Recently, after long typing stints, I've felt soreness that would have been alleviated by a more ergonomic keyboard and mouse. I don't have major repetitive stress injuries, but I've decided to take preventative measures. Sitting on my desk (obligatory picture) is a new Kinesis contoured USB keyboard along with a Evoluent VerticalMouse2. Here are my impressions.
Switching to the VerticalMouse is a much simpler story than the keyboard since the adjustment period was much shorter. I didn't feel any mysterious warmth in the wrist like the web site claimed I would, but after a good three hours of Unreal Tournament, I was at home.
My only complaints about the VerticalMouse are that the scroll wheel doesn't click when rolled and that the surface of the mouse is a little too slippery for my taste. However, the transitions to and from the keyboard are easier and it feels more natural.
Kinesis Advantage MPC/USB contoured keyboard
The Kinesis Advantage keyboard is a beast. After using a ViewSonic Slim keyboard for so long, it seems like a tank has rolled onto my desk and eaten the old keyboard. The keyboard is about 3" high at the back, but it uses the room effectively by housing a recessed space for two USB jacks and extra cable.
Using the keyboard feels great, but Control and Alt are a little distant and require moving the wrists and arm a little. There's no more lateral bending of my wrists, which is probably one of the sources of the aforementioned soreness. The keyboard comes with two wrist pads, which are only 1/4" thick. Kinesis should provide thicker wrist pads to raise the wrist a bit higher.
In all honesty, learning this thing has been a bitch. I started touch typing about when I learned to program, so learning the new Kinesis style is going against fourteen years of typing. However, Kinesis provides a fun little guide full of adaptation exercises which has made the transition much easier.
Yesterday (Day 2) I got so frustrated that I put the thing back in the box. I realized, however, that it was simply me not being patient enough. I even felt guilty for wimping out. The kicker was that when I switched back to my old regular keyboard, I actually missed the Kinesis keyboard.
The best feature yet? Kinesis encourages you to change the keys and features around to your liking. (It almost feels like an open-source keyboard.) You can map any key to any key, and they give you a convenient key-removal tool to pop keys off. (I swapped the up and down arrow keys, both physically and electronically, so that they're in the order of J and K, such as with Vim.) There are three simple preset modes to choose from -- Mac, Windows, and non-Windows -- and you can easily modify the settings (and macros!) from there.
Overall, it's growing on me, though I have yet to do any serious programming with it. I'm typing faster on the keys I do know and gradually learning the keys I don't. Best of all, barring the frustration of getting keys confused and not immediately knowing where some of them are, it feels really good to type on this thing. I'd recommend this keyboard for anyone who doesn't have any serious typing to do for a week.