An article from Pieter's Knowledge Base
Because of RSI-related issues, I put great importance on using a good keyboard and mouse. One of the issues I had with regular keyboards, ones that include a numeric keypad, is that they require you to bend your lower arm outwards, or lift your upper arm, in order to reach for the mouse. In my case, it is bit of both, causing strain and ultimately pain in the shoulder and the upper arm, in addition to the pain in the lower arm and wrist caused by using a regular mouse. To me, regular keyboards are simply too wide to be able to work comfortably and painfree. I once tried a keyboard that had the numeric keypad on the left, but I had to press the keys really hard to make things appear on screen. So I tried something else instead.
I have been using a Logitech Dinovo Cordless Desktop for Notebooks, a keyboard without numeric keypad, and it served me well for a few years years until the USB receiver unit snapped from my PC and I couldn't get a replacement unit for it. So I went to look for a new keyboard without numeric keypad. Basically, what I want, is a good regular keyboard with the numeric keypad and other superflous keys removed, but not some keyboard that's primarily meant to be taken on the road along with a notebook :
This is quite difficult. First of all, from searching on the Net, these keyboards simply don't seem to exist. Secondly, compact-sized keyboards typically aren't found in stores, where they have only a handful of regular keyboards. Since I work a lot at the computer, I really would like to try a couple of keyboards before I choose one. Unfortunately, in various stores I found only three compact-size keyboards, and neither met with my approval. I decided to look for a keyboard in web shops, and ultimately ordered the Emprex 5139U keyboard (also sold under the BTC brand name), simply because pictures of it looked like it came closest to the thing I wanted, and it was low cost as well, so i thought, what the heck, there's no risk, lets order it!
5139U Keyboard, available from BTC or Emprex.
This keyboard is actually quite nice. It's a keyboard with large, 'classic-style' keys, and not one of these designer keyboards that are primarily made to look esthetically pleasing. Because of the somewhat heavier keypresses, I make less typings errors than with my previous keyboard from Logitech. It does, however, take some time to get used to the position of the editing keys on the right. Another advantage is that this keyboard is even less wide (32 cm/12.6 inch) than the Logitech one (39.5 cm/15.6 inch), so I can position it just a bit more straight in front of me, and even move my mouse a bit more to the left, so that my right arm is even more relaxed while using the mouse. It also feels like I have a lot more space available on my desk. But despite its compact size, the size of the alphanumeric section of this keyboard is similar to that of regular keyboards, which I greatly appreciate:
Overall, I'm satisfied with this keyboard and see no need to look for something else. However, for people who need to do a lot of typing, I can imagine the keys are too heavy to allow typing for an extended period of time, causing fatugue or pain in the fingers. Also, it's not a keyboard for people who need to move a lot around documents using keys such as the arrow keys, page down/page up etc.: you'd want the editing and arrow keys to have a section of their own. In addition, intensive users might need a wrist rest to use this keyboard comfortably.
I myself am going to keep it. It serves my purposes well, since I don't do a lot of typing anyway. Also it combines very well with my Evoluent VerticalMouse 3. Considering the very low price of this keyboard, there's not much financial risk in ordering it from the Internet and giving it a try. I have seen this keyboard being sold under the brand names BTC and Emprex. There's also a model with an integrated two-port USB hub, model no. 5139H. Both models are available in black, grey/black and white. For more information, please check the BTC web site.
Bottom line: good keyboard, great value for money, but probably less suitable for intensive users.
© 2011 Dutch Alps/Pieter Mol
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