The latest in the search for a better pointing device, Contour Design’s RollerMouse Pro claims to be the “World’s greatest mousing device” but how does it stack up in day-to-day use? Is it worth the steep $200 price tag? Contour Design offered me the chance to test-drive a RollerMouse Pro for a few weeks and here’s what I thought:
The Device: The RollerMouse Pro doesn’t fit cleanly into any pointer device category I know. It’s not a track ball, not a touch pad, not a mouse, not a tablet. It has aspects of all these devices, but is truly its own device.
The long cylindrical roller is used to control a pointer. The cylinder spins up and down while sliding back and forth. A traditional left and right mouse button are complemented by a scroll wheel (with the standard functionality) and a centered double-click button. The cylinder can also be pressed down to accomplish a left-click adding further to the convenience of the device.
The RollerMouse Pro has two special function buttons (which are absent in the standard RollerMouse.) By default they act as a click-lock (click and hold) and scroll-lock (click and use the main roller to scroll.) A web mode allows the buttons to be used as forward and back in web browsers and the final mode allows custom software to be used to assign the buttons to additional functions.
If all that isn’t enough, the RollerMouse Pro is integrated with a wrist rest which improves keyboarding posture. The comfortable, high quality lycra wrist rest is removable for cleaning.
In use the RollerMouse Pro is highly functional with a comfort unmatched by any pointing device I have used. I used the RollerMouse Pro daily at work for several weeks prior to this review. For the first few days I found I needed to adjust the mouse tracking speed slower than I typically used with a mouse, but after just a few days of using the RollerMouse Pro I was back up to my typical (“twitchy” as many would say) high mouse speed with all the accuracy I have with a traditional mouse.
One of the RollerMouse’s claims is that since the user does not have to reach to their side the hand position is more ergonomic when mousing. While I am not an ergonomics expert I will say that while using the RollerMouse Pro I did find that some tension and aches I had in my right shoulder and lower neck absolutely disappeared.
The video below shows how the RollerMouse Pro sits below the keyboard so it can be used with only a minimal departure from the keyboard. To show how little movement is needed I have added stripes to the roller with some orange tape. During this video I moved the pointer all around the screen, from launching a web browser from the start menu, to selecting a link to Gmail, to scrolling around the page, to closing the window.
You can see how little movement of the cylinder was required for these standard tasks. While hard to show in a video, if you reach the end of the the RollerMouse’s movement before reaching the corresponding edge of the screen you can feel a click on the cylinder and it will continue the pointer movement to the edge of the screen. This behavior was easier than expected to get used to.
I found that using several fingers from my right (dominant) hand gave me the best control, but this second video shows how I was also able to control the RollerMouse Pro with just my thumbs (I used my left thumb to give some resistance on the cylinder while I controlled it with my right thumb.) This method allows the RollerMouse Pro to be used without moving the hands from the keyboard. I found this ideal when working in text-centric applications like word processing and shell sessions.
I used the RollerMouse Pro on both Mac OSX and Windows with no need for drivers on either platform. In both cases the RollerMouse Pro was recognized by the operating system as a standard mouse and all standard features were immediately available.
While there are advantages to being able to program your own functions to specific buttons it is invaluable that the first two modes mentioned above work without any additional software. I personally didn’t make much use of the two additional buttons between the main array and the roller cylinder. In the long run I might try to program them for copy and paste, but to me they neither make or break the device.
Conclusions: After setting up the RollerMouse Pro (which was a breeze) and using it for a few weeks I have found it significantly better than traditional mouses. It offers the advantages of a laptop trackpad (easily accessible with little or no movement from the home position on the keyboard) while offering a fast learning curve and outstanding range and accuracy.
While a price of just shy of $200 keeps me from recommending this to the casual user, for those who spend their work days at their computers the RollerMouse Pro has a lot to offer. The unanticipated advantage of the RollerMouse Pro was the liberation of a few square feet of desk space previously occupied by my mouse and mouse pad.
An ergonomic design, high quality construction, convenient placement, an integrated wrist rest and unbeatable functionality make the RollerMouse Pro a great choice for anyone who spends hours a day at their computer. It did take several days to get used to, but if you’re not sure if it’s for you there’s always the option of their 30 day free trial.
RollerMouse Pro or Classic? There are a handful of differences between the classic and pro versions of the RollerMouse (see the image below, pro on top.) The pro is only $10 more than the classic and features a larger opening for controlling the main cylinder, larger buttons and two additional buttons. All these features make it well worth upgrading to the pro version.
11 thoughts on “RollerMouse Pro Review”
Are you still using and loving the RollerMouse or did you find that you stopped using it after a time?
I still use the RollerMouse every day. All the things I liked about it have held true and the device is still in great condition, even with all the cat hair in my house!
Thanks for asking.
This looks totally cool, but I have a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, so I wonder how this would work with a non traditional keyboard like that.
I have a friend using this with an ergonomic keyboard and he seems to like it. I think he has to take his hands off the home keys to use it, but the other benefits still hold true.
I think they still offer a risk free trial, so it can’t hurt to try!
I am currently researching ergonomic input devices and ran across this page. I find that with laptop touchpads I often change to position of the cursor as I type because I have touched the pad with my thumbs. Have you had any problems of this nature with the rollermouse?
I haven’t had any trouble with bumping the RollerMouse, but I do find that it sometimes moves with the vibration from my typing. Not far typically, and I certainly never accidentally click anywhere (which is far more problematic.) Still love the RollerMouse. Use it every day!
This is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well that is if your at your computer all day. I suffered from horrible RSI in my wrist and forearm. This tool has allowed me to return to a healthy working lifestyle. I currently switch between the rollermouse pro and a wacom tablet. If your doing alot of page layouts, blogging anything that requires alot of scolling its great for. Leave it up to the wacom if your using illustrator or photoshop.
I have used the RollerMouse Classic for over six years. Got it just before I had Carpal Tunnel surgery on both hands. I could have skipped the surgery if I had it before. I also have a cat, dust, etc and my original is still working just fine. I love it!
is there a way to take it apart and clean it?
i have used mine for several years and it is filthy now and sticking…
am afraid to dismantle…but even with it sticking, i
would not go back to older mouse type.
ideas for cleaning?
I’m using the new rollermouse free, had it few weeks, so far so ggood:) .. i’m hoping this helps with RSI problem.
I have a laptop and have a separate keyboard that I put on my lap.
Can I use the rollermouse pro on my lap with the keyboard?