Whether you're a professional gamer or an office worker, extended periods in front of a computer can be tiresome and even cause injury. Long hours spent typing away can lead to bad posture, back and neck pain, and other musculoskeletal injuries. And that's precisely why ergonomic office equipment, or gaming equipment, is super important.
In this article, we'll discuss some of the best ergonomic keyboards and their essential role in preventing various injuries caused by extended periods of typing away. We'll also cover different types of ergonomic keyboards, key types and layouts, and all the factors that actually make the best ergonomic keyboard.
So, before you type your hours away, take a few minutes to read through our article, and learn how the best ergonomic keyboard may improve the quality of your life. But first, let’s get acquainted with the best ergonomic keyboards. Here’s our top picks:
The best ergonomic keyboards
Perixx Periboard-512 Ergonomic Keyboard
The Periboard-512 is a full-size keyboard, with an included number pad and many options, coming at an affordable price. It's a black, unibody keyboard, with a tented design that will keep your arms and wrists in their natural position. But the fun stuff doesn't end there.
The Periboard-512 is designed to match your hands and arms' natural position, with an additional palm rest for wrist support. The 512 allows you to type more naturally, mitigating and alleviating any RSI issues you might have or face through those design features. The keys themselves offer superb tactility, reducing the pressure required for pressing the keys, which leads to a more pleasant typing experience.
This particular model is also equipped with seven multimedia hotkeys for fun-filled minutes during office breaks or gaming sessions. Unfortunately, backlighting is omitted on this model, which is expected, considering its affordable price point. If you choose to buy the Periboard-512, you can choose between black and white color or corded and wireless connectivity options.
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Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard
There's much to be said about Microsoft's Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard, but we'll try to sum it up. The very first thing that might capture your attention is the design. Seemingly split-type, with a tear-shaped cut-out reaching to the spacebar, the keyboard is quite aesthetically appealing. But for this review, we'll refer to it as the unibody keyboard, since it doesn't split all the way through.
Microsoft put effort and attention into creating this model, ergonomically speaking, since it provides unparalleled comfort. Once you've connected it to your computer, you'll find your wrists placed at a soft wrist pad that stretches through the main piece's entire length. It almost matches the whole width of the keyboard and serves not only as a support but also as a prevention of painful wrists.
Additionally, the tented designed and a curved center make sure that your fingers never extend out of their natural reach. Though omitted on the main piece, the numpad comes as a separate flat piece that will require more room on your desktop. However, the entire keyboard is designed specifically for office work and productivity, and this feature fits the context well. Yes, the additional mouse is also ergonomically designed, but that's a topic for another review.
Another Perixx keyboard on our list, and this time, we're talking about a wireless model of compact size and several tilting positions. The Periduo-606 keyboard comes as a part of the wireless mouse-keyboard ergonomic combo designed for comfort and functionality.
With Periduo-606, you can adjust the keyboard's height and tilt to find your perfect typing position. It allows for flat positioning and both a positive and negative tilt. The negative 88° tilt follows your hands and wrists' natural movement and positions and allows effortless typing. Of course, the manufacturer added a much-needed palm rest to further expand on this model's comfort.
This tenkeyless compact model has a split key layout, as most ergonomic keyboards do, with a 4-way scroll wheel in the middle, allowing you to navigate pages and media. We won't cover the mouse, though its quality compliments the keyboard; instead, we'll mention some additional features.
As we stated, the Periduo-606 is a wireless model with an operating range of approx. 33 feet. It's powered by two AAA batteries and has seven multimedia hotkeys for added productivity and functionality. It's compatible with recent versions of Windows, but can be used on Linux and iMac, though with limited functionality.
Logitech K350 Wireless
The K350 is a perfect choice if you need a highly functional ergonomic keyboard, but aren't comfortable with having your key layout split down the middle. It features a much more subtle approach to ergonomics, by gently curving the keys and creating two distinct key wells that peak at the center of the layout. By doing so, the keyboard allows you to adapt to its shape quickly and straightens your wrists in the process.
On top of this full-size, unbody keyboard, you'll find an array of hotkeys that include quick-launch keys for your media and favorite apps. They require you to extend your fingers a bit and lift your wrists from the cushioned palm rest, but that's reasonable, considering their placement. The functional keys are fully programable and customizable using the Logitech's freeware.
This mechanical keyboard's overall solid construction ensures that it's durable enough, while its wavy form provides the ultimate comfort for your arms and wrists. However, it's aesthetic design features lines that can comfortably place the keyboard back in the 2000s. Even so, the K350 is an excellent ergonomic keyboard for work and fun, and you should consider it if you're not much for aesthetic, but more for an affordable price point.
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Logitech MK550 Wireless Keyboard
Following the steps, they took with the previous model on our list, Logitech implemented the same Constant Curve design into their MK550 model. The result is a black, unibody keyboard with an integrated palm rest and adjustable height settings that reduces stress and allows better, more natural typing.
The MK550 comes as a mouse-keyboard combo. We won't cover the mouse features, but we will mention that it's designed in the same manner as the keyboard it accompanies. And they're designed with comfort in mind. The entire layout conforms to the natural position of your wrists, arms, and fingers, and allows more comfortable typing. To complement the keyboard's ergonomic and effortless design, the keycaps hide mechanical-type switches that provide excellent feedback and require less pressure to actuate.
Additionally, this wireless model comes with a significant improvement over its predecessor, most notably, a longer-battery life. The MK550 is powered by two AA batteries and features an incredible 36-month work-span or over two million keystrokes. Of course, it's Windows compatible and provides limited compatibility with other devices. So, if you're looking for a keyboard to rest your wrists on while going through a ton of work, the MK550 is the right choice.
Much like the Periduo-606, the 406 model features a similar aesthetic design, but few notable differences as well. The very first noteworthy difference is the presence of cable on both the keyboard and the accompanying mouse. Yes, the 406 is a wired, unibody model without a numpad present, but that doesn't decrease its functionality during office work. Not by a significant amount, at least.
The 406 has a teardrop space that divides the key into two groups, rotated in a way to promote the natural positioning of your arms and wrists. In the said space, the manufacturer embedded a 4-way navigational wheel that will allow you to scroll through your datasheets without using the mouse. The entire piece's ergonomics are achieved through a wavy and curvy design that allows effortless actuation of keys during typing.
Furthermore, the keyboard features seven different media shortcut keys for easily accessible fun during office breaks or gaming. However, these keys aren't dedicated, but available via the Fn key, which needs to be actuated, depending on your settings. When it comes to more technical settings, the 406 features an adjustable positive and negative tilt, which allows you to find the most suitable position for typing.
Whether your writing, data analyzing, or gaming, the Periduo-406 is a right value keyboard that ships out with an equally good mouse. If you're looking for an ergonomic keyboard-mouse wired combo, the 406 is definitely worth a second look.
Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
If you're looking for a high-quality ergonomic keyboard, like Microsoft's Sculpt Ergonomic, without the fancy gadgetry, the Microsoft Ergonomic will fit you perfectly. It features the same level of detail and comfort, in terms of ergonomics, as the Sculpt model, but closely resembles Microsoft's Surface Ergonomic keyboard.
However, unlike the Sculpt and the Surface models, the Ergonomic features a USB wired connection, that provides increased speed and accuracy in the long run. As such, this model is made with office productivity in mind, but with accentuated comfort features. The integrated numpad is a real time-saver, as it allows you to crunch through numbers while your wrists rest on an ergonomically designed pad.
This will further provide comfort as your fingers reach over the curved keyboard to actuate dedicated Office 365 keys, and other built-in shortcuts, and easy-access controls. But that's not all; this keyboard also features dedicated media controls, and emojis, and a quick search key, for more comfortable productivity. Unfortunately, it's specifically designed for Windows 10 and Office 365 and has limited compatibility with Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems.
Still, Microsoft Ergonomics is a good value for money if you're not interested in fancy aesthetics and wireless connection, but require a good-quality keyboard for work.
iClever BK06 Bluetooth Keyboard
This ergonomic keyboard is aimed at individuals that type on the run, as it's actually a smart device accessory. Nonetheless, it's an ergonomic accessory with many possibilities, which is precisely why it showed up on our radar and made it on our list.
First off, the iClever BK06 is a portable, foldable, Bluetooth-connected keyboard designed to make typing on your smart device more manageable for more extended periods. It features only the QWERTY key layout, with necessary function keys, and several command keys. As its name suggests, the iClever BK06 is primarily aimed at Apple users, but it can be used on both Android and Windows. You can even change to appropriate layouts.
The feel of the buttons is as expected from a high-quality portable keyboard. Some pressure is required, but the keys register pretty well. Ergonomically speaking, the BK06 is an improvement over standard rectangular keyboards, even in such a small format. But, at the same time, those improvements aren't really comparable to a full-size ergonomic keyboard, which is to be expected.
What surprised us the most is the battery life. The BK06 has an internal battery worth about 40 hours of typing or 30 days of standby. With such a strong battery capacity over time, you can easily forget to charge it. Luckily, almost every public place now has a micro USB charger, which you can use to charge this unit.
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Choosing an ergonomic keyboard seems pretty straightforward until you're faced with a magnitude of options the market offers. Still, you shouldn't let the overwhelming number of possibilities discourage you from getting your best ergonomic keyboard and investing in your health and comfort. Luckily, we’re here to help. Besides rounding up the best ergonomic keyboards, we comprised this buyer’s guide to explain what features to look for when choosing the best ergonomic keyboard.
But before we get all technical, allow us to explain the importance of the best ergonomic keyboards and why you should consider purchasing one.
Why choose an ergonomic keyboard?
Investing in an ergonomic keyboard is more than just a technical upgrade to a fancy office or gaming gadgetry; it’s a long-term investment in your health. And while many would argue that it’s not a consequential investment, we beg to differ, as little things do matter.
Typing is a daily repetitive activity of writers, students, gamers, programmers, data entry specials, etc., that might cause a repetitive stress injury. Imagine sitting in your office and typing for eight hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year, until retirement. Some damage is likely, if not inevitable, to happen due to typing. Typing in itself involves using a series of unnatural movements, as you twist your hands and wrists and overextend your fingers to reach and hit certain keys.
These unnatural movements and positions extend to the rest of your body, as bringing your arms together flexes your back and shoulder muscles. So, typing on a regular, office-supply, rectangular keyboard might be the actual cause of that feeling of tension you've been experiencing in your shoulder. But you can put an end to it by getting an ergonomic keyboard.
Ergonomic keyboards are there to prevent, or at least mitigate, some damage caused by unnatural and somewhat strenuous motions involved with using a keyboard. They're designed with letter keys split into two halves, precisely rotating the keys to allow your arm to reach the keys from a more natural angle. Some even use a so-called tenting, a keyboard with a slightly raised center, to provide an angled typing surface, and prevent or minimize wrist torsions. But we’ll explain this in greater detail below.
Different types of ergonomic keyboards
Ergonomic keyboards come in all shapes and configurations, and some of them are pretty effective at minimizing the strain typing puts on your body. Note that some products might offer only one design feature, while others might come as an all-inclusive ergonomics delight for your typing needs. In this section, we'll discuss the most prominent design features, most notably the shape of your ergonomic keyboard.
There are predominantly two types of ergonomic keyboards. A single-piece unibody ergonomic keyboard that resembles your standard rectangular shape keyboard with tweaked keys is the most common type. But there are also split-chassis models that physically separate into two adjustable halves. Of course, these may or may not have additional features, like tenting, but more on that later. For now, let’s stick to the basics.
Unibody – as we said, these resemble your typical office-supply rectangular keyboard but feature a curved designed and slightly rotated keys to reduce the impact on your hands and wrists. As they resemble a standard keyboard, the typing experience is not as different as you might expect. Even so, it will take some time to get accustomed to the unibody ergonomic keyboard.
Still, there are some ergonomic issues unibody keyboards can’t address, which is why they’re less expensive than the split-type models.
Split-type – we all come in different shapes and sizes, and split-type keyboards address these issues specifically. With the keyboard split into two halves, you can control the keyboard's width and the rotation of the keys to suit you the best. This prevents your wrists and hands from twisting, and reduces any curling motion of your shoulder blades, which will prevent a ton of damage down the road. Thanks to their customizable nature, these models are usually more expensive than unibody types, but feature one distinct downside – most of them lack a numerical pad. Num pads are beneficial for spreadsheet work; however, they involve lateral finger and wrist movements, so most split-types don't feature numerical keys. Instead, num pads are sold as an optional, free-standing keypad attachment that allows you to place the num pad wherever you find it suitable and easy to reach. Which brings us to the next crucial factor – key layout.
Key layout and key type
Usually, the letters remain in the standard QWERTY layout. Other frequently used keys, like Alt/Ctrl and the Win/Apple key, may be repositioned. These changes vary from one manufacturer to the other, and from one model to the next. They also might increase the learning curve, but may contribute to the betterment of ergonomics and overall better experience over time. It mostly depends on personal preference and what functional keys you use the most.
The layout somewhat depends on the type of keyboard you get, but the lettering layout doesn't break from the QWERTY standard. However, there seems to be a predominant key type when it comes to different kinds of keyboards. For example, unibody keyboards mostly feature silicone membrane keys, or scissor-switch keys, while split-types usually have mechanical keys. Allow us to explain the difference:
- Silicone membrane keys – these are featured on most unibody, slim styled keyboards, and low-profile keys. The technology uses an angled silicone rubber webbing around the key's switch center, that once pressed, produces a slight tactile response. This design allows for lower profiling of the keys and a quieter typing action compared to other types. Unfortunately, this type of key mechanism is less durable and was supplanted by scissors and mechanical key switches. However, they are still present in some cheaper models, or full-travel models, since they offer pretty good water resistance.
- Scissor-switch keys – this type of switch is found on most built-in keyboards on laptops and low-profile stand-alone keyboards. They use a somewhat different kind of silicone webbing but feature plastic pieces that interlock in a scissor-like fashion, which gives them a stronger tactile response. Scissor-switch keys are less likely to get debris and grime in them, due to the narrower gaps between the keys. This also makes them incredibly hard to clean, since keys have multiple attachment points with limited movement. Like the silicone membrane, scissor-switch keys are mostly featured on unibody keyboards and feature a less-expensive price tag.
- Mechanical keys – this type of keys is usually found on older types of keyboards, though many modern manufacturers still use them for their durability and incredibly long life-span. Mechanical-switch keys feature 50 million clicks per switch, which is unprecedented on commercial keyboards. They're also more robust than the previous two models since each separate key contains a mechanical switch under a keycap. Admittedly, they're not the most fashionable key type out there due to their size, but they offer great feedback that's makes typing on them pure pleasure. They're implemented into the most generic keyboards and featured on some of the most exclusive gaming models, attesting to their performance. When it comes to ergonomic keyboards, you'll mostly find them on more expensive split-type keyboards.
Additional things to consider
Depending on what model you choose, your ergonomic keyboard might come equipped with some additional features or other options that might make its use more practical.
- Tenting – this is an ergonomic feature that raises the keyboard center, with the keys falling away on either side, preventing your hands from laying flat. Different manufacturers and different types and models of keyboards achieve this ergonomic effect through different methods, but the purpose remains the same – keeping your wrists in their natural position.
- System Compatibility – Choose a keyboard that’s designed for the operating system you’ll be using. It’s worth noting that, nowadays, manufacturers make universal keyboards that are compatible with most operating systems, though some might require an adapter.
- Backlighting – This is another quality of life feature, as it allows you to type more comfortably in the dark. Whether you're touch typing or not, a backlit keyboard allows your peripheral vision to locate the keys for more comfortable typing quickly. And in all, honesty, backlit keys look fantastic.
- Corded vs. cordless – wireless keyboards aren’t a novelty, though some improvements made them more practical. Older wireless models used replaceable batteries, which were quite inconvenient once they start running out of juice, and causing all types of errors. Newer models, on the other hand, now use an internal, serviceable battery. These batteries provide longer working hours and are entirely rechargeable via a USB charger, allowing you to continue using the device while charging.
- You can, of course, opt for a corded model and save yourself the hassle of dealing with empty batteries and chargers. But then, you’ll have to deal with a cord, which can make an unpleasant impact on your office aesthetics. In the end, it’s a matter of personal preference.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, purchasing an ergonomic keyboard is more than buying a fancy gadget – it’s a long-term investment in your health. If you’re looking for nothing but the best, we suggest Microsoft’s Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard, our top pick. It’s exquisitely designed and office-oriented, with unparalleled ergonomics.
But if you’re on a budget, we think that Logitech’s K350 Wireless keyboard might help alleviate any RSI issues you might face. Still, equipped with our buyer's guide, you should be able to make your own call and pick the best ergonomic keyboard for yourself.