Innovative Gadgets

The very best ergonomic keyboards for 2024


Staggered vs columnar

This determination appears to be one of many extra hotly-contested amongst ergo fans. A normal keyboard has staggered keys, with every row barely offset to the rows above and beneath it — so the A key’s about midway between the Q and W above it. It is a holdover from classic mechanical typewriters, wherein every press activated a hammer that smashed ink onto paper within the form of a letter. To suit the hammers as shut collectively as potential, whereas nonetheless permitting for finger pads, the keys have been staggered.

Columnar or ortholinear keyboards stack the keys in orderly columns, usually with rows that aren’t linear. Proponents declare this makes the keys simpler to succeed in. Whether or not that’s true will likely be as much as your fingers to resolve, however I can say for sure that when you discovered to kind on a staggered keyboard, switching to a columnar structure is hard. It should take days, presumably weeks earlier than you instinctively hit the C key. The N, M and B keys don’t fare a lot better.

Programmable keys

With just a few exceptions, most ergonomic keyboards will work with PCs or Macs as a regular typing enter, however using operate and sizzling keys could require some remapping. It may be as straightforward as an onboard change to toggle between Mac and PC layouts, or as concerned as downloading software program to vary up the keys. Some boards even embody (or allow you to purchase) further keycaps to vary, say, the Mac’s Command and Possibility keys to PC’s Begin and Alt buttons.

For some boards, remapping or programming keys is a vital function. Gaming peripherals have further keys that you would be able to set to execute a collection of keystrokes with the push of a single button. Keyboards that work with layers, wherein a single button can carry out a number of capabilities, sometimes can help you change what these are. Some ergonomic keyboards have non-standard layouts, like thumb clusters with a number of keys close to the house bar that you just function together with your thumb. You’ll additionally be capable to program these.

Different concerns

Ergonomic keyboards are available in mechanical, membrane, and scissor change variations. Which works finest for you is, once more, as much as your desire. I received’t get too deep into the particulars right here, however the wanting it’s that membrane and scissor switches are much less customizable than mechanical and sometimes cheaper. Typing on them tends to be quieter and softer. Mechanical switches are extra customizable, provide a extra responsive typing expertise and are normally pricier.

You’ll even have the choice of wired or wi-fi ergonomic boards. All different issues being equal, wired fashions are inexpensive. Aggressive avid gamers who depend on split-second responses could favor the zero-lag of wired keyboards. Wired fashions additionally by no means run out of battery life and have fewer connectivity points. However wi-fi keyboards hold your desk much less cluttered.

Some ergonomic keyboards include everlasting or detachable wrist or palm rests, which will be cushioned or arduous. That is one other space the place opinions diverge: proponents declare they enable you keep a impartial hand place, whereas detractors say they put stress on the tendons in your wrist. Ideally, your palms needs to be resting, not your wrists, and also you would possibly discover you want having that help or you might discover the stress uncomfortable.

A closeup shot of an ergonomic keyboard that shows the two sides splitting apart. A closeup shot of an ergonomic keyboard that shows the two sides splitting apart.

Picture by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

How we examined

All our guides start with in depth analysis to determine what’s on the market and what’s value testing. We take into account manufacturers with good reputations that we’ve heard good issues about from colleagues and different trusted publications. For this information, I seemed for keyboards with ergonomic options like tenting, cut up keys, palm help and so forth. I additionally zeroed in on boards that didn’t require a deep quantity of familiarity with the huge and exhaustive world of customized keyboards.

As soon as I settled on ten boards, I acquired them and used every one for wherever from just a few days to a couple weeks. I attempted out the remapping and macros software program and regarded the consolation, design, value and sturdiness of every mannequin earlier than arriving at picks I feel will work finest for the most individuals on the market.

Picture by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Ergonomic options: Alice cut up, middle tenting, optionally available detrimental tilt, wrist relaxation | Host connection: Bluetooth or USB receiver | Change kind: Scissor | Hotkey compatibility: Mac and Home windows | Ten key: Sure | RGB lighting: No | Programing interface: Logi Choices+ (app)

The Ergo K860 from Logitech carefully resembles a regular keyboard, so there’s not a lot of a studying curve. However refined modifications just like the Alice structure, tented center and optionally available detrimental tilt make typing noticeably extra ergonomic. Logitech makes a few of our favourite PC equipment, and the the explanation why are all evident with this keyboard: it connects shortly and reliably through Bluetooth, the construct is strong and feels high-quality and it is moderately priced at $130 (and is usually on sale for round $100).

It’s appropriate with newer iterations of Home windows, MacOS, iPadOS, ChromeOS and Linux, although you’ll want software program to help non-basic key capabilities for the latter two working techniques. There are three switching buttons that swap between beforehand linked gadgets, and the board speedily swapped between a MacBook and a PC laptop computer in my assessments. Constructed-in operate keys like quantity and brightness labored properly and the Possibility/Begin and Command/Alt combo keys labored accurately relying on which pc was linked to.

The rotated Alice-split design and raised middle made a distinction in the way in which I held my arms as I typed, permitting me to maintain my elbows comfortably away from my ribs and my palms rotated inward as a substitute of forcing them flat. The palm relaxation is springy however agency (albeit not detachable) and the arrow keys and a numeric keypad on the correct facet put all potential keys inside attain. Sadly, that provides size to that facet of the board, which forces your mouse farther out. The scissor change keys can really feel mushy when you’re coming from a mechanical board, however they’re responsive sufficient. Logitech gives software program for programming the keys, however this mannequin will doubtless attraction most to these in search of a plug and play choice.

For a mechanical Alice keyboard with each wi-fi and wired capabilities, I like to recommend the Periboard 835. The Mac and Home windows-compatible board has a strong construct, low profile switches, RGB lighting, snug tenting and some further programmable keys.

Execs

  • Rotated keys and palm wrest make typing snug
  • Wirelessly connects shortly to 3 devides
  • Hotkeys work with MacOS and Home windows
Cons

  • Takes up a big footprint
  • Wrist wrest will not be detachable

$110 at B&H Picture

Picture by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Ergonomic options: Totally cut up | Host connection: USB-C port | Change kind: Mechanical (tactile or linear) | Hotkey compatibility: Mac and Home windows | Ten key: No | RGB lighting: Sure | Programing interface: QMK/VIA (browser)

For those who (expertly) sawed a mechanical keyboard in two, it will appear to be the Keychron Q11. You possibly can even push the 2 halves again collectively to make it appear to be a regular, 75 % mechanical board (although when you uncover the expediency of a snack bowl between the halves, I don’t know why you’d do this).

Keychron is extensively revered within the mechanical keyboard world as a result of they make high quality keyboards that aren’t astronomically costly. Like all Keychron gadgets, you should buy this one assembled or barebones, to which you’ll be able to add your individual keycaps and switches. I examined a completely assembled mannequin with Gateron G Professional Crimson linear mechanical switches, which give smoother motion and a quieter clack than tactile or clicky switches. The keycaps are comprised of PBT, a higher-quality polymer than the ABS plastic keys present in inexpensive keyboards. The machined aluminum physique feels substantial and there’s no wobble. All of that mixed creates a luxe and sturdy really feel and a satisfying, buttery clack as you kind.

The assembled model comes with keycaps (and a keycap puller) to arrange the board for both Mac or Home windows. A change on the prime of the board toggles between the 2 working techniques, guaranteeing the operate keys act appropriately. Additional keys embody the 2 customizable knobs on the prime corners and 5 macro keys to the left of the board. These and the remainder of the board will be programmed with open supply keyboard firmware QMK and VIA, which most Keychron boards are appropriate with out of the field.

I’ve very primary keyboard wants so I used VIA to provide the correct knob zoom capabilities, make the M1 key open a clipboard supervisor and have the M2 key execute a screenshot. Programming with VIA requires using keycodes and also you’ll have to outline macros throughout the app to get the knob to do extra superior issues past the pre-selected choices, however the implementation of your new directions is instantaneous (and fairly satisfying).

The one drawbacks are the shortage of tenting and the relatively brief USB-C bridge cable connecting the 2 sides. I discovered I needed somewhat extra separation than 9 inches, so I swapped it for an extended wire. However there’s no straightforward repair for the shortage of middle carry.

Execs

  • Prime quality construct
  • Easy and buttery mechanical keys
  • Totally cut up keys hold your palms at a snug distance aside
  • Simply toggle between Mac and Home windows techniques
Cons

  • No middle tenting
  • Quick bridge cable included

$220 at Amazon

Picture by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Ergonomic options: Alice cut up, middle tenting, wrist relaxation | Host connection: USB-A cable | Change kind: Membrane | Hotkey compatibility: Home windows | Ten key: Sure | RGB lighting: No | Programing interface: N/A

Perixx makes quite a lot of ergonomic keyboards and the Periboard 512 gives primary options at a low value. The usual keys will work with a Mac, however the included media keys and performance keys are programmed for Home windows machines. It labored properly on the PC I examined it with, leaping to the search bar, opening the built-in Mail app and muting the sound after I hit the respective keys. The membrane keys are sturdy with out wobble and the Alice cut up and tenting put your palms in a snug place. The inflexible wrist relaxation angles down, which makes it simpler to relaxation your palms and never your wrists.

At simply $70, the 512 isn’t probably the most premium board and you’ll really feel that within the light-weight design and cheaper-feeling keycaps. However when you’re simply in search of a primary Home windows interface with ergonomic options that’ll take among the pressure off your work posture, that is a reasonable option to go.

Execs

  • Cheap
  • Alice cut up makes typing extra snug
  • Useful sizzling keys
Cons

  • Construct doesn’t really feel premium
  • Hotkeys solely appropriate with Home windows

$55 at Amazon

Picture by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Ergonomic options: Totally cut up, middle tenting, thumb cluster | Host connection: USB-C port | Change kind: Mechanical (tactile, clicky, linear) | Hotkey compatibility: Mac and Home windows | Ten key: No | RGB lighting: Sure | Programing interface: Oryx (browser)

A rep I spoke with at ZSA warned me concerning the Voyager, saying the board has an impact “like a mind harm: A second in the past you knew how one can kind, and now you do not.” That’s precisely how I felt after plugging within the impossibly compact accent. For one, the columnar structure places keys (notably these on the underside row) in spots you don’t intuitively attain for. Then there’s a thumb cluster the place you’ll discover not simply the house bar, however different vital keys like return. Lastly, the board makes use of layers, giving every key as much as three capabilities.

I truly needed to interrupt testing at one level and plug in one other keyboard as a result of I simply felt too sluggish and disconnected like I used to be typing with oven mitts on. Nevertheless, now that I’ve the dangle of how the Voyager works, it feels magical. Hardly ever do my palms want to depart the house place, but each key I would like regularly is definitely accessible.

Because you don’t have to reorient your fingers while you use arrow keys, hit the mute button or kind with the quantity pad, you’re all the time in the identical place, which may prevent some severe collected time. Your thumbs, that are pretty dexterous, are able to doing extra than simply mashing the spacebar; right here, they function the return key, tab button and may even initialize layers. The absolutely cut up and additional compact design allow you to place the 2 boards wherever they really feel snug and the optionally available magnetic legs give it a refined however efficient middle tenting.

The place some keyboards provide remapping capabilities as a nice-to-have function, the vast majority of folks will doubtless need to use both the browser-based Oryx configurator or Zsa’s Keymapp app to modify up what these keys do. It took me a number of tries to get them set in a manner that labored for me, so I received fairly acquainted with Oryx. It doesn’t require you to lookup keycodes, as a substitute providing you with an unlimited library of searchable instructions. However modifications aren’t carried out mechanically — it’s a must to flash the keyboard’s firmware by pushing a button on the prime fringe of the machine to make the modifications.

Sure system-specific capabilities, just like the Mission Management key on a Mac, have to be programmed utilizing key sequences (on this case, management + down arrow). And sometimes the board will mistake a single faucet for a faucet and maintain (which frequently allows a second operate). I additionally flashed the board as soon as and misplaced all use of the correct facet, however reflashing mounted it.

The Voyager will not be for somebody in search of a fast adjustment to enhance their ergonomics. It’ll take weeks of apply and reprogramming (each the board and your mind) earlier than typing feels fluid once more. I like to recommend holding a screenshot of your newest Oryx-configured structure in your desktop for reference till you bear in mind which keys do what. That mentioned, as soon as issues begin clicking, the Voyager actually does maximize your output whereas minimizing your actions.

If you would like one thing absolutely cut up with thumb clusters and a columnar structure however that’s rather less minimal — and wi-fi besides — the Kinesis Benefit 360 is an efficient one to take a look at. It appears to be like prefer it comes from an ‘80s-era IBM workplace however is one way or the other additionally from the longer term. The tenting goes from low to intense and the keys curve concavely to satisfy your fingers the place they naturally land. The 360 is per-key programmable, works with layers and has 4 macros keys.

Execs

  • Totally cut up board
  • Middle tenting for a pure hand place
  • Thumb cluster lets your thumb do extra work
  • Compact dimension and intelligent key mapping hold your palms within the residence place
Cons

  • Tough to relearn ortholinear structure
  • Takes time to program and be taught the correct key capabilities

$365 at ZSA

Picture by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Ergonomic options: Totally cut up, middle tenting, detachable wrist relaxation | Host connection: USB-A cable | Change kind: Mechanical (tactile, clicky, linear) | Hotkey compatibility: Mac and Home windows | Ten key: No | RGB lighting: Sure | Programing interface: SmartSet (app)

PC avid gamers who depend on the WASD keys could recognize not having to cope with the correct facet of a keyboard in any respect, and as a substitute use that house for his or her mouse. The Freestyle Edge from Kinesis is a completely cut up mannequin with Cherry MX mechanical switches. The tactile Brown ones in my tester unit had a satisfying click on and a not overly loud clacky noise. The wrist rests are detachable and intelligent folding legs provide you with three peak choices for tenting and will be eliminated fully.

It has per-key RGB lights and 9 macros buttons that may be programmed with the configuration app or with out it utilizing keyboard instructions. All of this may increasingly attraction to avid gamers in search of a programmable keyboard with just a few ergonomic methods. Simply needless to say all of these options add as much as a considerably cumbersome peripheral.

Execs

  • Totally cut up means you possibly can simply use the left half
  • Excessive diploma of optionally available tenting
  • Extra programmable shortcut keys
Cons

  • Considerably cumbersome
  • Constructed-in cables should not customizable

$199 at Amazon



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