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Kinesis Contoured keyboard

After a particularly grueling last few weeks of hacking away, I'm about to bite the bullet and spend several hundred dollars on a Kinesis Advantage USB Contoured keyboard and Contour Perfit mouse.

Any readers out there switched? Worth the money? How long did it take to establish muscle memory and get back to your former typing speed?

I'm particularly interested in hearing from anyone who's tried and rejected the keyboard...what led you to drop it?


oh my aching wrists
Friday, April 2, 2004

If you have a problem with wrists, see a physician. I've read an account from a man with a similar problem. He spent quite a bit of time and money to get rid of the pain by using exactly this keyboard. Until he gave up, saw a doctor and was cured in a few weeks. "These 'ergonomic' keyboards aren't worth the plastic they're molded of", he wrote.

A programmer
Friday, April 2, 2004

It took me an hour and a half to get accustomed to a MS Natural Keyboard when I changed from a normal one.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 2, 2004

The keyboard is worth every penny I paid for it ($300 at the time.)  I recently sold mine because I mostly work on my laptop these days.  But when I was in college, doing 200-300 tech support emails a day, the Kinesis Contoured kb saved my hands...  Can't say enough about it, and I wish I could embed one into my laptop ;-)

Friday, April 2, 2004

Don't forget to add on footpedals for commonly used key actions!  And I hear they are also working on an anal sensor input device that can translate butt-crunching into Ctrl-Alt-Del.

Friday, April 2, 2004

Don't have a lot of aches or pains, but I use the MS Natural keyboard, too, and I am very used to that.  I also use the Logitech Trackman Wheel mouse.  That Kenesis keyboard looks a little too ergo for me, but its probably one of those "when you get used to it" kind of things.  Everyone at work here gives me crap for using the keyboard and mouse that I do.

One other thing you might want to think about is the position of your keyboard and mouse.  I've got this tray thing that is adjustable and I have it set at a height that feels very natural.  When I go home and use the temporary computer desk (building a house, my stuff's in storage) I get sore a lot faster.

Clay Whipkey
Friday, April 2, 2004

I have a basic kinesis and I'll second that recomendation. If a keyboard can help you, this one probably will. But you may just need to see a doctor.

Mike Swieton
Friday, April 2, 2004

I've been tempted by those keyboards myself.

My main problem was the mouse though, and I switched to the Microsoft Trackball Explorer which is *excellent*, helped me, and comes highly recommended.

David B. Wildgoose
Friday, April 2, 2004

I firmly believe that I would not be able to do my job without this keyboard. I've actually purchased three of them: a Classic for home on a PC (four years ago), a Classic for work on a PC, and an Advantage USB recently for use with my Powerbook. Except for one of my cats gnawing on a cable all have held up very well, and I take one with me whenever I'm going to be typing more than an hour or two.

And if you think this is expensive, try not being able to work for an extended period of time...

More here:

Chris Winters
Friday, April 2, 2004

I highly recommend the Kinesis.  I've been using it for 5+ years (home and work).

Friday, April 2, 2004

I've been experiencing a sudden increase in RSI symptoms, particularly in my right elbow, shoulder, and wrist.  I spent some time analyzing how I work, and came to the initial conclusion that the problem is cause by constantly reaching for the mouse, cursor keys and page-up/down etc.  Also, scrolling through documents using the mouse wheel and GUI scroll bars (i.e. holding that reach and making small movements) seems particularly aggravating.

So after some research I bought one of these last weekend:

It combines mouse and text-cursor pointing, a zero-force keyboard, and a really cool gesture system.  The user's hands need never move away from the keyboard  It also has great support for programmers - a code punctuation pad and even a set of gestures for Emacs.

It’s fully customizable, and even has an SDK that allows users to write cool features (shades of Minority Report):

Googling for 'TouchStream' finds several reviews and blog entries.  Most users loved it, a few have problems (usually slower typing wpm due to inaccuracies at the outset) but often say they plan to stick with it anyway due to reduction/removal of RSI pain. 

I've used mine 8 hours a day for 3 days now, and I think it's fantastic. Obviously it’s much slower to work with at the start, but my rate of improvement suggests that shouldn't be a problem for long.  It might not work for everyone, but the pain in my right arm completely disappeared on the first day, and hasn't returned, despite some unavoidable new tension while I'm getting used to the new movements. That's so absurdly dramatic that I wonder that the manufacturer doesn't make stronger claims about reducing RSI than they do.

I bought mine from as they had the lowest price I could find, much lower than the manufacturer:
(Disclosure: I work for These are my own opinions, not those of the company, .etc, .etc)

BTW if anyone is learning or polishing their touch-typing then I've found this software very useful:

The Kenesis was amongst the also-rans that I looked at. The Maltron is another interesting alternative (rejected as I'd still have to reach for the mouse):

This one is narrow to reduce reach for the mouse, but they moved page-up, page-down, home and end!

These are good ideas, but I don't like the thumb-strain of trackballs/pads (and I'd still have to reach for cursor keys and page-up/down, home/end etc)

This sounds great (despite the certainty of being laughed at). However, it's really for typing english prose.  They manufacturer admits that programmers find it very awkward.

Here's a comparative review of a few options, which the TouchStream won.,1558,1034116,00.asp

I hope this helps someone.


Chris Newcombe
Friday, April 2, 2004

I've been using an MS Natural Keyboard for at least the last couple years, at both work and home, but I recently started getting twinges in my right hand that seemed to be saying "This is your last warning before we start causing you major pain."

So I got one of these:

Not the tablet I'd get if I were a graphic artist, but at under $40, definitely worth it for alternate input.  I was going to get one at work too, but then I got laid off so the issue became irrelevant.  :(

Friday, April 2, 2004

I've got a MS Natural, but I've got it set back on a 30" high desk so that my forearms are completely supported by the desk.  I've got the mouse positioned directly between me and keyboard.  It vastly reduces the amount my arm has to move to reach it (and since if doesn't force my arm to go way off into right field I avoid shoulder pain). 

If the mouse position sounds odd, just rotate it counter-clockwise 90 degrees and it will sit at the same angle that your hand naturally does when held in that position (close to your chest).  Since mouse movements are all in the wrist and forearm the 90 degree adjustment is quite natural.

I read about this setup in some ergononmics article in some magazine several years ago and fell in love once I tried it. 

Ken Klose
Saturday, April 3, 2004

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