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An image of a person using the SliderMouse Pro
Contour Design

Gadget Zone: SliderMouse Pro review

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Contour Design’s alternative to the humble mouse promises “tension-free computing”, but will it deliver for the nation’s hard-pressed accountants?

16th Aug 2023
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Like many in and around the accounting profession during the first Covid lockdown, I found myself working ridiculous hours. 

Taking what my colleagues now refer to as my “sabbatical” at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Insights, I was turning around updates on various hurriedly implemented pieces of legislation as they came flying out of Whitehall, updating spreadsheets and generally burning the midnight oil in front of the laptop.

This almost certainly contributed to the wrist pain that has come and gone throughout most of my adult life flaring up. Options to alleviate such issues range from trackerballs and trackpads to vertical mice, but the last time I tried testing mouse alternatives some years back, none seem to do the trick. 

So when ergonomic computer hardware firm Contour Design asked AccountingWEB to trial a sample of its SliderMouse Pro ergonomic mouse, it seemed like a good opportunity to see how far the technology had come, and whether the device could really deliver the “tension-free computing” promised in the ad blurb.

What is it?

The SliderMouse is designed to reduce strain on the hand and wrist by keeping the hand in a neutral, centred position, allowing users to move the mouse with their whole arm.

A close-up image of the SliderMouse Pro
Contour Design

This “ergonomic mouse” is a cross between a standard wrist rest and an outsized version of the trackpad you find on most laptops – with a great deal more functionality. As you can see from the image above, at the top of the wrist rest sits a manoeuvrable bar, which the user manipulates to imitate the movements of a standard mouse.

A panel at the centre of the pad houses a large scroll bar similar to the ones found on a standard mouse, which also doubles as a double-click button. This is surrounded by built-in buttons which offer copy/paste and forward/backward navigation as standard but can also be customised by the user via downloadable drivers, allowing them to add their favourite shortcut functions.

Above this sits the Sliderbar section that can be slid vertically and horizontally to move the cursor in the same way as a standard mouse. This is also clickable, allowing the user to make choices without moving away from a scrolling position.

Users can adjust the click sounds, cursor speed and click resistance via a toggle switch on the side of the hardware, and can also swap in different wrist rests depending on physical and stylistic needs via a magnetic connection without having to use any tools.

Ranging from £260 to just over £300, the SliderMouse family don’t come cheap, so is it worth the extra hardware investment?

What were the pros?

The setup was relatively straightforward. I opted for plugging in the USB dongle included and my laptop connected automatically, but the SliderMouse can be set up via a connecting wire or Bluetooth if your port space is limited.

As a mouse user of 30+ years, adapting was mildly tricky as the neural networks slowly reprogrammed themselves. However, the concept remains fairly similar so this took a matter of hours, rather than days. 

The textured rubber on the manoeuvrable bar is a nice touch to keep your finger(s) in place, and overall the hardware felt sturdy and well-made – as it should at this price point. 

As with your common or garden mouse, there’s only so far you can move in any direction without falling off the table or hitting your keyboard. But while a mouse will simply stop, the SliderMouse continues the movement and I often found myself drifting off to the side of the screen. This wasn’t a major issue and a quick tweak of the sensitivity cut out the worst of it.

What were the cons?

In comparison to the standard mouse used by most people, the SliderMouse is big – roughly the size of a small keyboard (without the number pad). 

The table I use to produce my daily tech waffle isn’t big enough to accommodate the Slidermouse, my keyboard and my screens, so I was forced to find alternatives. For the first day or so I moved it to the side, like a normal mouse and mouse mat, but this seemed to cancel out most of the ergonomic benefits so I moved downstairs to the kitchen table to continue the trial. On this point, it’s worth noting that the SliderMouse does have a more bijou companion in the SliderMouse Pro – Slim version, which is more compact.

The single double-click button is an asset in terms of time-saving. However, its curve meant I occasionally failed to depress the button and my finger slid off, accidentally scrolling down, and I didn’t really find a concrete way of fixing it.

At three months per charge, the purported battery life is impressive, and this user got nowhere near running this down in three weeks, despite heavy usage. However, charging is a bit of a faff, as you have to flip over the SliderMouse, slot in a USB-A charger and run the wire underneath the tool.

Questions have been raised on tech forums about missing the option to use an ergonomic or split keyboard – apparently, users report both options do not work so well with the Roller or SliderMouse (as of 2023), but this user can’t confirm or deny this.

The big questions answered

In putting this review together, there seem to be two big questions that needed to be answered: did it help my wrist pain? And did I bring the normal mouse back out of hibernation once the review was over?

In terms of question one, yes, once the SliderMouse was in the correct centralised position it undoubtedly helped with my wrist. 

And for question two, it’s also a yes, the mouse did return, but this verdict was predominantly to do with space rather than performance. I enjoyed using the SliderMouse and it undoubtedly helped reduce my wrist pain, but my workspace isn’t going to get any bigger and with the summer holidays upon us, working downstairs with the kids skittering around isn’t an option.

Having used it for three weeks, the SliderMouse is a great product if you have issues with your wrist, elbow or shoulder. It’s undoubtedly pricey, but for an item that’s used for a large portion of many accountants’ working days and has the potential to help with muscular-skeletal issues, this seems less relevant. 

While this is an independent review and not a paid-for advertorial, a sample of the product was sent to AccountingWEB towers for testing as part of the article.

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