Best Ergonomic Keyboard of 2020
The Goldtouch GTN-0099 V2 is a solid, all-around ergonomic keyboard that offers an impressive expanse of lateral and tenting settings. You can use this model as a flat, standard keyboard or adjust the keyboard to split outward so that your elbows are at a more natural angle, and add a tent-shaped slope to the device's center to relieve pronation stress on your wrists as needed. When switching from a standard keyboard or laptop keyboard, this model is the easiest to learn thanks to its array of settings. We love the overall simplistic design and that the buttons on this device require minimal effort to push.
There is one drawback with the bare-bones layout of the Goldtouch GTN-0099 V2 that we cannot overlook — there are no dedicated media keys or a numeric pad. If you are looking to maximize efficiency, you may want to look for a model with these elements. Still, we think the V2 is a phenomenal choice for anyone looking for the best performance out of an ergonomic keyboard.
For those looking to quite literally turn their typing game on its side, the SafeType Keyboard V902 is an innovative device with the two halves of the keyboard arranged completely vertical. This design allows your wrists and hands to be in a neutral handshake position that some people may find more comfortable than a tented or articulated keyboard with a wrist wrest — the bumps designed into the palm grips make. We appreciate the duel mirrors that allow you to see your fingers while you're typing, and it's nice that the V902 is on the quieter side while in use.
While we applaud the inventive concept of a vertical keyboard arrangement, we must admit it takes some serious time to get used to this model. It feels awkward at first, especially for those used to classic keyboards or laptops. There are also a few changes to the layout of the keys themselves. The space bar on the left side is a backspace button, which could drive you crazy for a while if you're used to pushing the space bar with your left thumb. The number pad, arrow keys, and other shortcuts are on the horizontal space between the two vertical halves of the qwerty keyboard. Our only other gripe is with the price tag — the SafeType V902 is far from the cheapest model in this product category. Flaws aside, we still think this device is a fantastic choice for somebody looking to change up their position completely and is willing to spend a bit of time learning.
With a price that is a fraction of many other models, it is hard to beat the Microsoft Natural 4000 if you're shopping on a budget. This model is very comfortable to use thanks to its built-in articulated lateral split, slight vertical tenting, and the deep wrist rest. If you like to use shortcut keys, you'll love this model. The Natural 4000 has a plethora of preprogrammed media keys and programmable buttons that can immediately direct you to your email, websites, and folders. They even thought to add a zoom toggle above the spacebar for when the font on the screen is too small to read comfortably.
Our biggest gripe with the Microsoft Natural 4000 is that we found the spacebar unusually loud even though the rest of the buttons were decently quiet. Other than that, we found a few other ergonomic keyboards in our review to be a bit more comfortable overall. Still, we think these are small trade-offs for the value and performance offered by this device — especially if you're used to a traditional keyboard.
For those that know exactly what they want out of an ergonomic keyboard and are ready for full customization, we recommend the Kinesis Freestyle 2. As a standalone purchase, this model is made to be used as-is like any standard keyboard, articulated using the included flexible pivot, or the two halves can separate for virtually unlimited positioning. If you desire any degree of tenting up to completely vertical, a wrist wrest, or a dedicated numeric keypad — no problem. Kinesis offers all of these options.
On that note, one thing that we weren't thrilled about with this keyboard is that you'll have to pay extra if you want any of the aforementioned bonuses. The Freestyle 2 is decently priced as a base model, but once you start adding bells and whistles, the total cost can quickly multiply. We also found that it was a bit silly to have the function key as a toggle. We find that most of our team likes to hold the function button down in the same manner as a shift, command, control, or option key. Despite its flaws, we still think that the Kinesis Freestyle 2 is an excellent option for those who know exactly what they want and are ready to accessorize their purchase right off the bat.
For those who are a bit wary about fully committing to a completely different hand and wrist positioning than they're used to, we recommend the Logitech K350 Wireless Wave. This device offers a mellow amount of articulation compared to a standard or laptop keyboard, so it doesn't take much getting used to. If you're into shortcut keys and media keys, the K350 has you covered. This model has large buttons either preprogrammed or ready to be programmed for an assortment of tasks. We also love that the wireless USB receiver is so small — once you insert it into a USB port, there is no need to remove it, even when transporting a laptop.
We noticed that the Logitech K350 could be very noisy, depending on the user. If you work in a quiet office where distracting coworkers is a concern, you may want to go with a quieter model. Our testing team also noticed that the keys are a bit hard to press on this device, and to get them to work, they have to move rather far. If you are a light typer or somebody used to a keyboard with low profile buttons, this device may not be the right choice. Flaws aside, we still think this is a great ergonomic keyboard for somebody ready to give their wrists some relief without going to extremes with their purchase.
If what you need out of an ergonomic keyboard is a comfy pad for your palms and wrists, look no further than the Microsoft Sculpt 5KV-00001. This model has an extra-large pad that provides an area for your palms and your wrists to rest. In fact, the pad nearly matches the size of the area of the keys themselves, so your hands will never get achy from sitting on a hard desk all day. The separated number pad included with the Sculpt is wireless, which is perfect for those who want to completely customize their workspace layout. Our favorite feature of the 5KV-00001 is that it's quiet. A noisy keyboard can be very distracting in a peaceful workspace, both for the user and the people around them.
For those that like lots of media keys and shortcuts, this model is not the best option. While there are shortcuts to functions such as play, pause, and skip, they are shared with the function keys, and you'll need to toggle between them to have them operate as desired. We also noticed that to get the keys to register, they must be pressed further than most of the other keyboards. If you're used to a modern keyboard with a shallow actuation depth, this might take some getting used to. That said, if you're aiming for an ergonomic keyboard with a big, comfortable palm and wrist rest, this model is the way to go.
The Kinesis Advantage2 has some attractive traits. We were pleased to find out that it will work straight out of the box with any operating system — some models require drivers and plug-ins to get set up for specific computers. This device also has response keys that mechanically let you know when the button is about to register so that you'll never need to bottom the keys out, which can significantly reduce impact, especially over the span of months or years. The qwerty keyboard's two halves are separated by a reasonable degree of distance on the Advantage2. If you feel like your current model should be wider, this is a great choice.
If you're a big fan of large, obvious shortcut and media keys, you may not appreciate the Kinesis Advantage28. Although the keyboard is highly customizable and supports completely different lettering layouts, to change them takes some serious know-how and dedication. This device is particularly hard to get used to if you're used to a standard keyboard. It may be worth learning over time, especially if it adds to productivity and relieves pain, but be prepared to deal with a big learning curve. Despite its drawbacks, the Kinesis Advantage2 is still a good option for those looking for wide shoulder width, a plug and play interface, or keys to minimize impact.
There are many instances in which producing a minimal amount of noise is ideal. For those looking for an ergonomic keyboard but still want to keep things quiet, we recommend the Fellowes Microban FEL9891503. This model also boasts Microban antimicrobial protection, a design that keeps the product cleaner.
Unfortunately, we found more flaws with the FEL9891503 than the elements that we liked. First of all, it's unusually thick with a very steep angle on the wrist wrest. It causes your wrists to flex into an awkward angle to operate the device — much more so than when using a flattened standard keyboard. This model also has minimal tenting, so if you're looking to get your wrists and forearms into a more relaxed position, this may not be the best option. It's still a great choice if you put the level of noise produced by your ergonomic keyboard above all.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our ergonomic keyboard testing team is comprised of Ross Patton and Austin Palmer
An avid gamer for decades, Austin also boasts an average typing speed of 75 words per minute, so you can trust that he has put these devices under the utmost amount of scrutiny. Ross has more than ten years of product testing experience, most recently in the tech product realm. He has reviewed all kinds of electronic devices, ranging from power tools to Bluetooth trackers. With their combined knowledge and experience, you can rest assured that you are reading an unbiased and straightforward review.
It is the digital era, and we pride ourselves on our adept team of virtual wordsmiths. Testing ergonomic keyboards was an obvious choice for us because here at GearLab, we like to keep our team as comfortable as possible. Our testers logged hundreds of hours shredding the qwerty during the workweek and spent a hefty dose of leisure time gaming so that we could get an all-encompassing feel for each model's overall performance.
Analysis and Test Results
To meticulously assess every model's strengths and weaknesses in our review, we used our in-house team of typing wizards to compare the keyboards side-by-side. We broke our score down into three metrics — ergonomics, learning curve, and noise.
These devices are specifically designed to minimize discomfort. For this reason, we dedicated the bulk of our evaluation to each model's natural feel and pleasantness. To measure an ergonomic value, we used our panel of professional product testers to use each keyboard for hours and hours in an everyday work setting. After weeks of testing, it was clear which models are the most comfortable.
One feature that nearly all ergonomic keyboards have in common is they split the keypad itself down the middle and angle the two halves outward toward the elbows to give the typist a more relaxed and natural feel. There is a large degree of variance between the models on the market regarding this particular piece of the design.
When it comes to lateral angle options, our two favorite models are the Goldtouch GTN-0099 V2 and the Kinesis Freestyle2. The Freestyle2 allows you to leave the two halves wholly assembled like a standard keyboard, articulate the device at the upper split using a flexible pivot, or completely disconnect the sides and angle them how your heart desires. The GTN-0099 can also be used as a standard keyboard or spread outward at the middle pivot up to 30 degrees.
Most ergonomic keyboards have a set degree of lateral wrist angle, which we find to work just fine for most people so long as you have a general idea of the angle you prefer. If you'd like maximum articulation out of a fixed single piece model, check out the Microsoft Natural 4000. This device has a small distance between each half of the qwerty, which Microsoft was clever enough to add a zoom key into.
If you prefer an articulated and bent keyboard, which is still more ergonomic than a standard or laptop version, it's worth considering the Logitech K350 Wireless Wave and the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.
Tenting refers to the inclination between the two halves of a split keyboard. The purpose is to reduce hand pronation — in other words, when your palms face straight down. With a tented keyboard, your wrists are typing at more natural angles, which many people find much more comfortable than a flat keyboard. Ergonomic keyboards that are currently available on the market offer tenting angles anywhere from 0 to 90 degrees.
For those that are looking to go vertical, we recommend the SafeType Keyboard V902. If you want a bit of adjustability and you're ready to spend a bit more on an accessory for your keyboard, the Kinesis Freestyle2 has a platform available for purchase that adjusts between 20 and 90 degrees.
If you want a model with adjustable tenting options but know that you aren't going to go too crazy with your angles, check out the Goldtouch GTN-0099. Sometimes it's nice not to worry about extra settings and adjustments. If you want a static one-piece ergonomic keyboard that still offers a bit of tenting, check out the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 or the Logitech K350 Wireless Wave.
The slope of a keyboard refers to the angle set between your fingertips and the bottoms of your palms. This front-to-back setting can have a drastic effect on your overall comfort, and that comfort level largely depends on your chair and desk's height. For some, a keyboard with a slope toward the typist will make the most sense, while for others, a negative slope will be the best.
If you're looking for a positive slope, the Logitech K350 Wireless Wave offers settings at 0, 4, and 8 degrees. If you are looking for a negative slope, the Goldtouch GTN-0099 V2 includes feet that provide a minimal angle, and the Microsoft Natural 4000 was designed with a permanent negative slope.
One of the more luxurious features of many ergonomic keyboards is the palm rest. If you are a typist that leans heavily on your palms, this feature is a must-have. The Logitech K350 Wireless Wave and the Microsoft Natural 4000 are good options for this feature.
If you are used to typing on a traditional keyboard, or especially on a laptop, adjusting to a raised, vertical, or articulated keyboard will take some getting used to. We took detailed notes on which keyboards we thought were more challenging to learn to use and which ones were intuitive and simple to use right from the get-go.
The easiest ergonomic keyboards to get used to are the ones that are most similar to standard and laptop keyboards. If you want an ergonomic feel but don't want to spend much time cutting into productivity to make the switch, we think the Logitech K350 Wireless Wave and Microsoft Natural 4000 are fantastic options. If you are prepared to change up your typing style entirely and are ready for a big learning curve, go for the SafeType V902. We found this model to be a bit of a pain at first, but once you're used to it, it is one of the best.
Our favorite learning models are the most adjustable because you can begin with a standard layout and try out the angles and setting to see which are the best for your individual needs. The Goldtouch GTN-0099 V2 is the best for this if you're looking for a standalone model. If you're ready to accessorize, we recommend the Kinesis Freestyle2.
The amount of sound that these devices produce can be a deciding purchasing factor for some people and an insignificant element for others. If you work in an office, your coworkers might find your keyboard to be boisterous and distracting. On the other hand, if you're using it for gaming at home, you likely already have the volume on your speakers turned up, so extra noises may not matter. We used our panel of professional product testers to subjectively judge each model in case there were any that were especially loud or annoying.
We found the SafeType V902 to be very quiet compared to most other models, perhaps thanks to its vertical orientation. The Goldtouch GTN-0099 is about average, and we did not find it to be annoying in the slightest. Next, the Logitech K350 Wave isn't too loud, so long as you aren't rampaging on the keys. The Kinesis Freestyle2 was only slightly louder than the Logitech. Finally, most of the keys on the Microsoft Natural 4000 are very quiet, but unfortunately, we found the spacebar to be especially loud, which can make for some rough listening.
Ergonomic keyboards are a great way to make your typing experience or gaming life more comfortable. The models that we tested provide an array of different features and each one may not be the best choice for a different person. In an ocean of products, it is our goal to help you navigate to the device that best suits you and your own personal needs.
— Ross Patton and Austin Palmer