Is there a stylish, ergonomic, USB keyboard?
October 17, 2007 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Is there an functionally ergonomic USB keyboard that is not an eyesore?

I had a Microsoft Natural keyboard once, but didn't find it particularly helpful. All it really did was prevent me from giving into the temptation to type left-hand keys with the right hand.

It seems like all other options for a remotely ergonomic design shoot up to $300 and look too embarrassing to use in an office (Like the Typesafe and Kinesis Advantage)

Is there an ergonomic keyboard out there that uses USB, is functionally ergonomic, and somewhat sleek in design? I know, the instant assumption is the Microsoft Natural, but I was wondering if there are any other options.

Bonus points if it is available in Dvorak, is Linux (Ubuntu) compatible, and has a high quality, solid feel.
posted by bryak to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I use a Unicomp Customizer, which I believe can be custom-ordered in a Dvorak layout or a Linux-friendly layout (and perhaps the intersection of those layouts, too). While not typically "ergonomic," I find the big keys and buckling-sping switches are the ideal counterpoint to small, mushy laptop keyboards. You will not find a more solid-feeling keyboard; it's a tank.
posted by backupjesus at 8:24 AM on October 17, 2007

Best answer: I have a Keyovation Goldtouch. Not too expensive, and I think they are available in Dvorak. Link here...

I have no idea what "embarrassing" means, however... I think it looks cool.
posted by gregvr at 8:44 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: That Goldtouch is definitely not embarrassing. In fact, that is a really good example of exactly what I am looking for!

To give an idea of what I mean by embarrassing, the SafeType is a perfect example. I'd only get that if my doctor told me my hands would fall off if I didn't
posted by bryak at 8:53 AM on October 17, 2007

Ah, I see exactly what you are talking about. Yeah, the SafeType is totally uncool!
posted by gregvr at 8:59 AM on October 17, 2007

I can second the Goldtouch. An ergnomist recommended one for me at work, and I liked it so much that I bought one for home, reluctantly replacing my ancient IBM clicky keyboard that dates to the time of Christ.
posted by autojack at 9:38 AM on October 17, 2007

Best answer: While it is up to you in the end, I think you need to seriously consider whether "possibly embarassing" should trump "working wrists". On top of this, I'm not really sure how the Kinesis Advantage is "embarassing".

I've used the precursor to it (the Kinesis Classic) in an office setting for about 8 years, through 3 separate jobs. During that time, 99% of people have never even noticed it, and the ones who did have never once reacted negatively. Most simply say "huh, that's an interesting keyboard", and I mention that it really helps my wrists and that's the last I hear of it.

Beyond the "embarassment" factor, it pretty much matches every other criteria for you. It switches from qwerty to dvorak with a single button push (dual keycaps available). It's a standard USB (or PS/2) keyboard, so Linux isn't a problem. And it is built like a tank.

I have a Classic that is so old that I have to use an AT to PS/2 adapter for it, and it still runs like a champ. I also have the USB model of the Classic at work, and it is similarly sturdy. I've spilled whole glasses of water onto these things and just disassembled them (took the keycaps off), dried them out, and put them back together, and they still work fine.

Outside of the ergonomics, the on-board programmability / macro capabilities are quite nice. They can really help to reduce typing in repetitive tasks where the program you're using can't be scripted or has no shortcut keys.

Lastly, in my experience, the Kinesis keyboards are absolutely great for your wrists. I bought one because I was having wrist problems, and since switching to using them full time 8 years ago or so, I have had no problems.
posted by tocts at 9:47 AM on October 17, 2007

Other than maybe looking like it got left in the sun and melted a bit, the Kinesis Classic is an awesome keyboard. My wife tried mine at home and said "Ick" the first time. Less than a week later she wanted to know where I got it so she could get one for her workplace. My hands scream in pain if I use a flat keyboard.
posted by cairnish at 10:55 AM on October 17, 2007

Huge thumbs-up for the Kinesis. I had the good fortune of working a couple of doors down from the maintainer of a usenet FAQ on RSI / typing injuries / ergonomics, so when I started having trouble with my wrists I just bought what he was using. Been using them exclusively ever since (~10 years?). Love my Kinesis enough that this question got me to stop lurking on AskMeFi and make an account so that I could post this.
posted by madmethods at 12:35 PM on October 17, 2007

I used a Goldtouch for years as a programmer and I liked it a lot. The nonstandard layout continued to confuse me now and then, even after months of practice.
posted by moonmilk at 12:48 PM on October 17, 2007

Kinesis, Kinesis, Kinesis. It saved my hands and my job.
posted by KRS at 2:41 PM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: The Goldtouch is exactly what I was asking for. I'm glad that there are good alternatives to the Natural Keyboard.

The passion of the Kinesis crowd may be enough to sway me on the looks. I'll have to do some crunching to figure out if I can justify it, though.
posted by bryak at 2:57 PM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: Also, for those of you unfamiliar, this is the Kinesis that everyone has been talking about.
posted by bryak at 3:01 PM on October 17, 2007

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