Question: Could someone tell me if the Maltron keyboard needs any specific drivers or whether it will work through a standard AT/PS2 connection. I need to know as I use both an Amiga and a PC via a keyboard, monitor and mouse switcher. The Amiga has a PC keyboard interface which works on a hardware basis converting the signals from the PC straight into the Amiga keyboard interface. I would expect the Maltron to work like any other standard keyboard or it wouldn’t be possible to access the bios menu on a PC etc, but would like to know if it needs any extra software to work fully. One thing I do need in a keyboard is Win95 keys. These are essential on the Amiga side as they are remapped to the important system keys. Does the Maltron have them?
Also, can the Maltron be used on a tilted work surface? I’ve recently purchased an ergonomic corner unit from Office World which allows the work top to be raised by 15 degrees. This means that I can tilt my chair back slightly to obtain a more comfortable posture. I’m not sure if I will be able to get used to a Maltron and am a bit worried about having one at home but not at work (when I get a job that is ). The price is also an issue but if it works as well as it is supposed to, it could be worth it. It’s either a Maltron or a MS natural keyboard – I haven’t decided which yet.
Answer 1: In answer to your questions about the Maltron ergonomic keyboard:
1) The Maltron keyboard does not need any drivers, and (one that is configured for the IBM system) will work through a standard AT/PS2 connection (there are also Apple Mac and Terminal models). There is a switch on the bottom of the keyboard for switching it between XT and AT computers.
2) The Maltron does not require any extra software for it to work.
3) The very latest Windows model includes the 3 Windows keys and a separate ALT GR key so that both thumb ALT keys are the same. I am not sure how compatible this is to Win95.
4) I wouldn’t recommend using a Maltron on a tilted work surface, although it’s possible. You say that you can tilt your chair back slightly to obtain a more comfortable posture. I wonder whether it would be, because you may find that you are raising your head to see the screen, and therefore straining and tiring your neck muscles, and you’d create a problem there. The VDU regulations imposed from Brussels make sense in that they recommend a straight upright posture along the backbone and neck to avoid such problems. Problems can also be caused if your wrists are not straight as you type, and this might be the case with a tilted surface. However, if this is not the case for you, enjoy!
5) It takes various people a varied amount of time to get used to a Maltron. A typical period of between ten days to two weeks has been reported by new users. Learning to use a Maltron is not unlike learning to use another musical instrument. Lots of musicians can play several and no-one thinks this is unusual. The script is the same but the fingering is different. No one expects to be able to change from a piano to an organ and play competently without putting in a lot of practice even though the keys are in the same places.
6) If you’re worried about having one at home but not at work, and your employer will not obtain one for you, why can’t you bring your home one to work? As Jean Sheridan of Rochester, Kent said, “I took my Maltron keyboard into the office and explained to my new boss that I had used it for the last two years and preferred it. Fortunately he understood and I am able to continue to work.” Have Maltron Keyboard Will Travel!
7) You said that price is also an issue but if it works as well as it is supposed to, it could be worth it. I agree that these proven Maltron keyboards are not inexpensive but when compared with a recent UK court pay out of 82,000 to a claimant (plus legal expenses which can reach the same kind of figure) the cost is relatively negligible. And that’s apart from the costs involved in sick days – days weeks and months – and the “human” costs of a disability.
8) You haven’t decided between a Maltron or a MS natural keyboard. The Maltron keyboard is unique in that it is the only one with the record of bringing 600 RSI sufferers world-wide back into productive keyboard work after they have worked with it. What claims does a MS natural keyboard make that helps RSI sufferers?
Answer 2: Thanks for the info on the keyboard – it was very helpful. It doesn’t feel as though I’m lifting my head up unnaturally to see the monitor as I have been able to adjust the monitor shelf to a more comfortable position. However, I did have some neck pain a day after using the workstation although this could have been due to watching TV that same night, sitting on my computer chair tilting my neck down to see the set (I don’t have to do this anymore). I was wondering about using the desk tilted and what you say does make sense. I got the workstation from Office World and some of the blurb about it says: “The unique work centre allows the operator to adopt and maintain a reclined posture and provides support for the arms while working. Studies show that this reduces muscular effort in the back and upper torso, and minimises pressure on the disks…” Perhaps this is only true for someone without RSI?
I haven’t had the unit long enough to know whether this new position is having a negative effect on me. So far I have felt fairly comfortable (although the pains in my arms and shoulders are still with me of course) but I think a lot of this is due to looking the monitor straight on and the built in footrest – previously I used a standard desk without footrest and monitor positioned on the side which was pretty uncomfortable. I’ve often found the 90 degree position to be uncomfortable although my chair doesn’t adjust to a decent position to allow it. The upright position is just a little too far forward to use comfortably and so I have to use the position where the back is titled slightly back. Using the tilted work surface allows this and so it seems better in that respect.
“Problems can also be caused if your wrists are not straight as you type, and this might be the case with a tilted surface. However, if this is not the case for you, enjoy!” – This is a little worrying. I sometimes find the pain in my forearms comes on while resting them on the surface while typing although this isn’t always the case. I could always put the surface back to 0 degrees and try it like that for a while. Taking the Maltron keyboard to the work place is a good idea; I don’t know why I didn’t think of it! I’m just a little worried about getting a new job and then asking for a special keyboard which is obviously designed for RSI sufferers. I would feel worried that my job was at risk and uncomfortable at having to explain it to colleagues. How have other people handled this? The price you quote are very heartening. I have just about come to terms with the idea that I’ll always have pains while typing and so it’s difficult to imagine being able to use the computer again without the same level of pain. BTW, how much does the latest version of the keyboard cost? Rental sounds like a good idea although 40 for 4 weeks is a little high if I decide that it’s not right for me.
“What claims does a MS natural keyboard make that helps RSI sufferers?” – True and knowing what crap MS usually spout it wouldn’t surprise me if the natural keyboard doesn’t do much at all for RSI. However, I’d be interested in what people who have used it have to say. One last question. Does the Maltron help to reduce problems in the shoulders? I feel that much of my problem stems from the shoulders as they get very stiff during the day and when I stretch at night they make painful clicking sounds.