Back to 11/96 Reviews HW: Contour Mouse
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 11/96 Reviews SYS: Compaq Armada 4130T

November 1996 Reviews TOC

11/96 Reviews HW: Vector UNIA

A Mouse of a Different Order

By Hailey Lynne McKeefry

Time after time, various manufacturers have tried to improve the mouse, that icon of the graphical user interface. The latest is Vector with its UNIA mouse, and the company certainly slices the loaf differently. Its new device embeds a keypad on top of the unit so you can perform keyboard functions without removing your hand from the mouse. If you do a lot of data entry, switching back and forth between mouse and keyboard may now be a memory.

The UNIA gets good marks for its innovative design, offering four operating modes: a regular mouse mode, a numeric keypad mode, a 15-function key mode (activating the same commands as the F1 to F12 keys, and the Start menu and Win95's right-mouse-button commands) and a character mode. Character mode provides access to symbols, including the plus sign, arrows, parentheses and the dollar sign.

Switching modes was simple once I got the hang of it. The 10-key mode is the default, but I switched to character mode by clicking the middle mouse button and then to function key mode by double-clicking the same button.

Other buttons on the mouse's top provide Ctrl, Alt, Tab and Return keys; a side button acts as a shift key. I didn't inadvertently hit the buttons on the mouse's top, but a snap-on shield is included for more heavy-handed users.

Although the keypad was useful, I didn't appreciate some of the UNIA's other design features. For example, the unit's figure-eight shape (wide at top and bottom and narrower in the middle) felt much too large in my hand, and when using the shield, the mouse was especially cumbersome. The right and left mouse buttons have curved indentations designed to guide the fingers, but my hand was uncomfortable in that position.

If I used only a word processor, the UNIA mouse probably wouldn't be my first choice. But when I switched into Excel to enter figures into a spreadsheet, it beat a traditional mouse hands down. With practice, this mouse could definitely reduce data-entry time, which would compensate for its bulkiness.

--Info File--
Vector UNIA
: $75
Pros: Mode select
Cons: Size
Platforms: 3x, 95
Vector Research Group
408-298-7898, fax 408-298-8087
WinMag Box Score 2.5

Back to 11/96 Reviews HW: Contour Mouse
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 11/96 Reviews SYS: Compaq Armada 4130T