One of my favorite things about CES is the little media shows that go on inside the main event, the two biggest being Showstoppers and Pepcom. Apart from giving me a chance to say hello to others in the industry, Pepcom always has some interesting companies doing interesting things, like Contour.
Contour makes a few different products designed specifically for those who design in 2D and 3D CAD programs. Most of them are clever roller bars that sit below your keyboard and allow you to move around with smooth motion and great detail, which is very important in computer-aided design or CAD, and for designing 3D objects. Their latest project is far more mainstream, however, and can be used by designers and regular folk. It's called the Unimouse.
What you'll like about Unimouse
The Unimouse is a three-button mouse that allows you to adjust the position and feel of just about everything. Having your hand in a comfy position while you are working is important, and Unimouse allows your hand to sit in a far more natural way. With angles from 35 to 70 degrees, the main body can be swung up to near-vertical so your hand sits upright, releasing the strain on your wrist. The thumb rest can also be adjusted and the design makes you cradle it so you never feel like you are gripping.
The Unimouse also comes with two thumb buttons that are supposed to be programmable though I have yet to see any software that will allow me to do that. Currently, they are the standard back and forward buttons for use in a browser and that's it, but the third mouse button is far more helpful. The center button is used in CAD to pan the work surface around without needing to use additional key presses, saving you time, stress and errors.
It also has 10 different settings for the DPI of the Unimouse which helps not only with design but with games too. Being able to adjust your DPI on the fly makes close, detailed work far easier than a normal mouse.
With a near vertical mouse, I find it much easier to move the cursor on both axes, allowing me to manipulate my 3D object with far more control than ever before, and my wrist really is feeling better. I have far less strain on my wrist than I have had with any other mouse.
What you won't like about Unimouse
There really isn't a lot to dislike about the Unimouse. The battery performs excellently; I haven't needed to use the micro-USB to charge it once, and even if I did I could still use it as it plugs into the edge of the mouse, not the bottom. The battery is said to last around three months on a single charge.
The Unimouse does leave your hand skimming the table when up at the seventy-degree angle. This isn't too much of a trouble, though if you have a rough or dirty desk the constant rubbing may give you calluses on the side of your palm. I think an extension of the base to allow for a resting place for your hand would be helpful here though that might raise your wrist to a slightly uncomfortable angle and cause more strain.
The only other issue is the price. With the wired model at $79.99 and the wireless model at $127, the Unimouse is not a low-end product. However, the build quality is fantastic, the hinges are solid and the whole mouse feels well made and well engineered. Unimouse is aimed at 3D and 2D design professionals, not the average consumer, so the high price tag may not bother you too much.
Final thoughts on Contour Design's Unimouse
I like the Unimouse by Contour. A lot. One of my favorite hobbies is designing nerdy things in 3D design software, and this mouse makes it far easier. Having the mouse tilted and at such a high angle takes a lot of the pressure I feel on my wrist away, making the whole experience better. If you can get over the price hump it's well worth a look.
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