They stole my idea. But since I’m pretty pathetic with mechanics and electronics not to mention legal situations at least now I can buy one of these. The ValueRays Warm Mouse III ($29.95) and its companions the Warm Mouse Pad, Warm Mouse Blanket and Warm Keyboard Pad can provide some well needed infrared heat now that winter is coming. And I know no one believes me, but when it is cold outside your hands become colder at the keyboard. The mouse hand especially begins to feel like a partially frozen fish flopping back and forth between the keyboard and mouse.
First, note that I am the president of the Chili-Willi Foundation and for some reason winter always comes early for me. I’m also the president of the Grouchy Consumer Club and I am skeptical about products that seem too good to be true. But I really wanted something for my cold dead-fish hand and stumbled upon the Warm Mouse, Mouse Hand Warmer and Warm Keyboard Pad. I tried this trio out for a test drive. All of these devices rely on USB interfaces for their energy.
Warm Mouse III
This is an ergonomic type of optical mouse, slightly angled. Has the normal PC mouse buttons and scroller, as well as a velocity button and on/off switch for the heat. No software was needed for the install. I just plugged it in and was doubly surprised: First, it warmed up in about 30 seconds, and secondly, it became pleasantly warm. I was expecting it to be a wimpy lukewarm since that is how most “heated” gadgets (like the indoor inflatable spa, ahem) are manufactured these days — not enough heat. But the mouse lived up to its hype. Check one off for a product that works the way that it is supposed to.
The Warm Mouse III is a little bigger than I’d prefer, but ValueRays also carries the Warm Mouse I, which is a more traditional shape. I might buy Mouse I next, but in the meantime I got used to the Mouse III and found that it moves fine, scrolls fine, and warms up especially fine. I even turned it’s heat off one day.
Mouse Hand Warmer
While I am now seriously addicted to the heat that the mouse provides, the upper part of my hand still becomes chilled (though it no longer turns purple). I kind of knew that would happen so I was really hoping the Mouse Hand Warmer ($19.95) would finish thawing out my scales. The Hand Warmer is like a fleece sleeping bag for your mouse, mouse pad, and hand. It has a non-slick bottom (so it won’t slide around on your desk) and it too is a plug-n-play USB device. (The photo shows the warmer without its removable USB cord.) It warms up, though not as much as the mouse.
The main issue I had with the Hand Warmer is that it lies flat. I tend to bounce back and forth between the keyboard and mouse – sometimes in a frenetic (ok, neurotic) manner. It’s too awkward for me to go from typing on the keyboard and then switching to the mouse for another task and having to dive into the Hand Warmer. But I wanted this thing to work. So I rigged a frame out of a coat hanger to hold it open, somewhat resembling a pup tent and that seems to work.
But the hanger sometimes gets in the way and it is klunky to set it up. If I were selling the Hand Warmer, I’d think seriously about providing some type of bendable, internal frame that allows the user to either keep the warmer flat or open. One other warning about the Warmer: ValueRays sell a non-USB version of the warmer and it is easy when shopping for the device to choose the wrong one; so be careful if you want to order the heated version.
Warm Keyboard Pad
The Warm Keyboard Pad ($19.95) works too and its purpose is to provide some heat to the non-mouse hand. It’s a standard keyboard pad but with a removable (via zipper) jacket and non-skid bottom. Removing the jacket reveals the infrared heat pad.
I don’t usually use a keyboard pad so I couldn’t really get used to it, but if I were a keyboard pad user I think I’d quickly become addicted to this heated version. I wish I were a keyboard pad user now that I think of it.
Instead, though, I scavenged the heating element from the keyboard pad, split open the back of the Hand Warmer and shoved the heating pad into the Hand Warmer. As I said, I want this to work. And I get very cold.
All in all, the Warm Mouse and friends are keepers. The outer part of the mouse hand can still be cold so the Hand Warmer is a nice complement. It is even nicer with a frame to keep it open and a second heater element. The keyboard pad heater is also a great sidekick for those who use keyboard pads.
Final note: While afflicted with low cold tolerance, I do not have arthritis in my hand or wrist, nor car-pool tunnel syndrome, but I did discuss these products with an office mate who does. He has an ergonomic mouse similar to the Warm Mouse III and he said it (the angled-type of mouse) is much more comfortable than the traditional flat mouse. So if you do have these maladies, this mouse may offer some help for you in that respect. He didn’t seem particularly excited about the idea of the Warm Mouse or Hand Warmer (he uses a tiny sliding mouse tray that the warmer would not fit on), but he says his hand gets stiff and cold and was interested in the Warm Mouse Pad. I think that will be my next purchase too. Something new to report at the next Chili Willi meeting.