I’m considering buying a graphics tablet — a Wacom or similar — to stave off any hint of mouse-related RSI. I know I use computers a lot, at work and at home, and recently I have had noticeable wrist pain on occasions. Accordingly my work mouse is now on the left, and my home mouse is on the right, taking advantage of my mouse-ambidexterousnous. (Is that even a word?)
I don’t even know if there are any brands other than Wacom to look at. No others appear to distribute these kinds of products in Australia. (I think I recall Wacom being around in the 80s… they must be doing something right.)
From the looks of it, using the pen/tablet is relatively straightforward, with the only gotcha being that right clicking is marginally more difficult. Left click, double click, drag and drop, all easy. Some of the Wacom packages actually come with a mouse, but I wouldn’t see the point of this; I’d assume I’d keep my old mouse.
They do appear to be primarily aimed at graphics use, which is not my primary concern, though from time to time I do graphics work which would benefit from it. Wacom do have some information on tablets reducing RSI. The smallest size has an A6-sized pad, which on paper provides enough accuracy to handle even big screens.
Two ranges, the Intuos3, which appears to be aimed at professional use, starting at AU$349 ($305 street), or the Graphire4, aimed at domestic use, starting at AU$149 ($139 street). The Intuos does have a number of extra features and better performance.
Will go shopping at some stage and try them out, I think.
I’ve also been told that a few minutes daily squeezing a tennis ball is a good way to help ease any mouse pain. Will try that too. A tennis ball is cheaper than a tablet (though probably less geeky fun).
Dan’s data reviews tablets, if that’s any help.
Aren’t trackballs also meant to be good for RSI?
Wacom isn’t the only brand, but it’s probably the best by far – I’ve tried a few over the past couple of years. Mostly ranging in the $100-$200 range. Most tablets that aren’t Wacom have the annoying habbit of needing batteries in the pens which adds to the weight and bulkiness and hand-soreness if you don’t like using thickish pens. The wacom (lil’ Graphire) that Tony gave (GAVE!!! *loves*) me is a beauty – slim pen, no batteries, easy-to-find drivers – and definitely helps in the “not getting RSI/Carpel Tunnel” stakes when fiddling on the computer and easy enough to use for general computer operations once you get used to the button on the side of the pen.
Get yourself a stress ball to squeeze to help with the tension muscles in your hand and arms – and they’re geeky fun if you manage to find the funny ones.