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KeyOvation Evoluent VerticalMouse 3 review: KeyOvation Evoluent VerticalMouse 3

KeyOvation Evoluent VerticalMouse 3

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home | Windows PCs | Cooking (sometimes) | Woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
4 min read
Evoluent VerticalMouse 3
Had this reviewer known about the Evoluent VerticalMouse prior to reviewing the Microsoft Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 a few months back, he likely would have drawn a comparison to CNET's review of the Evoluent VerticalMouse 2, released in 2004. Fortunately he gets to redeem his ignorance with this review of the $80 VerticalMouse 3 (Rev. 2), which made its debut last month. It's a step up from the VerticalMouse 2, and we like it a bit better than the Microsoft ergonomic design. But as full-featured as the VerticalMouse 3 is, it could benefit from some more buttons. If you can get past the price and the unfamiliar design, we think it's worth trying if you're looking to give your sore mousing hand a shake-up.

First, a disclaimer. Despite a fair amount of research and even the backing of the Evoluent design by the University of California at Berkeley, no agreed-upon ergonomic standard for computer mice exists. Thus, neither CNET nor anyone else can really point to any mouse design as superior to any other. If you are experiencing repetitive-stress-related discomfort due to using your computer, you should definitely seek out the advice of a doctor.


KeyOvation Evoluent VerticalMouse 3

The Good

Keeps your arm even straighter than the competition (assuming that's ergonomically sound); DPI toggle button with LED indicator; software allows you to configure application-specific button profiles.

The Bad

At $80, it's not cheap; not wireless; needs another thumb-side button; DPI-switching button inconveniently located on the bottom of the mouse.

The Bottom Line

Evoluent's updated VerticalMouse 3 refines its longtime ergonomic mouse product into a robust modern competitor. It lacks the wireless freedom of Microsoft's recent ergo mouse, but otherwise, it's just as comfortable, more feature-packed, and better designed. Just don't be afraid of its unorthodox looks.

The new VerticalMouse 3 looks very similar to the VerticalMouse 2. As for the "Rev. 2" in the product name, Evoluent informed us that it indicates the model with a DPI switching button on the bottom. We'll go over that feature in a minute, but needless to say, we'd rather have the button than not.

From the VerticalMouse 2 design, Evoluent says it reshaped the grip for a more universal fit on the VerticalMouse 3. Astute observers will also notice a lip on the bottom-right edge of the new mouse, which Evoluent added to keep your little finger up off the desk surface. Cosmetically, Evoluent also made the buttons silver, updating the purple from the previous design.

Compared to the Microsoft mouse, the Evoluent design cants your hand up at a more severe angle, positioning your hand nearly perpendicular to your mousing surface. The idea is that gripping a traditional mouse makes you twist your forearm in an unnatural manner. Ideally, ergonomic experts say, you would grab the mouse so that your palm is about 90 degrees to the table top. If indeed it's true that the closer to perpendicular the better, the VerticalMouse 3 does a better job than Microsoft's mouse at keeping your hand and forearm in the proper position.

About the only advantage the Microsoft mouse has over the Evoluent model is that it's wireless. The thin USB 2.0 cord on the VerticalMouse 3 isn't too annoying, but if you've made the transition to a wireless mouse already, it might be hard to go back. The Microsoft mouse also has some more-refined features like two thumb-side buttons and a tilting scroll wheel, but the VerticalMouse 3 compensates for those deficiencies by making its thumb button very easy to reach (unlike those on the Microsoft mouse), as well as giving you three main mouse buttons and a scroll wheel. We don't really miss the scroll wheel tilting, but the Evoluent mouse would benefit from a second thumb-side button.

Still, Evoluent gave this new mouse some standout features that are missing from its previous incarnations and the current competition. For one, a new optical sensor gives your four preset sensitivity settings, which you can scroll through via a button on the bottom of the mouse. We normally prefer DPI toggle buttons sit on the top for easy-access, but if it has to be on the bottom, we like Evoluent's solution: it uses colored LEDs to indicate the current sensitivity, with options ranging from 800 to 2600 dpi. Its new scroll wheel also has distinct "detents" which gives your scrolling tactile feedback as you move between increments (gamers especially will appreciate this feature, as it lets them scroll through different weapons more easily).

In addition to improvements to the casing, Evoluent also claims to have improved the feel of the buttons, as well as the internal electricals. With the VerticalMouse 2 having been reviewed by another CNET editor who's no longer with the company, we can't comment on the updated feel. We do maintain the criticism from the last model that left-handed users get short-shrift. Our complaint last time was that the left-handed version of the VerticalMouse 2 used to cost $30 more than the right-handed model. Now, there is no left-handed version of the VerticalMouse 3. Instead, you can pay $80 for a left-handed version of the older VerticalMouse 2.

Finally, Evoluent says it has added more functionality to the software, giving you the option to program button-command profiles specific to different applications. Microsoft's software doesn't give you that option. We don't imagine that many people will take advantage of the application-specific programs, but for those who do, this flexibility should be more than welcome.


KeyOvation Evoluent VerticalMouse 3

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7