Review: Contour UniTrap
Dan Knight - 1999.05.22
I got home last night to find another box from Contour Design waiting for me. (The first one came in February; it contained the Contour USB UniMouse, a very nice three-button mouse for the iMac and the G3 Pro.)
I'd just read on many other Mac and iMac sites that Contour had announced UniTrap, an inexpensive shell for the round mouse now in favor at Apple. Now I had one to test.
Even more often than PC reviewers decry the iMac's lack of a floppy drive, iMac owners complain about the round mouse.
First, because it has no direction clues. You only find out you're not holding it straight when the cursor goes off an an unexpected angle. (Apple has apparently put a dimple on some mice shipped with the iMac 333. Ours came with the old mouse, so I have never used the dimpled imouse.)
Second, the mouse isn't ergonomically natural. "It's a finger mouse," some say. "No, you palm it," others cry out. While there are reports it's an excellent size for tiny elementary school hands, it's not a good design for the rest of us.
Remember when Apple was The Computer for the Rest of Us? Even since the iMac, The Rest of Us have been buying third party mice. The Contour USB UniMouse is the best I've used yet, and I consider the $40 price tag very reasonable for a high quality three-button mouse with drivers. At work, we've replaced every round iMac and G3 Pro mouse with a UniMouse.
But there's been competition at the low end, a US$10 device called iCatch. It fits around the iMac mouse, giving it the shape we expect.
Well, today the iCatch has some real competition. The UniTrap from Contour Design doesn't just put a back end on the mouse, it completely encases it.
UniTrap ships with five buttons, the same fruity flavors as the iMac. The shell itself has three pieces: the top, the bottom, and the button. It comes open easily by releasing a catch between "Salem, NH U.S.A." and "Made in Taiwan" on the bottom of the casing. A similar release lets you replace the default blue button with grape, lime, tangerine, or strawberry.
The round Apple mouse doesn't drop right into the base. It's too wide, so you have to remove the colored side panels. It's very easy to do, as detailed in photos on the back of the UniTrap box.
Then align the cable, set the mouse on the UniTrap base, and click in the top.
Viola, with $15 and a few minutes, you've converted one of the world's least ergonomic mice into something much, much nicer.
It's not a perfect mouse. For that, you really do want to invest in a UniMouse.
But UniTrap makes the puck mouse a very good mouse at a very reasonable price.
It's surprisingly comfortable, until you remember that Contour has been a leader in ergonomic mice for some time (on the Wintel side of the world).
The large button falls very naturally under the index finger, the whole thing sits comfortably under an adult hand, and it moves very easily. If it didn't have to be wide enough to accommodate the iMac mouse, it'd be perfect - but then it wouldn't be a $15 conversion kit instead of a $30-40 mouse.
So, in comparison to the UniMouse, it's a compromise. A bit on the wide side, and lacking those nice rubberized grips on the side.
But compared with the imouse, UniTrap is very nice indeed.
If you'd rather not put your round mouse in a drawer or can't come up with the $40 price tag of the UniMouse, you'll find the UniTrap converts a poor excuse for a mouse into a very good one.
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