How to Buy an Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse that Suits You, Page 1

If you’re still using the keyboard and mouse that came bundled with your computer, or you have already replaced it before and still experiencing some nagging issues, then it’s time to buy a new one. Here at Dual Monitors Guide, we always emphasize the importance of good ergonomics and comfortable working setup. And this entry will talk about the benefits of having the right keyboard and mouse, and how you can find the right one for you.

The keyboard and mouse is your primary access to your computer. Without them, you can’t do anything with your computer. If you use your computer on a daily basis, I bet you have thought of how you can improve your typing and computer experience. Specialized keyboards and mouse can be expensive, but the truth is, you don’t really need to shell out a lot of money to get a premium pair to match with your workstation.


On Choosing Keyboards

We primarily use our keyboard for typing, and while $10 keyboards work just fine, they can actually do a lot more. A good keyboard has some few extra buttons that can give you quick access to media control, volume control, or even launching applications, and if you suffer from RIS (repetitive strain injury) for longtime computer use, then a pair of ergonomic keyboard and mouse can provide huge help in keeping your hands in good position as you work. When you’re reading to invest in a good pair of keyboard and mouse, then here are the things you should look for.


Comfort and Ergonomics

If you’re one of the millions of people out there who work on their computer all day, every day, then ergonomic keyboard is a must for you. You will be using your keyboard all day, so you should make sure you feel comfortable working on it, and it should never cause you any problems.

(image from Amazon)

There are keyboards out there with height and tilt adjustments, these adjustments can help you set your hands and wrists at the right level position working, minimizing the negative effects of RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury.

(image from Amazon)

Some keyboards even come with wrist rest, but not all computer users like this idea, and would prefer resting their wrists on the tabletop. Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic and Kinesis Freestyle 2 are two of the best ergonomic keyboards out there. Microsoft’s keyboard features are wrist rest, while Kinesis divides the keyboard into two parts to keep your hands in the best typing position. But both can take some getting used to if you have used the traditional, flat keyboards for a long time.


Choosing the right switch, How the Keyboards Feel

(image from Amazon)

How the keys feel when you use the keyboard is another important aspect of ergonomics. Many keyboards come with traditional raised keys, though laptop style keyboards are becoming more and more popular for desktops, such as Logitech Wireless Keyboard K360 or even the chiclet-style keyboards like from Apple.


Guide to Different Keyboard Switches

The switches on your keyboard, those little keys that tells the keyboard what to do when you press them, have a significant effect on your typing experience. There’s a good chance the keyboard you are using now uses rubber-dome switches, which works by pushing them onto your keyboards. Most manufacturers use this material as they are cheap.


Membrane Keyboards

(Image from eBay)

This type of keyboard switch is the most common in today’s keyboard market. The whole keyboard works on the same membrane (not as individual switches for each key). There are three flat membranes that cover the whole keyboard, and below each key is a dome. Pressing the key will press the dome down, making a contact with the lowest membrane which causes a short circuit which then sends signal to the computer keystroke.

This type of switch is typically the cheapest, and has softer feel for “clicky” keyboards, and they are generally the cheapest type. However, they don’t offer high durability and they develop various issues easily over time, which usually results from inelastic or over-elastic rubber domes. Also, this type of switch makes it impossible to clean or repaired easily, which means you have to replace them when they develop problems.

(image from Amazon)

Kensington 64370 is a good example of this type of switch. It features a sleek and slim profile, allowing you to save a little more space in your workplace, and compliments nicely to your professional workstation. It comes with spill-safe and sealed membrane design.


Scissor-Switch Membrane Keyboards

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The better alternative is the scissor switches, which resembles a rubber-dome but with slimmer profile. This type of switch is commonly found among laptop keyboards and slim keyboards, such as Apple’s aluminum keyboard. The switch however, has a scissor mechanism that stabilizes the key with good bounce-back feel. The mechanism is attached to a plunger, which presses the dome on its membrane, shortening the distance travelled of keystrokes, which means you don’t have to press down far.

This mechanism is more durable than your normal membrane keyboard, but still not as sturdy as mechanical switches. They can also be more expensive than membrane keyboards, but can be cheaper when compared to highest quality mechanical switch-type. They don’t cause much noise, and more cost-efficient than mechanical keyboards.

(image from Amazon)

Good example of this mechanism is Logitech K740. It ultra-thin keyboard profile is elegantly designed. It also comes with the brand’s own PerfectStroke system feature for better typing and a soft-touch palm rest that helps position your wrist better, which also comes with soft rubber coating for more comfortable use. It also features laser-etched backlight keys, with manual brightness adjustments.


Mechanical Keyboard

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If you have the budget to spend, then you can opt for mechanical keyboards (it comes with mechanical spring rather than rubber dome). This type of keyboard have more resistance (which means you may have to press with a bit more effort), but they spring up faster and has better consistency, giving you better typing feel. This mechanism allows users to fully feel when a key is pressed; giving a better feel of the keys that has been registered. Mechanical keyboard uses individually key switches, located beneath each key cap. They feel “click” to press, and has louder sound than your average keyboard. This, if you’re using your computer in a quiet office environment, then this is not a good choice.


They keys don’t wiggle around compared to traditional keyboards, and less likely to stick down. Most people who use this keyboard however, say they will never go back to the standard dome. They are also more durable, as they are designed for hardcore gaming. They are also designed for fast typing, as the keys “pop” back up quicker than any type of key switch. 

(image from Amazon)

Roccat Ryos MK Pro is the brand’s very first mechanical keyboard, and it is top-of-the-line in both hardware and performance criteria, plus, it’s packed with features, such as programmable options, customizable lighting modes, built-in USB for convenience, and audio pass through connections. Keys are also individually backlit.


Buckling-Spring Keyboards

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This is the type of switch commemorated by the IBM Model M, and other older keyboards with “clicky” feel. Keyboards with this type of switch are often mistaken as mechanical keyboards, but they are way different from each other. Bucking-spring keyboards come with a spring underneath its keys. When pressed, the small hammer strikes the rubber dome membrane. Many love the force feedback from springs.

(image from Amazon)

The IBM Keyboard Model M may look ridiculously old-fashioned, but for its loyal fans, it’s the most epic keyboard that ever existed, and way more reliable than many new keyboards in today’s market. This particular model is a rare piece of hardware, both vintage and useful even in today’s modern computing environment, and very durable as well. Underneath each key is an individual spring converts physical force to electronic signal when pressed. It features very responsive tactile feedback, has the most “click” sound in all of different switch types, making it a great choice for typing and coding.

Wired or Wireless

In choosing a keyboard, one of the very first things you need to consider is whether to stick to the traditional wired keyboard, or go wireless. If you want to minimize desk clutter and keep your workstation neat and clean, then wireless is the easiest option. However, it also has its downsides too.

Because they don’t have the cable to transmit power, wireless keyboards work on batteries, which mean they need charging often. If you’re the type of person who forgets to charge your mobile phone each night, then a wireless keyboard may not be a good idea for you.

(image from Amazon)

Another problem about wireless keyboard is choosing between Bluetooth and radio frequency (RF) connectivity. Logitech diNovo Edge and other Bluetooth wireless usually require more power to function, while RF requires significantly less. Also, some cheaper keyboards have problem waking up when you ‘Sleep’ your computer, or keeping paired with your computer.

RF can be more reliable,     but you should know that most of them run at 2.4GHz frequency, which means they can be very susceptible to nearby devices that works at the same frequency levels, such as microwave ovens and cordless phones.

All wireless keyboards, be it Bluetooth or RF, can be susceptible to interference, random key presses, and can disconnect from your computer from time to time. If you want a completely reliable keyboard, then you should stick to wired keyboard.


Extra Functions

Newer keyboards models these days come with extra function keys, which usually correspond to launching apps, volume controls, music player, etc. Most of the time they come as separate buttons, above the normal F1 – F12 keys, or extra action keys on the F1 – F12 keys that gives access through FN key. These extra function keys can come handy, as you can usually assign or remap them to almost anything you want with the software that comes with the keyboard. Keyboard software suite however, aren’t always reliable, but you can always make your own global keyboard shortcuts with apps like AutoHotkey.


More Things to Consider

New models now come with variety of extra features, some brands even have their own unique extra features to make their products special, which means it’s hard to cover them all. Some keyboards come with alternate keyboard layouts, such as Dvorak, while some don’t have number pads, such as USA Majestouch MINILA Air 67, compact and the world's first double function key Bluetooth keyboard.

(image from Amazon)

Some keyboards come with USB ports, a convenient add-on for work use, while there are some with gaming hotkeys and anti-ghosting features, making them an excellent choice for hardcore gamers.

As with other computer hardware, the best way to get a good keyboard is to shop around try them in person. The more keyboards you try, the more informed your decision will be. You can also check out real reviews from popular online stores, such as Amazon.

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