It Can Change Your Life…
It’s a good idea to change your computer keyboard. Or; at the least, it’s not a bad one.
If your wrists hurt, or if your fingers complain with every keystroke, then you should change your keyboard. Even if you simply don’t find it comfortable to type on your keyboard, then it’s time to find a new keyboard.
Yes, you can do this. It’s easy to do, usually inexpensive, and you can do it yourself – without calling in your computer guy. The right keyboard for you can make a difference in your comfort, your efficiency and your well-being. You’ll type faster and the process can ease the stress on your hands and wrists that comes from repetitive motion. Even if you use a laptop for most or all of your work, you can easily add a separate, more comfortable full-sized keyboard to use when you are in your office or at home.
But how do you choose what will work best for you? What are the options available?
The first thing to know is that keyboards are electronically standardized, so that you can take any keyboard that you like and plug it into your computer and it will automatically work.
This goes for Mac, Windows and Linux too.
Keyboard types: things to look for. All computer keyboards have a basic 84 or 101 key set. You can get them in different colors and with different key arrangements, but the things that set them apart from each other are: special functions, keyboard mechanics, alternate shapes.
The shape of a keyboard can be very important when it comes to comfort and speed. From left-to-right, most keyboards have the keys arranged in a straight line. From top-to-bottom of the keyboard, they may be perfectly flat or they may have a slight dished shape so that, for touch typing, your fingers don’t have as far to go to reach the upper number row or the lower “Z” row. This top-to-bottom curve is an ergonomic feature usually found on better keyboards.
Another type of ergonomic feature is a “split” or “natural” keyboard. The keyboard is actually split in half, top-to-bottom, and slightly bent upward between the two halves. This makes it so that your arms and wrists can be positioned more naturally straight from your elbows to your fingertips. This shape helps to reduce repetitive stress on your wrists, hands and fingers. It takes some getting used to, but users report much more comfort and improved typing speed.
Not only is the mechanics of the keyboard hidden from view, but, the fact is, it’s usually just not a very important consideration. But if you’d like a keyboard with a different “feel” – that does or doesn’t click when you press it, or that needs more, or less, pressure to make it go – then the inner workings can make a difference for you.
The mechanics can also make a difference if you have issues with touch stemming from arthritis, repetitive stress injury, or other such. Some keyboards require less “throw” to activate a key, and that by itself can make a huge difference for some users.
The only way to find out if that may be the case, of course, is to try out different keyboards and see how they feel for you. That’s easier than it may sound. The big office supply stores, like Staples or Office Max almost always have 8 to 12 keyboards out on display. Computer stores and department stores, even the big ones, rarely have as useful a display. (You might want to take a bottle of hand sanitizer along.)
Special functions are not so important when it comes to comfort and joint well-being, but they can be useful if your computer is mostly used for multimedia (playing or editing video or audio), or game-playing. Other special function types include features for game-play or for social media services (Facebook and Twitter and so on). If any of these features might be useful to you, search online for examples to look for when you’re out shopping.
Don’t worry if the keyboard that you like comes in a set with a mouse. Mice will also automatically work on any computer: Windows or Mac.
As always, I hope this is useful. Give me a call anytime if I can help you pick out a keyboard.
Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy
This article is sponsored by a generous donation from M&S of Pawling. http://www.mandsofpawling.com/