If you spend a lot of time using a keyboard, have any concerns about your posture, or are experiencing pain in your arms, shoulders or wrists, then you might well be considering whether an ergonomic keyboard is worth it.
And there is undoubtedly a case for them. We'll explore the potential benefits of an ergonomic keyboard, and then discuss who might find these suitable.
Is An Ergonomic Keyboard Worth It?
There are several suggested benefits of using an ergonomic keyboard. We'll briefly discuss how an ergonomic keyboard differs from a conventional keyboard, and then we'll take a look at the potential advantages of using one.
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What Is An Ergonomic Keyboard?
As opposed to a conventional keyboard, an ergonomic keyboard is designed to help align your arms and wrists more naturally. In turn, the idea is that this will reduce strain, improve posture, and reduce the risk of pain as a result of being in a slightly awkward position for long periods.
They come in a variety of forms, with different shapes, some with different shaped keys, different heights, and other adjustments that some users may find beneficial. There are three main types:
- Split keyboards, which allow you greater control over hand spacing and angles.
- Contoured keyboards, which typically have a domed shape, to help with arm position.
- Angled keyboards, with a slight incline. These are designed to help with wrist and hand alignment.
But what are the purported benefits of an ergonomic keyboard?
Benefits Of An Ergonomic Keyboard
We'll emphasise at this point that we aren't medical experts, and it's important to do your own research to decide how suitable an ergonomic keyboard will be for you. But some of the claimed benefits of an ergonomic keyboard are as follows:
- Improved wrist support and comfort. A conventional keyboard tends to force users to turn their wrists inward. Over a long period of typing, this can lead to discomfort for some people. An ergonomic keyboard, in theory, reduces the angle that your wrists are at, and in turn, puts less stress on them.
- As an additional point on wrist support, there are claims from some that ergonomic keyboards can help prevent or reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. But on the other hand (no pun intended) there are also reports stating that there is no clear evidence for this. If carpal tunnel is something that affects you, then it's important to test an ergonomic keyboard, to see if it helps alleviate your symptoms.
- Better posture and shoulder comfort. Because of the angle that your arms tend to sit at on a flat keyboard, this can cause you to round your shoulders and back. In theory, an ergonomic keyboard can help to reduce this rounding, improving your posture, and reducing discomfort.
- Increased typing speed and productivity. This is a slightly contentious claim, and there are many who say that in fact, an ergonomic keyboard will reduce typing speed. But those who advocate for ergonomic keyboards suggest that when users get used to the new layout, it can lead to improved typing speed. The idea is that by allowing a user to sit more comfortably, they will work faster, and experience less discomfort.
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Do You Actually Need An Ergonomic Keyboard?
This is the million-dollar question. Ultimately, as ever, this comes down to personal preference, and what feels most comfortable for you as a user.
There are some things worth considering as well, before making your decision:
How long do you use your keyboard for? If you only use a keyboard occasionally, then this will likely make less of a difference than it would for someone who uses their keyboard more heavily.
Do you experience any discomfort? If you don't, then it's possible that an ergonomic keyboard just isn't necessary. On the other hand, if you do have carpal tunnel syndrome, or an RSI, or any other sort of musculoskeletal issue, then it's probably worth consulting with a medical professional, to make sure your setup is optimal for you.
Looking For An Ergonomic Keyboard?
If you are considering an ergonomic, then here are a few of what we think are the standout keyboards on the market today:
- Microsoft Ergonomic Surface Keyboard - while nominally designed for use with a Microsoft Surface device, this works well with just about any Windows computer. It operates wirelessly, with a range of up to 32 feet. It's also gently curved, and set up to make it as comfortable to use as possible.
- Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB Split Mechanical Keyboard - this was designed for gamers, but is a great choice for everyone else as well. With a really comfortable wrist rest, customisable RGB lighting, and splits into two parts. This allows you to position each half in exactly the right way to be most comfortable for you.
- Logitech Ergo K860 - Regarded by many as one of the best all-round ergonomic keyboards currently available, the K860 uses what Logitech calls a "split curved keyframe". In simple terms, the keyboard isn't flat, but is instead elevated on both front and back ends. This is intended to allow your wrists to sit more naturally while typing, reducing discomfort. It is a wireless keyboard, which can connect to up to three devices at once.