Thursday, June 22, 2006

Finding a Left handed mouse

Yes, not only am I color blind, I am also left handed.

10 years ago being left handed and working on a computer was no big deal. Unfortunately for us lefties, things changed for the worse via the ergonomics wave that swept through computing.

At first ergonomics was a great thing for computer mice. Mice were redesigned to make them fit in the hand better. The first wave, typified by some of Microsoft's early mice were tweaked to make the more comfortable for either hand. They were slightly right handed, but they fit my left hand a little better than the hand neutral mouse, so I didn't mind.

As the ergonomics wave intensified, mice were further differentiated for hand, and good high quality righty only and lefty only mice came about. This was a bit inconvenient for me, since my wife is a righty and I am a lefty, but for brief periods of time, both of us can work with opposite handed mice, so it was still an improvement.

Unfortunately, as the ergonmics wave crested and then plateaued a bit, things turned ugly for us lefties. Most mice manufacturers kept their decidely right handed mouse designs and dropped the lefty versions (or stores stopped carrying them, I'm not sure which).

As a result, I now dread the thought of needing to replace a mouse.

In the past year, I had to buy two new mice. One for the office and one for home. I visted every major computer store in Cincinnati and tried every mouse on their display racks, and finally found two that worked:

1) Office -- high volume, general purpose: Kensington Pilot mouse. This is a fairly no frills two button mouse with a scroll wheel, but it is a throw back design that is not handed. It is quite comfortable in either hand, and works like a champ. It is not a high res mouse, and would be far from ideal as a gamer mouse. But it works very well as a left handed mouse. They have cordless varieties, but they didn't have the same feel in my left hand, so I'm happy that I stuck with the corderd variety. A bonus feature of the Pilot mouse driver software is that it has a the ability to tell you if you have been working on the compter for a user defined interval. I need to get up and stretch my back regularly, or pay the consequences later. This feature is great, because I can tell it to alert me if I've spent 30 minutes in a row without taking a break. If I'm heads down in code, I can sit for hours without realizing it, this little feature can be a real back saver.

2) Home Lower volume, high intensity use -- Gamer -- Razer Diamondback Plasma: When I started looking for a mouse for the home, I wanted more gamer features than I needed at the office. So the choices are pretty limited. The Current raves are for the Logitech mice, but they are decidely right handed only, so they were immediately off the list. I tried a few different varities, but ended up with a Razer Diamondback Plasma. It is slightly right handed but like the first wave of ergnoomic mice, works well for lefties. It plays great, and has adjustable sensitivity making it appopriate for working at home, or tearing up the Daedra in Oblivion. I tried a few other models in the Razer line, but the Diamondback had a better feel than the others.

I'm very happy with both of these choices, and would highly recommend either to the left handed user. They are not interchangeable, so if you are looking for a good mouse for work and are left handed, try the Kensington, if you like to play games occassionally and need the extra speed of a gaming mouse, try the Razer Diamondback.

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1 comment:

Shelley McClanaan said...

The Razer mouse works well for either hand, so Tom and I can just use the mouse with whichever hand we prefer. And I very much appreciate the Logitech G5 gaming mouse that I use, righty that I am!