The best ergonomic keyboard
If you're someone who spends the majority of the workday -- and some of your personal free time -- at a computer, you have detailed knowledge of how a keyboard works.
As you've probably figured out, not all keyboards are created equal. Some are more comfortable to use than others. Some, like ergonomic keyboards, help keep your wrists and forearms properly aligned, alleviating strain and potential long-term injuries.
This shopping guide will help you find an ergonomic keyboard that's right for you. You'll find several recommendations, including our favorite, the Logitech Wireless Illuminated K800 Keyboard, which perfectly combines comfort and build quality.
Considerations when choosing ergonomic keyboards
It almost seems like the number of unique-looking designs on the market is the same as the number of ergonomic keyboards for sale. But don't be confused by all of the design options. No matter how odd they look, all ergonomic keyboards fit into one of two categories, providing a good starting point.
Traditional: The traditional keyboard with ergonomic benefits often will have a curved design. This places the keys at an angle to the wrist, which reduces strain. Some keyboards have a greater curve than others. Finding just the right level of curvature will depend on your personal preference.
Split: A split ergonomic keyboard will have a gap in the center of the keyboard. This enhances the angle at which your wrists approach the keys versus the curved, traditional keyboard. Some of these designs go a step further, splitting the keyboard into two separate pieces. You can then place the two pieces at whatever angle and location on the desk that is most comfortable for your needs.
Once you've settled on the primary design feature for an ergonomic keyboard, you can then select additional features to further enhance your comfort level when using it.
Angled stand: Often times, an ergonomic keyboard will work best when it's placed at an angle, with the back higher than the front. Some keyboards will have foldable and adjustable legs on the underside of the hardware to create the angle. Others ship with a separate stand that creates the desired angle from back to front.
Connectivity: Ergonomic keyboards may connect to the computer via a USB cable or wirelessly over Bluetooth. A wireless connection gives you more versatility in where you can place the keyboard on the desk.
Number keys: If you commonly must type figures in a spreadsheet, having a separate 10-key number pad is helpful. Some ergonomic keyboards place this pad to the far right of the keyboard. Others have a separate section that contains the 10 keys.
Programmable keys: One of the biggest benefits of an ergonomic keyboard is the ability to program, or re-map, some keys. To help you use the keyboard efficiently, you can program certain keys with functions you use commonly. Rather than taking several keystrokes to complete the function -- and causing extra wrist fatigue -- you can program one key to do the work.
Soft-touch keys: When you can depress keys on the keyboard with less force, your wrists and forearms will be under less stress.
Wrist rests: Having a wrist rest with any kind of ergonomic keyboard is a key design feature. The wrist rest will support your wrist as you type, preventing fatigue and stress. Multiple sizes and designs of wrist rests are available.
An ergonomic keyboard will cost $25 to $75 for the most basic designs. For significantly curved or split keyboards, and for those with customizable and programmable options, you may pay $75 to $200.
Q. Why don't I feel an immediate change in pain level after using an ergonomic keyboard?
A. It usually requires a few weeks or even longer for your body to adjust to the layout of the keyboard. Stick with it for a few weeks, even if you don't notice immediate improvements.
Q. Can I use the ergonomic keyboard with any computer?
A. Yes. The majority of these keyboards are either wireless or have a universal USB connection cable, so they should work with almost any computer.
Ergonomic keyboards we recommend
Best of the best: Logitech's Wireless Illuminated K800 Keyboard
Our take: Tactile feedback from this keyboard is impressive, making it a joy to use.
What we like: The soft touch keys operate almost silently. Has a sturdy build quality, so it feels like it will last a long time.
What we dislike: Battery life is not as long as we'd like to see.
Best bang for your buck: Logitech's Wireless Keyboard
Our take: Has a curved design, so it delivers nice ergonomic benefits in a traditional keyboard style.
What we like: Carries a low price point for a wireless keyboard. Unit will give you greater durability than you may expect.
What we dislike: Some people find the key responsiveness to be a little stiff.
Choice 3: Kinesis' Freestyle2 Keyboard
Our take: It takes a little while to become comfortable with the split design, but those who use it regularly love it.
What we like: When paired with the keyboard stand, you can customize the front-to-back angle of the keyboard sections for maximum comfort.
What we dislike: You'll need to purchase the stand and numeric keypad separately, so it's a pricey package.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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