Split design to keep arms and hands at proper angles. Tactile keyboard registers before keys are fully depressed, reducing finger pressure. Responsive, silent, and durable.
A fairly expensive keyboard.
Natural ergonomic design. Comfortable wrist rest. Convenient Zoom Slider for one-handed navigation. Common symbols are easy to reach.
For some, there will be a period of adjustment to get used to the keyboard layout.
The "PerfectStroke" key system minimizes typos and provides comfort and nearly silent typing. The slick design is paired with a touch-activated backlight: simply waving a hand will turn it on.
Doesn't boast curves like other ergonomic models. Relatively short battery life, but there is an easy USB-powered recharging system.
Incredibly durable for the price. Curved design provides solid comfort.
Keys require slightly more force to be pressed than other keyboards, but it's clear that this is a minor issue.
If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, typing the day away, it’s important to take care of your body. Any repetitive task can tax your system, and multiple aspects of regular computer use can cause problems over time.
From eye strain to carpal tunnel syndrome, there are a host of unpleasant, painful conditions that can develop if one isn’t careful about the equipment they use as well as how they position themselves while using it. Luckily, there are products that can help.
Products designed to minimize physical strain over time caused by computer usage are generally dubbed “ergonomic.” The heart of any ergonomic workspace is the ergonomic keyboard – a keyboard designed to reduce wrist strain. Some ergonomic keyboards force the user to raise their wrists to be parallel with their keyboard, while others space the keys unevenly for maximum comfort and to keep the user from overextending their fingers.
While ergonomic keyboards can’t cure wrist problems, they can certainly help prevent them. If you expect to be at a computer keyboard for more than 30 minutes each day over the long-term, do your hands a favor, and pick out a solid ergonomic keyboard. Your fingers will thank you for it.
To buy an ergonomic keyboard now, see our top picks. Read on to learn more about ergonomic keyboards and best practices.
There are two kinds of ergonomic keyboards: split and traditional.
Split keyboards physically separate the keys down the center, and place each half of the keyboard at an inward angle to support a more natural placement of one’s hands. While split keyboards can be a bit of an acquired taste, those who stick with them for longer than a month usually end up being lifelong converts. Most split keyboards include built-in wrist rests.
Traditional keyboards are the most common kind of ergonomic keyboard, and feature all of the letter keys connected in one grid. Despite traditional keyboards sharing a layout, general quality and overall usability can vary across models. For example, some ergonomic keyboards feature “soft touch” keys that are whisper quiet and don’t require much force.
In order to stand out from the crowd, most ergonomic keyboards include additional features, which may or may not be useful to you. They often add to the price, so it’s good to only buy ones with features you want.
A wireless keyboard can go a long way toward keeping your workspace clutter-free. Most wireless keyboards connect to your computer using an included USB adapter that attaches to an available USB port. Other ergonomic keyboards feature Bluetooth connectivity, which can really make a difference if you don’t have an available USB port.
Some ergonomic keyboards include backlighting, which makes the keys light up in one or more colors. Backlit keyboards can be handy for poorly lit environments, and many computer gamers enjoy customizing their keyboard backlighting to match the rest of their gaming equipment.
Most ergonomic keyboards include their own buttons in addition to the standard keys on the keyboard. These buttons are typically dedicated to a single task – for example, some have Volume Up and Volume Down buttons to make it easier to make audio adjustments, or a Print button to send whatever is on screen to your printer.
Some ergonomic keyboards come as a bundle with a matching mouse. While some people prefer to pick out their own mouse and purchase it separately, there are advantages to buying mouse-and-keyboard bundles.
For example, many bundles allow both the mouse and the keyboard to connect to your computer using the same USB adapter. If you choose to purchase a mouse separately later, be sure to account for how your mouse and keyboard will connect to your machine simultaneously.
Here’s the bad news about ergonomic keyboards: aesthetically, almost all of them look the same. The vast majority of ergonomic keyboards are black, with glossy keys, and a handful of dedicated function buttons.
That’s not to say an ergonomic keyboard can’t be elegant – it most certainly can – but if, for example, you’re accustomed to Apple hardware, all of the available solutions may feel just a little less fancy.
Because ergonomic keyboards are so utilitarian, they’re also a less-than-ideal choice for most gamers. While you will find the occasional gaming rig that includes an ergonomic keyboard, it’s definitely rare, because most gamers rely on gaming keyboards, which are specifically designed to support complex gaming customizations and ideal control setups. (If you both work and game on your computer, it may be worth it to buy two separate keyboards.)
If you purchase a wireless ergonomic keyboard, it will need to be powered, either by traditional batteries (typically AA, although in some cases, AAA) or by a built-in rechargeable battery.
If you buy an ergonomic keyboard with user-replaceable batteries, keep in mind that you’ll need to swap in new ones every so often (depending on how often you use the keyboard). Using rechargeable batteries can reduce long-term costs.
If you buy an ergonomic keyboard with a built-in rechargeable battery, consider keeping a spare keyboard around for any instances when you forget to charge your ergonomic keyboard and it needs time to recharge.
Before buying an ergonomic keyboard, consider these tips:
Test your keyboard for actual ergonomic benefits. There are no official standards for classifying keyboards as “ergonomic,” which means that for some keyboards it’s simply a marketing term. Once you’ve purchased an ergonomic keyboard, as you try it out, pay attention to how your wrists and hands respond. If you don’t feel any benefits (like reduced soreness), or if the keyboard doesn’t properly lift your wrists, consider exchanging it for a different model.
Remember that ergonomic keyboards are a preventative measure and not a standalone solution for wrist problems. Ergonomic keyboards are intended to reduce the wear and tear on your hands, and are not a form of physical therapy or rehabilitation. If you experience any type of pain in your hands that you think may be related to your keyboard, consult a physician for further advice.
Give yourself time to adjust. Most ergonomic keyboards are a little bit funny feeling at first and can take some getting used to. Whether it’s acclimating to non-uniform keys, getting your wrists accustomed to having a pad to rest on, or just remembering where all of the non-standard keys are, getting a new keyboard can tough. For most people, the benefits of ergonomic keyboards outweigh the risks, so when you make the switch, be sure to try it for at least a month.
Get a can of compressed air and a vacuum. Most ergonomic keyboards have bigger nooks and crannies than typical keyboards, and that means there’s a lot more room for dust, crumbs, hair, and dirt to slip through the cracks. To keep your ergonomic keyboard in good shape, keep cleaning tools like a can of compressed air and a hand vac nearby.
Introduce an ergonomic mouse or mouse pad at the same time. Wrist ergonomics aren’t just about your keyboard – there’s a good and a bad way to hold a mouse, too. If you’re making the switch to an ergonomic keyboard, switch to an ergonomic mouse or buy an ergonomic mouse pad simultaneously. It’s easier to adapt to your new hardware all at once than it would be one at a time.
Q. Does it take a long time to get accustomed to a split keyboard?
A. Every user is different, but most people report that they’re able to adjust within 30 to 45 days. After the initial learning curve is over, many users are able to type faster on a split keyboard than they are with a traditional keyboard. Be patient with yourself while you’re learning!
Q. Are mechanical keyboards ergonomic?
A. Not inherently. Mechanical keyboards are a popular type of keyboard based on the spring-activated keyboards of the 1980s. A few models include built-in wrist rests, but those models represent only a small portion of the market.
Q. Will an ergonomic keyboard work on my Mac?
A. Yes. Most ergonomic keyboards are “plug and play” with Apple Macintosh computers. Some advanced features (like special dedicated function buttons) may require manual key-mapping in the System Preferences app in OS X.
Q. Is an ergonomic keyboard the only way to keep my wrists in the right position?
A. No. Some users opt to buy separate wrist-rest cushions and put them in front of a standard keyboard. While this method is also effective, wrist-rest cushions aren’t very durable and typically get dirty or worn down very easily.
BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.