The 25 Best Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards in 2020

Dactyl Keyboard
Ergonomic Keyboards Guides

Imagine how pressing the keys of a grand piano feels different than pressing the keys of a high-quality electronic piano.

Both types will have a ‘response’ or the tactile feel that a key has when it’s pressed, and ‘travel’ which is the distance and force needed to push the key to make a sound.

The grand piano will have a more analog, clacky, tactile, individual responsive feel.

The electronic piano may feel more like keys pressing into a single piece of electronic hardware.

While pianist can certainly play with both types and a good electronic piano may sound identical to a grand piano, it’s hard to argue the tactile feel of a grand piano would feel more satisfying over an electronic piano.

Quick Look At My Top Picks:

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • You can add programmable foot pedals
  • Smaller footprint than a traditional keyboard
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
  • Split keyboard design for more comfortable typing
  • Tactile keystrokes
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
  • Integrates with other gaming hardware and software
  • Fully programmable keys
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
Computer keyboards are similar. Most computer keyboards come with membrane keys which are like electronic piano keys. They have a one-piece design where keys press down onto a membrane and make electrical connections which trigger that a key was pressed.

Some keyboards come with mechanical switches which feel like the grand pianos of keyboards where every key contains a complete switch underneath and the ‘response’ and ‘travel’ come in combinations to suite a wide variety of preferences.

prime day 2020

I’ve used membrane keyboards for most of my life and they are perfectly fine. But, now that I have started to use mechanical keyboards, I am getting spoiled with the tactile feel of typing which can probably be best described as the difference between playing on a grand piano versus playing on an outstanding electronic piano.

While I don’t think there are huge technical advantages, typing just feels more satisfying on mechanical keys and that may be all that really matters. Check out Reddit’s mechanical keyboard group to see just how passionate a couple of hundred thousand enthusiasts are with their sharing of their latest mechanical keyboards.

The image above from Reddit was upvoted over 20,000 times and shows one Redditor’s custom case with his custom mechanical keyboards. This picture got over 1,500 comments! That’s 15 keyboards in a case. Wow. I thought I had a ton of keyboards.

Below is a Google Trend chart showing the relative popularity of Google searches for ‘Ergonomic Keyboards’ relative to ‘Mechanical Keyboards.’ People search about 3 times more for mechanical keyboards over ergonomic keyboards. The red line is the popularity of mechanical keyboard searches over ergonomic keyboard searches.

ergonomic keyboard versus mechancial keyboard

However, this is an ergonomics review site and the vast majority of the mechanical keyboards you find for sale are not really ergonomic. Going through the mechanical keyboards on Amazon, the first five pages showed only non-ergonomic mechanical keyboards. I gave up after page 5 and assumed no one would find an ergonomic mechanical keyboard by just searching for mechanical models.

You can get ergonomic mechanical keyboards though! And we’ve broken down all of the ergonomic mechanical keyboards we could find along with our reviews for them (at least the ones we have gotten in-house to test). If we’ve missed any, send us a note and we’ll add it right away.

This guide is ordered alphabetically by the manufacturer so take some time to weave through all of the models below. The first section is for keyboards you can buy right now and the second section is for others that may or may not be available for a DIY build or purchase including rare keyboards that sometimes pop up on eBay.

Once we get more testing under our fingertips, we’ll select the best ergonomic mechanical keyboards and update this guide. For now, here are the models you can by right now…

Current Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards


The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard

Read our full review of the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard. The UHK is a 60% keyboard which means that only the alphanumeric block is available. The keys are the same size as a normal keyboard but uses layers and additional keys to allow for things like escape, F-keys, or navigation keys. While is it much more compact, you still have all of the functionality of a full sized keyboard and can access all of the full keyboard keys without leaving your normal typing position. You can order the UHK in one of 240 variations. Seems like overkills but it’s really just picking a key switch from 6 options, one of two layouts, one of 4 keycap printing options, and one of 5 case colors. We got the Kalih Brown switch, ISO layout, Mac keycap printing, and blue case. Color options also include black, dark red, orange, navy blue, and for those that can keep it clean white. Switch options also include Kalih Blue/Red/Black or Cherry Clear/Green. It’s ergonomically comfortable, has mechanical keys, is entirely open source, repairable, built like a tank, will have 12 layers (see this Github thread that if mastered can tackle the bulk of computer interaction from one typing position, looks stunning, has three tent/tilt options, and is compact without being squished in any way. It’s also a keyboard that will get attention forcing ergonomic conversations wherever you type.

Kinesis Advantage2

Kinesis Advantage2 Mechanical KeyboardWe’ve reviewed the Kinesis Advantage (not the Advantage2). Our summary of that review: If you’ve tried some ordinary ergonomic keyboards with poor results, the Kinesis Advantage is a step up that you may need to take. The price tag is high, there is an adjustment period, and some elements of the design may annoy you. However, if it helps your typing-related pain, those other things are petty by comparison. Also, after a while, you will most likely learn to work around the annoying features of the keyboard and begin to enjoy some of its more subtle efficiency benefits. The Advantage2 adds more features some of which are summarized below:

  • Key remapping and macros creations can now be done via text editor (as configuration files on keyboard are accessible).
  • Kinesis is currently working on GUI tool for remapping and macros.
  • You can add programmable foot pedals.
  • The Advantage2 features low-force Cherry MX Brown tactile mechanical keyswitches, the rubber function keys (found on the original Advantage) have been replaced with Cherry ML low-force, tactile mechanical keyswitches.
  • The keywells are scooped into a concave shape to reduce hand and finger extension. Hands rest in a natural, relaxed position, with the fingers curled down to the keys.
  • Separating the keywells positions the arms at shoulder-width to keep wrists straight and perpendicular to the home row.
  • The thumb keypad includes often used keys such as Enter, Space, Backspace, Delete and the combination keys, Control and Alt on the PC (Command and Option on the Macintosh).
  • The two keywells are “tented” at an optimal 20-degree angle moderately raising the thumb side of the hand Tenting puts you in a more neutral, “handshake” posture and reduces the stresses caused by forearm pronation and static muscle tension.
  • The keys are arranged in vertical columns (“orthogonally”) to better reflect the natural motion of your fingers.
  • The integrated palm supports reduce stressful bending of the wrists (extension) and provide a convenient place to rest your hands when you are not actively typing. Self-adhesive, cushioned palm pads (included) can be attached for maximum comfort.
  • The Advantage2 may look big, but it actually has a smaller footprint than a traditional keyboard and even many “ergonomic” keyboards because of the eliminated numeric 10-key.
  • To encourage proper typing form, the Advantage2 features an optional electronic “click” that sounds right when a key press is registered.

Perixx PERIBOARD 512W Ergonomic Split Keyboard – Best All-In-One Split Option

Perixx PERIBOARD 512W Ergonomic Split Keyboard - Best All-In-One Split Option

This keyboard from Perixx offers all the benefits of a split keyboard, without the irritation of having your keyboard split in two. The two sides of the keyboard are separated and slightly angled in, so align more with how we naturally use our hands. This means hours of typing with less wrist strain, which is also helped by the integrated pal rests which are often absent from mechanical keyboards.

The only downside with the keyboard not actually being split is that gamers will not be able to put their mouse in the center of their keyboard, if that is their gaming style.

This is a bit different from your average mechanical keyboard, as instead of using blue or brown switches, it uses rubber dome switches for an even smoother typing experience. You can bash out letters with barely any force at all, but the tactile keystroke feedback will help you keep track of what you are doing.

The laser printed keys also mean there is no chance of the information wearing off your keys, no matter how much you use them. There are also seven full programmable keys.

While we would have liked this to have been wireless, it comes with six feet of cable, so you still have a lot of flexibility. It is compatible with Windows (only), and is a matter of plugging in the USB and it is ready for use.

Pros:

  • Split keyboard design for more comfortable typing
  • Tactile keystrokes
  • Durable laser printed keys
  • Integrated palm rest

Cons:

  • Only works with Windows
  • Not wireless

Redragon K556 RGB LED Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Best For Silent Gaming

Redragon K556 RGB LED Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - Best For Silent Gaming

This gaming keyboard starts with state-of-the-art brown switches, which offer a good tactile feeling so you know when you have hit with certainty, but they aren’t clicky. This means they are extra quiet and you won’t be disturbing the rest of the household as you play into the wee hours.

This keyboard is highly durable, made from full metal with matte finish. Nevertheless, it does come with eight spare switches, in case any over-enthusiastic use does mean you need to swap some of them out a bit earlier.

Redragon uses customer-designed keycaps that reduce the amount of time it takes for the keys to register your actions, though they are removable if you prefer something different.

However, we would like to have seen some more ergonomic features incorporated into the design. In particular, we would like to have seen some waving of the keys to make them more reachable. The keyboard also does not come with any palm or wrist rests; this needs to be purchased separately.

The RGB LED backlighting is completely customizable, and you can easily switch between settings to change the ambiance of your gaming space. But we would have preferred it if this option was available in wireless.

But this is still our top choice for silently gaming into the evening, with no hand pain and cool backlighting.

Pros:

  • State of the art brown switches
  • Quiet; no clicking sounds
  • Highly durable including metal frame
  • Fully adjustable RGB LED lighting

Cons:

  • Lacks some ergonomic features, such as waved key
  • Palm and wrist rests need to be purchased separately
  • Not wireless

Atreus62 Keyboard

ATREUS62 KEYBOARDThis is a custom built ergonomic keyboard from the folks at Profet Keyboards. It takes about 3 weeks after an order for them to build your custom keyboard. Expect to spend about $300 for one. I like that you can choose from a wide variety of materials such as bamboo, acrylic, Cherry, and Walnut and select from a number of colors. Wooden keyboards are not common and really stand out as well as add some natural materials to an otherwise plastic and metal device. You don’t get keycaps so you’ll need to order those separately from sites like pimpmykeyboard.com which is kinda cool because you can customize the colors, textures, shapes, and even put a little of your personal touch. I’ve seen keycaps that look like the moon, cartoon characters, star wars things, etc. Profet can also make custom ErgoDox keyboard builds. Their Facebook page has a bunch of examples of custom builds for customers like a recent one I saw with a Seattle Seahawks theme. See our ErgoDox EZ review below for more info on ErgoDox. They also sell various parts for ErgoDox as well if you are interested in building your own keyboard.

ErgoDox EZ

ergodox ez mechanical keyboardWe are currently reviewing an ErgoDox EZ though there are multiple versions of the ErgoDox Infinity (adds LCD screen and is two distinct keyboards that are separately usable) as well as others I have been told exist like the ergo mini. Quick preview. This keyboard rocks! Hope to have our comprehensive review out by August 2017. If you can’t wait for our review, you can’t go wrong with this keyboard. A little preview copy from their website: When you sit down behind the wheel of a new car, the first thing you do is probably slide the seat so it’s the right distance from the pedals. Then you adjust the mirrors, maybe change the angle of the steering wheel, until the car works with your body. With most keyboards, you just place your fingers on the keys, and, well, that’s about it. Not much else you can do. But unless you’re a professional driver, you probably spend way more time typing than you do driving. We think your keyboard should adapt to your body, not the other way around. That’s why everything about the ErgoDox EZ is customizable:

  • The keyboard is made up of two separate halves, which you can position independently.
  • Comes with a Tilt/Tent kit composed of six legs that allow you to adjust the angle of the keyboard until it’s perfect.
  • The feel of the keyboard is customizable, right down to how hard you have to press each key, and whether or not it clicks.
  • You pick the keycaps that are right for you.
  • You can move the keys around.
  • You can make even better use of easy-to-reach keys with dual-function keys, an advanced ErgoDox EZ feature that allows you to use a key as both a letter (say, z) and a modifier (Ctrl, Alt, or anything else).
  • The ErgoDox EZ is made to last, with uncompromising build quality, a housing that’s reinforced with metal where it meets the tilt/tent kit, and a generous two-year warranty.

Esrille New Keyboard − NISSE

Esrille New Keyboard − NISSEThis keyboard was designed by a Japanese company based on the research of a Japanese professor and sized for the Japanese market. This is the only keyboard in this guide that factors cultural differences into the design. The company notes on their site that ergonomic keyboards designed in countries other than Japan are sometimes a bit larger for users in Japan. Research showed the 89th-percentile Japanese adult male middle finger length corresponds to the 58th-percentile U.S. adult male. This suggests that the standard QWERTY keyboards might be too large for people with smaller hands. The Esrille three-dimensional, tented design was created so that average Japanese adult fingers would reach up to the number key row from 1 to 0 while leaning the entire forearms on the table. The idea is based on the researches by Professor Masaru Nakaseko. He showed research that verified leaning the entire forearms on the armrests while typing helps to reduce muscular tension. He also suggested using the desk surface for resting the forearms by reducing the heights of the keyboard front edges and minimizing the steps down to the desk surface. Maybe if you have smaller hands this may be an interesting option.

Eagletec KG010 Mechanical Keyboard Blue Switch – Best For Heavy Handed Gamers

Eagletec KG010 Mechanical Keyboard Blue Switch - Best For Heavy Handed Gamers

This mechanical keyboard uses dust-proof blue switches for satisfying, clicky gaming that won’t get sticky or disrupted when you fall behind on the vacuuming and dusting. They offer medium resistance, so you don’t need to apply excess pressure, but you still feel like you are doing the work, which is reinforced by the nice clicky sound and tactical feedback bump.

The keyboard also uses anti-ghosting technology on all 104 keys so there is never any conflict and your game always responds in the way you would expect.

This keyboard is extremely durable, made from Aircraft-Grade Aluminum ABS, so it shouldn’t start to wear out no matter how hard and how often you are hitting the buttons. It is nice and wide with lots of space for the keys and a separate number pad, so even big hands shouldn’t feel cramped.

However, we would have liked to have seen some more ergonomic features incorporated into the design, such as a moderate split or some waving of the keys.

This keyboard is a simple wired, plug and go design, which works well with pretty much all computer brands from Dell to XBox One as long as they are using Windows. However, Mac OS keyboard support is limited.

Regardless, this keyboard is a great choice for the heavier handed gamers that like to feel like they are really hitting the keys when they play. Plus, the blue LED backlighting is effortlessly cool.

Pros:

  • Custom blue switches
  • Dust-free key design
  • Highly durable
  • Compatible with most computer brands

Cons:

  • Lacks some ergonomic design features, such as a split keyboard
  • Limited keyboard support for Mac

Razer BlackWidow TE Choma v2 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Best For Synching With Other Hardware

Razer BlackWidow TE Choma v2 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - Best for Synching with Other Hardware

Serious gamers that want their keyboard to integrate seamlessly with the games and other game hardware will love this mechanical keyboard from Razer. It fully syncs with most popular games, as well as all other Razer hardware and hardware from Philips Hue and 30 other partners. So, basically, never worry about compatibility problems again!

All the keys and keystroke combinations are also programmable for a fully customized experience.

With this keyboard, you have your choice between three different types of mechanical switches: Green: tactile and clicky. Orange: tactile and silent. Yellow: linear and silent.

Because, let’s admit it, we all have our preferences. All of them are designed for lighting-speed reaction and comfort. Also, the manufacturer is so confident in the durability of their keyboards that they offer a 2-year, 80 million click warranty.

We were pleased to see that this keyboard includes a magnetic leather palm rest that can easily be attached, but we would also like to have seen a little bit of curvature worked into the keyboard for more comfortable typing. We would also have liked for this keyboard to be wireless, but hey, you can’t have everything.

Added bonus, the keyboard supports 16.8 million color options on its individually backlit keys. We know that is not about function or ergonomics, but it sure is fun.

Pros:

  • Integrates with other gaming hardware and software
  • Fully programmable keys
  • Choice of mechanical switches
  • Lightning-fast responsiveness

Cons:

  • Does not integrate a curved keyboard design
  • Not wireless

DIY & Other Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards


Cherry G80-5000 Split Keyboard

Cherry G80-5000 Ergoplus keyboardThe Cherry G80-5000, also known as the Cherry ErgoPlus (and as the Cherry MX 5000 or simply the Cherry 5000), was the first and only ergonomic mechanical keyboard produced and designed by Cherry. First introduced as early as 1994, it was the first keyboard to use Cherry MX Brown switches. According to Cherry, the Cherry G80-5000 was a test bed for experimentation with ergonomics. When it was released it took a person a couple of months to get used to this layout and this long re-training time was likely one of the reasons for poor sales. Back in 1994, this split concept was definitely out of the box. You can still find these keyboards from time to time on eBay but expect to pay over a grand. As of September 20, 2017, there was one listed on eBay for $1,400. Interested in learning more? Here is a video review of this keyboard.

Dactyl Keyboard

dactyl keyboard finishedI found out about the Dactyl on Reddit. One user pointed out that the Dactyl checks all the most important boxes in ergonomics: Split; Ortholinear; Different finger travel based on finger length; Related to the above: tenting of some fashion; Maximum use of the strongest digits: thumbs; and Thumb cluster being close to the other keys. You can’t yet buy one of these or a kit to make one.

However, this may become an option at some point. As of August 2017, the author noted “The two big (related) things holding the Dactyl back right now are the difficulty in building it and the fact that the design isn’t finished. I haven’t pursued scaling up the manufacturing of it because the design isn’t finished. My major design issues are with the thumb cluster placement and the lack of a great palm rest. As much as I love the board, I still feel like the Kinesis Advantage totally nails both of these. When things quiet down for me later this year, I’m going to focus on these issues and hopefully have a build that I’m happy with.”

We included this in our list as it sure looks like a cool keyboard! We’ll update this Guide as more information and options come out. If you are a bit technical or just interested in learning more, you can read up on the Dactyl page on GitHub. Note, the main image for this post is also a Dactyl that was modified to have built-in palm wrests.

IBM M15 Split Ergonomic Keyboard

IBM Split Keyboard M15Just a small number of these keyboards were made from 1994-1995 and if you can find one on eBay expect to pay a small fortune. This one sold for over $1,600! Not a bad appreciation of value considering new ones sold for $179.  This keyboard was also sold by Lexmark as the Lexmark Select-Ease Keyboard. According to one source, this keyboard is widely considered by both users and experts in ergonomics to be one of the finest ergonomic keyboard designs ever produced. This keyboard was the subject of a patent dispute from Mark Goldstein, founder of the Goldtouch company, over the design of the adjustable ball joint, and was settled by a subsequent licensing agreement. In late 1995, Lexmark sold off certain designs and tooling relating to buckling spring keyboards, including the tooling necessary to make the M15, to Maxiswitch. Maxiswitch never produced any M15 keyboards themselves and attempts to reacquire the tooling by interested parties have proved unsuccessful. Cool bit of history and an ergonomic keyboard with mechanical keys few know about.

Keyboardio Model 01 Keyboard

Keyboardio Model 01 KeyboardThis keyboard is available for pre-order only and expected to ship by the end of 2017. The company bills this a keyboard for uncompromising typists and is heirloom-grade constructed. They mill the Model 01’s enclosure from two blocks of solid maple and use mechanical keyswitches similar to those found in the original Apple II.  They note that they have custom-sculpted each of the 64 individual keycaps guide fingers to the right keys. The base keyboard can be laid flat, split, tented, or setup tripod style. Other features include fully programmable LEDs, true N-key rollover (NKRO) which is for folks that need to chord more than 6 keys at once, and application-specific macros. It sure looks different from other ergonomic keyboards and we are excited to late take one for a spin. Most keyboards as they age make you look like a slob as they get dirty and stained. Having a wood base may make this one age gracefully and add amazing character. Being solid wood and having mechanical keys, this is likely one of the heavier keyboards on this list.

Kinesis Edge

Kinesis Freestyle Edge KeyboardJason, our founding editor, recently got his Kinesis Edge. We look forward to hearing his thoughts. This model was sold via Kickstarter and should be available for purchase starting November 2017. It’s billed as the first split keyboard designed specifically for gamers with features such as 20″ adjustable split, onboard programmable, Cherry mechanical switches, LED backlighting, 10 layouts, macro speeds up to 150 APS, No-install programming App, detachable palm supports, optional lift kit, and optional palm pads. If you are a gamer, this looks like an incredible setup! See gaming.kinesis-ergo.com for more info. Most of the last decade I’ve spent typing on Kinesis keyboards. Will get one later when they become available.

Let’s Split Keyboard

let's split keyboard with lightsSee this GitHub link for detailed instructions on how to build your very own Let’s Split v2 ergonomic keyboard with mechanical keys including links to order all of the parts you will need. The author does not that I2C isn’t covered in this guide (yet) because he didn’t do it for my build. I have no idea what I2C is so I looked it up which it turns out is a communication protocol. Guess that’s not really needed. I like that the author posted estimated pricing. You’ll end up paying about $200 or so for the parts plus the case not including shipping. You can clearly buy an ergonomic mechanical keyboard for less so this really brings home the point that you are not building this for cost purposes alone. The pic here is the version with the additional RGB underglow lights. This is about as compact as ergonomic keyboards come!

ManuForm Hand-Shaped Keyboard

ManuForm KeyboardManu means hand though I am not sure in what language. In Hawaiian, which I am familiar with, it means bird. You can get details on this keyboard including a build video at this Geekhack.org link. The creator had the following design goals: 1) ergonomic keyboard, 6 keys per thumb; 2) all 6 thumb keys are ACTUALLY reachable ergonomically; 3) all keys for all fingers are reachable without having to move the hands/wrists, thus losing their “home” (major culprits on a normal keyboard for this are ESC, backspace, number keys especially 6); and 4) to achieve the above points with a 40%/60% style where there are multiple layers triggered by function keys (in this case these are some of thumb keys). The original goal was to make it foldable/travelable too. That goal was scrapped, mainly because in his prototyping he couldn’t figure out a way to achieve the above goals without making the board contoured and “3D.”

dactyl-manuform keyboard blend

Because these keyboards are open source, you’ll also find people mixing up projects and making custom boards like this Dactyl-ManuForm blend. The preceding Geekhack link has information on this blend build including links to the forked firmware. This blended version is shown in the image to the right. This blend has the thumb cluster from the ManuForm keyboard. This fork allows you can change the number of rows and columns fairly easily. This image shows a 40% version.

Mitosis Keyboard

Mitosis KeyboardThis is a DIY wireless split ergonomic keyboard. Note most of these keyboards on this page are wired (USB). This is one of the rare wireless split keyboard options. The designer has posted up the source and design files on this Reddit thread including PCB manufacturing files, PCB design files, PDF Schematics, Lasercutting files, Wireless firmware, QMK source, and Parts list with suppliers. The creator noted in this thread:” I figured that if I was going to learn an ergonomic board, may as well learn an ergonomic layout at the same time. Thumb clusters were part of the plan from the beginning, I used to get pinky pain after long typing sessions. The benefit of a completely different system is that I can still touch type QWERTY, something in my brain just switches right back when I touch a row staggered keyboard.” If you create a mouse layer with this keyboard, that is, use one layer to control your cursor, you could have one of the most minimalist dual hand keyboards on the planet.

Nyquist

nyquist keyboard

The name Nyquist comes from the Nyquist sampling theorem, which says that if you want to sample a signal to convert it from analog to digital and be able to uniquely reconstruct the signal later, then the sample rate has to be twice the bandwidth of the signal. I guess having two keyboards is a little like sampling twice? Cool name. The Nyquist is a 60% split ortholinear keyboard, comprised of two halves with a 5×6 arrangement of keys. Just like how the Let’s Split is a split version of the Planck (a non-ergonomic keyboard), the Nyquist is a split version of the Preonic (a non-ergonomic keyboard). There is the option to have 2u keys in place of 1u keys in both the lower left and right corners with holes for Cherry PCB mounted stabilizers. There’s also a spot on the PCB for a pushbutton switch to reset the Pro Micro for flashing. This push button makes it easier to jump the reset and GND pins (no more taking a wire/tweezers/screwdriver). The two halves are connected to each other via a TRRS cable, which is a 4-pin cable.

Planck

Planck KeyboardThe Planck is a small, fully programmable ortholinear keyboard by OLKB. It consists solely of the alpha, most punctuation and modifier keys in a 4×12 matrix. The ortholinear layout is in between the “typewriter” row staggering of a standard keyboard and the column staggering of more traditional ergonomic keyboard. Ergonomic benefit and easy of transition are somewhere in between as well.

I started using a Planck when I was getting serious after 20 years of looking at my hands while typing slowly and wanted to address significant pain I was having because of my keyboard. I didn’t have wrist issues so split or negative tilt keyboards weren’t really on my radar. The Planck addressed the three issues I was having from using a traditional, full size keyboard. I developed shoulder pain from having the mouse so far away, hand pain from reaching for often used keys like Enter and Backspace and finger pain from the lateral motion of typing on arbitrarily staggered rows.

The Planck’s small size means that there isn’t any key more than a one key away from the “home row”. All the other characters and functions are available through layers accessed with chording keystrokes primarily using thumb keys. Since the keyboard is completely programmable the layers can consist of almost anything the user can image using the open source QMK firmware. For those that feel the Planck’s small size is a bit extreme and don’t mind something a little larger, OLKB offers a larger 5×12 key model called the Preonic that adds a number row and in development is the 5×14 key Subatomic that adds two extra columns to the Preonic layout.

Parts to build the Planck and other OLKB keyboards are available from olkb.com and occasionally Massdrop. There is no option currently for ordering a complete keyboard. The PCB, the brains of the keyboard, comes pre-programmed with a standard layout and further layout customization can be explored at the QMK documentation site qmk.fm. Note: Mini review on Planck via Reddit user deaconblue42. You can check out a short video on the Planck keyboard.

Shortcut Ergonomic Gaming Keyboard

Shortcut Mechanical KeyboardThis is an open source ergonomic keyboard for gamers. We haven’t tested it but it sure looks interesting. The main features are: hand shape design, split keyboard, thumb cluster, and fully configurable layouts. You can read all about their development on their blog. They chronicle the development process as well as the reasons why they developed the Shortcut keyboard. For instance, Luis a founder blogged:  Every day, for many hours we are using a device that was designed over 30 years ago, for the tasks and habits of that time. And that device is based on the typewriter, that was created 200 years ago. This means that the keyboard we use daily has design limitations of a technology 200 years old. How crazy is that? When a player has contractures on his back or something as severe as carpal tunnel syndrome on both wrists, is it because he just plays so much that the body can’t handle it? I think it’s a matter of the keyboard not being designed for today’s activities and the lack of easily accessible information about how to take care of our own health. I want to tackle these issues. I want to create the best possible peripherals for gamers and help to spread the correct information so we can make better decisions regarding our performance and health. Something that in some cases will affect our professional careers but in every case will affect our overall happiness. That’s why I’m attempting to create the best gaming keyboard. What I’m going to show you is just a prototype under development, but already it’s the best keyboard I’ve ever used.

Shortcut Raise Ergonomic KeyboardAlso, check out Shortcut’s latest project, Raise, a new split keyboard. During their testing, they determined people need a couple of months of daily practice to get used to their keyboard, so they set off to create a keyboard that can increase health, performance, and comfort but doesn’t require an adaptation period. Raise is their version of an ergonomic keyboard that doesn’t require much re-learning time. The key features of Raise include a split/not split design (can connect back into one piece), 8 thumb buttons, a compact design, split palm rests, and customizable software.

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard

Truly-Ergonomic-Keyboard-three-quarter-viewNote: As of August 20, 2017 we verified via the Truly Ergonomic website that this keyboard is out of stock and not for sale. Also note that the company has an F rating with the BBB. Ouch. We reviewed this keyboard back in 2012. Here is our summary from 2012: While I don’t agree with the self-superlatives used in TE marketing – (“The Truly Ergonomic Keyboard is properly designed, and therefore different from other keyboards…”) – I do believe there is much to be said for this design. It combines a small footprint, an innovative layout, and mechanical keys into a high-quality package with a detachable palm rest. At $229 as of this writing, it is not the least expensive keyboard on the market – but it’s not the most expensive either, beating the Kinesis Advantage by a handy $40 on retail. Best of all, there is a 60-day return policy, so the Truly Ergonomic keyboard is at least truly guaranteed.

Unikeyboard Diverge 3

unikeyboard Diverge 3 keyboardThe Diverge 3 is a USB ergonomic split keyboard with individual LEDs illuminating each switch and wrist rests. You can choose between Cherry MX or Gateron mechanical keys. Note this is a kit and you will need to put the parts together. If you don’t know how to solder, this is probably not the kit for you. The Diverge 3 has 72 keys, is NKRO enabled, and supports up to 8 layers. They use Animus firmware so you can fully customize keybinding, macros, media keys, FN, spaceFN, dual-role keys, and more. Unikeyboard also sells the Diverge TM2 which is a magnetic portable split ergonomic keyboard with 46 keys and support for up to 13 layers. The Diverge TM2 also has a backlight option.

X-Bows Ergonomic Keyboard

x-bows keyboard reviewWe were fortunate to get an early release sample of a new ergonomic keyboard, X-bows, which launched via Kickstarter. See our review. The X-Bows is a USB ergonomic keyboard with mechanical keys. It’s compact but offers a full keyboard experience and works across Macs, PCs, Chromebooks, and Linux machines. What is unique about this keyboard is what the company calls a “cross bow radial design” where the keys are arranged in a pattern to reduce the amount of lateral movement your wrist and fingers need to travel to type. If you use this keyboard properly, you can do the vast majority of your typing without needing to move your wrist around laterally.

Overall, I can tell the company that makes this keyboard spent a ton of time in meetings working out details. They created a unique design with enough attention to detail to show they wanted to balance ergonomics with cool design, like the font choice on the keys and the standard USB-C connector port.

Let us know if we missed any! Thanks for making it down here well past the 5,000 word mark.