Having recently moved to a new office my boss was kind enough (hint: slight sarcasm) to supply me and my co-workers with new supplies. New chairs, new monitors, and so on. Great, except he didn't listen to our inputs.
The chairs are excellent, but the praise stops there. In front of me is a cheap, plastic rubber dome/membrane keyboard, a $1 textured mouse-mat/pad and... a Logitech M325 "Limited Edition".
I'm not going to fling too much excrement in the M325's direction, but in short this is a mouse made for travel; not prolonged used in an office environment. It also suffers from extreme jitter, prediction and unstable acceleration. The icing on this crap-de-la-creme mouse-cake is it's awful design for larger hands. The only way to use this mouse is to steer it with your fingertips, leaving a strain on your wrist, elbow and shoulder.
For some time, I brought my Mionix Naos 5000 to work, and as it is an excellent mouse I found no issues with it. I already chug along my Filco every morning so having another peripheral in my bag is not a huge hassle. The only annoyance is that it looks like a gaming mouse, which gives a negative impression during meetings (anyone with a business apparel/image will probably understand). I also don't like that I need to unplug it every morning (I know, a minor quibble).
So, I started scouting for a new mouse.
Review: Penclic Mouse D2 (Corded)
Swedish company Penclic AB emerged with their product (the Penclic Mouse) asking the somewhat rhetorical question "Does the world need a new computer mouse?" shortly followed with the - in their eyes - clear answer "Yes it does!".
The Penclic Mouse tries to solve a few "issues" by going back to the original formula of a pen rather than a rodent. The focus is on ergonomics, where Penclic claims that their solution will lessen strain on your elbow, shoulder and allow only for your wrists and fingers to work. On paper, this looks very potent so I snatched the Penclic D2 Corded Pen-Mouse a few days ago and have been using it at work since.
Ergonomic improvement over a standard mouse
Looking entirely on the ergonomics, the Penclic Mouse does what it claims. It lessens strain in my shoulder and makes for a very comfortable overall experience. I felt I didn't have to take a break and walk around as often, or that my shoulder or elbow was strained (not that I've had a major issue with that in the past). Moving the cursor using a pen felt a bit awkward at the very beginning, but after just a few minutes it felt more natural than anything else. It was almost awkward picking up the M325 after having used the Penclic for a few hours.
But, the design of the Penclic is also it's greatest flaw. Moving the cursor around and using the left mouse button can be done without any greater difficulties, but as soon as you want to use the right mouse button, or the scroll wheel or the middle mouse button you need to change your grip. Especially annoying is when you need to use the scroll as you have to let go of the pen itself to grab hold of the bottom part. This makes the pen fall down, and going back to your former grip means tugging the pen upwards your fingers. The Back and Forward buttons are fairly easy to reach with your thumb, but due to the location you will often find yourself clicking back when all you wanted was to click the right mouse button. It takes some getting used to, but after getting used to the ergonomics I still couldn't grasp how to use the scroll wheel efficiently without changing my grip back and forth. Considering how much one uses the scroll, this is a major flaw.
Build as well as overall quality of the Penclic
The product itself is well built and doesn't feel cheap or plastic. It rather feels like a premium product where a lot of thought went into the design. The pen really does look the part, and in an office where a lot of people work it will certainly turn some heads. The Penclic's biggest flaw is - once again - the scroll wheel. It feels like it was taken from a $1 cheap replica with no feedback or persistent feel. It is by far the biggest flaw of this otherwise sturdy product. The wheel itself is also very small - probably half the size compared to the one on the Naos. The cord is very thin but feels rigid. I have a feeling it will be the first thing that busts on this mouse, but since Penclic gives you a 5 year warranty I wouldn't worry.
The Penclic has exaggerated acceleration, along with a DPI stepping. This is put in place to allow the user to quickly accelerate to 2400 DPI and swipe across the screen in a small, quick motion while at the same time being able to navigate with precision using 400, 800 and 1600 DPI. The interval swapping works great, much thanks to the acceleration, but can feel extremely awkward at first. With some practice, I managed to be more precise in Photoshop compared to my Naos 5000, but it still lost against my drawing tablet.
The sensor itself (can't confirm which one is used here, and I don't want to open it up as I intend to return it, but an honest guess is that it's an ADNS-2700) is potent with just a hint of jitter. I already explained the acceleration, which to my knowledge can't be turned off (neither can the DPI stepping, although the "standard" DPI can be swapped between 800, 1200 and 2400). It's not bad, but it's not great. It has some prediction, but nothing like my old MX518 or the M325.
The Naos on the left, the Penclic on the right. As you can see, the Penclic D2 suffers from some jitter, and slight prediction.
Acceleration is very aggressive. Moving 3 cm slowly generates the first line. Moving the same distance, but fast (not overly fast, just fast) makes the pointer 'slam the wall', two monitors away. Look far away if acceleration isn't your thing.
Asking the question again, "Does the world need a new computer mouse?", a more thought-out answer is "Perhaps". Using a pen certainly strains your shoulder and elbow less and makes for a generally more pleasant, prolonged computer experience. The Penclic mouse is perhaps not the answer to this question as it doesn't hit the nail straight on but misses with a fairly big margin. Perhaps a revision will fix some of the issues that a pen-like mouse brings to the table. Perhaps removing some buttons and allowing for gestures is a better route for the pen-mouse?
This mouse offers a comfortable experience while moving the cursor, but any other task becomes an annoyance due to the placement of some buttons. The acceleration takes a long time to get used to, and even then the mouse doesn't feel as precise as you want it to. The scroll wheel is a major let down.