Please note: this information was current as of September 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
Test results for 10 ergonomic devices priced from $77 to $341
It’s not only office workers that suffer from pain and discomfort caused by excessive keyboarding or mousing. The explosion in popularity of computers and mobile devices for social networking, email, instant messaging and games in the past few years means anyone can be at risk of the painful consequences of too much typing, texting and mousing.
With few exceptions, new PCs are still being issued with the same sort of basic (and cheap) keyboards and mice that we’ve been using for generations. There is, however, a range of elective options from specialist ergonomics suppliers, which can be used by people with overuse injuries — or people who want to avoid them. But they’re still very much in the minority. Which raises the question: If ergonomic devices are better for you, should everybody be using them?
While specially designed ergonomic devices can be of help to people suffering overuse injuries, prevention is sometimes better than cure. By their nature, ergonomic devices often break from the norm in their designs. So we invited a group of everyday users to see if they could adjust to some of these devices, and if they felt better and more comfortable to use than the traditional keyboard and mouse.
We bought two samples each of 10 ergonomic devices — five keyboards and five mouse alternatives — and gave them to 20 full-time office workers to try out for a full working week each. Each person trialled five devices and filled in a detailed survey for each, ranking:
- ease of use
- overall satisfaction
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics is all about matching up the job and equipment with the person who is using it. The aim is to maximise both health and productivity. Proper ergonomic design can help prevent repetitive strain injuries (RSI). This is also known as Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS). It can develop over time and cause pain, reduce mobility and even lead to long-term disability. Minimising repetitive tasks and awkward body positions can help prevent injuries from occurring.
The origin of ergonomics is credited to Ancient Greece. Evidence suggests that as far back as the 5th century BC Hellenic civilisation used ergonomic ideas (though not called such) in their work environment. The modern word ‘ergonomics’ comes from the Greek words ergon, meaning ‘work’, and nomos, meaning ‘laws’ — in effect, the laws of work. The term officially came into use in 1950.
- Logitech Wave Keyboard (Y-UV90)
- Adesso Tru-Form Ergonomic Keyboard (PCK-208B)
- Goldtouch Ergonomic Posture Keyboard
- Kinesis Freestyle Incline Solo (KB700PBUS)
- Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboard 4000
- 3M Ergonomic Mouse
- Adesso Smart Cat Pro touchpad (GP-410UB)
- Evoluent Vertical Mouse 3 (VM3R2-RSB)
- Kensington Expert Mouse trackball K64325
- Nomus Mouse