If buying an ergonomic keyboard to keep my wrists and fingers comfortable while typing for hours on end, I’d get the ~$71 Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard (there’s also a ~$84 version with a mouse). Out of 15 ergonomic keyboards I researched and the nine I tested, the Sculpt was most comfortable thanks to a great wristpad design, a removable negative-slope attachment and chiclet keys that should feel familiar to anyone who owns a laptop today. When I’m not gaming, I’d rather use this keyboard than any other keyboard I’ve ever owned or tested.
The Sculpt Ergonomic isn’t perfect, though. The keyboard’s keys don’t feel as good as mechanical keys, though they’re still much better than most membrane keys. The function and escape keys are also smaller than I’d like, and not everyone is a fan of the split-off number pad, though I think this is an important trade-off for the keyboard’s ergonomics, as it allows you to place your mouse closer to the main keyboard (which we discuss later on).
The Kinesis Freestyle 2 is highly customizable, but it’s too pricey to be best for most people.
As a step up, we also like the Kinesis Freestyle2. It takes the split keyboard concept even further by allow you to detach the two sides and angle them independently to perfectly suit your hands. When paired with the Kinesis’s VIP3 accessory, this keyboard is a joy to type on, but the $134 price tag may be more than you’re willing to spend. If our main pick is sold out, we strongly recommend that you either wait for the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic to come back in stock or consider springing for the Kinesis if you’re already injured and can’t wait.
We don’t think any of the other ergonomic keyboards we tested are worth spending your money on, so in the off chance you absolutely can’t wait, can’t find our pick or the step up, and need a keyboard right now, a standard keyboard (like our favorite Bluetooth keyboard) may be a better option.
There’s no conclusive evidence that using an ergonomic keyboard can prevent [RSI or carpal tunnel syndrome].
I don’t recommend any of these keyboards as a keyboard to prevent the onset of repetitive stress injury (RSI) or carpal tunnel syndrome, however. While researching ergonomic keyboards, I discovered that there’s no conclusive evidence that using an ergonomic keyboard long term can prevent those types of injuries, though they can make your typing experience more comfortable if you’re already injured. (More detail on this in the “Intro to Keyboard Ergonomics” section below.) The truth is, any manufacturer can slap an “ergonomic” sticker on their product without actually guaranteeing that it’s ergonomic. By itself, the word doesn’t ensure anything.
How we picked which keyboards to test
To learn about ergonomic keyboards, I talked to Professor Alan Hedge, director of Cornell University’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group. Hedge educated me on all of the issues that are important in good ergonomic keyboard design, but more importantly, he told me about other issues that have a greater effect on health and productivity than the keyboard itself: desk height, posture, and angle of the keyboard relative to the body.
That said, a comfortable keyboard can make your daily computer time more pleasant, so I set out to find the most comfortable keyboard that adhered to the principles of smart ergonomic design.
Scouring the Internet for ergonomic keyboards wasn’t as difficult as I expected. There aren’t that many companies that make ergonomic keyboards, so a few hours of searching gave me a list of 15 different models. The only ergonomic keyboards I deliberately left off the list were extreme variations on the standard keyboard design or older models from companies I was already testing. For example, I didn’t include Microsoft’s old Natural keyboard, released in 2003, because I was testing two much newer models.
The tactile clickiness of mechanical keyboards is great, but ergonomic mechanical keyboards are prohibitively expensive.
As for extreme variations: there weren’t many of those, but I decided not to test a vertical keyboard like the SafeType. While a vertical design may provide some relief to people already suffering from severe RSI or carpal tunnel issues, it’s not going to be the most comfortable ergonomic condition for most people who are used to standard keyboard layouts.
With my list established, I eliminated a couple models for poor user reviews and decided against testing three mechanical ergonomic keyboards. The tactile clickiness of mechanical keyboards is great, but ergonomic mechanical keyboards are prohibitively expensive. They cost between $250 and $300 while the rest of the keyboards I tested cost far less (from $20 to $120 or so). We called in eight ergonomic keyboards, plus a very barebones regular keyboard, the $9 AmazonBasics model, as sort of a control keyboard. Would the ergonomic models be more comfortable?
Instead of testing these alone and being the sole arbiter of comfort, I had Will Smith and Norman Chan of Tested use the keyboards as well, and we each kept track of what we thought of each keyboard. We used each keyboard for at least a day of writing, emailing, and web browsing. Some keyboards we used for several days or even weeks. For each keyboard, we considered some specific criteria:
Did the keyboard’s design uphold the basics of keyboard ergonomics (see below), putting our wrists at the correct position and angle? Was the size of the keyboard and its wrist rest comfortable?
How difficult is it to adjust to the ergonomic layout from a standard keyboard layout? How was our typing performance after an adjustment period?
How did the keys feel? Were the membrane keys squishy or satisfyingly firm and clicky?
All of these criteria affect the comfort of the keyboarding experience. Some of them are subjective, as they should be—what each of us found comfortable was part of the testing process. However, I discovered that most of the ergonomic keyboards we tested failed to uphold some of the ergonomic principles I discussed with Alan Hedge, which played a big part in eliminating those keyboards from serious contention. After a few weeks of testing, we had ruled out most of the nine, leaving two top contenders: the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic and the Kinesis Freestyle2.
Microsoft’s Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard is lightweight, small, and, due to its split design and chiclet keyboard, extremely pleasant to type on.
The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic was my all-around favorite ergonomic keyboard out of the nine models I tested. It excelled in every criterion I tested it against. The split design kept my wrists straight, and the chiclet keys feel high-quality, like a good laptop keyboard. Also, its compact design and separate number pad means that your mousing arm will never be at an awkward angle. The Sculpt Ergonomic has a large, curved pad along the front that kept my wrists from getting sore. The curved shape of the keyboard actually kept my wrists from resting heavily on the pad, which is ideal.
Norm agreed that the Sculpt Ergonomic was the best keyboard we tested once we factored in its under-$90 price tag.
Will thought it was a great keyboard, too, but didn’t like it as much as his oldMicrosoft Natural Ergonomic 4000, largely because he’s grown familiar with that keyboard over years of use. Because the Sculpt Ergonomic is a smaller, lighter keyboard with chiclet keys and a tweaked layout, I’m confident in saying the Sculpt Ergonomic is a successor to the Ergonomic 4000 and the one you should consider if you had to buy something today.
The split key design did take about two days to adjust to, but Microsoft’s research and testing helped mitigate that. Keys along the middle split (like T, G, Y, H, and N) are wider so they’ll be easier to press depending on where your fingers rest. I discovered that I actually pressed a few keys with the “wrong” fingers by default and had to relearn the proper motion to press them.
Unlike some of the other ergonomic keyboards that we tested, Microsoft preserved the typical placement and shape of keys like Ctrl and Shift. Microsoft’s keyboard also has a great range of function keys tied to the F1-F12 buttons. A toggleable switch enables the Function buttons or the shortcuts for playing and pausing music, changing volume, opening the calculator, and so on.
The most important criterion I considered while using the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic was its ergonomic design—whether it followed the ergonomic principles Hedge and I discussed and whether it remained comfortable to type on after an extended period of time. The split design kept my wrists straight, rather than angled inwards. Due to the height of my desk, I typically used the keyboard without its negative tilt attachment. Ideally, that attachment would keep my wrists level, and angled slightly downward. But my desk was high enough that my hands remained level as I was typing, and in regular use over about two weeks of testing I never felt any wrist fatigue.
While testing, Will said that he loved the keyboard with the negative tilt on. Norm made a similar observation, writing “when used on a low desk, favored typing with the riser bar attached, keeping hands basically hovering over the keys. On my high standing desk, [I] kept the riser bar off.”
The average cheap keyboard may feel okay until you’ve experienced a mechanical keyboard; clicky, tactile mechanical keys feel the best to type on.
The Sculpt Ergonomic is one of the most compact keyboards we tested, since Microsoft cut off the number pad. The size of the keyboard is important, as Hedge explained above: if the keyboard is too wide, it will force your mouse arm too far to the right, which is just as bad for your arm and wrist as a downward wrist angle on a keyboard. A keyboard without a ten-key number pad is better than one with a numpad attached. Unlike most padfree keyboards, though, the Sculpt Ergonomic includes a separate wireless keypad that you can use if you need to enter a lot of numbers.
The second most important consideration was how the keys of Microsoft’s keyboard felt to type on. Many of the ergonomic keyboards I tested used squishy rubber dome membrane keys, which is the most common and inexpensive key type. The average cheap keyboard may feel okay until you’ve experienced a mechanical keyboard; clicky, tactile mechanical keys feel the best to type on. The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic uses chiclet keys like Apple’s MacBooks, which feel more tactile than typical membrane keyboards even though they use similar technology. Many of us have gotten used to the feel of laptop keyboards over the past decade, and the Sculpt Ergonomic instantly feels familiar and comfortable to type on.
I love typing on this keyboard. I prefer mechanical keys, but those are just too expensive in ergonomic designs. The Sculpt Ergonomic felt far better to type on than any of the other keyboards, except our step up pick below. After adjusting to the Sculpt Ergonomic, you’ll hate going back to old squishy membrane keys.
Will and Norm both agreed about the feel of the keys. “Love the feel of the material that they made the keys out of. Has a very satisfying texture,” Will wrote.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, price helped me pick the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic as the Wirecutter’s top choice. The keyboard alone costs about $71 on Amazon or about $84 for a desktop set that includes an ergonomic mouse. It’s much cheaper than my next favorite ergo keyboard, the Kinesis Freestyle2, and more comfortable and better ergonomically designed than any of the other keyboards I tested. At $71, it’s also within the average price range of many wireless keyboards from Logitech.
Spending twice as much on our $134 step-up pick will get you more precise control of keyboard angle and position for each hand, and most sub-$50 ergonomic keyboards typically feel cheap, are unpleasant to type on, and lack negative tilt attachments. There’s one $40 ergo keyboard we recommend if you can get past the dated design and lack of a negative tilt attachment, and we’ll get into that later.
The Sculpt Ergonomic has gotten positive reviews elsewhere online. It has a 3.8-star average on Amazon with nearly 300 reviews across single and desktop models. Marco Arment wrote a detailed review of the keyboard praising it, stating it has “the best-feeling keys I’ve ever used that weren’t loud [mechanical] Cherry keyswitches” and “If you already use a split-ergonomic keyboard, especially the similarly curved Microsoft Natural 4000, it’s a huge upgrade that I feel comfortable recommending nearly unconditionally.”
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Arment’s review does mention one drawback with the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic. F1-F12 and Escape are small buttons instead of proper keys, which don’t feel as good to press and aren’t full-size. The keyboard’s keys don’t feel as good as mechanical keys, as Arment and I both mentioned, but they’re still much better than most membrane keys.
Norm disliked the split-off ten-key pad, but I think it’s an important sacrifice for the keyboard’s ergonomics. An attached number pad makes the keyboard wider, so you have to reach farther to get to the mouse (if you use the mouse with your right hand, as most people do). A keyboard without the number pad allows you to put the mouse in a more easily reached (and more ergonomic) position, which is critical, as I mentioned above. In the ergonomics section below, Cornell’s Alan Hedge goes into more detail about how important arm angle is to your typing posture.
The Step Up
The Kinesis Freestyle 2 is highly customizable, but it’s too pricey to be best for most people.
The Kinesis Freestyle2 is the only ergonomic keyboard that I’d consider a competitor to the Sculpt Ergonomic. At about $134, it offers more ergonomic adjustments, but costs considerably more than our favorite keyboard and is simply too expensive to be our top pick.
The Freestyle2 uses an even more dramatic split design than Microsoft’s keyboard. The two sides of the keyboard can be detached and angled independently to perfectly suit your hands. Most importantly, the Freestyle2 can be paired with Kinesis’s VIP3 accessory, which adds palm rests to the front of the keyboard and feet that angle the keyboard naturally for your wrists.
The VIP3 is adjustable to two different heights, and the palm rests are just as comfortably padded as Microsoft’s. Because of that adjustable split, I think the Kinesis is the best keyboard, from a pure ergonomic standpoint, of any I’ve used. If your wrists need to be in a very specific position to avoid pain while typing, it may be your best choice. As Norm points out, though, it’s not quite perfect.
If your wrists need to be in a very specific position to avoid pain while typing, it may be your best choice.
“Good split distance was easy to find,” he wrote, “but also easy for a side to slide away and lose your set arrangement.” Marco Arment made the same criticism of the Freestyle2 in his review of the Sculpt Ergonomic.
The Kinesis does unfortunately use membrane keys, but they’re the most comfortable membrane keys I’ve ever typed on. They feel closer to mechanical keys than any other membrane keys I’ve touched. Norm agreed, writing that though they were soft and quiet, requiring a soft touch, they felt great after a few days of use.
Without the VIP3 attachment, the Kinesis Freestyle2 isn’t a great ergonomic keyboard. It doesn’t have the proper negative tilt or palm rests to keep your wrists at an ideal angle. And with the VIP3, it’s $134, almost double the price of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic. It’s fantastic, but pricy.
Why isn’t there a runner-up pick?
It’s more and more common when we publish a new Wirecutter guide for our main pick to sell out or jump in price almost immediately. Because of this, we’ve started including alternates and runners-up for people who can’t wait for our main pick to be available again. But we’re not doing that here. After our research and testing, we just don’t think any of the other ergonomic keyboards we tested are worth buying outside of our main pick and step-up choices.
Of the ergonomic keyboards I’ve researched and tested, there really isn’t another keyboard directly comparable to the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic. The Logitech MK550 was technically our third favorite among the ones Norm, Will and I all spent time with, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone to actually spend money on it. The Logitech is a decent keyboard, but it’s just not worth the $60, as we explain in the competition section below.
If the Sculpt Ergonomic sells out, you’re better off waiting for it to restock, or—if you’re really worried about your wrists—upgrading to the Kinesis, our step-up pick.
Remember that there’s no conclusive proof an ergonomic keyboard can prevent RSI or other wrist injuries (more on this in the next section). If you’re already having problems, it doesn’t make sense to compromise with an inferior keyboard. And if you’re purely out to find a keyboard that feels good to type on, we’d rather you get the Sculpt Ergonomic, the Kinesis Freestyle2, or spend $60 on a decent non-ergonomic keyboard instead of the Logitech MK550.
An intro to keyboard ergonomics
So those are our picks, but the keyboard is just one part of the ergonomic equation. In fact, it might not even help at all if the rest of your workstation isn’t properly set up. In this section, I’m going to explain the important differences between “ergonomics” and “comfort,” explaining how to make your desk setup as ergonomic as possible, regardless of the keyboard you use.
If you’re interested in an ergonomic keyboard, you’re probably experiencing some discomfort when you type on a regular keyboard, or you’re worried that you might experience that discomfort in the future. Here’s the first step towards understanding keyboard ergonomics: knowing how keyboards can injure our wrists.
“If you think about a regular keyboard, when you put your hands on that keyboard, your wrist is often bent so that the little finger is really bending away from the wrist, since your arms are coming in from the sides. So if you put them together in front of you, you’ll see how your wrist bends from the side,” explains Cornell’s Alan Hedge. “That’s called ulnar deviation. That results in compression on the ulnar nerve, and also it can cause compression of some of the tendons used to flex the fingers.”
The rationale for most ergo keyboards, Hedge tells me, is to split the keyboard layout and angle it so that our hands can be straight on the keys. No wrist bending to the side, no ulnar deviation. But if your wrists feel just fine typing on a regular keyboard, is an ergonomic keyboard going to make you more comfortable? Not necessarily.
“Nobody really knows if these keyboards can be preventative, and part of the issue is that the basis for the design of these keyboards actually isn’t the main risk factor for the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, although when the first keyboards were developed in the 1960s, it was assumed they were the major risk factor,” Hedge says.
The little feet that 99 percent of keyboards have in the back, which angle the keyboard upwards like an old typewriter? Don’t use those. Too much of an angle can be actively harmful to your wrists.
“All the slick keyboards are based on the idea of straightening the hands laterally so the hands are not bent to one side or the other. But the research we’ve done shows there’s a fair amount of tolerance within the structures of the wrist for that kind of lateral movement of the hand. However there’s much less tolerance for the hands moving vertically. So if you have your hands on a flat surface, and you’re pulling your hands up so your fingers are pointing upwards before you start using a keyboard, that vertical deviation is much more important to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.”
Let’s go over that again, because it’s important. Ulnar deviation can be an issue, but our wrists are pretty good at coping with it. But a vertical wrist angle–like your hands on the surface of the desk, angled upwards to reach over the hump of the keyboard–is really bad. The little feet that 99 percent of keyboards have in the back, which angle the keyboard upwards like an old typewriter? Don’t use those. Too much of an angle can be actively harmful to your wrists.
“Repeated extremes of wrist extension can put excessive pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel of the wrist, and this impairs nerve function and eventually results in injury,” explains a Cornell research study. That same study noted that a keyboard with negative tilt (angled downwards, away from the user) protected the carpal tunnel from critical pressure far more than regular keyboards.
This brings us to the next section: How the proper arrangement of your desk, with an ergonomic or standard keyboard, can help you type more comfortably and reduce the pressure placed upon your wrists.
How to improve your desk’s ergonomics
Buying an ergonomic keyboard isn’t a cure-all solution for typing discomfort, but the good news is that you can reduce the stress on your wrists and other parts of your body with some proper posture. Cornell’s ergonomics group offers a detailed guide to important factors to consider for workplace ergonomics, including some basic guidelines like taking regular breaks and making sure the monitor is at a good height (eye level). But if you’re like me and tend to slump back in your chair or lean forward or slide the keyboard around, some of these tips are very important:
Posture is key. Cornell suggests the following:
Make sure that the user can reach the keyboard keys with their wrists as flat as possible (not bent up or down) and straight (not bent left or right).
Make sure that the user’s elbow angle (the angle between the inner surface of the upper arm and the forearm) is at or greater than 90 degrees to avoid nerve compression at the elbow.
Make sure that the upper arm and elbow are as close to the body and as relaxed as possible for mouse use; avoid overreaching. Also make sure that the wrist is as straight as possible when the mouse is being used.
Make sure the user sits back in the chair and has good back support. Also check that the feet can be placed flat on the floor or on a footrest.
Make sure the head and neck are as straight as possible.
Make sure the posture feels relaxed for the user.
Buy a keyboard tray or an ergonomic keyboard that will put you in the ideal typing posture. As mentioned above, negative tilt prevents you from injuring your wrists. They shouldn’t have to be angled upwards to touch the keys, and neither should your arms–they should be relaxed at your sides, hands straight out in front of you, and angled naturally downwards.
The Sculpt Ergonomic, our pick for the most comfortable ergonomic keyboard, comes with a great attachment for negative tilt: a simple piece of plastic that magnetizes onto the bottom front of the keyboard, angling it appropriately. If your desk is too high, though, raising the front of the keyboard will do more harm than good–you’ll be extending your wrists or holding your arms at an awkward height. The solution is an adjustable keyboard tray.
Even without switching to an ergonomic keyboard, buying an adjustable keyboard tray will allow you to add negative tilt to your regular keyboard and position it at the right height. If you use a standing desk, the same rules apply.
The 3M Knob Adjust Keyboard Tray, for example, is highly rated on Amazon and costs $90. It can tilt 15 degrees up or down and is also height adjustable to be higher or lower than the surface it’s mounted on.
Even without switching to an ergonomic keyboard, buying an adjustable keyboard tray will allow you to add negative tilt to your regular keyboard and position it at the right height.
Alan Hedge explains why posture is, overall, more important than the design of your keyboard. “What a lot of people forget is that the median nerve, the nerve that gets damaged in carpal tunnel syndrome, originates at the base of your neck,” he says. “So it’s coming out to the spinal column at the base of the neck, and then it’s coming down through the shoulders, through the elbow, and through the wrist and into the hand. If you have an awkward neck posture or awkward shoulder posture or awkward elbow posture or awkward wrist posture, all of those are compression points that can cause damage to the nerve. A lot of the research only looks at what happens with the hand and the wrist and forgets about the rest of the pathway of the nerve, so you can end up with some pretty interesting designs for keyboards that can still create a lot of damage to people because they’re not used appropriately to keep the whole of the upper body so you’re not compressing the nerve.”
The mouse is another problem area, and buying an ergonomic mouse isn’t the solution. The problem comes from the positioning of the mouse and its angle to the body. Most regular keyboards have a number pad on the right side of the keyboard, and some have more function keys to the right of that, making for a very wide keyboard. “You put your mouse to the outside of that keyboard, [and] now you’ve got a lot of abduction of your arm when you go out to move the mouse,” Hedge says. That’s why many ergonomic keyboard, including the Sculpt, relocate the number pad or remove it entirely.
Again, having a straight elbow and wrist angle is good, so width is an important criteria for a comfortable keyboard.
None of the other keyboards I tested came close to the quality of the Freestyle2 or the Sculpt Ergonomic. Will and Norm and I had varying opinions about a few keyboards, but we mostly agreed on the keyboards that were mediocre and the ones that were worse. You shouldn’t buy any of them.
Logitech MK550: This is the (distant) third-best keyboard I tested, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Strangely, Logitech hasn’t put out an ergonomic keyboard in years, and a modernized design on this keyboard could make it great. Unfortunately, it’s missing some of the basics. It used curved key rows instead of a split and has no negative tilt. Its feet are in the back, instead, which is a damaging keyboard design trend that needs to be killed off. It does use decent membrane keys and has a comfortable wrist rest in the front.
Will wrote: “While the curved key layout helps keep you from rotating your wrists (not as much as on an actual split keyboard or the Sculpt though), it does nothing to ensure you keep your wrists flat on the horizontal plane. I really don’t like this keyboard.”
Norm wrote: “Good resting feel of fingers on the keys. The ergonomic design seems to be designed with the depth of the fingers in mind, but not the angle of the wrist.”
Microsoft Sculpt Comfort: Doesn’t use a split design but instead a wave pattern that doesn’t do as much to separate your hands. It does have feet in the front to provide a negative tilt, but the keys simply don’t feel great to type on; they’re too stiff and flat. The Sculpt Ergonomic is by far a better keyboard.
Perixx Periboard 512: Split design, but it doesn’t offer the negative tilt of the Sculpt Ergonomic. It’s raised up with a large, cheap-feeling plastic shell and is overall too large with its number pad on the right side. The membrane keys feel too soft to type on, though they aren’t the mushiest keys of the lot I tested. Its number keys are laid out in an awkward configuration. Overall, the keyboard feels cheap.
Will wrote: “It feels like they’re trying for a negative angle, but the wrist rest isn’t high enough, so it ends up being kind of uncomfortable unless you hover your hands above the keyboard.”
Adesso Tru-Form Media: Split design. Another large, plastic ergo keyboard. It’s actually loud and creaky to type on and feels even cheaper than the Perixx keyboard. Its split spacebar is also weirdly small to make room for an Adesso logo in the middle, a downside to an overall fine split design. Like the Perixx, it doesn’t offer any negative tilt. It’s also too large and too wide.
Norm wrote: “Plastic wrist guard isn’t comfortable. Didn’t like that the height and angle wasn’t adjustable. Too big of a footprint for a cramped desk.”
Goldtouch Go: This is a mobile keyboard, but it’s unfortunately too small and feels cramped to type on. It uses a laptop-style key arrangement, though it lacks the chiclet keys of the Sculpt Ergonomic. It feels very flat to type on, but better than most of the membrane keyboards I tested. Goldtouch tried to design it to work well with either a Mac or a PC, but as a result its layout is slightly unusual, and the weird placement of its OS keys make it hard to perform shortcuts like Ctrl-Shift-V. After several days of typing on this keyboard, I still hadn’t adjusted to it. It also doesn’t offer any negative tilt, and without that or wrist rests, I found my wrists angled awkwardly upwards. It’s the only ergo keyboard I’ve used designed for travel, and it’s not bad by that criteria, but it’s nowhere near as good a desk keyboard as the Kinesis or Microsoft. Finally, at $100, it’s more expensive than our better pick.
Fellowes Microban: It didn’t take much testing to see that this Fellowes keyboard had the same issues (and, actually, an identical form factor and key layout) to the Perixx above. The plastic body is chunky and too wide to support proper mouse placement, and the membrane keys don’t feel satisfying to type on. This keyboard has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon, but many of them are years old. Ergonomic keyboard design has gotten much smarter and sleeker in the past five years.
AmazonBasics keyboard: While the AmazonBasics keyboard was never in consideration for the best ergonomic keyboard, it was a good comparison for many of the other keyboards we tested. Specifically, it uses chiclet keys similar to the Sculpt Ergonomic, but they felt flatter and worse to type on than most of the membrane keyboard models we tried.
As mentioned above, my original list started with 15 keyboards. These were the ones that made that list but didn’t make the cut for testing:
Kinesis Maxim: This is an older Kinesis model and has some negative reviews on Amazon citing that its palm rests break off easily. Only one comment that its ergo was bad. Considering this model is old, at least 2002, I decided to test the Kinesis Freestyle2.
Adesso SlimTouch Ergo Mini Touchpad: Really bad Amazon reviews.
Goldtouch GTN-0099 V2 Adjustable: This one was borderline. Two Amazon reviews say the keys feel crappy. Other reviewers seemed fairly positive on it. The Goldtouch Go! was similarly shaped and better rated, so I decided on it for testing.
Fentek keyboards: The Fentek Industries keyboards I looked at ranged from $180 to $350. Way too expensive.
The TECK, Massdrop and Kinesis Advantage: These were three mechanical ergo keyboards I researched but ultimately decided not to test or consider for this category. At $250 to $300, they were simply too expensive for the majority of people looking for a comfortable keyboard. If you know you want an ergo mechanical keyboard, read Jarred Walton’s keyboard articles at Anandtech for some informative in-depth testing of these three keyboards.
Wrapping it up
If you don’t already experience wrist issues typing with a regular keyboard, an ergonomic keyboard isn’t guaranteed to stop you from ever developing issues—they aren’t necessarily preventative. Likewise, no single ergonomic keyboard is a cure-all for ergonomic issues, so you can’t go in expecting a miracle. But if you just want a comfortable keyboard that feels great to type on and also abides by the principles of good ergo design, buy the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic.
The Sculpt Ergonomic is easy to adjust to after only a couple days of typing. It’s a slim, compact keyboard that still offers a full layout. The chiclet keys feel better to type on than almost any membrane keyboard I’ve used. Ergonomically, it has a split layout and a great front attachment for creating negative tilt, key to keeping your wrists at the proper angle.
The Kinesis Freestyle2 with VIP3 attachment is more configurable but also about twice the price and not as elegantly designed as Microsoft’s. The Microsoft Sculpt Comfort is comfortable enough to type on that I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a new keyboard, even if you don’t currently worry about ergonomics. It’s that comfortable.