One of the biggest barriers that kept me from enjoying PC gaming years ago was ergonomics. Sitting at a desk with a mouse and a keyboard can seem uncomfortable before you realize how to relax your shoulders and where to position your keyboard. But playing on the PC clicked for me when I stopped settling for the cheapest, most readily available peripherals and instead started looking into hardware that would fit me.
That has led me to the VerticalMouse 4 from Evoluent, which claims to work just as well as traditional mouse while enabling you to relax your wrist. It is $90 wired or $110 wireless and available now.
I’ve spent the last few weeks testing it out and switching between it and my go-to Logitech G903, and it delivers on all of its promises even if it still requires you to adjust your body.
What you’ll like
Comfortable, ergonomic grip
The whole idea of a vertical mouse is that it eliminates the unnatural twisting required to use the old pointer we’ve had since the early days of Mac and Windows. Wrist pain is a legitimate concern for people who sit at a computer all day. Repetitive strain injury is more likely if you continually contort your body and limbs.
The VerticalMouse 4 eliminates some of that concern by enabling you to hold your mouse with a neutral handshake-style grip. And it is noticeably more comfortable than almost any mouse I’ve ever used. One of the reasons I’ve stuck with the Logitech G903 recently is because it is long and relatively skinny, which enables me to hold it with a tilted grip that I find ideal. But most other mice are too wide or too short, and I do end up feeling that ache in the outside of my right wrist.
But even if I find the G903 comfortable, the VerticalMouse 4 is still more ergonomic. When I relax my arm and wrist, they want to default to the upright position. And then grabbing Evoluent’s mouse when I’ve relaxed like that feels wonderful. The mouse buttons all fall naturally under your fingers, and you shouldn’t have to strain to reach anything.
When it comes to comfort over time — both in terms of hours-long sessions and after years of use — the VerticalMouse 4 is the better choice for saving my tendons and ligaments.
Comes with all the features of a modern mouse
Evoluent didn’t make any sacrifices to build the VerticalMouse 4. It knows you have a billion choices when it comes to peripherals, so it included every feature you would want. As I mentioned, it has a wireless version that works with a 2.4GHz USB receiver. It comes with simple software for remapping your buttons. It uses an optical sensor for accurate movement. It has an easy-to-access rocker for adjusting your sensitivity with 4 built-in presets. It even has two thumb buttons depending on whether you prefer to roll up or down.
These features ensure that the VerticalMouse 4 is a simple, pleasant experience. I could give it to my mother, and she would have no problem figuring out how to get the most out of it.
Viable for gaming
It took me some time to get used to this new form factor when I used it in some shooters and other games, but I did grow accustomed to it and performed just fine. The clicky buttons feel nice, and the optical sensor has razor-sharp accuracy.
The high center of balance caused me to almost knock it over when I was trying to move it laterally. In response to this, I started overcompensating by pushing down a bit too hard, which was uncomfortable. But once I relaxed and just used the weight of my arm and got used to its sliding characteristics, all of those problems went away.
What you won’t like
No Bluetooth support for Windows
The only feature missing from the wireless model is Bluetooth connectivity. The 2.4 GHz dongle works great, but I don’t love having to take up a USB port when every computer I use has built-in Bluetooth support. There is a Bluetooth model, but Evoluent says it only works with Mac — it’s also a separate $110 device from the 2.4GHz model.
Requires you to sit in a very specific position
My biggest issue with the VerticalMouse 4 is a bigger criticism of me than the mouse. To comfortably use this device, you will have to sit up straight and close to your desk, and you’ll want to have a desktop that is about level with your elbows with space for the mouse off to the side. You’ll need all of that because holding your arm in this vertical position is only more comfortable in a certain Goldilocks zone.
If your desk is a bit too high or too low, you’ll find that the vertical grip is uncomfortable and sometimes even painful as your wrist bends to hold the mouse correctly. You could turn the mouse sideways so that you can easily adjust the height of your elbow, but then you’ll have to think about how your moving your mouse a bit more to ensure it’s going where you want.
I say this is maybe my problem because the VerticalMouse 4 is great if you’re sitting at your desk the correct way. Your desktop should be at about your elbows, and you should sit up straight. But I move around a lot. I go from a standing desk to a treadmill desk to sitting in an office chair to bouncing on one of those exercise balls — and the VerticalMouse 4 is a sharp reminder that maybe I’m not using my equipment properly in all of those circumstances.
The VerticalMouse 4 works, and it’s great if you are already sitting at your desk properly. If you’re not, I would probably invest in a new chair that is the appropriate height first. If you do already have that, though, the VerticalMouse 4 will make both work and gaming more comfortable for most people.
The Pulsefire Surge is available now for $70. HyperX provided a sample unit for the purpose of this review.