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How this wireless touchpad and mouse desk setup saved my wrists

A one-two combination of a mouse and touchpad gives you enhanced control over your computing, but its health benefits are even more valuable.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
The Logitech T650 touchpad.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Years ago, I started suffering from wrist, finger, and forearm fatigue. Given I write between 100k and 200k words every week, that's to be expected. When this first started, I wasn't using the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard that would help eliminate my problems. I also didn't have the Logitech MX Ergo Mouse, which seriously eased the stress on my wrists.

Also: The best ergonometric mice you can buy

What I did have (and still have), however, was a Logitech T650 touchpad. Although that device has been discontinued (there's one on Newegg but has been marked up), you can find any number of similar items on Amazon that can serve as a drop-in replacement for the T650. 

In fact, I would say the modern iterations of the hardware, like Apple's Magic Trackpad, would be far superior, thanks to better multi-touch gesture support. Even so, I still love my T650, and I use the touchpad in addition to my MX Ergo mouse. This combination is one I believe many who work with a desktop machine all day could benefit from.

Let me explain.

View at Apple

First off, the MX Ergo Mouse is incomparable. I've tried many different forms and styles of computer mice and none of them offer the comfort and accuracy of that device. And anyone who either suffers from repetitive stress disorders in the forearm, wrists, or hands would find relief with this mouse. But if your tendonitis is as bad as mine (when it flares up, it's awful), sometimes one device isn't enough. 

Also: The best silent mouse

During those days when my right wrist wants nothing more than to take me down, I find the only way I can get through my writing schedule is to mix it up. If my right hand repeats the action of using even the MX Ergo, there will be pain. However, if I move between the mouse and the touchpad, I find it brings me some much-needed relief. No, it doesn't prevent the pain, but it certainly lessens it. And when you have deadlines to meet and no way around them, any sort of relief is welcome.

But it's not just about relieving those spikes of agony radiating from the tendons in my wrists. Sometimes I need a more delicate touch that a mouse cannot deliver. Although the MX Ergo is very accurate, there's something about using a touchpad on a desktop that delivers a more intimate experience. All of a sudden the cursor becomes an extension of my hand instead of the other way around. It's almost an inexplicable feeling and it's not one that a laptop touchpad delivers as well. 

Also: 3 reasons you should use an ergonometric mouse before it's too late

A laptop touchpad is an immovable device. It lives below your keyboard, in the center of the device, so your hand and arm are constrained to a limited range of motion. With my T650 (or a reasonable facsimile), I can place the device anywhere on my desk I need. Sometimes I'll place it such that my right arm extends straight out to use it. Other times, the touchpad will rest directly to the right of my mouse. You'd be surprised at how easy a touchpad sitting in such a location can not only bring relief to a tired wrist or forearm but also how much easier it is to control when it's not directly under your keyboard. It's all about how I'm feeling at that moment.

Although the Logitech T650 isn't available now, I would recommend these options:

Sadly, the options aren't quite as plentiful as you might think. Fortunately, the Apple Magic Trackpad can be used with Linux, MacOS, and Windows. The only caveat is that getting it to work on Linux does involve a bit more work than when using it with MacOS. But for basic touchpad usage on the open-source operating system, it's a great option (if you can't find a Logitech T650).

For me, variety is the thing that keeps my hands and wrists from continually aching. If you have similar issues, adding a touchpad into the mix could bring you some necessary relief.

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