Best Split Keyboards

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
212 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best split keyboards

Last Updated November 2019

If you spend much time on a computer, you know that one of the greatest potential sources of pain associated with it can be the keyboard. Traditional keyboards force your hands and wrists into positions that are unnatural. Over time, this can really do a job on the nerves, leading to debilitating conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

A split keyboard can help. The ergonomic layout of a split keyboard is better positioned to work with your hands. This allows you to type at angles that are more natural, resulting in less damage to the nerves in your fingers, hands, and wrists.

When setting out to purchase a split keyboard, you will find a number of considerations to sort through in order to determine the right one for you — everything from size and compatibility to specialized keys and lighting. This buying guide explores the features of a quality split keyboard and gives you all the information you need to make an informed decision. We also highlight several of our favorite split keyboards to simplify the decision if you’re having trouble making your final choice.

In addition to protecting your hands and wrists from nerve damage, split keyboards are set up in such a way that they can also improve your typing speed.

Key considerations

Fixed split vs. adjustable split keyboards

Your first big choice will be whether you want a fixed split keyboard or an adjustable model.

Fixed split keyboards are single-piece keyboards, much like the traditional keyboards. With fixed split keyboards, however, the keys are usually positioned in waves so your hands will rest more naturally on them. As the name implies, the position and width of the break or slant of the keyboard is not adjustable.

Adjustable split keyboards are literally split, usually into two separate parts that are linked by a cable. Adjustable split keyboards provide you with more options in terms of how you can use them. Typically, you can vary the distance between the keyboard’s sections as well as the angles at which they can be positioned.

Size

Split keyboards are available in a variety of sizes, and you should consider a keyboard’s width and length carefully if your workspace is limited. Also, keyboards that are compact and lightweight will be easier to transport if you must take them when you travel. The profile of a keyboard — how high it stands — is another issue to consider, especially if your keyboard sits on rolling shelf under the desk where space may be limited.

OS compatibility

As with pretty much everything else computer related, the operating system you use will determine which split keyboards will be available to you. Split keyboards generally all work with Windows computers, and the majority can also work with Apple systems. Some of these are plug-and-play, particularly if you are using a newer version of your operating system. Others may require you to install included software before they will work with your setup.

A smaller number of split keyboards are also compatible with Android and iOS systems. Whatever system you are using, however, always verify the compatibility of your operating system version with any split keyboard before you buy.

EXPERT TIP

If you are purchasing a wired split keyboard, be sure that the cable is long enough to work with your particular computer setup.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Wired vs. wireless

Should you go with a wired or a wireless split keyboard? The majority of keyboards are one or the other, but some provide both options. A wired keyboard can be more difficult to use with laptops and tablets, and they can be limiting even with a desktop computer, depending on the length of the cord provided. One big plus for wired keyboards: you need never worry about replacing batteries since wired keyboards are USB powered.

Wireless or Bluetooth keyboards provide you with a greater flexibility in terms of how you can use them, but they are also independently powered. This means you will either be regularly using up disposable batteries, or constantly having to recharge your keyboard.

Mechanical vs. membrane

Another option to decide upon is whether to choose a mechanical keyboard or the more-common membrane-style keyboard. A membrane keyboard’s keys type onto a rubber dome under each key, while mechanical keyboards are more akin to the keys of a traditional typewriter. You can find both types of construction in split keyboards, and the choice between them will largely be a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer the feel, performance, and durability of a mechanical keyboard, while others find them too loud and sometimes more difficult to type on than membrane models.

Wrist/palm support

Cushioned supports for your palms and wrists can be a great help in lessening pain brought on by the repetitive stress of typing, so it’s no surprise that these ergonomic keyboards usually ship with some form of wrist/palm support. While such supports are usually built right into the keyboard, some can be removed. This is a great option for those who currently have a free-standing support pad they are comfortable using.

Specialized keys

Like traditional keyboards, split keyboards can feature a number of specialized keys that will vary, keyboard to keyboard. Some of the most common include:

  • Multimedia keys to control video and other media
  • Hotkeys to use for your favorite shortcuts
  • Customizable keys that can be used to quickly call up frequently accessed files, folders, or websites
  • OS specific keys that are specific to certain operating systems, such as the Mac OS
  • F keys, or function keys, along with an F-key lock to toggle them on and off
  • A zoom slider to easily zoom in and out on documents and webpages

Lights

Split keyboards will usually have the array of lights that serve to warn you when NumLock, ScrollLock, CapsLock, or FunctionLock are engaged. Some split keyboards also employ full backlighting on all the keys. This is particularly popular with gaming split keyboards, which use an RGB color scheme that can usually be customized.

EXPERT TIP

Split keyboards that are backlit will be easier to use in low-light settings.


Staff  | BestReviews

Split keyboard prices

Generally pricier than traditional keyboards, split keyboards can range quite a bit in price, from $35 up to several hundred dollars. The average price is between $40 and $70. At lower price points, you will find simple ergonomic keyboards — usually fixed-split and membrane-based — with few advanced features.

As the price increases, so does the number of features. High-end split keyboards are more likely to be adjustable-split models and are often mechanical. As the price reaches $100 or more, you will find advanced features like backlighting or special ergonomic features such as lifts, which can greatly adjust the angle that your hands rest at when using the keyboard.

Tips

  • Combat germs. If you are worried about the spread of germs in your workplace, consider going with a keyboard that offers an antimicrobial layer on both the keys and the wrist/palm rest.
  • Take it easy! One of the benefits of a split keyboard is that you need to use much less force on the keys to depress them, which places less strain on the nerves of your fingers and wrists.
  • Test drive a few models. If you can, try to take keyboards you’re considering out for a “test drive.” Visit your local electronics or office supply store to find out if they have split keyboards that you can test out.
  • Get a bigger buffer. If you consider yourself a blazing fast typist, consider picking up a split keyboard that features a longer buffer. The buffer is the amount of keystrokes that the keyboard stores when you are typing, so you’re not constantly waiting for the keyboard to catch up to you.
  • Go to great lengths. If you purchase an adjustable split keyboard that completely separates, check whether you have a choice of cable lengths that connect the various parts. A longer cable can provide greater versatility but may also result in too much cable taking up space on your desk.
  • Rectify your ulnar deviation. If you wish to impress your co-workers, tell them that what split keyboards actually do it reduce the ulnar deviation. This is the outward bend of your wrists that happens when you’re forced to use a traditional keyboard.
EXPERT TIP

Some split keyboards feature removable palm or wrist support cushions, an option that some users may prefer.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

Beyond our favorite split keyboards, there are plenty of other worthy models on the market. We like the Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB Split Keyboard, which is a mechanical keyboard that is fully programmable and features RGB backlighting with 10 customizable lighting effects. We also like the iClever Ergonomic Bluetooth Keyboard. It’s a lightweight, portable keyboard with a unique scissor-switch design. This wireless option has an internal rechargeable battery capable of 40 hours on a charge. Finally, the Kensington Pro Fit Ergonomic Wireless Keyboard offers dual wireless options and government-grade encryption. A big plus here is the spill-proof design.

A lower-profile keyboard can be easier to stow away when not in use — slide it under a monitor stand or desktop shelf.

FAQ

Q. How long will it take to get acclimated to using a split keyboard?
A.
While this will vary by typist, the majority of people using split keyboards are usually completely acclimated to them within a week or two. Typists who put in more hours on the keyboard tend to become used to it more quickly, and those using an adjustable-split keyboard — particularly those using a straight, non-curved design — will typically have an even shorter adjustment period.


Q. Do these keyboards ship with a mouse?
A.
Generally not, although you may be able to find some companies that sell a split-keyboard/mouse combo package.


Q. Are these keyboards loud?
A.
Just as with traditional keyboards, the amount of noise split keyboards create when you use them will vary. Mechanical split keyboards will tend to be louder than membrane-based split keyboards. Even among mechanical split keyboards, however, the level of noise will vary considerably depending on what type of switches are built into the keyboard. Spend some time in the comments section of a given listing to determine whether users consider the keyboard to be too loud, particularly if you will be using the device in a quiet office, library or other subdued location.

The team that worked on this review
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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