Question: When I first started using computers (this is pre-IBM PC days), the most common keyboards in use were much smaller. I don’t know the key count, but they tended to include the alphanumerics and symbols, and possibly, but not necessarily, a set of function keys. Some models included numeric keypads as standard, as they’re particularly useful for data entry. The keypad doubled for use with cursor control. Next, someone decided that it was too much trouble to have to switch between the numeric mode and the cursor control mode, so a second set of cursor keys was added. Now I’m looking at my keyboard, and it’s about 50% longer than necessary because it has a set of cursor keys followed by a numeric keypad. That means my mouse has to sit about a foot to the right of my standard typing position. I could move it closer, but only by putting it on the left side, and I’m right handed. I rarely use the numeric keypad, and would even be happy with the cursor keys elsewhere. Are there any keyboards available which would allow me to put my mouse immediately to the right of my hands? Even a reversed configuration, with all the special keys on the left instead of the right, would accomplish this for me. Any suggestions?
Answer: Here are some of my favourite solutions
1. Cherry Ergo keyboard
The main part of the keyboard is standard sized (tab key to enter key, spacebar to function keys) but the number pad is a separate box which plugs into the back. Therefore you can swap between a right handed/left handed arrangement, or even just put it out of the way until you want it. This keyboard can be used as a flat keyboard, or you can split it adjusting the angle between the keys on both sides to match you. (wide person short arms big split, narrow person long arms smaller split!). You can also raise the centre. You can therefore achieve a position much like on the Microsoft Natural without the disadvantage of the excessive length (and reach to your mouse). Also the adjustable split can be used to slowly alter the board to match you. If you put the number pad on the left and turn off numlock then you get another set of cursor keys on the left.
===> Access Keyboards, Osmond (but more expensive)
2. Siemans/Nixdorf ergonomic keyboard. Much like the Cherry, splittable, raisable, but doesn’t have a separate number pad. The Cherry keyboard requires a soft touch, but this is softer still. The sloping wrist supports at the front can be removed.
====> Pericom, Trackline (but they tend to take a few weeks)
3. Portable computer sized keyboards These can give a slightly cramped feeling and will not suit everyone. Some are available with matching separate number pads.
=====> Electrone, Access Keyboards
4. Generic separate number pad plug this into your keyboard port and plug your keyboard into it. You can duplicate your number pad on the left, or use it with a laptop sized keyboard.