Review: Swiftpoint PadPoint ergonomic mouse
A tiny mouse but is it only for tiny hands?
I have tiny hands. My 12-year-old son has bigger hands (and feet) than me. So I tend to like smaller handheld objects, and I was excited a couple of months ago to discover a range of New Zealand-designed mice of the diminutive variety.
I’d been searching for a new mouse for CAD (computer-aided design) work and found that a Kiwi company, Swiftpoint, produces a suite of compact ergonomic mice that could be exactly my kind of product.
Swiftpoint started in 2011 with the release of its first ergonomic mouse, the SM300. The company has won seven design awards, but is it worthy of the accolades?
There are six mice in the Swiftpoint Pen-Grip series. All of them have the same external form, apart from the ProPoint, which just has an extra button.
I’ve been using the PadPoint model for a couple of months now. This model is aimed at tablet users, but also works with laptops and desktop PCs (Windows and Mac). We purchased the PadPoint for $82.75 from PbTech. List price is $205 from the Swiftpoint website, so don’t buy it there!
Pen grip and pain reduction
These mice require you to use a pen grip as opposed to a normal mouse grip, and so you rest your whole hand on the mouse to move it around. The pen grip is supposedly much better ergonomically as your wrist isn’t as twisted (although the difference is probably no more than about 10°), and it’s claimed to reduce pain and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.
Opening the PadPoint’s cardboard cage, my initial reaction was shock as to how small this mouse is. I was reminded of when I first saw a field mouse in a farm zoo in the UK – I had seen plenty of pictures of them in books, but when I actually saw one live I was amazed at how tiny it really was. Well, the PadPoint reaction was somewhat similar! It’s really tiny and it actually looks like a little wee mouse, and I feel it should have a little tail too.
It’s also lightweight, at 25g, especially compared with my previous Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic mouse (aka the ‘grenade’) which comes in at a whopping 160g. The PadPoint actually felt a little cheap because of this low weight, but I’ve had no issues with durability so far.
It has a built-in rechargeable battery, which must be bloomin’ tiny but still gives you up to two weeks’ use on a full charge. The charger is this neat little magnetic USB dongle that you plug into a USB port, and the PadPoint magnetically snaps onto it for charging.
That’s a really cool idea, however even though it’s small, when the mouse is on the charger it does get in the way of any nearby USB ports, which means you can’t really plug anything in next to it.
What’s it like to use?
The lightweight and diminutive size of this mouse makes it feel incredibly quick and accurate to use (hence the compound name of ‘swift’ and ‘point’, I guess) and I felt comfortable with it straight away.
You do have to get used to using your index finger for both left and right click, as the second button is directly behind the ‘left’ button. However, this doesn’t take long to perfect.
There is a scroll wheel to the right of the main buttons which you could choose to operate with your middle finger, but I found it easier just to rest my middle finger on the side of the body and use my left finger for all the button and scrolling operations.
Left click, right click, and the scroll wheel.
The range of Swiftpoint Pen-Grip mice also have gesture control functionality. You tilt the mouse about 10° to the right (there is an angled face underneath to rest on) to activate gestures.
For the PadPoint this is either scrolling or moving, depending on what you set in the app. If it’s set to scroll, you can scroll in any direction by simply tilting the mouse and moving it.
When I first got the mouse, I thought you had to tilt the mouse right over onto the scroll wheel and wheel it up and down for the gesture control! It took me a while to realise how foolish I was being (even though it worked!), and how I should read the instructions properly.
Once I had worked out how to use the gestures properly, I quickly realised they didn’t really work for me. Often I found I hadn’t tilted enough or maybe tilted too much for the gesture to activate. Maybe with more practice I could get used to it, but for me using the scroll wheel was more effective.
Using with a tablet
Using the PadPoint with an iPad is pretty neat – I hadn’t used a mouse with a tablet before so it was kind of alien to me at first. But I can see the appeal for those of you who work a lot on a tablet at a desk with a stand and a Bluetooth keyboard. Microsoft Surface and iPad Pro users come to mind.
It makes it really easy to select text and do more precise clicking and scrolling. The marketing on the Swiftpoint website says it’s ‘more accurate than a fat finger’ and I certainly cannot argue with that even though I have tiny fingers on my tiny hands!
So a (tiny) thumbs-up from me for the PadPoint, but I decided to get a couple of other opinions. I released the mouse into the wilds of the Consumer NZ office to roam on a couple of other desks.
Jen suffers from repetitive strain injury (RSI) and carpal tunnel syndrome, so she was excited to try something that might relieve the pain. She trialled the PadPoint for a couple of days and was impressed with how easy it was to adjust to the pen grip. She liked how lightweight the mouse was and how quickly the cursor moved, and found that it didn’t aggravate her old injury.
Annette suffers from arthritis in her hands and trialled the mouse for a day. However, she found she couldn’t get comfortable with the change of grip and prefers a mouse that she can rest her hands on.
James most certainly does not have tiny hands, being 6'9'' (over 2m) tall, but still found the PadPoint comfortable to use. However, he didn’t adjust well to the new orientation of his hand and arm: “I couldn’t have my arm lazily lying on the table like a sunbathing python.” And he wasn’t a fan of the somewhat clicky scroll wheel, or having the right click behind the left and needing to retrain a lifetime of muscle memory.
A mixed bag of experiences there, some of which would change once the user got used to the PadPoint. But clearly, this mouse isn’t for everyone. I, for one, am still using mine and hate going back to my lumpy, heavy mouse at home. But I am worried that if I buy one for home use, my cat might want to eat it …