Clavier Dvorak pour la langue française
Ergonomie du poste de travail informatique

Claviers Goldtouch et Kinesis Maxim

Extrait de New Ergonomic Keyboards, Two picks and two pans, Deborah Quilter

Recommended: Goldtouch Adjustable Keyboard

The old Lexmark Select-Ease keyboard once set the standard for ergonomic keyboard design: You could split it into separate halves and tent it at the middle. It also had a detachable numeric pad, which was a smart design idea. Anyone who fondly recalls the old Lexmark will be thrilled to hear that the same designer is at work again.

The $99 Goldtouch Adjustable Keyboard keeps several of the intelligent features of the Lexmark and makes a few improvements. Goldtouch's keyboard matches the Lexmark's compact size, measuring a little more than 18 inches wide in its fully expanded position, and 7 inches deep.

The Goldtouch's overall action is the best of the bunch reviewed here. Keys depress easily and cushion your fingers as they land. The absence of a wrist rest allows you to bring the keys directly under your fingers. If you press a toggle, some letter keys in the right half of the keyboard will double as a numeric keypad (e.g., J, K, and L become 1, 2, and 3). This feature saves space, but it's awkward having the numbers staggered rather than vertically aligned. You're better off using the numbers in the top row so that you can use both hands. Goldtouch doesn't sell a separate numeric keypad.

The keyboard splits the work between the hands by placing a Windows key on each side and arranging Home, End, Insert, Delete, Page Up, Page Down, Scroll, F11, and F12 to the left of the Caps Lock key in two blocks. You can acclimate to this arrangement pretty quickly.

One downside is that there are no F11 and F12 keys per se; they share a key with F1 and F2, respectively. For example, to use F12 to select text in WordPerfect, you would have to press the Fn (Function) key, then F2, select the text you wanted to copy or cut, then press Fn again. This is laborious, and since these keys aren't programmable you can't work around this limitation.

The biggest problem is that you can't split the keyboard into separate halves as you could with the Lexmark. Instead, there's a hinged pivot point at the top of the keyboard. If you pull out a handle at the top of the left key bank you can tent the keyboard and separate the sides at the bottom to create an angle of up to 30 degrees. Adjusting the keyboard is rather awkward (it takes both hands), but it locks to stay firmly in place.

I liked the Lexmark because I could pull the halves completely apart. I could adjust one half without affecting the other, spreading the key banks to match the width of my shoulders. You can't do this with the Goldtouch, but if you carefully remove the back, take out the adjustment pin (you'll need an Allen wrench), and unloop the connecting cable, you'll get about two inches' worth of separation between the key banks. Doing this voids your warranty, so don't start tinkering unless you plan to keep the keyboard.

Recommended: Kinesis Maxim

The $149 Kinesis Maxim can't match the Lexmark's degree of flexibility, but it's still a good choice. The key banks, attached at the top, can be angled at up to 30 degrees at the bottom and tented at two different heights using center props. Three Windows keys are on the left bank, while a numeric keypad is embedded in the right bank (like the Goldtouch keyboard). You can buy a separate, detachable numeric keypad for $69. It's money well spent if you want to more evenly distribute the workload between both hands. The palm support can and should be removed. The keyboard's action is soft, installing and adjusting the keyboard is easy, and the manual is concise and clear. Since the keyboard halves can't be split and separated, the Maxim may be a better option for smaller people. Note that the Kinesis Maxim is the only keyboard reviewed here that's available for the Mac, and that version costs an additional $90.

Not Recommended: Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite

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Not Recommended: Cirque Smooth Cat

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