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Ergonomic Mechanical-Switch Keyboard?

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the rolling-face-across-keyboard-reduces-risk-of-carpal-tunnel dept.

Input Devices 310

dotancohen writes "As wear and tear on my hands builds up, I find that I need an ergonomic (split) keyboard. It seems the vast majority of available ergonomic models are either crippled with dome-switches or have unusual designs, which place many critical keys under the thumbs (I cannot use my right thumb). The one normal-appearing contender, the Northgate Ergonomic Evolution, seems to be noisier than even the Model M — in fact, it echoes! Programmers and hobbyists geeky enough to be here today: what do you type on?"

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I can tell you what I don't do (2, Funny)

Dishwasha (125561) | about 4 years ago | (#34019184)

I don't type on a freakin' iPad touchscreen keypad.

Anonymous Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019186)

number one

Bad technique (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019196)

Normal keyboard. Been doing it for 35 years now with no problems. Hate 'ergonomic' keyboards.

Great Forum for Input Devices (4, Informative)

slifox (605302) | about 4 years ago | (#34019200)

I hate to point you elsewhere rather than provide an answer, but the GeekHack forum is a very rich source of information and reviews from people who know what to look for in a keyboard (or any input device), and they've probably reviewed every keyboard out there (and modified them). I don't use ergonomic keyboards, but I am very adamant about mechanical-switch keyboards that have just the right amount of tension and tactile/audible response.

Check out the forum here: []

There are also some interesting vertical keyboards like the SafeType and the Kinesis Freestyle Ascent, but they're kinda expensive and might take a bit of relearning.
Here's a survey of ergonomic keyboards: []

Personally I use a DSI ASK-6600 and a Scorpius M10, and I like them both very much. The DSI keys need a bit more force to push, and it has the large "Enter" key I like from old Keytronix keyboards (as opposed to a large Backspace key and a repositioned backslash character, like the Scorpius and Model M have).

These two keyboards probably don't appeal to you because they're not curved/natural keyboards. I avoid wrist problems while using a regular (straight) keyboard because I have a custom typing style, wherein my wrists are not angled when they rest on my "home row" (e.g. index fingers rest on V and N instead of F and J). This limits my upper bound of typing a bit (under 100wpm), but fast continuous typing will only get you so far in programming and sysadmin work, whereas wrists that don't hurt are quite nice... I also remap my CapsLock key to be another Ctrl, for easy one-handed reach to Ctrl+F1-F5/etc.

While you're at it -- upgrade your mouse too! I found all my wrist problems went away when I moved to a Logitech Cordless Trackman (wish it was corded, but whatever). This has a finger-operated trackball and a thumb-operated left-click, which I find MUCH more accurate and comfortable than a thumb-operated trackball (e.g. most trackball mice on the market now). Trackball mice are usually considered to be more accurate than regular mice anyways. One of the big benefits here is the fact that your wrist isn't as twisted as with a regular mouse... if that's your main goal, there are also some expensive ergonomic vertical mice that might be comfortable.

Re:Great Forum for Input Devices (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 4 years ago | (#34019294)

While you're at it -- upgrade your mouse too! I found all my wrist problems went away when I moved to a Logitech Cordless Trackman

I can't agree with this part of the post more. I generally find that in my work, I spend a great deal more time thinking and reading other documents rather than just typing - and while I am doing those things, I find that almost all of my interaction with the PC is done via mouse, with the occasional ALT-TAB etc. As a result, I use a Logitech MX Revolution [] which is very comfortable, accurate and supports my hand nicely.

Unless you do actually type non-stop, I would say a good mouse is just as important as a good keyboard.

Re:Great Forum for Input Devices (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019574)

Even better yet, use a Wacom Bamboo tablet as your pointing device.

Once you've gotten used to it, it's faster than a regular mouse, and far more ergonomic because the pen-on-paper posture is far better for your tendons than the posture you use for mouse clicking.

Re:Great Forum for Input Devices (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | about 4 years ago | (#34019760)

Interesting. I have the Scorpius M10: favorite keyboard of all time. (I just took it apart and phsically disabled the power button). And the Logitech MX518 (corded) + various AutoHotkey customizations to make the buttons do a multitude of tasks.

Re:Great Forum for Input Devices (1)

Aczlan (636310) | about 4 years ago | (#34019768)

While you're at it -- upgrade your mouse too! I found all my wrist problems went away when I moved to a Logitech Cordless Trackman (wish it was corded, but whatever). This has a finger-operated trackball and a thumb-operated left-click, which I find MUCH more accurate and comfortable than a thumb-operated trackball (e.g. most trackball mice on the market now). Trackball mice are usually considered to be more accurate than regular mice anyways. One of the big benefits here is the fact that your wrist isn't as twisted as with a regular mouse... if that's your main goal, there are also some expensive ergonomic vertical mice that might be comfortable.

I agree. I have a Kensington Expert Mouse (Model K64325) [] at home and at work with the top right button remapped to be a middle click (via X-Mouse Button Control [] ) and I wouldn't be without it.

Aaron Z

Ergonomic Model M (4, Informative)

raving griff (1157645) | about 4 years ago | (#34019206)

Ergonomic Model Ms exist [] , but are incredibly hard to find. You may want to ask around, though. An old workplace of mine had one sitting around in the storage.

Re:Ergonomic Model M (1)

sl149q (1537343) | about 4 years ago | (#34019410)

You can still buy them new from Unicomp: []

They even have models with the Windows key :-)

I keep meaning to buy some new ones but mine refuse to die.... (purchased in the mid '90s).

Re:Ergonomic Model M (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019564)

Um yeah, none of those are ergonomic. You missed the point ;)

Re:Ergonomic Model M (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019588)

None of those are ergonomic.

Re:Ergonomic Model M (3, Informative)

Dogun (7502) | about 4 years ago | (#34019832)


So it turns out that one of the major injuries typists get is called RSI, and one of the major causes is that people leave their hands on the keyboard, and wind up tensing their wrists in order to keep their fingers from depressing keys. Without rest, this causes injury. One of the majorly GOOD things about these buckling spring boards is that they can support more weight.

There's a couple of things going on with this 'ergo' idea - one part is visual, reflecting the key layout. Another part to do with the support of the hand and discouragement of behaviors that cause injury. It can be very easy to confuse the two.

If you want to avoid injury, it seems like while some accessories like fancy chairs may help, the behavioral aspects are far less mystical:
1) be healthy-ish to begin with
2) avoid keeping your hands in a fixed position, and certainly not a strained one.
3) move around from time to time, whether that means a new posture or talking a break.

I used the Unicomp keyboards for a few years, but I've been through a few of them - the design simply does not adequately protect the board from spills, and if I ever buy another one I'm going to modify it before use to isolate the keywell from the circuits.

Keyboards? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019208)

I use neural implants these days.

1984 IBM model M (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | about 4 years ago | (#34019226)

The clicky key wonder, I have 3 spares, new in the box. Until the connectors or adapters disappear,
I will use it to DROP MY KARMA into oblivion.

Speech to text? (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | about 4 years ago | (#34019236)

I haven't done it in a long while but I did have a machine that was very well trained and in a quite room that go about 85% right with code. Maybe the technology has improved to get it closer to 90-95%?

Re:Speech to text? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019284)

speech-to-text is good, but even if you do get it good enough so that it understands your speech as quickly as you can type, there is no way that anyone could program decently that way.
You'd end up with code like

for (eye=0;eye<5;eye++) {
see out << eye;

Re:Speech to text? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#34019686)

for open parenthesis eye equals zero semicolon eye less than five semicolon eye plus plus close parenthesis
see out less than less than eye semicolon

Keyboard love (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019242)

Natural Ergonomic keyboard (from Microsoft)

The best a man can get...

Re:Keyboard love (1)

Niobe (941496) | about 4 years ago | (#34019528)


Been using one of these for 4 years. This is really the only decent attempt at an ergonomic keyboard that I know of, and actually had some R&D to back it up. The main drawback is that it's not cordless. I have found it a particular problem moving between this and a non-ergonomic keyboard when necessary, although there's always a minute of two of typos until the new mental map kicks in.

Re:Keyboard love (2, Interesting)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 4 years ago | (#34019912)

Problem with this is, the newer ones appear to be more cheaply made-- I had one that lasted years just crap out, ordered a new one, and it lasted about two months before the keys started becoming unresponsive. Then I tried an Adesso model, but the feel really sucks.

Text To Speech (5, Funny)

cosm (1072588) | about 4 years ago | (#34019256)

I use text to speeches you looters. It is the rest! No worrying about miss-wiping the wrong bird and spit is always 1000 percent immaculate!

Re:Text To Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019370)

heh +1 parent

Re:Text To Speech (4, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | about 4 years ago | (#34019448)

That's the best description of a Salvatore Dali painting I've ever read!

Re:Text To Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019858)

That was very clever. You made me smile.

Robotic hands (0, Troll)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about 4 years ago | (#34019262)

...that read my thoughts & do the typing for me.

Stuck on Ancient Keyboard (1)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | about 4 years ago | (#34019270)

Myself, I'm on a Belkin model that I love but is no longer sold. I'm screwed because it has the key layout I prefer but no one makes any more.

50% of the poor keys are now blank from wear. Good thing I can type in the dark.

Yeah, I know, not that helpful, just need to vent. :)

Cherry Mx (2, Interesting)

dakrin9 (891909) | about 4 years ago | (#34019274)

It's not ergonomic per se, but the Filco Majestouch Tactile Touch Keyboard w/ Cherry MX switches is a great keyboard.

Elite Keyboards [] is a good place to buy them at.

You can read more about Mechanical Key switch keyboards here: Mechanical Key siwtch keyboards demystified []

the louder the better (2, Funny)

zill (1690130) | about 4 years ago | (#34019276)

The one normal-appearing contender, the Northgate Ergonomic Evolution, seems to be noisier than even the Model M — in fact, it echoes!

Isn't that a good thing?

IMHO the louder the better. Keyboard noise level is the only metric my boss uses to measure my productivity since he's code illiterate. Thanks to my trusty model M, I have one of the best job in the world - cybering for a living.

It's all about the Negative slope! (3, Interesting)

virtualXTC (609488) | about 4 years ago | (#34019280)

If you really want an ergonomic keyboard get one with a negative slope, I find this does more to relieve strain than just splitting the keys. Years ago Logitech use to resell one that you could get as various off brands that had flop tabs under the hand rest. These days, the only thing I can find in the microsoft natural [] series of keyboards. I have the wireless one at home, but the mouse is a bit clunky and I've already had to replace it once (one drop on the floor is all it took to render the scroll wheel unusable). I have the wired USB one at work, and just wish they'd make one without a faux leather wrist wrest as it can get a bit grimy.

Re:It's all about the Negative slope! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019428)

completely agree, the negative slope of the microsoft natural ergonomic keyboard 4000 rocks!

Re:It's all about the Negative slope! (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about 4 years ago | (#34019894)

Love that keyboard, don't much like the wireless though, had one previously and I find that the batteries don't last all that long and that the signals aren't sufficiently unique for a large office to have a bunch of them.

I have my minions type for me (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019282)

I have my minions type for me, so i dont care bout the keyboard

truly ergonomic (3, Informative)

Tsiangkun (746511) | about 4 years ago | (#34019292)

It sounds like you are looking for this. Truly Ergonomic Keyboards []

Re:truly ergonomic (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | about 4 years ago | (#34019304)

Since they are vapor ware, I don't have one at this point. I'm currently using a typematrix and like it a lot. Disclaimer, I spent 8 years on nothing but a laptop, so I have adapted to the shorter travel and feel of a laptop keyboard.

not suitable (1)

fx4m (627576) | about 4 years ago | (#34019426)

The position of the arrow keys is unsuitable for the OP's stated requirements.

Re:not suitable (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | about 4 years ago | (#34019482)

I've re-read the OP numerous times, and I can not find any statement regarding a preference for arrow keys to be in a certain spot. These, if they materialize, are supposed to be fully programable. Buy the blank one, program and label it as desired, and enjoy a custom keyboard.

Re:truly ergonomic (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 years ago | (#34019616)

These use the individual cherry switches also used in the Cherry G80-3000 series. They keep forever and are very god for typing.

Re:truly ergonomic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019728)

Looks awesome but for the arrows, that arrangement looks awful, and who needs them if you're using hjkl in vi/vim?

Microsoft 4000 (3, Insightful)

Gohtar (1829140) | about 4 years ago | (#34019298)

I like the Microsoft 4000 keyboard. I use it at home and work. I do get a lot of pinky finger cramps from a lot of copying and pasting. My only real gripe with it is that the 1-5 buttons across the top are not fully programmable. You can pick from a list of actions on what you want them to do.

Re:Microsoft 4000 (2, Insightful)

ZipprHead (106133) | about 4 years ago | (#34019328)

Mod up, this is my favorite keyboard as well.

Re:Microsoft 4000 (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 4 years ago | (#34019336)

As far as I know though, that is a dome-switch and not mechanical-switch keyboard.

True, but there's a reason (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 years ago | (#34019860)

Mechanical keyboards are not so ergonomic. The pressure required to trigger a key is part of ergonomics, in addition to shape. IN fact a 4000 has different pressure for different keys. It is slight, but it matters.

Really the original poster needs to ask what they really want: A mechanical keyboard for fun/geek cred, or a keyboard designed for the best ergonomics?

If ergonomics are key, the MS 4000 is the way to go.

Re:Microsoft 4000 (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 4 years ago | (#34019864)

It is, but they're quite nice. Certainly better than the $5 dome-switch junk most bundled keyboards are.

I've used MS Natural keyboards for a long time. My 1996 original PS/2 Microsoft Natural is sitting at my office right now, I've used it every day at work for years, and most days at home for years before that. Still works great. I can't imagine how many novels worth of typing I've done on that thing.

Natural keyboard selection is very difficult. There are very few naturals for Macs, for example. You can use any USB keyboard, but if you want one with the correct key symbols, be ready to pay quite a bit and go on a hunt.

Re:Microsoft 4000 (3, Informative)

pookemon (909195) | about 4 years ago | (#34019450)

I agree with this. I have used one of these for a couple of years on my primary PC at home. I also use a Logitec Wave on one of my other PC's. Both are quite comfortable and I have no problem using them for hours on end (though the Wave does annoy me because of the stupid layout of the Del/Insert/PgUp etc. buttons - but you get used to that). IIRC the 4000 allows the "negative slope" that one other poster has mentioned. Re: the programmable buttons, I'm pretty sure you can change them to run whatever app you want - which is what they are for. With Win 7 though I don't use them (just pin what I want to the task bar. Not sure why the type of switch matters (dome/mechanical). If a keyboard is comfortable to use, then it's comfortable to use.

Cherry Browns (1)

IB4Student (1885914) | about 4 years ago | (#34019314)

Get a Das or something with some cheery browns. They are a light lighter (require less force) and you only have to press about halfway down. They are also one of the quietest mechanical switches--just don't bottom out and it will feel and almost sound like you're typing on a cloud. They have ergonomic browns, too.

Re:Cherry Browns (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 years ago | (#34019596)

Get a Das or something with some cheery browns. They are a light lighter (require less force) and you only have to press about halfway down. They are also one of the quietest mechanical switches--just don't bottom out and it will feel and almost sound like you're typing on a cloud. They have ergonomic browns, too.

If you get a Cherry G80-3000 (that are the ones with the high-quality individual switches), take care that they come in 3 switch characteristics:
hard-click (loud, distinctive click, close to a model M, metal click element), soft-click (quiet, rubber click element), and linear (quiet, just the spring). You can get the exact model numbers from the Cherry data-sheets. I have both a hard-click one and two soft-click ones and I am very happy with them. The hard-click is unsuitable though if anybody else works in the same room.

Comfort Keyboard (1)

fx4m (627576) | about 4 years ago | (#34019320)

I have been using them for over 15 years now. They saved my career. The only drawback is they are rather tall. I have thumb issues too, you could type right-thumbless on this keyboard easily. They are also programmable if you want to do something nonstandard with the layout.

Half Height Ergo? (2, Interesting)

Gutspawn (997376) | about 4 years ago | (#34019322)

In a similar vein, I'd love to find a keyboard that matches the contours, layout, and tilt of the modern MS natural keyboard, but with laptop style half-height keys. I almost considered building one.

Screw $200 (1)

Rhadamanthos (1835206) | about 4 years ago | (#34019334)

Logitech Wave, seriously best keyboard I've owned.

Sadly M$ (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | about 4 years ago | (#34019342)

I've used the Microsoft Natural Wireless Multimedia Keyboard for a very long time, and before that I had the nasty Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite. I just got the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 at work and aside from the faux leather (which I don't think is going to hold up very well) it types rather nicely. I couldn't find any ergonomic keyboards that looked sexy, sadly there's not much market for sexy keyboards =(

Re:Sadly M$ (1)

iotaborg (167569) | about 4 years ago | (#34019466)

I've had my Nat keyboard 4000 for 4 years now, and it's been holding up quite well (nothing wrong with the padding). It's not as responsive as a buckling spring keyboard, but still isn't that bad.

Northgate Ergonomic Evolution, you say? (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#34019354)

"seems to be noisier than even the Model M — in fact, it echoes!"?... yes please! :>

Re:Northgate Ergonomic Evolution, you say? (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 years ago | (#34019506)

I'm sure you can get a PC utility which will play a 120 dB jet-engine-level 'click' if you should so wish :P

Let's leave things as silent if possible and have the option for it to make a clicking if we *want*.

And that's a good thing? (1, Insightful)

Snodgrass (446409) | about 4 years ago | (#34019386)

It's even louder than a Model M? Uh...neato?

Man, anyone with a Model M that works in an office environment deserves a swift kick in the nuts. It's incredibly inconsiderate to the rest of your coworkers.

Go ahead and make all your 'but teh ergonomics of clicking', 'but my RSI' the end of the day you're a loud, distracting jerk that only considers yourself.

Like to use a Model M at home? Sweet...rock on.

Re:And that's a good thing? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019444)

Man, anyone with a Model M that works in an office environment deserves a swift kick in the nuts. It's incredibly inconsiderate to the rest of your coworkers.

Whatever. One day you kids will learn to appreciate good hardware. Until then, shut your mouth and respect your elders.

Re:And that's a good thing? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 4 years ago | (#34019602)

Model M home user here!

(the wife LOVES it)

Re:And that's a good thing? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019622)

If they have you packed in that tightly that its an issue - it isn't your coworkers that are disrespecting you - its your job.

Re:And that's a good thing? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34019716)

Get over it. I have one in the office and at home. Some of us don't live in cubicles though.

Re:And that's a good thing? (2)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 4 years ago | (#34019736)

Man, anyone with a Model M that works in an office environment deserves a swift kick in the nuts. It's incredibly inconsiderate to the rest of your coworkers.

The "silent" keyboard on my Dell at work rattles so much every time you type that it's louder than any keyclick.

Seriously, unless you work in an office that is absolutely silent, keyboard noise is not an issue. I spent this afternoon having to listen to phone call on speakerphone from 3 offices down. I couldn't say anything like "please close your door" because the offender is "important". I really feel sorry for the people who were closer than me.

noise cancelling headphones. (1)

tempest69 (572798) | about 4 years ago | (#34019834)

If they ask why, then they brought up the conversation.
And it's just at the edge of being passive aggressive.
Though I find that treating people with equality garners more respect.


Maxx (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019460)

I like old-time keyboards with function keys on the left. Why are they discontinued? If you are talking about ergonomic kb, they are more ergonomic than the ones with function keys on top. Try to hit Ctrl-F5 100 times a day...

Coding Horror... (2, Interesting)

FrankSchwab (675585) | about 4 years ago | (#34019464)

Jeff Atwood had a post on a remarkably similar subject last Friday: []
that references the geekhack site.

Re:Coding Horror... (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 4 years ago | (#34019868)

That's exactly what I was thinking. I read that post, but the thing that stood out to me was "what about natural keyboards?" I think that was one of the first comments someone posted.

I've had my original model MS Natural for 14 years. I'd hate to have to try to replace it.

Full sized laptop key style (2, Interesting)

eepok (545733) | about 4 years ago | (#34019478)

Before even owning a laptop/netbook, I fell in love with the low-depth, nearly silent click of laptop keyboard keys made for the full size keyboard. However, there's quite a number of people who like this, so it's not entirely easy to find them anymore.

Counterintuitive? Definitely. You see, once all the millions of keyboard manufacturers noticed the trend, they started making short/shallow keys with the exact same switch as standard keyboards. So, while it looks like a laptop keyboard, they're quite frequently normal crap keyboards whose downward press, if slightly off-angle, produces a scrape within the switch that slows/messes up typing or completely blows a gaming experience.

I can't buy keyboards online anymore because I just need to test it out myself. "Slime" and "Laptop style" just isn't enough to convince me.

Re:Full sized laptop key style (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019696)

A pre-slimed keyboard? No thanks.

minimum key travel (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019488)

I've found that minimal key travel to be more beneficial and comfortable. The Apple USB Aluminum is dead on for that.

Re:minimum key travel (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | about 4 years ago | (#34019664)

Yeah, I'd pick an Apple USB keyboard as well, unfortunately they restrict my choices so much I expect their keyboards to be missing the vowel characters until I sync my keyboard to my system and load the $10 Vowel Firmware Update.

Been typing for close to 30 years and have never had any wrist pain or "cut and paste pinky cramps" either. Possibly, some people aren't meant to type, or they have a bad idea of what ergonomics can do for or against them.

Kinesis Advantage (3, Insightful)

Chaostrophy (925) | about 4 years ago | (#34019494) []

Granted, by default they have stuff done with your right thumb, but I believe the keyboard is fully remapable, so you can fix that. They don't say what kind of switches they use, but they are very clicky, with a nice feel. I have used them for years, and really like them.

Re:Kinesis Advantage (1)

Chaostrophy (925) | about 4 years ago | (#34019648)

Wikipedia says they use Cherry switches

Re:Kinesis Advantage (1)

danpritts (54685) | about 4 years ago | (#34019720)

Me too.

i find the right and left thumb switches on the kinesis are very useful; the thumbs are basically wasted with the typical keyboard layout and this makes them much more useful. When I go back to a standard lame keyboard i really miss the backspace with my left thumb.

For the original poster, you ought to be able to figure out something to do with the keymapping that will work given your right thumb is out of commission.

As the previous poster said the keyboard is remappable (on older models it was an extra cost option but i think now it's standard). This is cool; for example, vi users might do as i do and map the left thumb "delete" key to esc.

Their tech support is excellent.

These keyboards are expensive but worth it.

kinesis advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019500)

I have used a kinesis advantage for years. it's $300 and i love it and can't use anything else. it has replaceable mechanical buttons. of the two improvements, vertical rows and separated hands, vertical rows make a much bigger difference. sells vertical-row-only keyboards, but if you can spring for it, the kinesis advantage is the best kybd on the palent.

das keyboard (1)

drkamil (1242294) | about 4 years ago | (#34019504)

i love das keyboard, got the ultimate without characters printed on. noisy but my hands like it very very much. not ergonomic, so probably nothing you would buy... try data hands [] are said to be the best, but require a little practice...

Best one I've ever used: Kinesis Advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019512)

Best money I've spent.

Veyboard (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019536)

Check out the Veyboard [] , a Dutch chorded keyboard with an ergonomic layout that uses Cherry keys. I'm mentioning it only as a curiosity, because the learning curve is fierce. But those who have mastered it can type at conversational speeds. The system works by splitting words into syllables and then keying them in with both hands, a syllable at a time. It exploits the fact that every syllable consists of zero or more starting consonants, one or more central vowels, and zero or more ending consonants. On the Veyboard, the starting consonants are keyed with the left hand on the left side of the board, the center vowels in the center of the board with fingers from both hands, and the ending consonants on the right hand side with the right hand. You "spell out" a syllable across the board, from left to right, with both hands. I own one of these things (though I can hardly operate it, sorry to say), and it's actually quite natural-feeling. The tricky part is getting all fingers of both hands at the right place at the right time and doing it really fast, but in theory that's just practice...

Certain combinations of keys produce certain letters, or entire strings. The system is really neat in that it produces plain text straight from the machine, not abbreviations, and the input fully defines the output. Apart from some simple rules ("T and J make D"), there is no interpretation layer or dictionary. You can even do special keys, or a single letter per chord; but not that you'd want to. Can be handy when you need to spell something funny. Alas, the Veyboard (or Velotype as it used to be known) is a famous futuristic flop from the 1980's, and these days finds traction mostly with live captioners and deaf interpreters. But I think it's still quite neat.

Amiga 4000 keyboard? (3, Interesting)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 years ago | (#34019554)

I liked the feel of the Amiga 4000 keyboards back in the day. I wonder what key mechanism that used. I'm pretty sure it was responsive and tactile, but mercifully quiet.

Goldtouch (1)

jIyajbe (662197) | about 4 years ago | (#34019556)

The GoldTouch, from KeyOvation ( Mine's a Mac, I assume they have non-Mac keyboards. Its design sound exactly what you are looking for.

Build one yourself? (2, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 years ago | (#34019562)

You could get a cherry G80-3000 in one of the 3 characteristics (hard-click, soft-click or linear) in a layout of your choice. It has individual switches of excellent quality.

Then arrange them on solder-dot epoxy PCB's just the way you like and wire them to the controller in the original matrix. This may take a day or two of work, but it will give you exactly what you need/want, and these cherry switches keep forever. For most keys, you should be able to keep the original key-caps, but standard-sized key-caps are also available for these switches.

End result may not be too pretty and this is significant effort. On the other side, you would get exactly what you think you need and could even change things later.

a rancid (1)

Krau Ming (1620473) | about 4 years ago | (#34019576)

9 year old logitech keyboard. there is borderline intelligent life growing under the keys.

Re:a rancid (2, Interesting)

countSudoku() (1047544) | about 4 years ago | (#34019700)

You can wash it in the top rack of the dishwasher, then dry the crap out of it; viola - clean keyboard. It got the sticky Pepsi out of an old USB keyboard I had, left it looking and typing like new. Except another other user removed all the screws and lost some, but otherwise totally harmless to the 'board.

Datahand (1)

JesusFreke (1216908) | about 4 years ago | (#34019608)

If you have the money and don't mind a bit of a learning curve, datahand is definitely the way to go. Although, I wouldn't buy a new one myself at the current price. But you can find used ones on ebay occasionally, that go for about half of what a new one costs. Which is admittedly still a pretty big chunk of change for a keyboard. But they are much, much, much easier on your hands.

Also, if you want to geek out on it, you can check out my alternative firmware - []

Re:Datahand (1)

JesusFreke (1216908) | about 4 years ago | (#34019672)

Sorry for the self-reply - I didn't fully read the summary the first time, and didn't notice the part about the thumb. The datahand does in fact have a number of keys for the right thumb to use - but you could use a custom firmware that has a different keymap that doesn't use those keys. I would be happy to help modify DHFirm for this case.

Ergonomic keyboards are becoming rare. (1)

devphaeton (695736) | about 4 years ago | (#34019610)

Best of luck.

I'm using an MS Natural at the moment. I made the mistake of getting the 4000 or whatever it was called, but it's a serious POS. It died in a month's time, but I disliked it so much I bought a new keyboard instead of exchanging it. Sadly, this is no longer the rich market of the 1990s. It seems like there are only 3 kinds of ergo keyboards in the $20-50 range, and none of them can seem to last more than a year. The next bracket starts around $250 and goes up to $2000. My favourite out of the whole bunch was a black Belkin that lasted almost 8 years, but it's no longer being made.

Meanwhile, all the cheapie $20 ones I bought in the mid to late 90s seem to work just fine, but I only have one computer I can physically plug them into.

fix your health not the keyboard! (5, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | about 4 years ago | (#34019636)

i know this is going to sound strange - you asked one question but get an answer to another, but the root cause of the problem isn't the keyboard, it's the fact that you're hunched over it, tensed up, locking out the blood supply from your arms and screwing up your hands.

to fix that, you should AT LEAST be doing the overarm stretch: stick hand straight up, bend elbow so that hand goes behind head with elbow still up in air, then take other hand onto elbow, pull and lean geeeently sideways so that entire side stretches

you should also be doing "horse stance" from tai-ji, which is really quite complex to describe, but imagine that you're sat on a horse: your legs are apart, knees bent, and hands outstretched imagine holding reins _but_, the actual tai-ji "horse stance" has some quite complex and specific positions and purpose. the primary purpose is to stretch tendons on the *underside* of your arms and in fingers (forearms as well) as well as elevating the heart-rate.

so, you have to push your elbows outwards so that your upper arms are 45 degrees from vertical, but forearms are absolutely horizontal. hands you have to imagine that you are holding two basket-balls, one in each, palms down but slightly elevated a fraction, fingers splayed as far wide as you can go.

get it right and you should feel loots of tendons stretching under your armpits, at your elbow-forearm _and_ wrists _and_ the thumb and little finger tendons! and that's exactly what you need - to stretch out that which you've utterly cramped out and damaged.

the horse-stance itself results in quite seriously elevated heart rate: you're bending your knees and staying there, so you should be breathing deeply and fully. stay there for as long as possible, increase until you get to 5 minutes. you will be surprised: horse stance for 5 minutes is one hell of a long time.

the other one is the yoga position where you sit on the floor, put one leg bent into your crotch and the other straight out, then lean over and grab ankle (or as close as you can get it). with each breath out, go down a little further. DO NOT "shake". if you feel yourself shaking, BACK OFF.

what i do with this yoga position is, rather than stay going down straight is i roll _sideways_ after a while, so that i get more stretch on the insides of my arms and side, which is exactly where you need the circulation increased, to get bloodflow back to your arms and fingers. repeat on the other side but come up SLOWLY - don't just try to jolt yourself out because you _will_ pull a muscle that way, especially at full stretch.

all of these exercises are designed to increase the circulation on the _underside_ of your arms (at the top) as it's here which is actually causing the blood flow to decrease, toxins to build up, tension to happen and damage to occur.

so - yeah. fuck the keyboard - get your health sorted out.

Re:fix your health not the keyboard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019876)

100% agreed, it's all in how you use the keyboard. You can use your standard $5 keyboard and still have no ergonomic difficulties if your posture is correct, you stretch occasionally, and you're practicing proper rest relaxing breaks. Most ergonomic keyboards are simply to try to force you into better practices (and don't always succeed!) but if you are using best practices anyway, they won't give you any additional benefit (unless you simply like them better). After being diagnosed with trouble many years ago, I picked up good practices, and now have NO trouble on normal keyboards...and that's spending 12+ hours a day on a computer every day. Your posture is by far the most important part of your health on a computer, not your equipment.

Just roll your own (1)

nerd65536 (692353) | about 4 years ago | (#34019638)

Mindblowing statement: Your hands don't need to be close to each other for you to type.
So try this:
Take two keyboards you like (If there is a compact model, get one of those for your left hand), and place both on the desk, side-by-side. Your left hand goes on the left keyboard, and your right hand goes on the right keyboard. Angle the keyboards so that you're comfortable typing. ~~TaDa~~
Added bonus: Tell your boss that you've doubled your productivity.

i still type (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 4 years ago | (#34019650)

on a straight model M from unicomp. I havent found the design to be painful, then again i never learned "the correct way" to type with fingers gingerly wadded against the home row keys.

Avant Stellar (1)

KC1P (907742) | about 4 years ago | (#34019666)

I have CVT Avant Stellar keyboards on the two PCs I use most. They're not the "ergonomic" style (I don't think I have whatever problem those solve) but they're supposed to be designed by whoever did the original Omnikey keyboard (which I have on another machine and love), and indeed they have the same wonderful clicky feel and metal back. I like them so much that I bought a spare (even though it was $189) since I didn't want to go through withdrawal when one of these dies, but it's never happened. Once in a while a key will get flaky (stubborn and/or bouncy) but then I'll just pull off the keycap (tool is included), dribble some 91% rubbing alcohol into the switch, and then I'm back in business.

Besides the reliability, nice feel, duplicate set of pre-EKB F-keys on the left (I've been using the same editor since 1983 and pressing those keys is involuntary at this point), I *really* like the fact that they included extra keycaps (and that tool I mentioned) so you could put Ctrl to the left of ASDF (as God intended, or anyway, all the non-PC keyboards I ever use) even though the Ctrl and CapsLock keycaps aren't the same size and so aren't swappable. There seems to be a slight bug in the firmware though -- obviously I programmed the keyboards to exchange those two keys, but once in a while they get confused and what's now the Ctrl key ends up working as CapsLock anyway (so the LED comes on and I'm shouting until I notice and fix it). It doesn't happen often enough to affect my loyalty, but it's weird.

ANYWAY so if the Northgate name on this ergonomic thing means it's in any way similar to the earlier Omnikey and Stellar KBs, definitely definitely buy one.

Orbitouch - keyless keyboard (1)

Amiga500_Rulez (988955) | about 4 years ago | (#34019718) [] You could also try the Frogpad but I don't know how ergo that is.

Try Dvorak (1)

quadra (2289) | about 4 years ago | (#34019724)

When I started getting wrist pain from typing I learned to type on the dvorak layout. Your problem is probably less with the keyboard itself and more with what you're doing on it.
I also use a Model-M IBM at work and don't really care how noisy it is.. they're the greatest keyboards ever produced.

Model M (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34019738)

I have an 1990 model M at work and a 1994 one at home. The 94 is sadly one the the inferior lexmark ones.

I have a stack of 20 model m keyboards (1)

codepunk (167897) | about 4 years ago | (#34019766)

I have a stack of at least 20 good model m keyboards, not sure I will ever get to use any of my spares. They are built like a abrahms tank so the chances of me breaking one are pretty close to nil.

Kinesis Freestyle Solo (1)

kecurtis (884691) | about 4 years ago | (#34019792)

I try to have the staff I support choose from a variety of keyboard because one size does not fit all (I'm looking at you, Microsoft). The one the works best for the most people has been the "Kinesis Freestyle Solo Ergonomic Keyboard". You will also need the "Kinesis Freestyle VIP Keyboard accessories kit" (the "kit" is the wrist rest and adjustable stand) and optionally the "Kinesis Low-Force Numeric Keypad". It's not cheap, but it can be adjusted to suit your seating and body position. You can find these products with a quick search on

Fringe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019826)

I use a selectric 251.

software remapping can help with the thumbs issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019840)

> which place many critical keys under the thumbs

You can remap keys in software - my hands would be long gone by now if I couldn't. Hint: try "man xmodmap".

Curls (2, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 years ago | (#34019870)

get a 10 to 20 pound weight (it should feel light but tire you after 20-30 reps) and do forearm curls.
Don't overbend the wrist.

Part of your issue may be tendonitis in your forearms (which these exercizes exhaust and release).

Also upright rowing (a lot of "wrist" issues are really shoulder/back issues) gain with medium weights (feels light- but tires you after 20-30 reps).

Kinesis Keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019888)

I use a normal ol' IBM something or other, but I don't do any programming these days - mostly just normal writing, which a flat keyboard and good posture works fine enough for.

My husband, though, has two Kinesis Advantage Pros [] that he picked up about a year ago - one for home, one for work. It looks really strange, but he swears by them. They're fully programmable (he's loaded a different layout onto his, though damned if I can recall the name of it), handle key-activated macros, and have footpedals too.

ABS M1 & Wrists Up! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 years ago | (#34019900)

It's not split, but the mechanical switches in the ABS M1 (USB) have nice rebound. I was happy with it at $70 but have seen it as low as $20 on Newegg. As a bonus, people on the phone can hear it so they know when I'm doing terminal work and they don't keep interrupting. It reminds me very much of the Apple Extended Keyboard II, for those for whom that means something.

Make sure your hand/arm positions and wrist rest are configured properly first before going looking for exotic keyboards, though. I've had friends with RSI who practically type with their wrists at a 90 degree angle.

Typing teachers must not slap wrists the way piano teachers do. Keep your tendons straight, or "wrists up"!

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