A couple of months ago, we took a look at the Smartfish ErgoMotion Laser Mouse, which has since taken on the official name of the Smartfish "Whirl" Laser Mouse with Anti-Gravity Comfort Pivot. Well, Smartfish had some new products to showcase at CES 2011, so we went to check it out.
Not surprisingly, the two new products being showcased continue along the same kind of philosophy that we saw with the first ErgoMotion product. It's up to you to decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Going Smaller with Smartfish Whirl Mini Laser Mouse
One of the complaints that I had about the first mouse from Smartfish was that it felt too elevated for comfort. Instead of making for a more natural wrist position, I felt even more strained and tired using it. In this way, the newer Whirl Mini may be more appropriate.
Much like its desktop cousin, the smaller Whirl Mini also features the "Anti-Gravity Comfort Pivot." This means that it can tilt left and right, front and back, as you move the mouse around on your mouse pad. This is meant to make it feel like the mouse is "floating on air." It's also meant to encourage improved blood flow, as your wrist isn't stuck in the same position all day.
With the Smartfish Whirl Mini, you still get two standard mouse buttons and a clickable scroll wheel in between. They seem to have added some molded comfort strips on the two sides, but there are no additional function buttons to be found. They are offering the smaller and shorter Whirl Mini in several colors, though, including red, blue, grey, white, and black. It retails for $49.95.
Smartfish Engage Keyboard with Intelligent Motion
Instead, the two halves of the keyboard are actually motorized to move ever so slowly on their own. This forces your wrists and your hands out of staying in a single position all day, so you won't get quite as strained and tired. This comes by way of a "patented, intelligent motion system that tracks your typing activity." It will automatically make incremental adjustments to your position.
There is no need to install any specialized software for this to happen, since it's all going on inside the keyboard itself. All you have to do is plug in the connected USB cable and let the Engage Keyboard do its thing. The movements are mostly circular in motion, rather than sticking to one plane or another.
If you want to turn off the ergomotion for any period of time, you can do so by hitting the dedicated "em" key in the top right corner of the keyboard. Maybe you're starting to get a little annoyed with its movement. Maybe you're running low on battery and want to conserve. Whatever the case, you can turn it off if you want.
In my brief hands-on session, I found the "active" ergomotion to be quite novel. That said, the keyboard does feel quite a bit more elevated than other keyboards that I have used. This almost presents a similar concern than I had with the original Whirl mouse. If Smartfish can figure out how to make a slimmer profile, this product might be more popular.
Also like the mouse, the keyboard is a little lacking when it comes to additional function keys, dedicated media controls, and other niceties that you'd find with non-ergomotion competitors. As it stands, the Engage Keyboard sells for $149.95.
It's Not About Ergonomics, Really
In talking with the Smartfish representative, he said that part of the equation was improving comfort and ergonomics with the company's line of products. However, more of the focus was on improving bloodflow and reducing the kind of strain that you would get from leaving your wrists in a fixed positions for extended periods of time.