Ergonomic keyboards


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    I am starting to have carpal tunnel when I work at my computer for too long, so I have been considering replacing my keyboard. Are any of the ergonomic keyboards not total rubbish? I looked at Fry's the other day and MS puts out one that is just OK. Nothing great, but livable.

    Not horrible, but the keys are a bit "squishy" for my tastes. I could deal with it though if it stops my wrists and forearms from hurting.


  • mod

    That's the one I use. I was having wrist troubles about 18 months back and tried a few different keyboards. This is the only fixed ergo keyboard I tried that provided any relief.

    From what I understand, you don't want to upgrade to the wireless version (I think it's the 7000) because of issues with the space bar. The wired 4000 has actuators under each end of the space bar, while the wireless model has only one actuator under the middle of the space bar. The reviews I've seen indicate that this leads to the space bar not registering hits on the ends of the space bar.

    One other thing, the keyboard I have is about 2 years old (pulled out of storage), and it's holding up pretty well. There are some women where I work with newer versions of the keyboard that have issues with the print wearing off the keys. I'm not sure if that's an issue due to the newer keyboards, or because of the fact that all the people who have issues have longer fingernails.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    Unless someone else chimes in telling me it is shit, I will order it by the end of the day based upon that recommendation. My wrists are really bothering me today. I can only type for a few minutes before I get pain in my forearms.

    On a side note, I also saw this mouse at Fry's:

    It is basically tennis ball shaped, which looks just as silly as it sounds. Do not want.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I have a MS mouse that looks like it's the older version of that. The point is that it's tilted to about the same degree as is comfortable for your hand. I find it quite comfortable. Of course it's also very much not a left handed mouse, but as a lefty who's always used a mouse with my right hand that's not a massive issue


  • mod

    If you're looking for a mouse as well, I use the Logitec Marathon M705 at home. Starting to think about getting one for work since my wrist is acting up a little and the mouse I have now sucks.

    In addition to a pretty natural hand contouring, it has multiple scroll wheel modes, back and forward thumb buttons, and a button for window switching. If you can find one to try before buying I'd recommend it. It is a $50 mouse.



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  • :belt_onion:

    @Intercourse said:

    Not horrible, but the keys are a bit "squishy" for my tastes. I could deal with it though if it stops my wrists and forearms from hurting.

    It's rubbish in that you're typing on cheap rubber which loses its best qualities after a year, but alternatives with long-lasting switches simply cost you an arm and a leg, and they may be a bit too weird for your taste. Still, since they last longer they might cost you less in the long run.

    TLDR; your mileage may vary.

     

    I can't be bothered to quote a full marketing blurb so I'm going to dump some links on you:

    Last but not least, more of those keyboards are likely document on the following wiki: http://deskthority.net/wiki/Category:Ergonomic_keyboards



  • Here is my opinion on the Natural 4000.

    • The shape is wonderful. In terms of how it feels just sitting there, I might like it even more than the Kinesis Advantage which is widely considered the gold standard of keyboards for most RSI issues. Starting from a position where I typed "correctly" already, I had essentially no problem adapting to it: I picked it up and was basically able to type as well as I was before trying the split keyboard. Really the only exception really is that the left ctrl/win/alt keys are offset a bit from a standard keyboard relative to the bottom-row keys, so I found myself hitting Win instead of Ctrl a lot for a while. (Or maybe vice versa?)
    • Going along with that, I love the "reverse tilt" riser that you put under the front of the keyboard. From what I can tell, that's unique to the 4000 and the new MS Sculpt keyboard.
    • The palm rest feels nice and has held up for me without degrading.
    • The actual keys are pretty mediocre. They're not awful, but they're not good. (OTOH, I'm used to a keyboard that's 2 or 3 years old now and for which I've removed the keys a couple times for cleaning. But they were never all that good.)
    • Be aware the keyboard is big. It's very wide, it's very deep, and it's very tall (when you either stand up the legs in the back (ugh! awful! that's the opposite of what you should be doing! :-)) or use the reverse tilt riser). If you use a keyboard tray, or push your keyboard under a monitor stand, or something like that, this is worth looking into to make sure it'll fit.

    You should also look into (if you haven't already, and rejected it) the MS Sclupt keyboard. Basically the same shape, some front riser, but chicklet keys. I tried one out in the store and liked it enough I'll probably pick one up soonish, but I don't know how much I'll like using it after a few days. I know that style of keyboard isn't universally-liked.

    More generally, I think there are basically three keyboards or kinds of keyboards that make sense for heavy, but non-specialized keyboard users:

    1. The Natural 4000 or MS Sculpt, or something else with the same shape (currently the empty set if you demand reverse tilt, AFAIK)
    2. Something with mechanical keys
    3. The Kinesis Advantage, or something else with a radical redesign

    Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The Kinesis is probably the best option from an objective sense but you won't be able to type for a while. (If you can type "properly" you will probably be able to become reasonably competent at English text without too much work... but anything that requires special keys (in my experience, this include backspace) will require probably a couple weeks of relearning before you are comparable. That's a guess having only been able to try it for a couple days.) The mechanical keys have substantially better feel than the 4000, but the 4000 has substantially more comfortable hand placement IMO, so the tradeoff there depends on which you want more.

    My guess is that for carpal tunnel, the wrist is more important. So unless you want to relearn to type, either the 4000 or Sculpt is probably the least-bad choice.

    Unfortunately, I don't think anyone has made a keyboard that combines (1) and (2) and not (3). Edit: The ErgoPro that JBert linked to probably comes the closest; but having not tried it I think I'm not a fan of the disconnected halves, or the removal of the keypad; I sort of put that somewhat into the (3) category.


  • mod

    Looking at @JBert's post, the MS options are probably your best bet, unless you have $200 to throw down on the Matias Ergo Pro. And even the Matias has issues, which can mainly be summed up by saying the layout looks like a laptop keyboard. In fact, they pretty much say that on their site:

    Thanks to our unique navigation cluster, the Ergo Pro is not as wide as other ergonomic keyboards. It’s not much wider than a laptop keyboard.



  • I fixed my carpel tunnel issues with a bog-standard Microsoft ComfortCurve 2000, a memory-foam wrist-rest, and raising my chair an inch and a half.

    I think mechanical keys are awful. I also think people who love them are just nostalgic.



  • The Kinesis split keyboard helped me get rid of arm and elbow pain I was having. I like it, but I know some people who have tried it and immediately hated it, so YMMV.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I think mechanical keys are awful. I also think people who love them are just nostalgic.

    To each their own, but it's definitely not nostalgia for me, because I never used to use them (or at least don't remember using them). The closest it could be is some weird vicariously nostalgia thing.

    @blakeyrat said:

    I fixed my carpel tunnel issues with ... raising my chair an inch and a half.
    But I think this is very important. You could get a Kinesis and if you put it into a crappy environment you could continue to get worse. Similarly, if you're in a bad environment and can fix it, you may not need a new keyboard. So definitely look at what else you can do.

    (I'm not saying that the good keyboard wouldn't do anything in those cases; in the first, it'd probably slow the degradation a little bit and in the second it would probably speed the recovery a little bit. Just that you shouldn't expect a magic bullet.)



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I think mechanical keys are awful. I also think people who love them are just nostalgic.

    Definitely. And that doesn't stop us.

    To be honest, what I like most about the mechanical keyboard is that they always come with bulky keys, instead of those flat and semi-flat designs you see so often on rubber domes. That, and the auditory response.

    Actual tactile feedback is nice for some (I, for example, have fairly heavy hands when it comes to typing), but it's probably not that much of a case for most people.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I think mechanical keys are awful. I also think people who love them are just nostalgic.

    I got tired of wearing out rubber dome keyboards every 9 - 12 months. When you type for a living a mechanical keyboard is well worth the money.



  • @mott555 said:

    When you type for a living

    Have you been downgraded to a secretary job?



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    To be honest, what I like most about the mechanical keyboard is that they always come with bulky keys, instead of those flat and semi-flat designs you see so often on rubber domes.

    I can kind of see that, I did like my Apple keyboards back in the day when they had really tall keys:

    But that's a completely independent factor from using rubber domes.

    @Maciejasjmj said:

    That, and the auditory response.

    That's the worst thing about them. SHUT UP! You're just typing! It's loud enough on rubber keyboards, sheesh.

    @mott555 said:

    I got tired of wearing out rubber dome keyboards every 9 - 12 months. When you type for a living a mechanical keyboard is well worth the money.

    On the other hand, I can buy three ComfortCurve-class keyboards for the cost of one mechanical, and they last me at least a year each.

    This one has about 15 of the keycaps worn-off, but the typing action is still fine. And I have 2 spares in the closet if I need them.

    EDIT: it's also over 2 years old at this point, I just realized. So they're lasting longer than I anticipated in any case.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    That's the worst thing about them. SHUT UP! You're just typing!

    You're just hatin' on my clickin'.

    And I wouldn't use a mechanical keyboard at the office anyway. At home, the walls between me and my basementmate are thick enough.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    On the other hand, I can buy three ComfortCurve-class keyboards for the cost of one mechanical, and they last me at least a year each.

    This one has about 15 of the keycaps worn-off, but the typing action is still fine. And I have 2 spares in the closet if I need them.

    The last non-mechanical keyboard I tried cost $30 and lasted about a year. It technically still works but you have to press certain keys really hard for them to register. I replaced it with an $80 mechanical that I've had for nearly four years now which shows no signs of wear.

    At home it's a little different, a standard keyboard will last me at least 2 - 3 years. But when my last one died I went ahead and replaced it with a mechanical, too. Got a decent open-box one with backlighting for $60.

    @Maciejasjmj said:

    And I wouldn't use a mechanical keyboard at the office anyway. At home, the walls between me and my basementmate are thick enough.

    Cherry Browns. My office keyboard is no louder than normal ones. My home keyboard, on the other hand, has Cherry Blue switches and sounds like the lovechild of a jackhammer and a typewriter, but I live alone so it's all good.



  • I have the Logitech Wave keyboard, it seems to work pretty well, especially since I hate the split ergo keyboards.


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    @abarker said:

    If you're looking for a mouse as well, I use the Logitec Marathon M705 at home. Starting to think about getting one for work since my wrist is acting up a little and the mouse I have now sucks.

    Ordered, along with the keyboard.

    @JBert said:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinesis_(keyboard) (big, mouse might be far off though people like the sculpted form of the keyboard)

    Bah, I do not want to have to relearn how to type. Looks interesting, but I could not make the change.

    @EvanED said:

    Really the only exception really is that the left ctrl/win/alt keys are offset a bit from a standard keyboard relative to the bottom-row keys, so I found myself hitting Win instead of Ctrl a lot for a while.

    I noticed that when I tried it in the store, but I feel like that is something I could get used to pretty easily.

    @EvanED said:

    The actual keys are pretty mediocre. They're not awful, but they're not good.

    I noticed that also, they seemed for lack of a better word, "squishy". But if my wrists and forearms stop hurting, I can handle it. I am not super picky on keyboards, for the most part.

    @EvanED said:

    Something with mechanical keys

    I may be in the minority, but I am not a big fan of mechanical keys. They are not "squishy", but they are more noisy than I prefer. Even the quiet ones are a bit too noisy for me.

    @abarker said:

    Looking at @JBert's post, the MS options are probably your best bet, unless you have $200 to throw down on the Matias Ergo Pro. And even the Matias has issues, which can mainly be summed up by saying the layout looks like a laptop keyboard. In fact, they pretty much say that on their site:

    A client uses one because he gets carpal tunnel really badly, and the disconnected halves really bother me. I might get used to it, but I get used to keys being in a certain spot relative to each other and if you disconnect the halves form each other, that goes out the window.

    @blakeyrat said:

    I think mechanical keys are awful. I also think people who love them are just nostalgic.

    We occasionally agree. Now is one of those times. To each their own though. I think they sound like practice hour at a tap dancing school.

    @mott555 said:

    I got tired of wearing out rubber dome keyboards every 9 - 12 months. When you type for a living a mechanical keyboard is well worth the money.

    I don't know if I have ever worn one out? I have worn the letters off of home row, and rubbed the front of them smooth where my palm rests at, but I have never had switches fail.

    @blakeyrat said:

    it's also over 2 years old at this point, I just realized. So they're lasting longer than I anticipated in any case.

    My current MS keyboard is probably about 3 years old, and still types fine. It is just killing my "approaching middle age" wrists.

    @chubertdev said:

    Logitech Wave


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    @abarker said:

    If you're looking for a mouse as well, I use the Logitec Marathon M705 at home.

    Have you really noticed a 3-year battery life on the mouse? I realize that might be being optimistic on their part, but I initially went back to a wired mouse because I got tired of replacing batteries.


  • mod

    @Intercourse said:

    Have you really noticed a 3-year battery life on the mouse? I realize that might be being optimistic on their part, but I initially went back to a wired mouse because I got tired of replacing batteries.

    I've had it for 9 months and haven't replaced the batteries once. The software for the mouse also has some battery monitoring capabilities, and that estimates that I'm at about 85% battery capacity.


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    Good enough for me. Thank you for your input.


  • mod

    No problem.


  • :belt_onion:

    @abarker said:

    And even the Matias has issues, which can mainly be summed up by saying the layout looks like a laptop keyboard.

    It depends… You might need to change your typing style, but the mouse also gets a lot closer than on bog-standard keyboard layout.

    I chose to put my mouse on the left side though and flip the buttons (so index finger remains left click, middle finger right click). That way you can use any keyboard and still keep the mouse close.

    @blakeyrat said:

    SHUT UP! You're just typing! It's loud enough on rubber keyboards, sheesh.

    Hoo boy, I would be in trouble if I brought my favourite keyboard to work…
    It's one of the noisiest keyboards known to man:

    http://deskthority.net/w/images/8/81/83key.jpg

    Then again, one of my colleagues does pound his rubber dome keyboard into oblivion on a daily basis. I really wouldn't give him the strong stuff.

    @Intercourse said:

    My current MS keyboard is probably about 3 years old, and still types fine. It is just killing my "approaching middle age" wrists.
    If it's okay for you then it's fine. Keyboards are a matter of taste, so if you like what you got now you can keep going as long as the keys keep working and the shift keys or space bar won't stick.

    @Intercourse said:

    I may be in the minority, but I am not a big fan of mechanical keys. They are not "squishy", but they are more noisy than I prefer. Even the quiet ones are a bit too noisy for me.
    There are lots and lots of kinds though, where the really expensive high-end ones are rubber domes made in Japan (the internals are completely different of course), those don't sound so much noisier than your average keyboard. Your only complaint the first week will be "I paid $250 for THIS?!?"
    (Disclaimer: I don't have one of those)


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    @JBert said:

    If it's okay for you then it's fine. Keyboards are a matter of taste, so if you like what you got now you can keep going as long as the keys keep working and the shift keys or space bar won't stick.

    I need something that puts my wrists at a more ergonomic layout though.

    @JBert said:

    Your only complaint the first week will be "I paid $250 for THIS?!?"

    My theory has always been to buy quality and only cry once, instead of buying shitty tools and complaining every time you use it. :smile: In this case though, I am perfectly OK with good quality rubber dome keys.


  • :belt_onion:

    One of these or even one of these would definately last a decade (I have seen a collector buy 15-year old keyboards from that brand), but again those prices are above $200, even though other resellers might have lower prices.



  • Considering there are something like 7 different kind of switches, all with different feels, saying I think mechanical keys are awful is equivalent to saying I don't like drinks other than water.

    Mechanical keyboards are the only way to go for ergonomic keyboards. The build quality is better, they don't require you to slam your fingers against a hard surface which stresses your joints (since you don't need to bottom out the keys) and your typing speed and accuracy normally increases.

    There is a reason that the people who do the fastest typer competitions use mechanical keyboards.



  • @penprog said:

    The build quality is better,

    It ought to be, since they cost so much more.

    @penprog said:

    they don't require you to slam your fingers against a hard surface which stresses your joints (since you don't need to bottom out the keys)

    ... who does that on rubber keyboards? WTF. I'm starting to think the problem here isn't the keyboard.

    @penprog said:

    and your typing speed and accuracy normally increases.

    Honestly that's pretty low priority for me.

    You know what increased my speed and accuracy much more? Learning a different layout (in my case, Dvorak), then returning to Qwerty. Learning a new layout was a good way to "break" all the bad habits in my head from my self-taught typing, that was the important bit.

    Which makes me thinking switching to the mechanical keyboard might be the same thing. What's helping isn't that you switched keyboards, but that you re-thought about the way you typed and engaged in some self-improvement typing-wise.


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    @blakeyrat said:

    raising my chair an inch and a half

    Getting the chair height right can help a lot. I can only just get a normal adjustable-height chair to the right height for me — I've got long legs — but it makes a surprising difference (together with sitting up properly) because it raises your shoulders. Raising your shoulders means that your elbow height is better and that promotes the right wrist position, which is what really matters. The best seems to be the same hand position for using a piano keyboard; you shouldn't ever be needing to raise the palm of the hand above horizontal to use a keyboard or mouse comfortably.

    I also prefer a touchpad to a mouse for non-gaming uses. I suspect I'm in a minority there.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Intercourse said:

    Unless someone else chimes in telling me it is shit, I will order it by the end of the day based upon that recommendation.

    I'm not going to say that, but if have some time (and haven't already ordered it by the time I read this) and more money than that keyboard costs, you might look into some of the more exotic splits--people who use them swear by 'em, but they can cost upward of $200.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @JBert said:

    but alternatives with long-lasting switches simply cost you an arm and a leg,

    You can find mechanical keyboards on sale as low as $60, but you have to wait for the right sale (and the right kind of switches, if you're looking for Cherry MXs.) You can usually find one for $70, but in both cases I'm talking about non-ergonomic designs.

    Ergonomic keyboards can get, yeah, ridiculous--I've seen a couple around $300.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    I think mechanical keys are awful. I also think people who love them are just nostalgic.

    Why am I not surprised you are the kind of person who prefers to hit the bottom of travel on his keys? I bet it's mostly from pounding them.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Maciejasjmj said:

    Actual tactile feedback is nice for some (I, for example, have fairly heavy hands when it comes to typing), but it's probably not that much of a case for most people.

    Probably from too much gaming, the tips of my fingers get sensitive. Cherry MX Browns (and the other colors) activate without requiring you to bottom out the key. I'm still getting the hang of it but you can tell the difference.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    That's the worst thing about them. SHUT UP! You're just typing! It's loud enough on rubber keyboards, sheesh.

    You don't need Cherry Blues, you know. Reds and blacks are fairly quiet.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    I like tenkeyless fine, but a 60% keyboard would drive me insane. I need my arrows and the block above them.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    who does that on rubber keyboards? WTF. I'm starting to think the problem here isn't the keyboard.

    He just means bottoming out the travel.



  • I'm wasn't trying to convince you to get one. What I was telling you is that mechanical keyboards are not popular because of nostalgia like you said i(n the post I was replying to) but that they are better. Period.

    If having a better build quality, reducing stress put on your fingers, and having faster typing speed aren't on your list of priorities then that's your preference.



  • @penprog said:

    I'm wasn't trying to convince you to get one. What I was telling you is that mechanical keyboards are not popular because of nostalgia like you said i(n the post I was replying to) but that they are better. Period.

    Right; but I know people who say that about things like LPs and organic GMO-free foods.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    Better and best are subjective measures. It comes down to the individual. @blakeyrat loves his Fusion hybrid. That is the best car for him. I like my LX470, because I don't want to look like a pussy who drives a hybrid. ;-)

    In all seriousness though, it depends on what you want. I have tried mechanical keyboards. I am ambivalent about them...until I look at the price. They will not make me any more accurate when I type and most of them are too loud for my tastes. Better is all subjective. But I use a laptop a lot and their keyboards are almost universally bad. So any good desktop keyboard feels like an improvement.


  • area_deu

    If you say so.
    In my experience some computer games work a lot better with shallow scissor switches than a rubber dome desktop keyboard - some others have it the other way.
    Have never tried gaming with a mechanical one, though.



  • I don't think I'm necessarily faster on a mechanical keyboard, the difference is I retain my speed because the keys don't wear out and start requiring odd amounts of force to actuate. A rubber dome keyboard eventually wears and requires different force values for each key and that makes it difficult to type at a consistent speed.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I think I know why you're having wrist trouble...


    Filed under: You're Doing It Wrong



  • @aliceif said:

    If you say so.In my experience some computer games work a lot better with shallow scissor switches than a rubber dome desktop keyboard - some others have it the other way.



  • @ijij said:

    I think I know why you're having wrist trouble...

    Yeah also my mouse isn't working right.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Yeah also my mouse isn't working right.

    That's because it has only has one button. :wink:



  • @blakeyrat said:

    [controller]

    No, no, no, no, no, no, fuck no. I can't play shit on those things. Well, except maybe for NES and some other 2D games, but playing 3D games on a controller instead of with mouse and keyboard is just impossible for me.


  • area_deu

    I do like using console controllers for some 2.5/3D games, but not FPSes.

    EDIT: Removed kneejerk reaction caused by confusing the 360 with the One.



  • @mott555 said:

    Cherry Browns. My office keyboard is no louder than normal ones. My home keyboard, on the other hand, has Cherry Blue switches and sounds like the lovechild of a jackhammer and a typewriter, but I live alone so it's all good.

    Same for me. Brown at work, blue at home, and this is the keyboard I use:
    http://eternallybored.org/imgs/comp/keyboard2.jpg

    The first week was a pain, but after a month I was already typing faster than on my previous keyboard. Personally, I dislike laptop-style keys (with limited travel), and I especially dislike Apple keyboards, since they feel like typing on a calculator.


  • mod

    Is that a Logitech Marathon mouse I see on the right?


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