Top Ten: Alternative and Ergonomic Keyboards

Top Ten: Alternative and Ergonomic Keyboards

Gregory Han
May 20, 2009

I'm here sitting here with my boss, sharing a table as we both work remotely out in his living room. I pulled out a laptop and attached a Wacom Bamboo tablet, while he pulled out an accessory that appeared stolen from a college computer lab circa 1993. Although throwback in style (cream coloured casing and all), the TypeMatric 2020 is his preferred loyal companion when it comes to daily text input thanks to all the ergonomic benefits the design offers: vertical key columns, large shift keys, Dvorak key layout...a list of deviations from the normal keyboard. Although he's looking to upgade to a TypeMatrix 2030 possibly in the near future, he's got several options in regards to ergonomic input devices, some even stranger than his current accessory...

orbiTouch Keyless Ergonomic Keyboard: weird and wonderful input device which replaces the traditional keystroke with dome shapes slide (not turn, despite dial-like appearances) to eight positions; in specific combinations, the dual placement domes form letters and numbers.

Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000: the tried and true most popular ergonomic split-style keyboard. An integrated wrist pad and a myriad of quick keys, alongside the nice $60 price makes this a respectable gateway solution into the ergonomic accessory market.

Advantage Pro USB: This model allows for automatic switching between PC and Mac operating systems with a single foot switch, making this sort of like a piano. If you're real hardcore, you can attach a Triple-Action Foot Switch for additional actions with the help of your feet.

MALTRON single handed Keyboard: We'll try to skip all the obvious jokes about one-handed use behind a computer, but here's a solution which gives full keyboard options via touch typing with just one hand use. They advertise up to 85 words per minute capabilities once acquainted with the unique layout. Although marketed towards people with disabilities and injury, this keyboard may aid in prevention of repetitive strain injury in the first place.

Smartfish Pro-Motion Keyboard: the most aesthetically pleasing of all ergonomic keyboards, the Pro-Motion "studies your usage pattern, and makes periodic, yet imperceptible adjustments to the height, angle and radial position of the device". Of all the devices listed, this seems like the one we'd most want to give a try to keep, admittedly for its self-adjustable features and cool-as-ice design. Soon to be released.

Evoluent Mouse-Friendly Keyboard: a truncated keyboard which reduces the need to reach for your mouse. Basically a mini-keyboard with flat keys with the numeric keyboard on the left instead of right.

Datahand Systems Pro II: despite the TRON-era tech appearances offers 132 key options with the use of five keyswitches clustered around the tips of each of the fingers. So rather than typing a user shifts their fingers in one of four directions. Takes about 4 weeks to master.

Tidy Tipist No.2: German designer Tonia Welter's doily inspired keyboard isn't really all that ergonomic, but the idea of a soft fabric waterproof keyboard seemed like one perfect for those of who like to continue to write through our meal hours. Because there's nothing ergonomic of typing and mousing while juggling a foot long sandwich.

Bluetooth iFrog Keyboard: Another one handed keyboard, this one offered in both a Mac and PC-centric design. A Bluetooth model is available in both left and right editions.

Freestyle Solo Keyboard: We like this keyboard for the option to use it whole or to pivot it outward into two pieces. Double wide Escape and Fwd Delete keys make for easier access to two keys we search for often while the low-force, tactile membrane key switch requires 25% less force to press than the Microsoft version just above.

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