Take a look at some of the computer mice on the market today and you'll find that many come with an assortment of extra buttons, thumb grooves, ambidextrous designs, and free spinning click wheels. The Smartfish Whirl Mini Laser Mouse isn't really any of those, but it could be one of the most health conscious.
Will it save your wrist or is it little more than a fanciful gimmick? Let's dive right in and find out.
Features at a Glance
We met up with the fine folks at Smartfish when we were at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year and one of their highlighted products was this new computer mouse.
In essence, it takes the larger Smartfish Whirl ErgoMotion Mouse and shrinks it down to more travel-friendly proportions. That said, it offers the exact same functionality. The idea is that it comes with ErgoMotion "Comfort Pivot Technology." The mouse body pivots and leans in every which direction.
This is supposed to provide a "fluid, air-like comfort" that will reduce your risk of Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). Your wrist is in constant motion, rather than being fixed in one position. Other highlights include the (up to) 800dpi hi-def laser sensitivity, 2.4GHz wireless connectivity, and a pair of AAA batteries for extra long battery life.
Hiding the USB Micro-Transceiver
Considering that the Whirl Mini is designed for travel use, you'd think that Smartfish would come up with a clever travel-centric solution. And, well, it looks like they did.
You could certainly use this mouse at home or in the office too, but it's nice to see that there is a place to stow away the tiny nano wireless transceiver when you find yourself in transit. This slot is hidden away in the battery compartment. Given its size, you probably could just leave it inserted in your notebook, but it's nice to see the compartment is there if you want to use it.
Everyday Ergonomic Use
Now, this is largely going to be a matter of personal preference, but I found the larger Smartfish Whirl ErgoMotion laser mouse to be too "tall" for comfort. The Whirl Mini helps in this regard, as it is decidedly shorter. This means that the "tilting" as part of the ErgoMotion is also less pronounced, which can be either a positive or negative.
For my part, while I understand how the constant motion offered by this pivot system can be helpful, I can do without it. It may help to reduce repetitive stress injury, but it also reduced accuracy for me. Since the body tilts, I found myself accidentally tilting and moving the mouse a little when I needed absolute precision. I'm not even talking about a FPS; I was just trying some online pool.
This level of precision and accuracy may not be as important for generating TPS reports, but it can get a little frustrating at times.
MEGATechie Wrist Strong or MEGATechie Awkward Motion?
Borrowing part of a page from Stephen Colbert, we have to ask whether the Smartfish Whirl Mini Laser Mouse is worthy of a "Wrist Strong" rubber wrist band. On the one hand, the "ErgoMotion" technology should help to minimize wrist injuries in the office. On the other hand, I found it to be detrimental to accuracy and precision.
Yes, it's available in a range of colors, but the lack of "additional functions" hurts its prospects in this market. The ambidextrous design helps, but I would have really liked to see at least one thumb button (ideally a couple more). It is more comfortable to use that the full-size Whirl and I appreciate the innovation. That said, I'm not sure if it's worth the $49.95 asking price when, aside from its trademark ErgoMotion motion, this is not much more than a $10-$20 cheap laser mouse.