There are a number of keyboards that claim to be ergonomic, but only one claims to be "truly ergonomic." Many input devices available today stagger the keys across the available keying area, resulting in even the most proficient touch typist having to move around more than is desirable. The makers of the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard claim that their redesign brings all keys within easy reach, which should lead to decreased discomfort in a world where most of us spend much of our lives tapping away in front of one computer screen or another.
Here at Gizmag we've seen numerous funky keyboards and many have offered some unique ease-of-use or comfort property to help them stand out from competitors. Some have been specifically aimed at a certain type of users, such as gamers, others have offered fold-away portability and others still have promised to help keep repetitive upper arm strain to a healthy minimum.
Whereas many ergonomic keyboards make various health claims, the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard purports to be the healthiest. Ditching the staggered key layout on which many keyboards are based in favor of a design that is said to follow "the symmetric shape and neutral position of the human body," the manufacturer says that when using its product, typists need only stretch or curl fingers without the need for any awkward hand movement. This in turn "promotes a healthier posture helping reduce wrist, shoulder, neck, and lower back pain and strains, and still remains very practical and familiar."
Despite being a good size narrower than many other keyboards on the market, the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard sports a full spread of full-size keys and also allows users to keep a computer mouse closer to the keying area. The input device is built using Cherry MX Mechanical Keyswitches. The gold-plated keyswitches are mounted on metal plates and benefit from an independent mechanism for soft-touch keying comfort. Various pre-installed keyboard layouts are available, but custom key re-allocation gives the user more freedom. Keying configuration options include silent, light-click or linear feedback.
When typing, most people will place their hands in a neutral position, probably above the middles row of letter keys. Hands tend to move around to reach regularly used but sometimes oddly positioned keys. The Truly Ergonomic Keyboard reduces this movement by reducing the distance needed to travel to reach such keys.
For example, the distance from the letter J key to the left arrow key on the keyboard I am using to type at the moment measures 5.31 inches (135mm). This is a bit of a stretch without moving my hand. On the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard that distance is reduced to 2 inches (51mm), which is said to minimize the need for hand movement when keying and thus help reduce associated pains in the wrist and shoulder.
Like portable computers, the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard features an embedded numeric keypad that's activated by tapping the NumLock key on or off. Due to the design, the activated keypad resembles the familiar block found on bigger keyboards and not the staggered, offset kind found elsewhere.
The Truly Ergonomic Keyboard is manufactured using recycled and recyclable materials which are expected to last up to ten times longer than conventional keyboard materials and can be integrated with a removable, cushioned palm rest. It's available now for pre-order and carries a list price of US$199.