SafeType Ergonomic Review

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philthy's review of SafeType Ergonomic


“The SafeType keyboard is specifically designed to be...”

Written on: 16/05/2005 by philthy (8 reviews written)

Good Points
A great help with keyboard related repetitive strain injury.
Multimedia keys.
Built in USB extension.
Mirrors help you see the function keys.

Bad Points
Some keys are not as easily accessible as others.
If you need to look at the keyboard as you type, then forget it.

General Comments
The SafeType keyboard is specifically designed to be ergonomically safe. Rather than typing by pressing keys downward, towards the desk, this keyboard is split into two halves and each half has been spun around by 90 degrees. This means you type with your palms facing each other - much like playing an accordian! The idea is that this is not an un-natural twist for the wrists.

I started this year with some serious pains related to keyboard and mouse usage. As a computer programmer, it was kind of important for my career that I resolve these issues. As well as visiting the doc, I threw some money at an Ergotype keyboard and similar vertical mouse (Equill Airobic Mouse). Neither were cheap, but I figured I'd be needed a working body for a little while, so I figured it was time to invest.

I can honestly say that the Ergotype keyboard has significantly reduced the pains I'm experiencing and would highly recommend it with perhaps a few caveats.

The first is, that if you need to look at the keys while you type, then you're going to struggle a lot here - you should probably do a typing course first or something!

The second is that the arrow keys, the insert/delete/home group of keys and the numeric keypad exist only in the center part of the keyboard. This is fine for infrequent use, but may slow you down if you need regular fast access to any of these. It would be nice to see an improved version of the keyboard that assists in this respect, but for now, as a frequent user of the arrow keys, I've used a keyboard remapping program (Tradekeys) to remap some disused function keys to the keystrokes I need fast access to. This worked quite well after a little experimentation.

Incidentally, if you touch type, then you'll have no trouble adapting to this keyboard. I've never learnt to type properly, but can type just as fast on this as any regular keyboard.

The keyboard also sports various multimedia type keys - for controlling CDs etc. and also keys to launch browsers. I've found them quite useful, but you might not.

The keyboard connection is strictly PS2, but it has a useful built in USB extension cable, which will allow you to plug your mouse (or perhaps numeric keypad) into the keyboard, solving any cable strain issues.

There are also some mirrors built in, which can be positioned to help you see the function keys. I personally don't use them, although they might be quite useful for some.

As a side-note, I also tried a Microsoft "split" keyboard (tradional orientation), and while it might be more ergonomically friendly than a standard keyboard, in the long term it didn't really help all that much.

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