A Comprehensive List of Alternative Ergonomic KeyboardsThursday, October 18, 2007 4:17
Most people who talk about getting an ergonomic keyboard are thinking specifically of a split or natural keyboard, like this or this. If your main problem is that you are typing with your wrists at an awkward angle, these kinds of keyboards may help — but they can also cause other problems.According to physical therapists, typing on these keyboards can cause you to twist your elbows out and your shoulders slightly forward, which can cause more problems and pain. These models also have a wide footprint, meaning you still have to reach far to the right side of the keyboard to use the mouse.But don’t despair quite yet. There are many other alternatives on the market. Some of them look like normal keyboards, while others look more like space ship controls from a sci-fi movie. You won’t find them all at Fry’s or another computer retailer, but plenty of online retailers offer good images and can help you evaluate the right product and make a purchase.Here’s a fairly comprehensive list, but if I’ve missed any, please let me know! Small-imprint or Mini Keyboards These are simply smaller versions of standard keyboards, which get rid of extra navigation keys such as page up/down and the number pad on the ride side of the keyboard. If you’re just reaching too far with your mouse hand, these may solve your problem. Many are relatively cheap and can often be found at common retailers like Fry’s.There are also a variety of small imprint keyboards. Some move the number pad to the left side; others add an extra shift key to let you access a number pad embedded in the letter keys; some have mouse pads; some are wireless.
Tactile Keyboards Some preliminary research from Lawrence Berkeley Labs suggests that typing on springier keys reduce the risk of injury or pain. These keyboards look like standard keyboards but are softer to the touch, so may help reduce RSI symptoms.
Adjustable Keyboards These allow you to adjust the different parts of your keyboard to accommodate the most comfortable position for your hands. They are good if your main problem is reaching to the middle of the keyboard. Some also slant, to help solve the problem of twisting your arms horizontally to reach the keys.
Contoured Keyboards Here’s where keyboards start looking strange — but this is my personal favorite. They’re good if you are having significant pain and really need a change, a tool that is designed for the natural distance between your shoulders and the shape of your hands.
Specialty Ergonomic Alternative Keyboards
Other Alternative Keyboards
Please do let me know if I’ve missed anything worth noting. As I find more models I will try to update this list.Also, if you have used any of these, please post your impressions of how easy and comfortable it was for you, and whether it helped relieve your pain.Next up, I’ll post a similar list of alternative mice and pointing devices.
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