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Best natural kyboard?

The title is self-explanatory.  What are the pros/cons of the different brands?  Any carpal tunnel (or general wrist-ache) reduction success stories?

Yet another anon
Sunday, August 15, 2004

My warning is that Microsoft Natural Keyboards, and I assume natural keyboards in general, are addictive.  They feel great on fingers and you get cranky with anything else... the problem is that you'll find you need to type on other normal keyboards an awful lot.

Reply to "Best natural kyboard?"
Sunday, August 15, 2004

I'm trying to go back to a normal keyboard. With a natural keyboard, you can do REALLY well. But not everwhere you will find a natural keyboard. And when you won't, your life would be terrible.

So during this transition phase, I'm using a keyboard which is similar to a normal keyboard with a bit slanted keys :-)

Humpty Dumpty
Sunday, August 15, 2004

Obviously "kyboard" should be "keyboard".

So the only bad thing about natural keyboards is that they're so good you never want to use anything else?

Yet another anon
Sunday, August 15, 2004

http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?KinesisKeyboard

John Rusk
Sunday, August 15, 2004

I doubt you'll get a definitive answer here -- few people have tried all the ergo keyboards (and other input devices) out there, or even a fraction of them.  Especially because they tend to be low-volume, high-cost devices. Also, everyone's physiology and work patterns are different.

That said -- I love my Kinesis contoured keyboard, and wouldn't work without it.
http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/contoured.htm
In my early twenties I started getting twinges in my wrists at the end of the day; after switching to the Kinesis, I can type all day and not notice a thing.

It does take a couple of weeks to adjust to it, but after that it feels remarkably natural to use.  The design largely forces you to use a "correct" touch-typing technique, which was a good thing for a self-taught typist like me.  Also, it's not a problem switching back to normal keyboards when I need to.

The other great thing is that all the keys are remappable, in the keyboard itself, so you can easily rearrange things to suit your preferences, add macros, etc.

They are somewhat expensive, but they're built great -- I've got 6+ years on mine and it's still good as new.  Plus I figure that just one visit to a wrist specialist would cost me more.

xil
Sunday, August 15, 2004

Here's another huge endorsement for the Kinesis Ergo. I couldn't do my job without it.

More: http://cwinters.com/search/?keywords=kinesis

Chris Winters
Sunday, August 15, 2004

Humpty - why you switching back?

Philo

Philo
Monday, August 16, 2004

It's easy to get yourself a natural keyboard at work - find the poor sod that for some reason had one sitting in his cube when he started work, and offer to switch - 99% of the time, he/she will be glad to be rid of it.

Harder, I find, is finding a free thumb-guided trackball for work to match the one I have at home.

Greg Hurlman
Monday, August 16, 2004

I used a MS natural keyboard for several years, and while it was comfortable on the hands, I did find that my accuracy suffered a bit. Interestingly my newer keyboards, and work keyboards, for a couple of years now have been standard form -- Going back to the natural hurts like hell. I happened to use the natural keyboard on my wife's PC for a few moments while installing SP2 the other night, and it absolutely killed my fingers (a pain that lasted all night).

Learn the Dvorak keyboard layout.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, August 16, 2004

Hmm, isn't the trackball problem solvable with USB keyboards that have a little hub you can connect to?

Incidentally, don't forget to have a PS/2 keyboard lying around somewhere, since you may occasionally be in the frustrating situation where your OS doesn't recognize your USB keyboard. (This happens with my Win2k setup.) As a present, I got one of those blue waterproof/foldable keyboards, which is light and works perfect for those situations. I also have a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard that has a split USB/PS2 connector.

Without having yet used the Kinesis, my personal favorite is the horribly discontinued Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro. I have a few of them. Only flaw is I can't disable the sleep button through software. Helped when I got that uh-oh feeling with my previous keyboard, and I decided not to take any chances.

I wish it had a final increment of "snappiness," that special feel where the keys are live with energy, but it's quite close.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Monday, August 16, 2004

Oh incidentally, I hear this is one of those issues where everyone is completely different, so YMMV.

A friend was happy with Dvorak keyboard. Seems happy with that on a regular 12" Apple iBook keyboard.

I need to do those wrist exercises more, I think. See jwz's page for info...

Tayssir John Gabbour
Monday, August 16, 2004

The Microsoft Natural Multimedia keyboards have remapped all the function keys (to things like open, reply, print, etc..).

You can get the keys to act normal by pushing an 'F lock' key but it always gets redefaulted back when you reboot.

Its annoying.

CharlesC
Monday, August 16, 2004

CharlesC-- someone has a program to keep them mapped correctly.

People moving back even though they like an ergo keyboard--huh? Are you going to replace your nice desk chair with a plastic stool in case you get stuck somewhere temporily which doesn't have desk chairs? How much time do you spend typing intensively outside of your normal work? (My answer: my home computer is a laptop. But if I really need to type for long periods of time on it, I plug in a MS Natural Keyboard (the long-discontinuted original one))

mb
Monday, August 16, 2004

I have two Kinesis Advantage Pro, one at work, one at home.  After 15 years of intense typing, I was getting very sore at the keyboard.  The MS keyboards were definitely an improvement over the twisted-wrist position of a stupid rectangular keyboard, but it wasn't enough.  With the Kinesis, the pain is absolutely GONE.  I also like the quick reach to the mouse, with no worthless keypad block to jump over.  (I can configure the included pedal to turn the keys under my right hand into a keypad.)

It's damned expensive, but far cheaper than the surgery it will help avoid, and the massive loss of income should I lose the ability to type.  I'd pay 5 times as much without blinking.  I wish the modifier key layout under the thumbs was totally symmetrical.  Some of my tools have combination sequences that are cumbersome on the Kinesis, so I needed to change them from the defaults, but that's only been for a few commands.

The Kinesis does take about a month to acclimate to, so don't buy it when you're in a crunch time.  And that month will stretch out to more if you try to switch back and forth while you're learning it.  Once you're used to it, other keyboards are freaky for a few moments, but unless you're a physical retard, you'll be able to switch back and forth freely.  I now use my laptop at cafes with no great loss in proficiency.  I find the comments above about switching back to rectangular torture devices to be quite specious.

HappyWrists
Monday, August 16, 2004

I read about something I think that was called "the orb" that was pretty amazing. You typed without moving your hands at all. Something like $300 USD... turned me off.

Interface Devices for the Soul
Monday, August 16, 2004

There has been a number of previous posts about keyboards you may find helpful

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=133110&ixReplies=23

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=101434&ixReplies=43

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=83671&ixReplies=29

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=67967&ixReplies=28

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=3070&ixReplies=20

DJ
Monday, August 16, 2004

Has anybody tried the "SmartBoard"?

First it was made by these guys:

http://www.darwinkeyboards.com/smart_core.htm

And then these guys apparently bought the design but can't seem to ever get them to market:

http://www.datadesktech.com/desktop_sb_start.html

Just curious...

Tim Lara
Monday, August 16, 2004

I'd strongly recommend the TouchStream LP.  Unusual, but amazing...

http://www.fingerworks.com/

This is my review on Amazon...

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0001597YO/qid=1092180435/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl23/103-7333764-0254245?v=glance&s=electronics&n=507846

(When they're in stock, Amazon often have these on sale at $264. Caveat; I work for Amazon.  Therefore; "My opinions are not necessarily those of my employeer, etc.").

It's been several months since I wrote that review, and I like the TouchStream more than ever.  Here's a recent post about tabbed-browser interaction:

http://forums.fingerworks.com/showthread.php?s=76ee2956aa1ebc0ef63b8a24671cef60&threadid=656

Chris

Chris Newcombe
Monday, August 16, 2004

I like keyboards

Larry
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I like big butts.

muppet
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Why  doesn't Humpty just keep a Natural Keyboard in his car for those gigs where he doesn't get one provided.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

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