Evoluent Vertical Mouse Review

In my opinion, the Evoluent vertical mouse is probably what the standard “mouse” should look like, because it offers a high degree of ergonomic benefit and yet remains easy to use without special training. The Evoluent design simply takes an ordinary five-button scroll mouse and turns it on its side, untwisting the user’s wrist from its standard position into a natural “handshake” posture. At the same time, this enables the weight of the hand to rest on its sturdy side, instead of being painfully piled on the wrist. One reviewer, who had gone through many ergonomic mice, described the sensation of using the Evoluent this way: “Like when you’ve been standing on the bus for hours and somebody finally gets off so you can sit down.”

The Evoluent Vertical Mouse

Having used the Evoluent mouse for a period of two or three months in 2010, I can easily sympathize with this sentiment. Compared to a regular mouse – or even to an inexpensive “ergonomic” design – the Evoluent is like a permanent vacation for your hand. While wrist pain was not my complaint at the time I tried the Evoluent vertical mouse, there are many testimonials to indicate that it has helped people significantly with common RSI problems such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I have no doubt that this is case, since the design removes almost all the load from your wrist, putting your hand and fingers to work instead.

Two different comfortable positions

The Evoluent mouse instructions recommend two possible mousing positions, one with a wrist rest and one without. Normally, I join the vast majority of ergonomic wisemen in abominating those gel-filled wrist rests, which purport to be ergonomically beneficial, but can actually increase the chance of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome by doubling the pressure on the most vulnerable part of your wrist. Because of the Evoluent mouse’s orientation, the tender underside of your wrist comes nowhere near the wrist rest; instead, the less vulnerable outside of your wrist or forearm can be placed there, allowing your hand to float around the mouse. I tried this arrangement briefly, but found I preferred to rest the outside of my hand on the work surface and let the rest of my arm float. This is the other position recommended by Evoluent. It’s probably a good idea to try each for a few hours before making a decision.

Multiple programmable buttons

Evoluent Vertical Mouse 4
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One of the truly aggravating things about ordinary mice is their lack of buttons. A typical mouse of the type that comes with your computer has just two buttons, plus a cheap scroll wheel that may purport to double as a center click. This so-called center click is often so stiff that it proves nearly useless, at least for me. The Evoluent vertical mouse is a five-button model. To be fair, one of those “buttons” is a scroll-wheel with typically poor clicking action, so it’s really more of a four-button mouse as far as I’m concerned. The three main buttons are all properly sized and easy to click, and there is a fourth useful button on top of the mouse where the thumb can access it by venturing a short distance out of its nook.
The Evoluent vertical mouse includes software to re-map the buttons, which means you can not only change the defaults, but get pretty creative as well. You can, for instance, set any button to double-click, which will save you thousands of finger moves over time. Even more conveniently, you can set a special function for each button depending on what program you are using at the time!
One caveat here: It’s easy to waste hours trying to find the absolute optimal configuration of your mouse buttons. To avoid destroying productivity, I recommend you come up with a reasonable setup, then quit thinking about it.

Drawbacks

Gripping and clicking force

I am not a medical professional, and I don’t have any kind of degree in anything related to ergonomics. Some who do, however, have told me that the Evoluent mouse (and in fact virtually any vertical-design mouse) has a potential ergonomic issue compared to other devices. The gripping force required to move and click the mouse, it seems, places additional unhealthy stress on certain muscles and tendons in the hand. Other designs remove the need for gripping and benefit from the force of gravity when clicking.

I am sure that Evoluent could bring their own team of experts to declare this theory incoherent nonsense, and perhaps they would be right. I myself never experienced such issues during the time when I was an Evoluent user (though I still prefer Contour’s Perfit mouse for other reasons). One thing on which I think virtually everyone would agree is that the Evoluent mouse is a huge ergonomic step up from the mouse that probably came with your computer.

Finger grime accumulation

Evoluent Vertical Mouse 4
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I am at a loss to explain this second problem, but I am also not the only user to have experienced it. Whether it is caused by the vertical orientation or perhaps by something in the plastic I don’t know, but finger grime accumulates faster on the buttons on the Evoluent mouse than on anything I have ever seen. When I used the mouse, I had to clean it virtually every day or it would get quite nasty; my current mouse only needs attention every few weeks at the most.

If it cures your carpal tunnel, this hardly a big enough problem to worry about, but I would still love to hear an explanation for why it is such a grime magnet.

The bottom line

Despite the fact that I don’t currently use it myself, the Evoluent vertical mouse is the #1 ergonomic mouse I would recommend to most people. While it may not offer all the benefits of more advanced ergonomic systems, it also doesn’t scare users away with a weird appearance or force them to take special training. Anybody who has ever used an ordinary mouse should have no trouble adjusting to an Evoluent vertical mouse.

Disclosure: This review was made using my own Evoluent Vertical Mouse 3, duly purchased at the retail price.

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29 Comments

  1. John Gowland
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    I developed RSI in the wrist a few years ago writing up a long Masters Degree. This mouse saved me a great deal of pain. I can now happily work for hours without discomfort.

  2. jevans
    Posted January 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Just got a regular-size Evoluent VM4. I think I might love it if they had a larger size – my third finger ends up halfway between the second and third buttons. I find myself gripping it with my thumb below the thumb notch in a less vertical grip but eventually that causes my thumb to hurt. I’m thinking to try your Perfit mouse next.

    • Jason
      Posted January 26, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Contour mouse is great as long as you don’t do a lot of scrolling. If you do, you might try the Oyster mouse instead in its largest size. That will give you a big, flexible grip and ambidexterity too.

      • jevans
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        Just got the Contour (Perfit) mouse in. I see what you mean about scrolling although I think it may be exacerbated for me.
        I ordered a large based on their sizing chart but I’m thinking I must need XL. With my palm sitting comfortably on the rear of the mouse, the first joint of my fingers is completely beyond the end of the mouse rather than just the tips as they picture. Same with my thumb and the scroll wheel, making it nearly impossible to use.

        I also had a DXT2 on order so I’ll try that next.

        • Jason
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          If the first joint of your finger is hanging beyond the end of the Contour mouse, you definitely need a size larger. Downside to that, of course, is lack of precision.

  3. AJAX101
    Posted April 3, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    My big problem with this mouse is programming the … buttons; seems only to have full function with the company’s own software, which demands that all other mouse and pointer drivers in your system be erased – which is rubbish. Anyone know a way of achieving full control over the buttons without this exclusivity of software? Thanks in advance!

    • Jason
      Posted April 3, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      I very much doubt you’ll find a way to customize the buttons without the Evoluent driver, so if you have other pointing device drivers that aren’t compatible, you may be out of luck. I believe I ran into this problem when I had an Evoluent mouse and a graphics tablet, and I may have had to do without the graphics tablet driver.

  4. Danny
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I have a vertical mouse, and the only complaint I would have is that using the mousewheel to scroll produces more strain then doing so on a standard mouse. And it absolutely needs to be at the cortrect height or it will cause more pain. I have the vertical mouse 4 model.

  5. David
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Yes! I have owned an Evoluent for 2 years now to relieve wrist pain and every point here had me nodding my head. It DID eliminate my wrist pain but then I starting having nagging tightness and tingling pain on the top of my hand, the worst of it at the knuckle of my middle finger (I suspect from using the scroll wheel with that finger). The mouse does accumulate grime like no other mouse I have owned before and I do have to remind myself to ease up on the grip every now and then. If I had two, I suspect that would help as I could alternate.

    I am now considering switching to a trackball mouse (maybe putting that for my left hand and keeping the Evoluent on the right) hoping that will eliminate the pain. Any thoughts on those? I have my eye on the Kensington SlimBlade.

    At any rate, I wish I would have come across this review before I made my original purchase. Very helpful site!

    • Jason
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m glad – but also sorry – to hear that my experience resonates. Have you considered the DXT mouse? It is a vertical design, but the way it interacts with your hand is rather different – looser, more flexible. And, it’s inherently ambidextrous.

      On trackballs, I can’t really speak to whether or not one would be likely to help. For myself I’ve found that trackballs tend to increase hand tension over time, so I use mine only for portable.

  6. Alen
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, but if you compare the Handshoebwith Evoluent, which one is more accurate?

    Whoops, i actually meant whether there are any ergonomic mice that has a laser tracking instead of optical. As optical mice are actually old technology, aren’t they? Although it still works great, but I’d expect laser with that price tag
    Most mice nowadays use laser for its tracking work, so I was wondering whether there is a ergonomic mice with laser tracking.

    • Jason
      Posted November 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know whether any of the “real” ergonomic mice use laser tracking. I’m not sure there would be much of a point, as their physical designs tend to reduce accuracy in favor of comfort anyway. I do think that some of the more consumer-oriented ergonomic mice, such as the Logitech MX Revolution, use laser.

      As to precision of the Handshoe vs. Evoluent, I think the Evoluent would definitely provide more accuracy. It has a resolution switch (and probably higher potential resolution) – but more than that, the Evoluent is designed so that it can be used with your hand resting on the table. The Handshoe can only be manipulated with your whole arm, which unavoidably has far less motor control.

      • Alen
        Posted December 1, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

        Thanks a lot for your suggestion.

        I had a MX revolution which stopped working a whilr back and rigt now I’m using its follower MX performance, I’ll do some more reaearch on the evoluent mices.
        Thanks again.

  7. Alen
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Hi, first of all thanks for your review, it makes many things clear to me.

    Today I just found out that I am having issues with RSI.
    After reading several reviews, I think that I’ve decided yet.
    However I am still unsure whether this one would fit for my daily use.
    I am actually looking for a mouse with pixel precision.

    Also, if it is possible, could you tell me something about ergonomic laser mouse?

    Thanks

    • Jason
      Posted November 28, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Glad you found my review helpful. If pixel precision is what you’re looking for, I would suggest you consider a graphics tablet instead of a mouse. I use one of those for my pixel-perfect work, and I have a brother who uses the stylus all the time and never touches a mouse at all. Pixel perfection doesn’t tend to be a feature in ergonomic mice, because doing such precise work with a mouse just isn’t all that ergonomic by its very nature.

      Not sure I understand what you mean about the “ergonomic laser mouse.” Can you clarify?

  8. Alex
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I wish I found this review before I bought the regular size Evoluent. I’m having the same issue as Victor but I find it’s because the thumb groove is forcing my thumb to be in an extended and raised position. I’m hoping the smaller size will alleviate it but I definitely want to try the mouse before buying this time.

    Do you have any resources about ergonomic stores in Toronto, Canada? I have researched but they’re mainly office furniture stores. Those that do carry computer accessories only carry Human Scale.

    • Jason
      Posted October 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I hope the smaller size helps your problem. Have you considered trying a totally different vertical design such as the AirO2bic? (That one has a larger body with a full-hand rest, but no thumb groove.) There’s also the DXT Mouse, and of course the 3M Ergonomic Mouse.

      I’m afraid I don’t have any information to give you about ergonomic stores in Toronto, but I will ask around and post back here if I come up with anything.

  9. JoAnn
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I am having issues getting the set up done, I do alot of email review and I can not get this to access a delete control like my regular mouse. any direction would be great, other than that I like it

    • Jason
      Posted April 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      The only thing I can suggest is to contact Evoluent’s tech support email, help {at} evoluent dot com. Hopefully they can straighten out the problem for you. Thanks for commenting!

  10. JD Jackson
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    6 years ago, when I was 18, I developed a crippling pain all through my right hand, to the point that I couldn’t hold a piece of paper on my outstretched hand. After going through a few different keyboards (including the Kinesis Advantage), I discovered that the pain was caused by mouse use and I settled on the Evoluent Vertical Mouse. Almost immediately the pain went away, and stayed away for probably a year. Then it came back, but now it’s a much lesser pain, and only on the right side of my hand and into my pinky instead of throughout my hand. So it did help a lot – for a while.

    • Jason
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for taking time to share your experience. I’m glad to hear that the pain you were experiencing has at least been very much reduced by the Evoluent mouse. I have been told that pinky-side hand compression can be a harmful side effect of using the Evoluent. Have you considered trying the Handshoe instead? It’s not as vertical a design, but there is no excessive weight on the outside of the hand.

  11. Nilesh
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    @Zelda, how did you find the handshoe mouse? I also have the same symptom and in the market for an ergonomic mouse. According to the reviews and technical articles am thinking handshoe mouse. And to the writers, thank you for the review, really helps us folks making good decisions.

    • Jason
      Posted November 29, 2011 at 4:27 am | Permalink

      I’m glad if anyone finds anything on this site useful – thanks for commenting!

  12. Zelda
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your review. I also experience pain and discomfort with this mouse. I can see how it is more ergonomic because you are forced to use the larger muscles in your arm. However, I struggle to relax my hand while doing the finer mouse movements even at the slow pointer speed. I have severe RSI and the pain is in my wrist below the thumb base. I feel like my pain with the Evoluent is from a pinching feeling on my wrist where my thumb and pointer finger end … probably from tensing my hand to grip which I constantly fight to relax.

    I think I will try the Handshoe mouse as well. Thanks!

    • Jason
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for posting your experience, Zelda. It really does seem that the pinch force issue is a kind of Achilles’ heel for the Evoluent. Some people, such a my brother, manage to get along with it just fine – but others, like you and Victor above, find the grip a deal killer. If you’re having trouble relaxing your hand, I think you are wise to try the Handshoe. It’s so ridiculously comfortable that they really should have called it the “Hand-couch.” Best wishes in your ergonomic search.

  13. victor
    Posted August 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    i love the Evoluent for the first couple months as it alleviate my wrist and finger-clicking pains. But it caused the bottom of my thumb to hurt due to the gripping. i have a small-sized asian palm size so i suspect the Evoluent actually not suitable for small sized as it aggravate the gripping problem. i’m still using it at work and desparate for alternative as it’s hurting every moment. I’m going to give a shot to the handshoe which does not have the gripping problem.

    • Jason
      Posted August 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to hear about your problems with the Evoluent. I think you’re doing the right thing to try the Handshoe. When I reviewed that mouse, I found it very comfortable to use and pretty much grip-free. Only caveat is it requires more desk space than a standard device. I hope it works for you!

    • Sandy
      Posted September 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      @ Victor, I understand your problem. If I may suggest, you might want to try Evoluent’s newest version of the mouse, which is VM4S. This mouse was made smaller in size compared to the standard original size, to accommodate users like you who have a smaller sized hand.

      @ Jason, I concur. The Handshoe Mouse is also another great ergonomic and comfortable mouse to use. It comes in small, medium and large, as well as right handed and left handed.

      Evoluent and Hippus have done a job well done with their ergonomic approaches to mousing.

      • Jason
        Posted September 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        Sandy, I’m glad to know that the VM4 is smaller, so I can be sure to purchase a VM3 if I ever buy another one. I don’t have small hands 🙂

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  • About The Blogger

    Jason, the All Things Ergo bloggerI'm Jason, a user of many ergonomic devices by necessity and choice. I'm also a partner in a business that operates a number of commercial enterprises, including All Things Ergo.

    I have no particular training or expertise in the area of ergonomics. My views are based on my own personal experience, and what works for me won't necessarily work for you.