Replace your mouse with a USB Monoprice Graphics Tablet with pen
Drawing vs Mouse Replacement
Tablets come in varied sizes and resolution. The ones being used for graphics design need a good amount of pressure sensitivity to capture the thickness of strokes. They also need to support good pixel resolution. Wacom is a clear leader in this space.
If you are looking for a tablet to serve as a mouse replacement, you do not need a high-end device. You can work with minimal pressure sensitivity and less pixel resolution. Go for a reasonable size like the 8"x6". A smaller width would make the cursor difficult to work with.
Monoprice Graphics Table
Monoprice Tablets are a good mix of functionality and price point. Check out the wide range of tablets at Monoprice. The end user comments on the product reviews page are quite informative.
Though Monoprice mentions the pen has 1024x sensitivity, I have not had much success with pressure. It is easier to select a thicker pen if the application supports tablet integration (like OneNote or other MS Office products). The pen tip lasts much longer if you are careful with handling and don't put unnecessary pressure.
The pen does not need a physical trace on the tablet - a slight hover above the tablet surface would also lead to cursor recognition. The pen also comes with a couple of buttons which can be programmed to be used as a mouse right-click equivalent. The Pen needs a single AAA battery. If you use rechargeable batteries of 700 mAh, you can expect 7-10 days of usage.
There are two different ways of connecting the tablet - either via wireless or via a USB cable. I have been using the USB tablet for the last two years. For a mouse replacement, you would be fine with the USB tablet, keeping it next to the keyboard. The wireless model would be more useful if you were drawing or writing on the tablet.
Many of the Monoprice Tablets are based on the UC-Logic range of tablets.
Windows 7 comes with good support for graphical tablets. The tablet is recognized as an input device. In addition, you can activate the Tablet PC features including handwriting recognition and flicks. The Monoprice site mentions that the MacOS also recognizes the tablet.
The Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013 suites has been enabled for various touch features. Once the graphics tablet is detected, a new Pen Section gets activated on the Ribbon section of the application.
If you are working with a remote team, the draw-and-explain is quite useful to communicate your thoughts over a LiveMeeting or a Messenger Desktop share.
Using a pen / stylus as a mouse replacement is quite effective in reducing RSI. The pen is lighter on the hand. While using the pen on the tablet surface, the elbow position is vertical instead of being flat. This significantly helps reduce wrist pain as the hand gets into a neutral handshake position.
I tend to mix my desktop usage between the pen and the Vertical Mouse.
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