Which ergonomic keyboard is best?
Ergonomic keyboards are designed to improve efficiency and comfort in the hands and wrists. How keyboards do this varies. And be careful when shopping — some keyboards deign to call themselves “ergonomic” as a marketing ploy without really improving anything.
The best ergonomic keyboard is the Microsoft Ergonomic Desktop Keyboard and Mouse Combo. It increases comfort in a multitude of ways — including plenty of soft cushioning. It also comes bundled with a mouse.
What to know before you buy an ergonomic keyboard
Who shouldn’t use an ergonomic keyboard
Ergonomic keyboards are best used by those who work in front of a computer for most of the day. Those who occasionally pen an email or only surf the web won’t wring enough use from them to be worth the investment. Their orientations can also be frustrating to adapt to for strictly occasional users.
The other group of users who shouldn’t use an ergonomic keyboard are gamers. Gamers have their own keyboards with special features just for them. If you both work and game on your computer, consider buying a keyboard for each activity.
Ergonomic keyboard types
There are two types of ergonomic keyboards: traditional and split.
- Traditional keyboards have the same layout as any standard keyboard. Their ergonomic elements are the most varied. For example, some use soft-touch keys while others have specially placed padding.
- Split keyboards allow for the most natural placement of your hands — but can be deeply frustrating to adapt to. The keys are split in half, angled inward and frequently sloped. Some take “split” a step further and use two individual boards, each with half the keys, that can be positioned independently. Most also have wrist or palm rests and sometimes both.
What to look for in a quality ergonomic keyboard
Wireless ergonomic keyboards have two aspects to consider: method of connection and power source.
- Connection: Wireless keyboards connect in one of two ways — a receiver or Bluetooth. Some come with both so you can connect with your preference. Receiver connections take up a USB port — the keys you press are sent to the inserted USB dongle and are read by your computer. Older computers may not have Bluetooth connectivity at all or could have Bluetooth too old to be compatible with some keyboards.
- Power source: Wireless keyboards are battery-powered. Most use AA or AAA but others may be rechargeable or require less common batteries. Double-check what kind of battery your prospective keyboard needs as well as whether it includes a set to get you started.
Some ergonomic keyboards include other pieces of tech. The most common is a mouse. The mouse is sometimes ergonomically designed as well. Many included mice connect with the keyboard to save input space for other devices.
How much you can expect to spend on an ergonomic keyboard
Most ergonomic keyboards cost roughly $50. Some models are available for as low as $25, while the top-of-the-line models usually run $75-$100.
Ergonomic keyboard FAQ
How long does it take to adjust to an ergonomic keyboard?
A. That depends on you and the keyboard. Drastically different keyboard layouts, such as split key keyboards, can take some users as long as two months to fully adapt. Other factors such as extra or differently placed keys and the amount and orientation of padding can also complicate your adjustment period. Give your new keyboard at least a month of honest effort. if you still don’t like it by then, feel free to return it — it should still be within most stores’ return window.
Is an ergonomic keyboard the only way to improve hand and wrist comfort?
A. No, but it is the best. A common alternative to ergonomic keyboards is wrist-rest cushions placed in front of your standard keyboard. These rarely have the durability of a full ergonomic keyboard, nor do they resist grime as easily. Cushions are more beneficial for traveling with a laptop.
Are ergonomic keyboards ‘plug-and-play’?
A. Most are, but some aren’t. Some keyboards require specific software to be installed over an internet connection — those that do often bury this requirement in the product description so you need to read carefully. Others may need to have their key bindings changed — especially if you want to use a Windows-focused keyboard on an Apple computer.
What’s the best ergonomic keyboard to buy?
Top ergonomic keyboard
Microsoft Ergonomic Desktop Keyboard and Mouse Combo
What you need to know: This top keyboard uses a wired USB connection and is designed with Windows in mind.
What you’ll love: It has cushioning and palm rests. Built-in shortcuts — including search, media controls and emojis — make work easier. The keys are split and slope upward for maximum comfort. It includes a mouse.
What you should consider: It isn’t compatible with Apple products. Some extra keys can throw off your muscle memory.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Dell and Staples
Top ergonomic keyboard for the money
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business
What you need to know: This wireless option is surprisingly affordable. Its domed and split key design allows the hands to rest at a natural angle.
What you’ll love: Batteries are included. It’s compatible with Apple products but requires some minor key remapping. It uses a USB receiver rather than Bluetooth — this means you can use other wireless gadgets simultaneously.
What you should consider: There are some durability concerns. Some consumers had issues with the keyboard disconnecting.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples
Worth checking out
Perixx Periboard Ergonomic Split Keyboard
What you need to know: Available in black or white in both wired and wireless connectivity, this is another ergonomic keyboard worth trying.
What you’ll love: The wireless model’s Bluetooth connection is strong and stable — it also offers a wireless connection via a USB receiver. The split-key design lets your hands rest in a natural position. It works with Apple and Windows products.
What you should consider: The wireless model requires batteries but doesn’t include them. Your computer must support Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to the wireless model.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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