Using a mouse for long periods can be uncomfortable and in severe cases may even lead to repetitive strain injury.
There are various pieces of kit on the market to help you avoid this including ergonomically designed mice and wrist rests. Taking a slightly different and more innovative approach to the problem is the Penclic which is a sort of fusion of mouse and pen.
It looks rather like one of those pens you find chained to the counter in banks, but is attached to its base with a ball joint. The base, which is shaped like a small mouse, houses a rechargeable battery and has an LED that glows green to indicate it’s charging and changes to red when it needs charging. On the underside are an on/off switch a button to sync with reciever and a +/- button to adjust the DPI setting for sensitivity.
The base and the top are shiny plastic with the bit where you hold it and click the buttons in a smooth matt finish. A slim chrome band between the top and bottom sections of the pen adds a touch of bling.
In the smart plastic package you get the Penclic itself, a USB receiver for wireless operation, a retractable cable for charging and a cloth pouch to carry it all around in. There are some basic multilingual instructions that explain how to get started. It will work with Windows, Mac and Linux systems and there’s no driver installation required.
The base of the Penclic works like a normal infra red mouse, the difference being that the scroll wheel and left and right buttons are relocated to the pen. You hold it just like you would a normal writing implement and it can be used either left or right-handed.
The charger cable has a microUSB connector at the mouse end and this is a bit fiddly to attach, you’re also not quite sure if you’ve pushed it home far enough. Once you’ve charged the battery setting up is easy, plug the receiver into a USB port on your PC, press the button on top, press the corresponding button under the mouse, the LED flashes red for a few seconds and you’re good to go, there’s no need to install any software as it uses the standard mouse drivers. After rebooting or recovering from sleep mode you need to press the mouse’s connect button again to re-establish a link. The +/- switch lets you change from the standard 1200 DPI setting to 800 or 1600.
Using the Penclic feels a little weird at first and you need to take some time to find a comfortable way of holding the device and moving it without pressing buttons by accident. With a normal pen-like grip your index finger sits over one button and your thumb over the other with your first finger on the scroll wheel. It’s slightly confusing, however, as on the standard setup the right button left-clicks and the left button right-clicks. You can of course reverse this from the Windows settings, but - for right-handed users at least - the way Penclic does it actually makes sense after a while as the index finger click to select text or press on-screen buttons feels like a more natural action.
Once you get used to it you’ll find the Penclic is nicely sensitive. It does feel very light though which means it’s easy to move it more than you intend even on the lower sensitivity setting. It’s also quite easy to squeeze the pen and click both buttons together until you adapt to using it. The scroll wheel’s middle button click action is a bit stiff which means it’s easy to move the mouse by accident when you select it.
The physical advantage to using the Penclic is that your arm and wrist adopt a more natural angle and you can rest the base of your palm on the desk to provide support. It’s fine to use for long periods with no resulting aches and pains.
Depending on how much you use the R3 you can get up to a month on a full battery charge, the LED flashes red to warn you when it’s running low. If you get caught out you can use a standard AAA battery to power the device temporarily until you can recharge it.
It takes time to adapt to how the Penclic works and build up your levels of accuracy. Once you do it works perfectly well allowing you to accurately position the cursor. The unorthodox button arrangement takes a little longer to get used to but it makes sense once you’ve been using it for a while.
It does only have the standard buttons so it won’t replace your sophisticated gaming mouse, but then that isn’t the market here. For standard office use it’s perfectly fine and comfortable to use. It’s also quite good for use with graphics programs too as it has a natural, pencil-like, feel.
The Penclic R3 isn’t cheap at £59.99 but if it saves you from RSI it could be well worth the money.