by Norman C. Berns
The ubiquitous computer mouse is so last century, ready for its final vanishing act, finally undone from its 50 year reign by the touchscreen. Even its inventor, Douglas Engelbart, died recently, neatly closing one era as the next demands you reach out and touch it.
You might think this would be the worst time to reimagine the mouse. You’d be wrong.
Contour has been producing and improving The RollerMouse since 2001. Its latest version is the Re:d. (Don’t blame me; I don’t name these things.) And it’s quite a working tool.
The Re:d sits directly in front of the keyboard. Part removable handrest, the “mouse” of it is made of two sliders, one keyboard-long roller that duplicates the up/down, back/forth of a traditional mouse (hence the “roller” of its name), the other a thumb-sized scroll bar. I grumbled more than a bit getting used to them.
Just below the scroll bar are six buttons and a scroll wheel. The largest are right and left click. There’s another addictively useful button for double-clicking. One button copies (CTL-C) another pastes (CTL-V) and the last controls sensitivity and speed. Don’t like those particular functions? Contour will soon release new drivers to let users remap the buttons.
For the first few hours, my hand shot instinctively to where my mouse once lived. I overshot everything with the scrollbar, click-click-clicking in all the wrong places (before I discovered there were sensitivity settings that could save me). I was ready to pack it all up, literally and figuratively, but by the time I was ready to stuff everything back in the box, I stopped missing my absent mouse. Then I started wondering how I ever put up with that rodent for so long.
Just to be sure, I plugged my mouse back in. It suddenly felt clunky. Taking my hands away from my keyboard seemed awkward and papers were always in the way of moving the mouse. It was no longer easy to grab a folder and move it all the way to the edge of the screen. The first time I had to hunt for the mouse under the mess of my paper-strewn desktop, I rushed back to the RollerMouse.
For me, the RollerMouse is a game-changer. Hardly as revolutionary as the original mouse, it still feels like mouse evolution on speed. Instead of “mousing” along the old way, hands on the keyboard until I pause, lift and shift the mouse, I now feel connected to the screen. My hands never leave the keyboard.
Even better for ambidextrous me, I can use whichever hand is handy at the moment. Or I can use them both at once, moving the cursor with one while scrolling the screen with the other.
Paired with my inseparable Goldtouch keyboard (another beloved wrist-saver), this is the perfect combo for me. It makes for quick and comfortable work. Wrists don’t ache, my desktop mess can go right on messing without burying my mouse. And best of all, mouse movements are as easy (and intuitive) as a flick of my thumb.
And that’s exactly how I plan to keep on working.
RollerMouse Re:d has a MSRP of $265 from Contour Design