Computer mouse can be of ergonomic benefit

The Life: Consumer electronics makers are giving the mouse a flashy makeover.

OrthoVia OrthoMouse was designed by an orthopaedic surgeon.
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The growing popularity of tablet computers may have some users thinking the mouse is on its way to extinction. But think again.

Q&A: What should buyers look for in a computer mouse?

Last Updated: May 16, 2011

What does 'ergonomic' mean? Ergonomics is simply the study of designing products to fit the human body and create minimal stress or damage.

How important is this when it comes to the design of a computer mouse? Manufacturers might overplay concerns to help drive up sales of their devices but a study published in the journal Occupational Medicine found the force applied to a computer mouse may be one risk factor for muscle fatigue, particularly in the forearm.

Is that the only study on this topic? No. That study noted that several others have suggested "an increased prevalence of upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms may be associated with increased computer use".

So which mouse is best for a hand? Few hands are exactly alike, so it's best to try out different models to see what feels most comfortable. Look for models packaged with pieces that can adapt the size and shape of a mouse to your hand.

While the worldwide PC market recently suffered its first annual decline in six quarters, according to data released last month by the research companies IDC and Gartner, shipments of computers still surpassed 80 million units in the first quarter this year.

And electronics makers are finding innovations for the mouse, which many consumers still pair with their desktop and sometimes even notebook computers.

Several studies over the years have trumpeted the benefits of an ergonomically designed mouse, but the best way to determine which one fits best is a test drive.

One contender is the OrthoVia OrthoMouse. Available at for Dh399 (US$108), this can be configured in six different ways to fit a hand and was designed by an orthopaedic surgeon. It is meant to minimise pressure on the hand to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Merlin Finger Mouse from is another model with an ergonomic focus. It claims to reduce wrist and shoulder stress, although it is a lot more innovative than its competitors because it slips around an index or middle finger.

Like a pen, it can then be used to control a cursor on the screen and left on while typing on a keyboard. While the basic version costs $24, the wireless device costs an extra $25.

A number of makers also offer their own versions of the "air mouse", such as Logitech's MX Air Rechargeable Cordless Air Mouse.

Top 5: Best-selling computer mice

1 Logitech Wireless Mouse M305.

2 USB Optical Scroll Wheel Pink Crystal Rhinestone Computer Mouse.

3 Kensington K72356US Mouse-in-a-Box.

4 Apple Magic Mouse.

5 HP Wireless Eco-Comfort Mobile Mouse.

At $114.99 it is not cheap, but built-in motion-sensing and laser-tracking technology allow it to be waved around to steer a cursor or even skip through music tracks from the comfort of a couch.

Gyration offers a $79.99 model with similar features.

The Quote: "The digital revolution is far more significant than the invention of writing or even of printing," Douglas Engelbart, the US inventor of the computer mouse