The best keyboards: Ergonomic and productive home office options
- 29 June, 2020 17:32
Whether you’re looking for a keyboard with every feature under the sun, ergonomics to cure wrist pain or something to use for work and play there’s a keyboard for everyone
The keyboard of a computing setup is one of the essential components. It is the primary input method for every word you type, but millions of us just use whichever one is lying around or the one that’s built into the base of the laptop we could afford.
More thought can and should be put into which keyboard you’re using because there’s a dizzying range of options. If you don’t want to be bent over your laptop as you work from home, then you can elevate it to head height and attach an external keyboard.
If you use a desktop computer already you may think that the keyboard you have is perfectly adequate. But how fast can you type on it, and do you get wrist pain after a long working day? Does it have a number pad and media controls? Do the wires annoy you?
We’ll be the first to admit that there are far too many keyboards out there but there really is one for everyone – and we’re firm believers that most people won’t appreciate how much positive difference a change in keyboard can make to your comfort and productivity.
Here are our picks of the five best keyboards you can buy to improve your work, play, and comfort.
Logitech MX Keys
$229.95 / NZ$249.99
It ain’t cheap but it’s one of the best wireless keyboards available right now. The design of the keys means they have a decent amount of travel and a satisfying feedback. Each key also has a spherical indent to match your fingertips. Bear in mind it’s quite flat, and there’s no tilt adjustment.
The unit is incredibly solid with its metal frame and it’s comfortable to type at for hours despite not having an ergonomic shape. We love the proximity sensor that lights the keys up when your hands approach them, and the board can be used with Windows or Mac thanks to its flexible key layout and labelling.
But it’s the software trickery that’s the secret trick of the MX Keys. When paired with the MX Master 3 mouse, you can astoundingly move the cursor from a PC to a Mac. It works very well, and you can even click and drag items from one OS to another.
Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
$99.95 / NZ$109.95
This Microsoft ergonomic wired keyboard will help with wrist pain in a design that could offset injury but might disrupt your typing flow at first as you relearn the spacing. The split keyboard is at a good angle and distance, and after a bit of relearning you should be typing up to speed.
The included palm rest is a god send – combined with your newly tilted wrists you should hopefully experience less wrist fatigue after typing all day. It’s tilt adjustable and despite not being a mechanical keyboard offers a great combination of key travel and comfort in a board that’s not too loud.
It’s USB-A so if you have a modern laptop with fewer ports you might need to buy a USB-C adapter. There are also handy Windows shortcut keys for Office, emojis and even screen grab tools. You can customise these keys and features with Microsoft’s Mouse and Keyboard Center app.
If you’re strapped for cash then the incredibly good value Microsoft Wired Keyboard 600 is only thirty bucks but lacks the ergonomic design.
Apple Magic Keyboard
$149 / NZ$149
If you’re a Mac user and still have an older keyboard or you want to connect your MacBook up to a monitor, then Apple offers its wireless Magic Keyboard if you want to keep things first-party. It’s a divisive keyboard, but we like it for its sleek design, simplicity, and good typing feel.
It’s divisive because the travel of the keys a long way from the satisfying thunk of a mechanical keyboard but if you prefer low travel and don’t mind a clicky sound then you’ll be able to get up to a decent typing speed. It has all the media and macOS control keys you get on a Mac, charges via the included Lightning cable and lasts at least a month of use on a charge when used wirelessly, if not more.
A longer version with a numeric keypad costs an additional $30 but we prefer the smaller version for its compact design and the ability to chuck it in unnoticed in a bag if you hot desk.
Corsair K70 MK2
$249 / NZ$289
Things can get intimidating and complicated if you’re after a mechanical keyboard, so put simply: the best mechanical keyboard we’ve used is the Corsair K70 MK2. If you don’t mind the gaming aesthetic, or indeed are after a keyboard for work and play, then this is the one we’d recommend. Its low 29mm profile is excellent when combined with the included detachable palm rest.
Paired with the choice of quieter Cherry MX Silent keys (others are available so check before you buy), the K70 has a lovely feel to it with long travel but relatively muted feedback for a mechanical. If you hate hyping on clicky keys with low travel and like to feel each word as you type, then it’s a great fit.
After hours it’s also a gaming keyboard with included different texture keys and highly customisable RGB lighting, plus two USB-A plugs for input and passthrough. You’re paying a premium for all those extras though. If you want to pay less, then you can shop around for something else that uses the Cherry MX Silent keys.
A much cheaper alternative is Kogan’s Full RGB mechanical keyboard with a choice of three switch types.
Razer BlackWidow Lite
$169.95 / NZ$179.95
Another mechanical alternative is this work-focused wired keyboard from Razer so doesn’t have RGB lighting. It is suitable for gaming, but in a subtler, smaller, and cheaper package than the Corsair.
Its Razer Orange switches good if you prefer a louder, clackier sound but it comes with O-ring for you to individually dampen key sound if you want – though taking each key off with a tool and adding a ring is a bit of a chore.
We found we could get up to a decent speed on the BlackWidow and it’s a particularly good looking keyboard though it has quite a high profile so you may need to get a wrist rest.