Spending a lot of time on the computer, whether for your day job, chatting with friends, or even playing games can be tiring on the wrists, and with the minimal range of motion that most mice and keyboards provide, you could be doing long-term damage. Ergomotion has a solution that might help.
Ergomotion’s Smartfish Whirl and Smartfish Whirl Mini wireless mice aim to adress some of those concerns by adding a pivoting motion design, which enables the mouse to move with your natural hand and wrist movements, promoting blood flow and reducing the risk of injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries.
Despite it’s odd appearance and the fact that it takes some getting used to, the Smartfish Whirl Mini is extremely comfortable to use, is durable and high quality, with each of its buttons providing a satisfying click beneath your fingers. The scroll wheel is fluid and responsive, and the mouse behaved excellently with my MacBook Pro. Here are a few of the pros and cons that I encountered while I tested this device.
- Portable and easy to carry – the wireless receiver neatly tucks away into the main compartment of the mouse.
- Runs off of cheap and available AA batteries, making it a snap to juice up on the go.
- Extremely comfortable, increases wrist motion.
- I could use it for longer at a time without wrist fatigue than most mice.
- Plug and play, requiring no drivers.
- Affordable, coming in at just $50.
- I would have envisioned the pivoting motion to actually impact the navigation experience in some shape or form.
- Doesn’t have any extra utility buttons – might disappoint hardcore fanatics of “power mice.”
- Laser sensitivity could have been a touch higher.
What’s In The Box
The Whirl Mini comes standard with two AAA batteries and a nano USB receiver that works with the PC and Mac, so it’s good to go out of the box. The packaging, which is simple and biodegradable, houses only what you need – the Whirl Mini, a setup and usage manual, and 2 AAA batteries – and not a bit more. This idea of simple, effective packaging that is not over-thought seems very appealing to me.
Design / Aesthetics
From the looks of it, the Whirl Mini seems to be just another mouse – a simple two-button contraption separated by a four-way scroll wheel – but despite its basic appearance, the Whirl Mini’s extras, notably its pivoting base, make all the difference in the world. What makes the Whirl Mini notable is the pivoting base, which gives it a non-standard appearance, like a mix between a mouse and a joystick.
The Whirl Mini is solidly built, features high-quality rubber grips to help avoid slippage, and is comfortable (even pleasurable) to tilt in any direction when you move your hand or wrist. It’s small and portable, and easy to turn off with a switch located on the bottom (to save battery life).
Another notable design feature that I came to appreciate was that it’s two batteries, as well as it’s wireless receiver, all tuck neatly into the main compartment of the mouse. From a design perspective, this makes life easier by giving you fewer things to lose when traveling. The Whirl Mini comes in a range of colors, from the more professional black and carbon designs, to brighter blue, red, and white colors.
Functionality / Claims
The main draw of this mouse, and what most of its unique claims revolve around, is its ergonomic benefits. In this aspects, it trumps most other “ergonomic” products, in that rather than finding a single “fixed” ergonomic position, it moves and adapts to the natural motion of your hand and wrist.
Smartfish, a company founded and headed up by a former chiropractor (Dr. Jack Atzmon), believes that the lack of motion is where most ergonomic products fail, and that any fixed position, no matter how seemingly idea, is less beneficial than allowing your wrist joint to actually move. This, the Dr. believes, is why his mouse is so much better at preventing and addressing Carpal Tunnel or other repetitive stress injuries. Dr. Atzmon’s own experiences with RSI lead him to question the effects that ergonomic computer products could have while he worked. His research led him to challenge “fixed-position products in favor on ones that flex and allowed motion.
While it wasn’t clear to me whether or not the Whirl Mini was capable of addressing these ailments (not having the problems myself), I can report that the Whirl Mini significantly improved my computing comfort, and led to less overall wrist fatigue in daily use – a notable factor for someone like my who lives their life behind a computer screen. This mouse is so comfortable to operate. Pivoting, sliding, scrolling, clicking – all easy, fluid, and natural-feeling.
Ease Of Use / Real-World Usability
What I really found interesting about the Ergomotion is how easy it is to set up and operate. Everything you need, including the batteries, where right there in the plain white cardboard box that it came in. Setup was a simple as inserting the batteries, pulling out the tiny USB transceiver embedded in the mouse and plugging it into my Mac. The mouse is plug-and-play, and has excellent driver support for the Mac.
The mouse’s accuracy was also spot-on, and I found the tracking to be sufficiently sensitive for my purposes (although gamers and others who might move their mouse very rapidly on a regular basis might take issue). I find this mouse to be both effective, comfortable, and extremely simple to use to its fullest extent.
Portability And Practicality – Best Of Both Worlds
There’s often a trade-off in the usability, comfort, and function of devices that are meant to be portable, however this did not seem to be the case with the Whirl Mini. The mouse was the perfect size and height for me, yet still small enough to toss in a briefcase, luggage, or a backpack.
The Whirl Mini is extremely functional. Even though it took me a few days to adapt to and get used to my wrist moving in a different way than normal, in time I came to vastly prefer it, and I ultimately gained some productivity points while using this mouse, due to its enhanced confort and more natural motion – plus, it gave my wrist a nice little stretch of exercise that felt great!
There’s no denying that the Whirl Mini was sort of odd at first – it just seemed strange to be tilting my mouse all over the place. But after adjusting to the device, I not only got used to it’s unusual tilting and pivoting, but actually came to prefer it significantly. Just think of it as a regular mouse that moves in a couple extra directions – and floats your hand in the air.
I was extremely pleased and satisfied with the Whirl Mini, in terms of design, comfort, and functionality, and now that I have used one, I think it would be difficult for me to go back to using a “normal” computer mouse. The Whirl Mini is probably one of the most dead useful devices I have ever had the privilege to use.
Wrapping It Up
The Whirl Mini may not have the big feature bullet points like frictionless scrolling (Logitech) or a “magical” touch surface (Apple), but it’s probably one of the most simply usable and functional peripherals out there. To say that it is comfortable is an understatement, and although I am not sure about the medical implications, the Whirl Mini sure did make my wrist feel great, as well as reducing fatigue to some degree.
For it’s many merits, it’s portability, it’s unique design, immense comfort, and affordable price point, I cannot help but award the Whirl Mini a full 5 out of 5 stars. To learn more, or to purchase the Whirl Mini in your choice of colors ($50), head on over to the Smartfish Technologies product page.