Ergonomic slope from center of QWERTY keyboard. Reduced strain on wrists and hands during typing. Padded palm rest adds comfort. Reduce risk of carpal or other typing-related injuries. Keyboard includes one-touch media keys for easy control of audio and video files. Split keyboard design prevents unnatural reach while typing. Encourages a professional and efficient typing style. The wired connection ensures reliable, uninterrupted connection to all desktop computers or similar computing devices.
The keys on this model seem to click a little louder during typing than on some keyboards. Padded wrist rest wears over time.
Streamlined ergonomic design. Users who only do occasional light typing or other infrequent work may find that this model best suits their needs. Wireless connectivity is easy to set up and reliable. Keys are large and responsive. Curved design keeps wrists in a natural, comfortable position when typing. Padded palm rest for additional comfort.This unit comes packaged with an ergonomically designed mouse.
Some of the action keys (like the "esc" and "fn" keys) are not in their traditional locations, causing users to stop and hunt for them when typing.
The domed keyboard layout keeps wrists in a natural position when typing. The split keyboard design on this model is more pronounced than others, allowing users to position their keyboard around a monitor or other device when working. Separate number pad can be placed anywhere on a desk or other work space. Smaller keyboard provides additional space. The wireless connectivity also increases this flexibility.
With no attached number pad, some of the keys on the right hand side of the keyboard are not in their traditional location, requiring some adjustment from users.
Compatible with all Bluetooth devices operating on any version Windows 10, Surface offers users increased device options. The unique gray color is aesthetically pleasing, and also makes key labels stand out more than traditional black keyboards. Wrists are kept in a comfortable position when typing by the familiar domed split keyboard layout, and the cushioned palm rest provides additional comfort for long work sessions.
Bluetooth can only be pared with one device at a time, forcing users to disconnect and reconnect when switching between devices.
The ergonomic slope keeps wrists in a relaxed position. Padded palm rest adds additional comfort during periods of extended work. The keyboard also includes one-touch media keys for easy control of audio and video files. Keys are labeled in a large font to resist fading with frequent usage. The longer cord included on the 4000's business model allows for extended range in a work space.
The space bar is initially tight, and may cause some typos or missed spaces until it gets worked in.
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With the increasing amount of time people spend in front of computer screens, the demand for ergonomic keyboards rises as well. If carpal tunnel syndrome plagues you, or you simply want a comfortable keyboard that fits the natural shape of your hands, you’ll definitely want an ergonomic keyboard.
Microsoft has put the research into creating ergonomic keyboards for both the professional and private user. If you’re not sure which model is right for you, you’ve come to the right place. Our shopping guide takes you through the features to watch for and suggests a few considerations to think about before you buy. Be sure to check out our favorites, too.
Wired vs. wireless
Wired or wireless is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to buying an ergonomic keyboard.
Wireless: These keyboards prevent cord clutter while increasing your freedom of movement in the workspace and your choices in arranging that space. However, these keyboards run the risk of losing the connection and can suffer a lag in reaction time, though this is uncommon.
Wired: These keyboards provide the quickest reaction times but can be bulkier. The cord adds clutter to the desk and can limit how you arrange and use your workspace.
Types of ergonomic keyboards
Microsoft makes two types of ergonomic keyboards: contoured and split.
Contoured: These keyboards are designed to curve and slope to accommodate the natural position of the wrists, hands, and fingers, but all the keys are together as on a standard keyboard.
Split: These keyboards divide the arrangement of keys down the middle, angling each section toward the natural position of each hand. This allows you to sit with your elbows away from the body and maintain a straight angle from the elbow to the fingertips. Split keyboards may come with a separate number pad that can be placed wherever is convenient for the user. These keyboards are more ergonomic than contoured keyboards but may require you to adjust your typing style.
Do you have limited workspace? Keyboards come in different sizes depending on the design – split or contoured – and the size of the keys and the board itself. Microsoft’s split keyboards tend to be more compact than its contoured models.
Your hand size will also help determine the right keyboard size for you. People with large hands may have trouble typing on a compact split keyboard, while someone with small hands might have trouble reaching some keys on a large contoured model.
The amount of pressure it takes to press the keys can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome and overall discomfort. Keys that respond to a light touch and little pressure put the least amount of stress on the fingers, hands, and wrists.
All Microsoft ergonomic keyboards have either a plastic or cushioned wrist support positioned below the keys. A wrist support puts the wrist in a neutral position, so the fingers do all the moving and reaching. Cushioned wrist supports are the most comfortable because they have some give and conform to the shape of the wrists. Microsoft makes cushioned supports covered in leather or Alcantara, a combination of polyester and polyurethane. Plastic wrist supports may be slightly less comfortable, but unless you’ll be using the keyboard all day, you probably won’t notice the difference.
Not all wireless keyboards are the same. Some use a dongle to connect the keyboard to the computer, while others use Bluetooth technology. The dongle fits into a USB port on the laptop or computer. Bluetooth-capable keyboards connect directly to the computer without a dongle, leaving the USB port free. If you've got a long list of devices connected to your computer, an extra USB port is incredibly valuable.
Backlighting: Gamers aren’t the only ones who appreciate backlit keys. The LED lights in these keyboards make the keys visible in the dark. If you work at night or if you simply want keys that are easier to see, backlit keys should be on your list.
Arc: Concave keys that fit the fingertips reduce the amount of pressure it takes to press the keys. Consequently, they can reduce instances of carpal tunnel syndrome as well.
Noise: For some people, a noisy keyboard is a deal breaker. Keep in mind that the more sensitive the keys, the quieter the keyboard.
Some split keyboards have a separate number pad that can be adjusted and placed anywhere near the keyboard. While this type of number pad offers amazing versatility, it can take some getting used to.
Microsoft only makes keyboards in two colors: black and gray. Standard black disappears into the background and complements any computer or office setup. The gray keyboard has a modern look and feel that fits in with some edgier décor, but it can be harder to keep clean.
Some Microsoft ergonomic keyboards come with an ergonomic mouse. Both devices are either paired with the same dongle or use Bluetooth, so you won’t have to use up another USB port for a wireless mouse. Buying the two together can save money as well.
Inexpensive: Microsoft ergonomic keyboards start at around $35. At this price, you’ll find wired, split keyboards with Alcantara wrist supports. These keyboards may also have extra perks that don’t have anything to do with ergonomic design, such as keys to control media, music, and volume. You’ll also find wireless contoured keyboards with customizable shortcut keys at this price.
Mid-range: These keyboards cost from $60 to $80. They have a streamlined design that cuts down on bulk for a smaller footprint. These models also have a separate number pad that can be placed according to your personal preference.
Expensive: At the high end of the price range, at around $100, are split keyboards with Bluetooth capabilities.
Q. Is it hard to keep Alcantara clean?
A. Alcantara has a textured surface that can attract dirt and oil from your hands. Just dust off the surface and run a damp cloth over it if necessary.
Q. Can a Bluetooth-capable keyboard be paired with more than one device?
A. At this time, the Microsoft keyboards can only be paired with one device. If you want to switch between devices, you’ll have to pair the keyboard each time you switch.
Q. What kind of batteries do wireless keyboards use?
A. Wireless keyboards run on either AA or AAA batteries, depending on the model. Wireless keyboards are pretty energy efficient, so you don’t have to replace the batteries often.
Q. Does the height of the keyboard add to the ergonomic benefits?
A. Ergonomic keyboards usually have feet that can be adjusted to a height that comfortably fits the user. Split models have a raised center portion that tilts the keys toward the hands so there’s less need to reach. If you’re concerned about the height of the keyboard because you have a keyboard tray, look for the height in the product specifications.