JULY NEWSLETTER:

Choosing a Keyboard

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When it comes to choosing a keyboard, there are an overwhelming number of options. If you’re in the market for an ‘ergonomic’ keyboard, it is wise to be an educated consumer.  Start by asking the following questions:

  • How is this product different from others on the market?
  • How will this product change the way the user will interact with their equipment?
  • What discomfort or symptoms might this product work to correct?
  • Are there any drawbacks to using this product? 

To better answer these questions, the following paragraphs will review various models of keyboards on the market, drawing attention to their unique features and why you might opt for one over the other.

Most people likely think of a wave style keyboard as a typical “ergonomic keyboard”. The wave style promotes a better angle for some users to type to maintain straight wrist postures.  However, it is larger than most standard keyboards so it may cause an increased reach distance to the mouse, making it a less than ideal fit for users with small hands or petite shoulder frames. Double check how much space you have at your desk as well, as the larger wave keyboard may not fit on all sizes and styles of keyboard trays. 

Wave keyboard

A split keyboard is divided down the middle into two pieces. Each half can be positioned independently on the desktop at the angle and distance of the user’s choice to eliminate awkward wrist postures and improve elbow/shoulder postures. This is a good option for users with small or wide shoulder breadth since they can choose to position the keyboard halves in line with their shoulders.  The downside is that if you are not a touch typist, this keyboard may be challenging to adapt to. Also, typically split keyboards only have an embedded numeric keypad so if a dedicated numeric keypad is something you can’t live without, consider purchasing a separate number pad.

Split keyboard

A left-handed or ‘mouse friendly’ keyboard looks very much like a standard keyboard except the number pad is on the left side instead of the right. When using the mouse on the right side of a standard keyboard, people tend to position themselves in front of the space bar, which ultimately shifts them to the left side of the keyboard.  This then causes them to reach over the number pad to access the mouse (increasing reach distances by a minimum of 6 inches).  Positioning the numeric pad on the left side eliminates the reach over the number pad and promotes better postures when typing and mousing with the right hand.  However, if you mouse on the left side, this keyboard is not for you.

Left-handed keyboard

A compact keyboard does not have a number pad, so it has similar benefits to the left-handed keyboards in that reach distances to use the mouse are minimized.  This style of keyboard most resembles a laptop keyboard, but sometimes compact keyboards also mean smaller key size so be cautious when selecting a compact model. Smaller keys may result in more awkward wrist postures when typing; look for models with full size alpha keys. The bonus is that compact models are often smaller and more lightweight so they pack nicely in a laptop bag for use when travelling or in meetings.

Compact keyboard

No matter which keyboard you choose, remember that change takes time! Be sure to educate yourself and employees on how to use the keyboard as it may have different features from what you are used to.  Although the keyboard may be exactly the right choice from an ergonomic standpoint, if the user hasn’t been educated they may find it frustrating to use, use it incorrectly or simply not use it at all.

 

The keyboards pictured are examples of the various styles of keyboards available. PROergonomics does not promote one brand over another; however, we are continuously trialing new products to evaluate when and why they would be a good fit for our clients.


Photos

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