When it comes to pointing devices, there are three types that the average person could think of offhand: a mouse, a touchpad and a trackball. All these have various strengths and weaknesses, but I would like to introduce a new concept into the mix: a mouse controlled by a movable bar. The basic concept is that the mouse sits stationary along the front edge of your keyboard, and there is a bar that you can manipulate with your fingers. It slides left and right and rotates back to front to move the cursor in those directions onscreen.
This type of mouse has a couple advantages worth noting: First, it brings the surface you manipulate to move the cursor as close as possible to where your fingers already are when working at a computer: on the keyboard. This minimizes reaching and is overall quicker than having to move your hand back and forth to a mouse or trackball. Second, it eliminates the need for a specific way to manipulate the bar or the buttons. On a traditional mouse, you grip the mouse, move it, and click with your index and middle fingers. For most people, this is fine, but for some, pain may prevent them from doing some or all of these things. With a bar mouse, they can click the left mouse button with their right hand, avoid gripping anything, and generally do what feels most comfortable. For the able-handed among us, it is also good to switch your control hand up from time to time just for variety. I found myself doing this without thinking about it. So not that you have the basic concept, it is time to look at one of our most popular bar mice: the RollerMouse Pro2 ergonomic mouse from Contour Design.
The Pro2 is a model that I personally used for several months, so I can talk about it in some detail. The bar on the Pro2 is mostly covered by plastic casing, making the only opening in the area in front of the space bar. This is not a major problem, however, as that is exactly where I tended to manipulate the mouse from, with my hands resting on or in front of my keyboard. Directly in front of the bar are five buttons: left click, right click, and one for double clicking are the primary three. The double click button is great for reducing repetitive stress. There are also copy and paste buttons, which I used some, but did not find a major convenience. Finally it has a scroll wheel for scrolling text.
Regarding these type of ergonomic mice, there is definitely a learning curve. If this is your first time using one, I recommend you keep your current mouse plugged in, and give yourself about a week to get used to it. But once I did so, I found that I was at least as accurate, if not more so, than I am with a traditional mouse. I do some graphics work, which requires precision.
So all in all, I love bar mice, and the Contour Designs RollerMouse Pro2 is definitely a good one.