In this RollerMouse Red review I take a close look at the top of the line RollerMouse from Contour Design and share my first impressions and experiences with this product that has proven to be a fantastic ergonomic computer mouse.
Until now I have been convinced that I would never be able to work fast or with any acceptable level of precision by using this strange kind of device.
The RollerMouse Red has proven me very wrong. Well, for the most part anyway and I´ll explain what I mean by that later in the article.
What to expect from the RollerMouse Red
Even though the RollerMouse series from Contour Design and other similar products are becoming more common in office environments, most people have never heard about this kind of ergonomic computer mouse.
However, when or if you get to the point where you experience the first signs of pain and strain from your work in the office you quickly come across these devices once you begin your research for solutions.
As such you are most likely reading this article because you are looking into how you can find pain release or perhaps even get rid of an RSI (repetitive stress injury) problem.
Perhaps you are simply looking for a way to avoid such problems altogether.
Either way, you may have found just the right gadget which has a lot to offer in both scenarios.
- RollerMouse Red
- Keyboard support x 2
- Tool for palm rest disassembling
When you unbox the RollerMouse Red you immediately feel good about the product and want to get it connected right away.
The RollerMouse Red oozes with quality. It looks great on your desk and it will no doubt attract a lot of attention in the office.
The first thing you notice when you unpack the device is the weight and sturdy build quality.
The housing is made of extruded aluminum profiles and it certainly feels like a durable and very convincing high quality product.
The reason for the premium price point is evident and feels justified compared to similar products made of plastic.
- Laser tracking technology
- 6 very practical buttons (Programmable with driver)
- Scroll wheel
- Exchangeable palm rest
- 5 levels of sensitivity
- Height adjustable keyboard supports
The RollerMouse Red is surprisingly compact and fits easily in front of your keyboard without forcing you to reach too far to use the keyboard comfortably.
If you are used to have wrist/palm pads in front of your keyboard the transition will be hardly noticeable because the product comes with an integrated comfortable palm rest.
One of the first advantages I discovered was the sensation of a more centralized work area due to the proximity of the rollerbar to the keyboard. If you are able to fully replace the traditional mouse you have effectively eliminated the constant hand movement from keyboard to mouse.
In fact, you can now navigate your computer with your arms in the most natural position you can assume at a desk. If you want you can test whether this argument holds up in your case by a little experiment:
- Sit down at any table or desk without a computer in front of you
- Relax for a moment with your arms down the side
- Now put your hands on the edge of the table without thinking about it.
Your hands are now most likely placed directly in front of you and probably even touching or overlapping in some way.
This is where you will be controlling the RollerMouse!
Tension to comfort
After the first hours of adjustment and tension from breaking in a totally new way of working, I noticed that I was much more relaxed in my shoulders than when I use a traditional mouse or even my Wacom tablet.
Your fingers are always bend at a natural angle which is very comfortable compared to products that you hold in your hand and where you are stretching your fingers to press the buttons.
Working with the RollerMouse Red
I was quite curious whether it would be difficult to learn how to use the RollerMouse. But learning to use the product was surprisingly straight forward. It took me only a couple of days to fully adjust to the new workflow.
The rollerbar is fully exposed compared to other products where only a small part of the bar is accessible. This means that you have more freedom to control the roller bar.
One of the things that make this RollerMouse Red particularly comfortable to work with is the rather thick rollerbar which is covered with textured rubber that offers a good non-slip finger contact.
The extra bar thickness and the fact that the bar slides and rolls with next to no friction enables you to work with a high level of precision. Even precise point and click tasks are possible if you use the buttons for clicking.
I would always use the buttons for clicking, but the rollerbar itself is clickable even though it is primarily reserved for rough selection and de-selection tasks.
Personally I was able to use this for smaller click targets with little success and double clicking a small target was simply not an option.
Taming the rollerbar
This way to work was totally new to me but I quickly discovered a couple of small tricks that helped me control the rollerbar with an acceptable level of speed and precision.
- For more precise navigation I found it helpful to use two fingers much like the way you roll a pencil between your thumb and index finger.
- Clicking by using the rollerbar with any precision is next to impossible. But again you can use two fingers which significantly increase your chances of hitting what you aim for. However, using the buttons for clicking is much more productive.
- You need to raise most standard sized keyboards to avoid touching the roller bar while typing. You can use the included keyboard supports for this.
The RollerMouse Red is a “Plug and play” device that your operating system installs automatically. So you are good to go right away with no need for drivers.
Yet you have the option to download the driver if you wish to configure the button assignments differently.
The 6 buttons are laid out nicely and you quickly learn where to find the ones you need without looking down.
The default and marked configuration is:
- Left click
- Right click
- Double click
- Mouse sensitivity
The buttons are easily clickable with a great feedback. The button mechanics feels like high quality and is likely to last as long as the RollerMouse Red itself.
Centered in the button area is a scroll wheel that works exactly like a scroll wheel on a traditional mouse.
The wheel is also clickable.
You have 5 different levels of sensitivity/resolution (dpi) to choose from. This setting works like the cursor speed setting for your traditional mouse.
I always use the lowest setting, but once you get some practice you can speed things up if you want your moves to cover more distance on the screen.
The higher levels of resolution could also come in handy on extra high resolution monitors such as the new 4K monitors or extra wide monitor formats.
The palm rest is padded with soft imitation leather and your hands are supported by a layer of foam that is thick enough to support your hands comfortably even though I would not mind a few extra millimeters of foam in case it settles over time.
The size of the palm rest on the standard RollerMouse Red is large enough for most users during typing.
However, when you are using it for navigation and use one hand to press the buttons, someone with large hands might experience the standard size palm rest as being on the small side.
Palm rest alternatives
If you have larger than average hands you may want consider the RollerMouse Red Plus which offers a significantly larger palm rest area.
The larger palm rest can be purchased separately at the modest price of 20 USD. So my suggestion would be to get the standard edition and then get the expansion if you feel that you need a larger palm rest.
You can work without the hand rest even though this is not particularly comfortable due to the hard and cold aluminum surface.
The RM-Red is built to be used with a straight edge keyboard. Curved ergonomic keyboards and keyboards with an integrated palm rest will not work well with this or similar pointing devices.
A good fit could be the wireless Solar Keyboard K750 from Logitech or perhaps the upcoming wireless Balance Keyboard from Contour Design themselves.
Keyboard support shelves
Two separate keyboard supports are included which purpose is to raise the keyboard in relation to the rollerbar so that you can use the keyboard without accidentally touching the rollerbar.
The supports are attached to the RollerMouse by inserting them into a track that is integrated in the aluminum frame. The supports can be set to two different heights depending on the height of your keyboard.
Even though the RollerMouse Red has won my total admiration this kind of pointing tool is not suitable for everything.
The ideal use is office work that mainly consists of typing, internet use and general computer navigation. In this scenario the achievable level of precision is more than sufficient.
The RollerMouse is less suitable for things like graphic application and most computer games. However, due to the compact size and placement where you are usually resting your wrists anyway, you can easily keep it in place for general computer tasks.
You may be able to pull off working with certain kind of graphical applications such as CAD programs where you control many operations numerically.
Still, I would not be surprised if it is possible to expand the use of this device with some practice.
The RollerMouse Red is a premium quality product and as such it is not exactly cheap.
This kind of ergonomic computer mouse is not a mass marked product like some 15 dollar wheel mouse that is produced by the millions. Most people don´t even know about this kind of product until they experience health issues from extensive computer work.
The majority of us postpone the use of more expensive ergonomic tools until some level of damage has been done and we start looking into office ergonomics motivated by pain.
If you think the expense for a high quality ergonomic mouse can help you find pain relief or avoid RSI issue the price is definitely justified.
I have personally experienced the first stages of carpal tunnel pain and this kind of pain can be a real career stopper if your work is dependent on working with computers. So with that picture in mind the cost of high quality computer peripherals seems almost negligible.
Of course you should shop around and check out similar and competing products, but if you want to get there fast, the RollerMouse Red is a one stop deal!
The Red edition is the top model in the Contour Design rollerbar product line which includes other products at a lower price point such as:
Another product brand that often goes hand in hand with the RollerMouse brand in people’s minds is the Mousetrapper even though the two products are hardly comparable.
In my opinion, the Mousetrapper is actually more comparable with a touch device. Instead of modern touch technology though, it is based on a kind of mechanical mesh that you control in much the same way.
I have never tried this kind of device but it seems to me to be a pre-touch generation relic. But still, it offers mouse control close to you keyboard with an integrated palm rest so it might be worth a closer look just the same.
- Plug and play. Driver is optional.
- Microsoft Windows 8/7/Vista/XP/ME/98
- Apple OSX, Apple Mac OS 8.1 or newer
My initial qualms about how the RollerMouse Red from Contour Design would fit into my workflow and onto my desk were quickly put to rest.
The build quality as well as the functionality of this device is a rare treat. Of course the price would lead you to expect this, but I have experienced similar products in roughly the same price category that were of a totally different and lower class of quality.
If you are experiencing RSI related health problems or if you simply want to do what you can to avoid such issues by replacing your traditional computer mouse you will not be disappointed in the RollerMouse Red.
If you decide that this investment in your health is justified, you will be rewarded with a high quality product that will last you a long time in your efforts to prevent RSI related problems.
My advice is to buy it where you are confident that they offer a no nonsense return policy such as Amazon.com.
The RollerMouse Red is a true pleasure to work with but whether a rollerbar product is the right choice for you can only be determined by trying it. But rest assured that this ergonomic mouse is as good as it gets.
- Extremely high build quality that is likely to last you a good long time
- Immediate sensation of stress release in your arms and shoulders
- Easy to learn
- Comfortable integrated and replaceable palm rest
- Long and high quality USB cable
- Great design that looks good on your desk
- Plug & Play installation
- Price. High but justified price considering the premium product quality and ergonomic benefits.
- No Wi-Fi