Does your work involve the use of a computer? Let’s face it, these days most jobs do, and if it doesn’t then it’s highly likely you use one at home during your free time, right?
Unfortunately, with the increase of computer hours comes an increase in desk based injuries, such as repetitive strain injury (you can read more in my recent article ‘The Ultimate Guide To Preventing Repetitive Strain Injury‘) and it is causing the nation a lot of pain and distress.
I was recently sent a product that could help prevent repetitive strain injury, or certainly help alleviate some of the symptoms if you suspect you may already be suffering from it.
The Penclic Mouse R3 is basically a vertical pen shaped mouse, in fact it kind of looks like a slimmed down version of those joysticks we used to use in the 80s. However, as stylish as it is – seriously it looks super sleek and is going to look amazing perched on your desk – it’s selling point is that it is ergonomically designed to help your wrists, hands and fingers sit in a much better position than if you were using a bog standard computer mouse.
Here’s all the technobabble you need to know:
- Mac and PC compatible
- USB connection
- 3 buttons and scroll wheel mouse
- Suitable for left and right handed users
- Wireless (reach up to 5 metres)
- Recharging battery
- Energy saving mode
- Dpi settings 800 – 1200 – 1600
- Works on most operating systems including: Windows XP or later, Mac OSX version 10.1 or later and most Linux/BSD
As you can see from the photo, the base looks very much like a smaller version of a computer mouse as we know it, and in fact that part of it works in just the same way; what differs is the pen part. It has been created to enable the user to employ their fingers instead of their wrist to perform small and precise movements, without the twisting that can occur from use of a standard mouse. With this being the case, I can imagine the Penclic mouse being a great tool for designers, engineers, architects and other creative industries who may use a mouse for such precision functions. The pen section is, as expected, designed to be held exactly like a pen, so it is up to you to find a position that is comfortable. But what it does do, is force you to be more mindful of your position when working and allows the body parts that would be most at risk from repetitive strain injury to rest and sit in a more natural position.
To put it to the test, I passed the Penclic onto my husband to use. He runs his own digital agency, which involves a lot of computer work and use of a mouse, making him the perfect guineapig.
Here’s what he thought:
“I tend to be a fast worker when it comes to keyboard and mouse operation, often finding that the software I am using can’t keep up with me. Running my own online business and working long hours on the computer I demand the best PC equipment to help maximise efficiency. I admit I had some preconceptions about how good this product would actually be, but I gave it a go and broke my thoughts down into different headings.
The accuracy seems OK, but I did find that I had to concentrate more on movement compared to a traditional mouse. The position of the right and left click buttons on either side of the pencil mean it’s easy to end up pushing the wrong one, or both at the same time during use, unless you have your fingers in a specific position. This issue is more noticeable when trying to left click (with my thumb as I am right handed) and the correct positioning is something that doesn’t feel natural to me. I have never really held a pen 100% perfectly despite being taught the right way in school, so perhaps other people may not have the same issue.
Speed of Use
OK, so let’s say I’m typing and then need to move the cursor quite quickly. With a standard mouse, I move my right arm up, across, down onto the mouse, then move the cursor accordingly – it’s an action that takes a split second and requires no thought. With the pencil mouse, if I do the same thing, I end up knocking it over. Instead I have to move my hand across, towards myself, then move my hand forwards again, such that my thumb and other fingers form the standard grip around the device. Its’ a tiny thing, but in a typical working day a heavy desktop PC and mouse user probably does this hundreds of times, so the slight extra thought and time needed won’t help overall productivity or efficiency. I even found myself having to glance down at the device before using it to ensure I didn’t knock it over and to make sure I had the correct grip. On reflection, however, maybe that’s part of how this product works…by making a person think more about their actions it means they become less habitual and less sloppy in their movements and positions, thus taking more care and consideration. I also think that practice makes perfect, and this is a product that definitely requires a little bit of getting used to, so I am going to persevere with it.
In my line of work I sometimes need to click on a very small area and I found the Penclic required extra concentration, as there is very little weight to the thing. With a traditional mouse, your entire hand rests on the device, giving enough downward force to ensure it stays still when you click. However, when clicking with the pen mouse, because there is a lack of steadiness, there is a slight tendency for the device to move a little each time you click. The results is 2 or 3 attempts may be needed as opposed to one, or you may need to pause before clicking to ensure a firm hold with no movement.
The mouse roller is of the ‘clicky’ variety, meaning it spins with a slow cog style click as you move it. My current mouse has the option of disengaging the cogs for a very high speed ‘free-wheeling’ spin. This enables me to scroll through very long web pages or documents at high speed; something that easily saves me a few precious seconds a number of times a day.
In the short time I have been using the Penclic mouse I personally found it took too much thought to use. However, I am of course biased in that I have been using a traditional mouse almost daily for over 20 years and my pen hold is far from perfect.
I’m lucky in that after many years of being an information worker, I have never knowingly suffered from RSI. That fact, combined with the few minor issues above add up to me not wishing to use the Penclic for any length of time, especially when I have lots to do, deadlines approaching etc.
My advice to the designers of any future Pen style mouse products is to move the left click button up a little, so it falls into a more naturally clickable position and is not directly opposite the right click button. Also giving the base more weight will help with stability and accuracy and to help ensure by default that it stays connected and active.
I’ll be honest, after switching back to my usual mouse my initial reaction was ‘ahhhhhhh that’s better’.”
I think with any new and innovative product there needs to be a settling in period. We’ve all become so used to the way a traditional mouse feels that of course it’s going to feel strange using a different style. New things do take practice, habits are not easily broken, but I can definitely see how the Penclic Mouse would help reduce the risk and alleviate the pain and symptoms of RSI.
If you would like to find out more about the Penclic Mouse R3 as well as discover other ergonomically designed products for better work wellness you can visit the Penclic website here.
*Product gifted for review