Computers have simplified so many things, but just like anything, while they offer a number of benefits, there are also some downsides associated with computer use; particularly for those who spend a lot of time typing. Whether you are a writer, you work in transcription, or you do any other task that requires you a lot of time on your computer’s keyboard, you know how uncomfortable your hands and wrists can get after a while. Pain in the hands and wrists, muscle strains and spasms, and even carpel tunnel syndrome are all associated with excessive keyboard use. While you may not be able to take a break from using your computer’s keyboard, there is a way that you can get some much needed relief for the strain that it puts on your hands and wrist. How? – With an ergonomic keyboard.
Ergonomic keyboards are specifically designed to alleviate the strain that can be experienced when holding your hands and wrists in an awkward, unnatural position over your keyboard. Ergonomic keyboards are usually constructed in the shape of a V, which allows you to position your hands in a more natural way while typing.
There are dozens of ergonomic keyboards to choose from. You want to make sure that the keyboard you choose will meet your specific needs. To help you in your quest to find the best ergonomic keyboard, we have assembled this handy buyer’s guide, which will provide you with valuable information before you make your purchase.
Types of Ergonomic Keyboards
There are several different types of ergonomic keyboards, and each type offers different benefits:
- Split ergonomic keyboards
- Contoured ergonomic keyboards
- Handheld ergonomic keyboards
- Angled ergonomic keyboards
Split Ergonomic Keyboards
This is the first ergonomic keyboard that was ever designed. It comes in two types: Split and contoured. A split ergonomic keyboard consists of a single keyboard, on which the keys are separated into two or three separate groups. Splitting the keys up allows the user to type at a more natural angle than a traditional keyboard. On an adjustable split keyboard, the keys are split into several places on the keyboard, which makes it easier to change the angle between them.
Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard
The contoured design is a further development of the split design. A contoured keyboard is a more advanced development of the split keyboard design. The keys are placed in two different groups that are set shoulder width apart. The function keys are set between the two groups. This design allows for requires little movement of the arms and wrists.
Handheld Ergonomic Keyboards
These keyboards are similar to a video game controller in that they are designed to be held in the hand. Because this keyboard is not laid out on a flat surface, it gives you the ability to move about and adjust positions while still being able to type. As a result, these keyboards can not only aide in alleviating strain in the hands and wrists, but can also ease other problems that are experience with prolonged computer use, such as back and neck pain.
Angled Ergonomic Keyboard
The angled ergonomic keyboard is similar to the split keyboard, with the primary difference being that the center is lifted up, which allows the index fingers to be positioned higher than the smaller fingers.
Factors to Consider when Buying an Ergonomic Keyboard
To ensure that you purchase the best ergonomic keyboard to suit your specific needs, there are certain factors that you are going to want to take into consideration. We think that the following factors are important considerations to make.
One of the most important factors to consider is the size of the ergonomic keyboard. If it is too big, your fingers will have to do excessive reaching, which can result in added pain. If it is too small, you won’t receive the proper support for your hands and wrists.
The type of movements you do the most on your computer’s keyboard is an important factor, too. For example, if you use the calculator a lot, an ergonomic keyboard that offers a separate keyboard may be the best for you; however, if you use the function keys a lot, you will find that a keyboard that offers easy access to the function keys will help to alleviate strain.
Computer accessories can be expensive, especially if you have to replace them a lot. The more durable an ergonomic keyboard is, the longer it will last, which can save you a tremendous amount of money down the line.
As mentioned, computer accessories can be expensive, and ergonomic keyboards are no different. Choosing one that is compatible with a variety of computers is a wise idea. Should you get a new computer in the future, or should you switch back and forth between computers, you will be able to continue using your ergonomic keyboard with different types of computers other than the one you initially purchased it for.
Ease of Use
The easier an ergonomic keyboard is to use, the better. Not only do you want it to be easy to type with. An ergonomic keyboard that has the keys set up in the standard QWERTY order is ideal, as you will not have to spend time learning a new layout. Plus, this layout will allow you to easily switch from your ergonomic keyboard to other keyboards.
Do You Need Wireless Connectivity?
Are you OK with having a wired keyboard, or would you benefit from having wireless connectivity? A wireless ergonomic keyboard allows you to adjust the position of the keyboard with greater ease. If, for example, you want to pull it further away from your computer’s screen, a wire may limit how where you can position it.
As always, the price is an important factor to consider when purchasing any product, including an ergonomic keyboards. These computer accessories can vary significantly in price, with lower end models costing under $100, to higher end models that can cost upwards of $150 or more. Make sure you know how much you can comfortably spend before you start shopping so that you don’t overextend your budget.
Ergonomic Keyboard Features
Many of the different features of an ergonomic keyboard refer to the actual design of the keyboard, which was discussed in the ‘Types’ section of this guide. However, there are several additional features that these keyboards can offer that may improve your experience with them.
Some ergonomic keyboards are outfitted with padding. This padding cushions the wrists, thereby providing extra support. However, while padding may make using the keyboard more comfortable, it can also impact your ease of use, as it could potentially limit how quickly you can move about the keyboard.
Some ergonomic keyboards come with their own mouse. This is particularly useful if you are shopping for a keyboard that offers wireless connectivity, as the mouse is specifically designed to work with the keyboard it comes with. Plus, it eliminates the guesswork when it comes to trying to find a mouse that will be compatible with your ergonomic keyboard.
Enhanced Battery Life
If you have decided to go the wireless route, an ergonomic keyboard that features enhanced batter life is an excellent option. Longer battery life means longer and more worry-free use because you won’t have to worry about constantly changing the batteries. Also, longer battery life means more savings, as you won’t have to purchase batteries as frequently.
Whether you are purchasing a wired or a wireless ergonomic keyboard, you may want to look for one that allows you to operate it from longer distances. Doing so will enable you to move the keyboard without having to worry about whether or not it will work. For wired ergonomic keyboards, a longer wire will allow you to use it from further distances. For a wireless ergonomic keyboard, look for one that features powerful sensors that can reach the computer from long distances. Depending on the keyboard, you may be able to reach a distance of 30 + feet and still retain optimal control of your keyboard.
Best Ergonomic Keyboard Brands
Just like every other product out there, there are several companies that manufacture ergonomic keyboards. To help you determine which manufacturer offers the best brands, we have done extensive research and we have tested the brands out ourselves. Our findings have determined that the following brands are the best of the best in regard to ergonomic keyboards.
For three decades, Logitech has been producing some of the highest quality ergonomic keyboards on the market. Using the most advanced features and cutting edge designs, Logitech is able to deliver exceptional ergonomic keyboards that users claim have helped to alleviate the stress on their hands and wrists and that provide greater comfort.
Microsoft is one of the most well-known names in the computer industry, and their ergonomic keyboards are some of the best. This company offers a variety of ergonomic keyboards that boast various features and provide outstanding results. We also really like that they offer several wired and wireless ergonomic keyboards.
A fairly new computer accessory company, German-based Perixx was founded in 2006. This company crafts various computer accessories, but specializes in input accessories, including ergonomic keyboards. We love how durable their products are, and the affordable prices that they offer.
An office supply company, Fellowes manufactures products for virtually every office need, including ergonomic keyboards. This company offers some of the most streamlined ergonomic keyboards we have found, which makes them exceptionally comfortable to use and easy to transition to.