If you spend a lot of time working on your computer, you may be wondering if a split keyboard or ergonomic keyboard is a wise investment. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are slightly different.
A split keyboard is either made with a larger space between the middle of the keyboard or divided into two or three separate parts to allow for more comfortable typing and proper wrist support. Because of its innovative construction and contoured design, a split keyboard tends to be significantly larger than a traditional computer keyboard-—posing a potential problem if you’re dealing with a smaller workspace.
One of the most common complaints about a split keyboard is that it can very difficult to operate if you’re not a touch typist. If you’re used to a "hunt-and-peck" typing method, a split keyboard will likely require a substantial adjustment in the way you type. However, there are several websites and software programs that can help teach you how to type on a split keyboard.
An ergonomic keyboard is designed for users who have trouble with pain in their hands, arms, neck, or shoulders. Since there is research to indicate that the use of an ergonomic keyboard can help reduce the symptoms of repetitive strain injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome, physical therapists often recommend ergonomic keyboards for patients suffering from these conditions.
An ergonomic keyboard often has a split keyboard design, but it typically includes additional features designed to promote a neutral body posture while typing, reduce unnecessary force or vibration, and prevent awkward reaching for the mouse. Higher-quality ergonomic keyboards also offer adjustment options that allow the user to precisely position the keyboard for his or her optimal comfort level. While most ergonomic keyboards use the traditional QWERTY layout, others use the alternative DVORAK layout. You can also find ergonomic keyboards that use the newer vertical keyboard design, although these keyboards can be quite difficult for an inexperienced typist to use properly.
Both the split keyboard and ergonomic keyboard will be significantly more expensive than a standard computer keyboard. However, it may be well worth the expense if you spend several hours each day at your desk.
Since the demand for both split keyboards and ergonomic keyboards is relatively low, you may have trouble purchasing these items at your local electronics store. In this case, you’ll need to order your new keyboard from an online specialty shop.