Since many computer users spend a lot of time hunched over their computers, peripherals with more ergonomic designs have increased in popularity. Ergonomic keyboards can help reduce muscle strain and fatigue. Many people also argue that mechanical keyboards are superior to squishy membrane keyboards. However, almost all of the mechanical keyboards on the market are of a conventional design. Fortunately, there are ergonomic mechanical keyboards that provide a more comfortable typing experience.
1. Kinesis KB600 Advantage 2
For over 25 years Kinesis has been designing and manufacturing premium-grade ergonomic keyboards. Its latest offering, the Kinesis Advantage 2, is one of the funkiest looking keyboards on the market. However, its unusual appearance is the result of maximizing user comfort and reducing strain. The Kinesis Advantage 2 sports a split keyboard design. This positions the arms at shoulder width, which helps keep your wrists straight and alleviates strain.
Furthermore, the keys are located inside bowl-like keywells. The scooped orientation for the keys reduces finger extension and helps to relax your hand muscles. In addition, the two keywells are “tented,” providing a 20-degree incline from the edge of the keyboard to the center. According to Kinesis, this reduces stress on your forearms by positioning your hands in a more natural position.
Additionally, keys such as Delete, Enter, Space and Backspace are placed toward the center of the keyboard in “thumb clusters.” This allows you( to move the actuation of these keys from your weaker pinky finger to your stronger thumbs. The Kinesis Advantage 2 features Cherry MX Brown low force tactile key switches, which are great for ergonomics, as they tell the user when a key is about to be activated, reducing the frequency of more forceful typing. At the time of this writing, the Advantage 2 can be purchased for $349.
2. ErgoDox EZ
If you’re after an ergonomic mechanical keyboard that is heavily customizable, look no further. The first thing you’ll notice with the ErgoDox EZ is the fact that it is a truly split keyboard, as in there are two separate halves that are connected by a cable. This allows users to position each half wherever it feels the most comfortable for them. This can alleviate bad posture and provide a more comfortable typing experience. In addition, the ErgoDox EZ also orients the keys in linear columns. This differs from the offset key placement on traditional keyboards. Changing the layout of the keys so that they are stacked on top of one another reduces finger travel and fatigue.
The ErgoDox EZ features a number of modifications the end user can make without voiding the warranty. Users can change any keyswitch on the keyboard without soldering, meaning users can have different keyswitch types for different keys. Furthermore, all keycaps have the same profile – you you can switch them around and reprogram the keys for alternative keyboard layouts.
All keys have dual functionality. Tapping a key generates a letter, and holding the key down acts as a modifier. For example, you can program your Z key to send a “Z” when tapped, but when held down, it can act as your CTRL key. Finally, because of its split design, the left half of the keyboard can work independently. This is perfect for gamers, as they can remove the right half of the keyboard and free up desk space for their mouse.
3. Ultimate Hacking Keyboard
The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard (UHK) bills itself as the best keyboard for productivity. Like the ErgoDox EZ, the UHK is split. The two separate halves can be positioned so that the user can keep their chest open and their wrists straight, as opposed to being hunched over keyboard at an angle. Obviously, this design is better for wrist fatigue and reducing back aches. Like all of the keyboards on this list, the UHK features completely remappable keys.
The UHK claims to increase productivity by enabling users to have complete control while never having to leave the home row. This means you don’t have to remove your hand to manipulate the mouse. This is thanks to the modular thumb cluster design.
Currently, there is only one module available for the left side of the UHK. It features three regular keys along with a mini trackball that can act as an extra button. As for the right half of the keyboard, users have their choice between three different modules: a trackball with left and right mouse buttons, a trackpoint that when pressed acts as a click, or a trackpad that emulates mouse clicks with a tap.
4. Cloud Nine C989M
Most of the ergonomic mechanical keyboards on the market totally omit the number pad. Thankfully, the Cloud Nine C989M has you covered. It is a full-sized keyboard, complete with a number pad for data entry. Furthermore, the Cloud Nine C989M utilizes the standard offset key layout. This means that users won’t have to adjust to new key positions. This allows users who are more familiar with a traditional keyboard to jump straight in.
The Cloud Nine C989M also features a true split design. Like some of the other keyboards on this list, the two halves of the C989 are tethered together by a cable. This allows users to place the two halves of the keyboard in any position that suits them. Furthermore, the C989M uses Cherry MX Brown key switches. These enable quiet typing while still providing the tactile feedback championed by mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.