I’ve had some minor wrist issues ever since I’ve been a kid, but things seem to be getting a bit worse lately and I’d like to swap out some of my hardware to either slow the decline. In the process of buying that stuff, I’d like to have the maximum options available down the road.
As it is now, based solely on my own playing around with comfort, adjusting the position of keyboards, testing various devices over the years, etc., I’m thinking four things:
A split keyboard would probably be the way to go, so I can adjust spacing for my wider shoulders
Negative tilt seems to be a huge plus
A slight outward tilt to the keyboard halves seems to help
I like mechanical switches, Cherry Browns in particular, due to their lower KAF
As for off-the-shelf consumer stuff, the Microsoft Sculpt actually isn’t a bad keyboard for my needs, other than three critical problems. First, the wireless seems wonky. I’ve never been able to get it to function reliably, which means I’m always having to futz with it. Second, the keyboard is just a little bit wider than it needs to be, which gives me a weird reach for the mouse / trackpad. And third, the “price for longevity” ratio is very bad in my experience.
So I’ve been looking at a split keyboard, and possibly putting my trackpad or a Logitech trackball in the middle of the halves.
At this point I’m looking at the stuff from Matias and Ergodox, and I’m wondering if there’s anything else I should be considering. A few hundred dollars wouldn’t be out of the question for a keyboard that I could expect to last me for half a decade or more - I just don’t want to drop $300 on a keyboard and discover in 6 months that it’s lacking some crucial ergo feature that I need.
@ChrisUpchurch That Moonlander looks really good. I’ve always been hesitant to try an ortholinear board. I hope it works out well for you.
I don’t know how open you are to some assembly, mainly soldering, but there are cheaper options for split keyboards. Iris is a split keyboard kit, but you have to assemble it. On the upside you get to pick your switches and key caps. Custom keyboards are a deep rabbit hole.
The Matias’ claim to fame is using ALPS switches, which were used in some of Apple’s early keyboards, and are still a favorite to some people. While their website says the keyboard is programmable, it is minimally so. There are keys around the periphery of the keyboard that can be reprogrammed. This happens in the keyboard itself, which might be an advantage to some people. I have their ErgoPro for Mac, and it’s ‘okay’ on a scale of terrible to awesome.
I also have the Moonlander, and I really like it. It is fully programmable using their software. I believe this is based on QMK, which is the top of the line as far as keyboard software/firmware. This means for instance I have it programmed so that if I hold down my Z key, it acts as control, and if I tap it, it acts as regular Z.
I guess the most important thing is that I don’t have wrist pain from using the keyboard. (My mouse is still a bit problematic over long days, and I might switch to a Logi Trackman Marble Trackball Mouse that I have stowed away.
Since March 2017 (Kinesis Freesytle 2 BlueTooth edition). I alternate between it and a now-outdated Goldtouch from over 10 years ago. So, the Kinesis has probably been through about 1-2 man years worth of typing on it, I am at the high intermediate to beginner advance level in typing, and I generate a lot of documents in an intense nine months for an academic year. I’ve not had reason to complain.
FWIW, the Goldtouch has been rock solid in its maintaining its key switches, however the lever that is used to set its tenting and camber has failed twice. I currently have it propped in position with an empty tin from Altoids.
I have never paid that much attention to the forces needed to type. I guess that I either pound away or touch lightly as appropriate to the keyboard at hand.
The positions of the control, option, and sound keys are also something not to ignore if they are something that you intend to use often.
I have long since probably misplaced the lever. I think that Goldtouch would send me a replacement free of charge (they did for the first one). But, I also remember later reading reports that the lever is the absolute failure point on the keyboard.
The failure point this time is not amenable to gluing (the stress point is along a circular opening point, and that circular point split in half).
I’ve got 2 Microsoft Sculpt keyboards - the older ones, not the ones that go with the surface - and I love them. I’ve tried other ergonomic keyboards (all of them more expensive) but I’ve stuck with the sculpt. I just find it easy to type on …
The only problem I’ve had with them is the frustration of having to plug in the USB adaptor … but that’s a small price to pay.
Personally, I cured my beginning RSI with the flattest and softest keyboard I could ever find at the time - the Enermax Acrylux (long discontinued alas). I know mechanicals are all the hype these days but I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t have the choice to use them and I would never want to get back to them.
YMMV of course but maybe that’s a completely different option to consider - flat and soft. I loved the Logitech Illuminated when I was using Windows and I just ordered an MX keys.
I‘m currently thinking of getting myself the Logitech k860 ergo keyboard - does anyone have experience with that? I tested typing at the local store and liked it. Not sure how well an ergonomic keyboard works without me being able to do 10 finger typing …
One thing I think helps me a bit as well is moving from a mouse to the Magic Trackpad - I tried vertical mice before but that didn’t really help with the hurting
My personal favourite one is the Logitech K350. It’s not mechanical, but I’ve been using them for years now - started with the Logitech Wave and then moved to the K350. Current one is about 4 years old, with a spare sat in my spare room for when this breaks.
One thing that worked for me was switching fro using a mouse to a trackpad. I tried all different kinds of mice from Magic Mouse, to MX Master, to other ergonomic ones but non really worked for me anymore. Only using a Magic Trackpad gives me no pain at the moment - my guess is because I don’t keep my hand/fingers in one position for long? The last time I had severe RSI pain (back in 2014) I used a Wacom tablet and pen as mouse and after getting used to it, it went pretty good and I liked it quite a lot. Haven’t tried any ergonomic keyboard so far as my pain always went away when I wasn’t using a classic mouse device.