Kinesis keyboard is designed for ergonomic relief
Keys appear in standard QWERTY style, but your thumbs draw extra duty
working the space bar as well as the Enter, PgUp, PgDn, Shift, Ctrl, Alt, Del, Backspace,
End and Home keys.
Letter keys are arranged almost normally, except that the letters R, F and V, which
are angled on a standard keyboard, align vertically on the Kinesis.
Each finger has its own key column, with only the index finger and little finger
moving outside. This arrangement is close enough to standard that the transition isn't
difficult, but you'll probably spend a few hours hitting the key edges instead of the
The documentation claims your palms usually won't rest on the palm rests as you
type, but I found it felt more natural to leave my palms lightly planted. I also ignored
the vendor's disk of typing exercises and jumped right into a spreadsheet that I had been
Perhaps the exercises would have prevented my initial frustration at typos and
reduced speed, but I suspect users who get through the first few hours will be pleased at
their progress whether they do the exercises or not.
In my experience, it takes at least a week to get back to normal typing speed. After
that, you can expect to improve on your old record.
I often find myself running the cursor around the screen to insert data a line or
two up, or even pages up. With a standard keyboard, I must physically move my right hand
to the small keypad or grab the mouse. That wastes time.
The Kinesis places the arrow keys under the C,V, M and comma keys, giving faster
access to the arrow function without reaching for a keypad. The Home and End keys are
under the left thumb's key group, and PgUp and PgDn are under the right thumb's key
Generally, the left hand moves the cursor right and left, while the right
hand handles vertical movement. The great advantage is that you never have to move your
hand from the home-base keys.
Microsoft Windows 95 users will like the left and right Windows keys and an
application key, which activates when the embedded numeric keypad is turned on.
This keypad, located in the column under letters U, I and O, is activated by a single
function key. It gives you a 10-key numeric key-pad without any extra keys or movements.
This super-ergonomic keyboard even has an optional, $25 foot switch that can be
programmed to function as any key. The default setting activates the embedded numeric
One great feature of Kinesis' programmable keyboards is macro storage in the
on-board memory. This means substantially fewer keystrokes than with word processing
software. The Model 130 keyboard has 2K of built-in memory, and the Professional model has
The Essential basic model isn't programmable but can be upgraded. You also can buy a
keyboard that's switchable on the fly between QWERTY and Dvorak layouts.
My middle-of-the-line keyboard lists for $275, with a 15 percent discount to
government buyers. It costs more than a standard keyboard, but it's a lot cheaper than
wrist or hand surgery.
Dave Cunningham is a procurement analyst at a federal agency in the Rocky Mountain