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Best ergonomic keyboard 2021: Type with speed, style and comfort

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Tired of aching wrists, hunched shoulders, finger cramps and mysterious pains? Sort them out with an ergonomic keyboard

If you spend most of your working days or nights at a desk in front of a computer, then a decent keyboard is an absolute must. Even if you work on a laptop you should at least consider an external keyboard, which will help you get in a more comfortable working position and save you some minor aches and pains. That goes double if you invest in an ergonomic keyboard.

These are designed to encourage better posture, support your palms and wrists, and push you towards good typing habits that could help you avoid some serious issues aggravated by poor keyboard use.

The dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome might not be one of them – numerous studies have found that the mouse is a more likely culprit – but keyboard mis-use can increase the risk of RSI and tendonitis, while contributing to painful inflammation in the elbows, shoulders, neck and back.

If you’re prone to arthritis, excessive use of an uncomfortable keyboard isn’t likely to help that, either. Switching to an ergonomic keyboard can help you reduce these risks.

How to choose the best ergonomic keyboard for you

What should you look for in an ergonomic keyboard?

Ergonomic keyboards are built to support your hands while typing and encourage a good posture, often through a split design. Many feature an integral wrist or palm support, and have keys that have been engineered to give plenty of feedback without requiring excess force to activate.

The split design doesn’t work for everyone. The theory is that it stops you hunching so much over the keyboard and encourages your shoulders and elbows to adopt a natural posture, while your hands and wrists are supported by the curved design and built-in supports. Ideally, every key is in easy reach of a finger so you can touch type with the minimum of movement from your hands. However, some people find the split layout confusing, and it’s often worse if you rely on two or three fingers and a thumb to type or have what some call a “hunt and peck” style.

The best way around this is just to commit and let your fingers and brain adjust over a week or so, but if that’s a struggle then there are still some great ergonomic keyboards that don’t use a split layout, and focus more on wrist or palm support and the action of the keys.

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Wired or wireless?

As with mice and headsets, there’s a trend towards wireless over wired keyboards from the leading manufacturers. Given that you usually don’t move an ergonomic keyboard too much this is more a nice-to-have than a must-have, but it means one fewer cable stretching across your desk. What’s more, you can often share a USB dongle with a mouse from the same manufacturer, and battery life tends to be good: a pair of AA or AAA batteries will usually cover you for a year or more. Finally, Bluetooth wireless keyboards can often be shared between a few devices – some even feature easy one-button switching – so that you can use the same ergonomic keyboard across, say, a laptop, desktop or convertible PC.

READ NEXT: The best wireless mouse

Traditional or flat?

As with conventional desktop and laptop keyboards, ergonomic keyboards are drifting more towards the flat, chiclet style, for a lighter keypress with less travel that requires less weight or power to actuate. However, you can still find some great ergonomic models that use a more traditional keycap and either a membrane or mechanical switch. So, if you want to longer travel, louder clicks and more feedback, that’s definitely an option.

Is there anything else worth looking out for?

Keyboards may not be a major factor in carpal tunnel syndrome, but a comfortable wrist or palm rest that takes the pressure off your wrists is a definite plus. As with any keyboard, you might also find a numeric keypad or extra function or macro keys useful, depending on the applications you use and the kind of work you might be doing every day.

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The best ergonomic keyboards to buy in 2021

1. Logitech Ergo K860: The best ergonomic keyboard

Price: £109 | Buy now from Amazon

Logitech’s K860 takes the classic split design but goes all out on adding extra comfort everywhere it can. The layout is split down the middle and humped to promote a neutral typing position, and this combined with the light but wonderfully responsive key action make it easy on the elbows and the shoulders and an absolute treat for the fingers – at least, once you’ve acclimatised. Your wrists aren’t left out, either, with a deep, memory foam wrist rest sitting inside a knitted fabric cover, which gives you a luxurious feeling of support.

The Ergo K860 can pair with up to three devices at once, switching between them at a key tap, and if you use a Logitech mouse and Logitech’s Flow software, you can flick from one compatible computer to the other by mousing over to the next screen. It’s one party trick you’ll never tire of. It’s an expensive keyboard, but nothing else feels quite like it. Only the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic, with its space-saving separate numeric keypad, comes close.

Key specs – Type: Split-key chiclet; Special features: Customisable function keys, Logitech Flow; Connections: 2.4GHz USB dongle, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 456 x 233 x 48mm; Weight: 1.16kg

2. Kensington Pro Fit Ergo: The best budget ergonomic keyboard

Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

The Pro Fit Ergo is a slightly cheaper alternative to the Microsoft and Logitech split keyboards, and can be purchased solo or in a bundle with the matching Pro Fit Ergo mouse. It’s a very decent effort, with a slightly less pronounced hump where the keys split, but still plenty of support for a good working posture and a comfortably padded wrist rest. As a bonus, both the wrist rest and the keys themselves are spill-resistant and wipe clean, so there’s no need to panic if you tip over your coffee or your beverage fizzes out from the can.

There’s much to like here, including the choice of Bluetooth and 2.4GHz connections and being able to switch between them with a flick of a switch. The USB receiver can be replaced if lost or damaged, and it will run from a pair of AAA batteries for up to two years over the 2.4GHz connection and a further six months if you stick to Bluetooth. In fact, the only grumble is that, while there’s plenty of travel, the feel is soft and loose. On its own it’s far from bad, but it doesn’t quite hit the same mark of quality as the Microsoft and Logitech competition.

Key specs – Type: Split-key chiclet; Special features: Spill-proof and wipe clean; Connections: 2.4GHz USB dongle, Bluetooth; Dimensions: 482 x 252 x 38mm; Weight: 1kg

3. Razer Pro Type Ultra: The best mechanical ergonomic keyboard

Price: £160 | Buy now from Razer

Feeling foxed by split designs? Looking for a more traditional keyboard? The Razer Pro Type Ultra should be right up your street. Razer has combined the switches and smarts of its gaming keyboards with an incredibly comfortable plush wrist rest, delivering a keyboard that’s incredibly easy on the wrists and palms, and where each key goes down and clicks with what feels like the perfect amount of pressure. If you’re happy with a bit of travel, your fingers will just dance across the keytops, and while Razer might be pushing things calling the switches ‘silent’, they’re definitely at the quieter end of the spectrum.

The rapid response and clicky action also make this a great gaming keyboard, while the customisable white backlight allows you to set the brightness level through Razer’s software or turn on a cool pulsing effect. You might want to turn the brightness down in daytime use, as it makes the keytop legends hard to read. Razer’s HyperShift feature is also a plus, enabling you to set up shortcuts and macros and assign them to a custom key combination. This is one expensive ergonomic keyboard, but it’s one of the best non-split models we’ve tested.

Key specs – Type: Traditional mechanical; Special features: Customisable white backlight, Hypershift keys, leatherette wrist rest; Connections: Bluetooth 4, USB, Razer Hyperspeed 2.4GHz USB dongle; Dimensions: 475 x 182 x 18mm; Weight: 1.3kg

4. Perixx Periboard 512: The best cheap ergonomic keyboard

Price: £38 | Buy now from Amazon

The Periboard 512 is well established as one of the better budget ergonomic keyboards. You’ll have to do without premium features like wireless connectivity or a padded wrist rest, but there’s nothing wrong with the wave-shaped, split design or the layout of the keys. Just be aware that you can’t use it with the wrist rest tilted upwards, which can help alleviate conditions caused by pressure on the wrists.

It’s solidly built despite the price, and while the keys have a slightly loose and rattly action, it’s easy enough to get used to and the split spacebar doesn’t need to be slammed down. In some areas, particularly on the left-hand side of the keyboard, it’s crisper than the Kensington Pro Fit Ergo. That’s still a better option overall if you can pay a little more, but if you’re getting some discomfort and you’re strapped for cash, the Periboard 512 has you covered.

Key specs – Type: Split-key traditional; Special features: Multimedia hotkeys; Connections: USB cable; Dimensions: 485 x 236 x 50mm; Weight: 1.04kg

5. Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Desk set: Great ergonomics, no split design

Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

Microsoft’s Sculpt Comfort keyboard gives you most of the benefits of the classic ergonomic keyboard, only without the split design. You still get the curved layout and hump to encourage a more natural and comfortable posture, but without the need to spend a week or so reconfiguring your muscle memory so that you don’t hit V every time you mean to press C and you’re not constantly mistyping.

In terms of the feel, it’s not quite up there with the more expensive Logitech or Microsoft options. It uses traditional raised keys with a decent level of travel, but they’re not as firm or clicky as the keys on a decent mechanical keyboard. There’s also no Bluetooth connectivity or multi-device support. However, it’s fairly cheap even though you’ll have to buy it bundled with Microsoft’s matching Sculpt Comfort mouse, and we like the adjustable tilt, comfortable wrist rest and cool split spacebar, where the left half can moonlight as a backspace.

Key specs – Type: Traditional membrane; Special features: Switchable function keys, dual-function space bar; Connections: 2.4GHz USB dongle; Dimensions: 468 x 228 x 48mm; Weight: 1.24kg

6. Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic: The best value ergonomic keyboard

Price: £70 (with Sculpt Ergonomic mouse) | Buy now from Amazon

The big selling point of Microsoft’s best ergonomic keyboard is that it’s almost as good as the Logitech Ergo K860, but significantly cheaper – even when you buy it in a bundle with the Sculpt Ergonomic mouse (at the time of writing, this is cheaper than the keyboard on its own). It doesn’t connect over Bluetooth or allow you to connect with more than one computer at a time, but at least a single 2.4Ghz USB dongle has you covered for the whole desktop set.

This one adopts the chiclet style and packs it into a compact, numeric-pad-free layout. Microsoft bundles a separate numeric pad, but you don’t need to take up any desk space with it if you never plan to use it. Otherwise, we might grumble about the tiny function keys and the slightly cramped spacing near the edges, but there’s nothing you won’t acclimatise to within a day or two. The action is excellent, with plenty of travel, a minimum of rattle and a nice degree of bounce-back as you type. The Logitech is even better, with its impressively solid and consistent feel, but it’s a bit like hankering for a Porsche when you’ve only got the budget for a perfectly capable Toyota, VW or Ford. It might not be the best available, but it could be the best you’ll happily afford.

Key specs - Type: Split-key chiclet; Special features: Separate numeric pad; Connections: 2.4GHz USB dongle; Dimensions: 392 x 228 x 35mm; Weight: 842g

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