2 min read

Truly Ergonomic?

I have previously written about my initial impressions of my recently acquired Truly Ergonomic keyboard. They were mostly positive, but at the time I was not able to say anything about the ergonomic claims of the keyboard without becoming used to the thing. Now that I have had a chance to use the keyboard daily in a few different environments I am pleased to report on my findings. Generally speaking, this is definitely one of the better keyboards in terms of ergonomic comfort and typing efficiency. The layout has few changes, but these changes manage to effect significant ergonomic gains.

Proceeding inward from the macro to the micro, let us first consider the form factor in general and the dimensions of the keyboard as a whole. In particular, many ergonomic keyboards including the Kinesis Advantage, Maltron, Microsoft Natural, and most in-store boards are large, if not larger than a normal board. This makes mousing rather difficult, and forces more use of the keyboard. Many claim that this is a good thing, but I am convinced that proper mousing in the right context is both more efficient and more gentle. If the mouse is too far away, the mouse cannot be used properly. The TEK is very narrow compared to other systems and thus makes mousing much easier.

Initially, I was not sure of the angle of the straight/column aligned keys, but now that I have used it more, I think the angle quite good. The column aligned keys took some more practice to master, but are excellent for minimizing large travel of the hands.

Overall, the layout of the alphanumeric keys is excellent, but what of the modifier keys? These are placed at the sides of the keyboard in a uniform manner. This uniformity makes it much easier to use these keys, kecause they are uniformly large. The placement of the shift keys seems strange at first, but its practice bears up quite nicely under longer term scrutiny, partially because moving the shift keys up on the keyboard not only makes the shift nicer and easier to use but also improves the accessibility of the other modifier keys, since they now have more room below.

There are a few keys which have less appeal. In particular, the tilde key is the hardest key to reach among those keys that might be reached while still maintaining some tactile connection to the home row. On the whole however, the positions of the keys is remarkably conservative while being impressively superior to the traditional layout, especially if one considers hand usage balance.

Finally, the key switches are as light and pleasant as promised. I think these switches are pretty standard, so I will say only that they deserve the respect they receive among mechanical key switch enthusiasts.

In summary, the TEK is a deceptively clever keyboard with good ergonomics and only a few minor inconveniences. It is among the most ergonomic of keyboards for either the price, form factor, or in general. I can heartily recommend this keyboard for anyone who wants a good keyboard that is affordable and yet still in the top leagues of ergonomics.