollerMouse Red—for some things. The movement of the cylinder is exceptionally smooth. It’s like there is zero friction as you roll and glide the cylinder on the bar. The ability to use both hands simultaneously rather than having to constantly remove one to work with a traditional mouse is nice, and the precision of movement is phenomenal.
It definitely takes a little getting used to—training yourself to use your thumbs to seamlessly interact with the scroll wheel and buttons, and getting the feel for the glide and click of the bar. I actually found myself often clicking the bar down on accident when I was really just trying to have my hands sit idle.
I am not a graphic artist, and I don’t do extensive photo or video editing. I spend most of my time typing. Ultimately, I found that the RollerMouse Red wasn’t awesome for me because it forced me to push the keyboard farther away from my body and sort of reach over or past the RollerMouse in order to just type. If you need the keyboard more than you need the mouse, this isn’t a great device for you.
This is a unique and clever device. The precision of movement and the ability to interact without having to remove either of your hands from the keyboard are both exceptional benefits. The value of the RollerMouse Red, however, depends somewhat on how you use your computer and what tasks you’re trying to accomplish.
It’s not the best device for me, but for graphic arts, or photo / video editing, the RollerMouse might be the ideal evolution of the mouse. With a $265 price tag, the RollerMouse Red will only really appeal to those with specific, niche needs for the unique features and benefits it offers.
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