Contour Design’s RollerMouse

Earlier this month, Adam Engst guested on the Mac Power Users. During the show, Adam explained his love of Contour Design’s RollerMouse, a product I’d never heard of before.

Nevertheless, I’m always curious about input devices, and I like the idea of mixing things up once in a while, so I ordered one. The RollerMouse shows up in a keyboard-sized box and ships with some extra RSI (repetitive strain injury)-friendly plastic bits, a cable, and a USB wart for wireless connection. The RollerMouse itself had a solid build quality. The device fits at the bottom of your keyboard, and the primary component is a big roller that you can roll with your thumb while simultaneously moving the roller right and left to place the mouse pointer on your screen. The advantage is that you don’t have to lift your fingers off the keyboard to position the mouse. You can also press down on the roller to click or program any of the several buttons underneath the roller for additional functions, like double tap and right-click.

I put my mouse in a drawer and used it for a week. The RollerMouse is good at its intended purpose. The roller is buttery smooth, and you can indeed move the mouse without lifting your fingers from the keyboard. There is an adjustment period. After a week, I got used to the RollerMouse, but I never really warmed up to it. It’s silly, but aesthetically, I just didn’t like looking at that big piece of hardware under my keyboard. Moreover, I found precise mouse movements and things like clicking and dragging to be … well … a drag.

Ultimately I gave up on the RollerMouse and sent it back, but I do see how folks like Adam could grow to love a roller mouse. Allowing you to keep your hands on the keyboard is a big win, and this device allows for that. Moreover, if you are experiencing mouse-related RSI problems, this lets you mouse without a mouse. While the RollerMouse ultimately was not for me, I could see how it would suit other folks. If you are looking for a different way to input at your desk, you may want to check it out.