What’s it like using the Combimouse?

Updated – 1 July 2013

So, what’s it like using the Combimouse?

I am working on the latest prototype. I have just completed the new right part which has a number of new technologies including a new keyboard technology. I have also got the right part keyboard brake to work. I haven’t upgraded the left part yet and it is still a black part using older keyboard technology but it is 100% functional and doesn’t hinder use.

There are still a number of problems and so I can’t use the prototype full-time but I am working on it and expect to resolve the major issues soon.

I have been vague as to what the keyboard brake is. I explain the reason for this in this blog.

We are currently looking for an Australian tech blog to review the Combimouse. The aim is to validate the Combimouse concept. We could wait a bit longer but we need to show the potential of the Combimouse. Ideally we should wait until the left part is upgraded, wait until the external circuitry for the Keyboard brake is put into the unit, wait until the scroll wheel is implemented etc. But we have decided that it is better to let someone evaluate it as is, with the understanding that it is close to the finished pre-production status.

(JULY 2ND UPDATE – THIS FOLLOWING PROBLEM HAS BEEN MOSTLY RESOLVED. The key is a lot more sensitive and is now okay. It still needs to be firmly pressed but not as much as before.)I am using the new keyboard technology and I am having a problem with some of the keys as discussed below. The problem is that the flexible membrane that I had made is not optimum for this keyboard technology. In production this won’t be a problem as an optimised membrane will be used. AS I MENTIONED ABOVE THIS HAS BEEN RESOLVED.

Any small annoyance is easy to ignore for a few minutes or maybe an hour, but with extended use it becomes a problem. Up until June 2013, the right part moved slightly during typing and this was a problem. The keyboard brake was devised and this overcomes the problem. I can now use the Combimouse for much longer periods. There are still some annoying problems. Some of which are because the prototype is handmade. I am working on these and will resolve them soon.

Others are more intrinsic to the design. All these problems are listed as Disadvantages on the Combimouse site on this page.

Having a mouse at one’s fingertips is of course is the main advantage and it is great.

As a mouse.

When it is used with Grip 1(shown below),  it works as well as a regular mouse. This is how a mouse is normally gripped.

Grip 1 250 x 250

 

Scrolling is currently a problem. I have implemented Click scrolling (see the “Scroll solutions for Combimouse” blog) and this doesn’t work well and is frustrating. As discussed in the Scroll blog, in June 2013 I worked out how to add a Scroll wheel. I hope to add it soon. I will do that as a background task.

Here is a photo of Mouse grip 2

Grip 2 250 x 250

 

Using this mode is really great. It is especially useful when you need to regularly move between mouse and keyboard, for example during CAD work. The problem is that it is not as accurate as mouse grip 1 because you are not resting your palm on the table, but it is nevertheless very accurate and very usable. It is also not as comfortable to grip as grip 1 but still it is okay. Mouse grip 1 is identical to a normal mouse. I have become lazy and want to always use grip 2. Just like it is frustrating to move from a keyboard to a normal mouse I have become even lazier and moving from the keyboard mode to mouse grip 1 has become frustrating even though it doesn’t take much effort to move my hand to grip 1. It’s amazing how lazy people can be – or should I say it’s amazing how lazy I can be!

So, for occasional mouse usage I would say that Mouse grip 2 will be used, but for extensive mouse usage and for accurate mouse usage I would say that Mouse grip 1 will be used.

(THIS FOLLOWING PROBLEM HAS BEEN RESOLVED)During Mouse grip 2, the J key is used as the left click button. Because this is a normal keyboard key it needs to be held down firmly during drag operations, else a number of key releases and presses may be detected. I have added software filters and modified the mechanism slightly and this has made some improvements. I can’t be too aggressive with the software filter else it won’t register double clicks.

This should solve another problem. At the moment I have to press the J key in the middle when I use it as a left click button during Grip 1. THIS PREVIOUS PROBLEM HAS BEEN RESOLVED.

During mouse mode with Grip 1, the left click button is the comma key – the comma key doesn’t use the flexible membrane – a switch from a mouse is used and so false key releases do not occur during dragging.

As a keyboard it works as well as a normal keyboard. Some keys have been moved. Some keys like the backspace and delete keys have been moved to very convenient positions. I am used to the new positions for these keys and find them very convenient.

Here are some other keys that have been moved:

Back Slash, Forward Slash, Home, End, Page Up and Page Down.

You have to lift your palm off the right part when typing else you will bump your wrist into the part and it will move. I am used to it and don’t find it an issue. Trained typists are trained to keep their hand parallel and above the keyboard during typing.

The palm rest/palm grip is low and flat and so it is easy to lift your palm. It is very similar to the Apple Magic Mouse which Apple have sold with their computers for the past few years. Apple have done this because the surface of the mouse is a gesture surface.

So the palm rest on the Combimouse is very comfortable as a palm rest during pauses between typing as it is flat. As a palm grip during mouse mode  it does not fill the bottom of the palm. Apple obviously don’t see this as an issue and it feels okay on the Combimouse. So if you want to get a feel as to how the Combimouse feels with grip 1 try using an Apple Magic Mouse. It is similar but with some differences. With the Apple Magic Mouse occasionally the hand grips the sides near the bottom near the bottom but on the Combimouse the hand occasionally touches the top surface – I hope that made sense and you could follow what I said.

The Return key is possibly too small. I will look into extending it a bit to the right.

AS MENTIONED ABOVE THE FOLLOWING PROBLEM HAS BEEN RESOLVED. Some of the keys on the prototype are currently a little difficult to press and this is annoying. I am currently fixing this.

The Space key on the right part is still a little uncomfortable. I have some ideas why that may be and I am working on it.

There is a side effect from the keyboard brake which is distracting and I am working on resolving this. Once again I apologise for not providing details on the keyboard brake.

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