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This is The Best Work Keyboard

12 January 2019

From Co-op:

After much debate, our readers chose the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 as their favorite work keyboard. This was a really tight contest with each entry netting over 15% of the vote. In fact, each of the runner-ups are worth checking out.

. . . .

Here’s why our readers picked Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000:

. . . .

I have a couple of MS Ergo 4000s sitting on a shelf at home, because I’ve got 3 in use (2x at Home, and 1 at work) and they’re fantastic, until they get grungy. My only complaint is that they are virtually impossible to clean right, so when they get gross, just toss it and deploy another.

I am an *extremely* heavy user, and I can get 2+ years out of one. I can type at speed, and for a membrane, they are great. If MS could get off their ass and make a high-end version with mechanical (replaceable?) switches, it would be damn near perfect. Also, if you have large hands, it’s wayyyyyyy more comfortable than many other more compact ergos. -ellomdian

Link to the rest at Co-op

PG has been typing for a long time.

His first experiences with a variety of keyboards came when all proper keyboards had their keys lined up in perfectly straight rows.

PG’s mother was a very fast typist, even on the ancient manual typewriter that was the only one available when PG was but a sprout. She provided excellent advice to him on a variety of topics, but one of her best pieces of advice was that he should take a typing course in high school.

That typing course introduced him to Smith-Corona electric typewriters, which were a definite speed improvement, particularly since PG could hit a key for a carriage return instead of lifting his hands from the keyboard and slapping a lever to physically move the carriage to the left so he could start a new line.

While PG was still in high school, he had his first experience with an IBM Selectric, which was a big step up from the Smith-Corona in speed and in the visual appeal of the finished product. The Correcting Selectric was even better. It removed the concern about typos which invariably slowed typing.  You could fix the typos very quickly and easily and Whiteout was banished forever.

With the advent of personal computers, PG quickly became a keyboard snob.  His first upgrade was Northgate keyboard, which add a wonderful mechanical “clicky” feel to it. He used various Northgate keyboards for several years before trying out an early Microsoft ergonomic keyboard.

He’s used Microsoft keyboards ever since. He is on MS Ergo keyboard number five or six at this point.

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14 Comments to “This is The Best Work Keyboard”

  1. IBM Selectric I…before it was designated “I”.

    I can still hear the clack of the type ball as I struggled to put words on paper in the right order.

    Dan

  2. With all due respect to fans of this keyboard, for $50 it had best be plated in gold

    • It’s worth it. I’ve used one of these at work 8 hours a day for several years, and it’s comfortable and easy on the wrists. The cheap little freebie that came with your last PC purchase is okay for occasional use, but not for all-day work.

      I am curious to try out a high-end mechanical though. I hear such good things.

  3. We *real* keyboard snobs keep the original IBM P/S2 metal/spring keyboards going on computers multi generations beyond that technology, or else replace with their modern mechanical custom equivalents available through WASD.

  4. If it’s not mechanical, I’m not interested. Spend a few days using a mechanical keyboard, and you’ll never go back. I’m using a Sharkoon RGB SGK3 right now, and I have a gorgeous Corsair K77, both with blue keys, and a Fnatic with red Cherry keys.
    your fingers and wrists will thank you.

  5. I loved my Northgates, too, PG. I so wish Northgate had stayed in the keyboard business. Not only was the tacticle feel better than all, the F1-F10 keys were maintained down the far left, even with the letter key rows, making them easy to memorize/touch type — and I didn’t wear out their keyboards in less than a year.

    TODAY: I have finally found (in early December 2018) a keyboard that types as fast as I do: Logitech K780.
    I would like L to move a couple things but the keyboard is super-fast w/o fatigue. It will also type into your smart phone and tablets. And, darnit, 12 F-keys are across the top but seem easier to “land on” accurately.

    • I liked Northgate’s positioning of the function keys on the left as well, Chuck. It was perfect for rocking and rolling with pre-Windows WordPerfect.

      The closest I’ve come to that level of performance since then is Autohotkey and a bunch of keyboard macros.

    • I still love my Logitech K520. The front is longer and sloped, providing a decent place to rest the heel of my hand while I type, with no sharp edge or drop off to cut into my wrist. I replace it about once a year, simply because my long nails wear the letters off the keys(the “E” is always the first to go. Currently there’s no ink on the I, T, or S keys, either, but I pretty much touch type so it’s OK.)

  6. I am a horrible typist. I’ve typed since I was 16 and never got to be any good at it. Typing code does things to you that authors don’t understand. Until I switched to the Dvorak layout after a bicycling accident that made all typing painful, I was never any good. Dvorak reduced the pain and increased my speed and accuracy. Now I am just tolerable. I’m not exactly a Dvorak advocate. I just know what has worked for me.

    I have three keyboards that I like. An IBM PC/AT keyboard that has the Selectric style with function keys on the left and an enter key the size of a small potato. The touch is perfect, but the straight rows of identical size keys is not optimal. An IBM 84G2525 that came with a ThinkPad docking station. Membrane switches but good feel. Distinguished by an eraser head mouse, which I prefer to a touch pad. And, finally, several Msft Nat Ergos. The touch is not perfect, but the shape and key layout is the best.

    I rotate between the three, dwelling on the Msft.

    Ergos have mechanical flaws, or I have an atrocious typing style, which cause the space bars to stick eventually. After I bought my 3rd Ergo, I discovered that two drops of Cosmoline at strategic points solves the space bar issue. I wear notches into the ways on which the space bar stabilizers slide. A drop of Cosmoline on each way brought the kb with the deepest notches back to life.

    So. If the space bar on an Ergo goes bad, order a can of lanolin lubricant from Amzn, pop off the space bar, apply a speck of lubricant with a toothpick to each of the ways where the wire stabilizers slide, pop the space bar back on. You might as well give the rest of the lubricant to charity because you won’t need it again.

  7. The best keyboard for ‘you’ is the one you don’t even think about while banging on the keys.

    As I never learned touch typing those ‘ergonomic’ keyboards are a pain, give me a nice flat one any day. I do get funny looks stepping away from the desk with the keyboard in one hand while the others bangs the keys like I’m playing some crazy instrument (I guess I am in a way. 😉 )

    Keying this in on a wireless Logitech K520, $30 on sale and comes with a nice five button up-down/side-side scrolling mouse.

    MYMV and your tools do want you need them to do.

  8. I’m definitely a keyboard snob. I learned back in high school on manual typewriters, and became a speed touch-typist. But as an adult, when I got my first Toshiba laptop, I became practically unable to use any other kind of keyboard efficiently. Clicky keyboards and high-profile keys are my undoing now. When Windows 8 was rolled out (I was going through 1 laptop every other year from just wearing them out) I switched to a MacBook Air–LOVED the keyboard. I found a Logitech K750 solar keyboard that has the universal dongle so I can use my Logitech mouse with it. Love love love it. I use a chill pad and clamshell it to a large monitor and usually use my logitech. I need the low-profile keys now.

  9. I have a Corsair mechanical keyboard and love the feel.

    However, I like the split design of the MS ergonomic keyboards because of arthritis in my wrists.

    I’d love to get an ergonomic board with mechanical keys but haven’t found one.

    Anybody got any ideas?

  10. If you have to work on a keyboard for 8 hours, like in a call center, the MS Ergo is second to none. I’ve bought my own when the company I worked for wouldn’t provide them any more. Now that I work for myself I use a MS Surface, which also has a fantastic keyboard.

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