totally ergo.

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My one problem with the standing desk was the height of the keyboard. If I put a keyboard on the lower part of the desk, it’s too low for comfort, because the desk surface is about three inches below my elbow, and I have to bend my wrists up to type. Placing the keyboard on the higher part of the desk where the monitor sits is better for the wrists, but I have nothing to rest my hands on as I type. I tried putting a riser under my regular keyboard, but the angle was still all wrong.

Then I saw this thing at BestBuy and took it for a little test drive. It’s a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. Say what you want about Microsoft, but on occasion they come up with some decent hardware. (Their Optical Trackball, now discontinued, was the best trackball on the market, and used models fetch crazy-high prices on fleaBay whenever they surface.)

At first I hated it. Not the feel, mind you—this is one comfortable keyboard. It has a padded faux leather palmrest, and the size and shape are just right. What I couldn’t get used to at first was the split design. I’m not a touch-typist, and the split layouts are pretty awkward when your fingers routinely cross the center line of the keyboard. But I loved the feel, and Newegg had them on sale for $24.99 with free shipping, so I decided to give one fair shakes for a few days. I put a standard keyboard in front of the monitor as frustration insurance, and gave my hands and fingers some time to readjust to the new keyboard.

On Day Two, I put the other keyboard back in the parts bin, because I was constantly reaching for the split type instead.

The split design works very well (it keeps your hands at their natural alignment angle instead of forcing them to bend to conform to a straight line board), but the killer feature for me is the negative tilt. It comes with a detachable riser piece at the front of the keyboard that tilts the whole affair downward at a reverse slope angle:

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That’s the ideal angle for this particular keyboard shelf on this desk for someone my height.

It’s not perfect—I prefer mechanical keyswitches, and I could do without all the extra buttons at the top that make an already large keyboard about the size of a park bench, but the damn thing is so comfy and works so well that I can forgive its shortcomings. Now I can run around in Skyrim dominate noobs in BF3 compose epic prose in total wrist-and-hand comfort.

7 thoughts on “totally ergo.

  1. Kaerius says:

    I’m a bit surprised with a writer who doesn’t touch type. I’m not a writer but I can touch type. I rarely look at the keyboard while I write. Might have something to do with a long obsession with MUDs back in the 90s.😉

    Never tried a split keyboard though.

  2. David Avera says:

    I’ve used an Natural Ergonomic for several years now as a software developer … keyboarding at least as much as any writer. And it cured my carpal tunnel problems.

  3. Joe V says:

    I can totally relate to the MIcrosoft trackball, which I’m using at this moment. You’re right, a search on the used market shows they’re pretty darned expensive.

  4. The Rock says:

    Honestly, Microsoft has always good, solid, reliable hardware.

    I’ve been a user of the MS ergonomic keyboards for 15? plus years. Every PC at home has one, in fact, except for the laptops.

  5. BobG says:

    I’ve always favored the split keyboard; it feels a lot better on the wrists.

  6. LittleRed1 says:

    Now if only some word processing programs could keep up with people who type quickly or touch type, the would would indeed be a good place.

  7. Gewehr98 says:

    I laid in a stash of the Microsoft Optical Trackballs back in the day, and still use them for both work and home. I’ve also long since upgraded to the Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard from my old white Microsoft Natural version, and refuse to part with it, either. Touch-typing is an absolute dream on either of the split keyboards.

    I’m real close to plonking down coin for a nice used PowerMac G5 Quad for desktop publishing here, but am leery that said machine won’t play nice with the trackball/keyboard combo above when routed through a KVM switch. I need it to share those input devices and the 28″ monitor with my IBM IntelliStation Z-Pro 9228, so this could get interesting…

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