Keyboard and mouse

Updated Nov 2021 · RSS

I've had occasional wrist pain for the last few years. I have been able to get by with a good ergonomic keyboard and mouse. I've tried a lot of keyboards over the years, recently getting into mechanical keyboards in 2020. First, I moved on from my Apple Magic Keyboard to a Keychron K2 mechanical keyboard with a large wristpad. Then I moved on to the slightly thinner Keychron K3.

I still had wrist pain. In particular, I noticed I happened to be straining a lot when reaching for the delete key, for example, when programming. I would find myself doing an unnatural twist to reach it instead of lifting my right hand from the keys.

I started researching more ergonomic keyboards like the $400 ZSA Moonlander. But whenever I looked into it, I instead kept hearing great things about the Kinesis Advantage2. One person even told me this keyboard saved their career. Another told me they had been using the same Kinesis for 18 years. I was sold.

Kinesis Advantage2 keyboard
The Kinesis Advantage2 is not your average keyboard.

It's a funky keyboard and it definitely takes some getting used to. A few things to get used to:

  • Ortholinear: Keys are stacked vertically, not staggered. For example, the S key is directly under the W key, not staggered off to the side. This took at least a week to get used to.

  • Concave: You don't have to reach as much as your fingers sort of go into a well. So reaching a lower key like C feels more natural.

  • Split design: Like other ergonomic keyboards, the keys are split into two halves, with a sizable space in the middle. This helps so that your arms don't have to unnaturally come closer together, and thus cause you to twist your wrists.

  • Thumb clusters: The Kinesis makes your thumbs far more productive. Instead of only being able to control the spacebar, now each thumb is given duties like Backspace, Command, Alt, Home, End, Page Up/Down and Enter.

One other thing that took a while to get used to was the key layout itself. For example, the arrow keys are split across the two halves. I had strong muscle memory around using them with just my right hand, for example when moving the cursor around while coding. And the general function keys—I missed having dedicated media keys and keys for display brightness. Fortunately, that was easy to modify with Karabiner Elements.

Using Karabiner Elements to adjust key mapping.

It took me a week to get to a normal typing speed, and a few weeks to feel completely at home with this keyboard. The first few days I spent a lot of time practicing my typing on keybr.com. The only issue I have today is that common programming keys (arrow keys, curly braces, +/-) feel a tad inconvenient.

The Kinesis Advantage2 doesn't really have any bells and whistles—like Bluetooth with support for multiple devices, USB-C charging or LED backlighting. Instead it has a plain black design, and a boring USB-A cable; no wireless.

Overall I think this keyboard is worth the price, even if it's not even modern and wireless. While I don't think any keyboard could magically solve my wrist pain, the Kinesis fits me like a glove and feels much more natural. It has definitely reduced my regular pain a bit. My hands and wrist don't have to move as much and the thumb key clusters are brilliant.

If you consider getting one just approach it with an open mind. You'll probably hate it on day 1. And day 2.

Kinesis Advantage2 Quiet LF Ergonomic Keyboard (KB600LFQ)

Kinesis Advantage2 Quiet LF KB600LFQ

A contoured ergonomic mechanical keyboard featuring tenting, concave shape, thumb keys and an orthogonal key layout.

Mice

Now, on to the mice. I use the ergonomic Logitech MX Vertical mouse about 90% of the time. Sometimes I'll briefly switch to the MX Master 3 if I have some RSI wrist pain; I find switching orientations helps a bit.

The MX Vertical is great; comfortable, has a long battery life and charges via USB-C. My only complaint is that the mouse itself is very light and it's easy to accidentally flip it over if you're not paying attention when going to grab it.

As for the MX Master 3, it's an all-around powerhouse. If I didn't have wrist pain issues, it would be my primary mouse. I do use it exclusively when gaming though; could never get used to gaming with the MX Vertical.

One nice benefit to using Logitech mice is the customization software and the ability for each mouse to switch between three channels. This proves hugely useful when use the same mice between various devices. I constantly switch between using my mice with my personal MacBook Pro, work MacBook Pro and gaming desktop PC.

And finally, I have a small Wacom tablet. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I got it to help reduce wrist pain and act as my primary mouse. Unfortunately, I never got used to using it for that. Simple things like reading an article and scrolling felt like they created even more pain. Clicking things felt hard as the pointer would ever so slightly move by the time I was able to tap or push a button. But depending on the task at hand, holding the stylus can feel natural and pain-free.

Logitech MX Master 3 Advanced Wireless Mouse - Mid Grey

Logitech MX Master 3 Advanced

Wireless mouse

Logitech MX Vertical Wireless Mouse – Advanced Ergonomic Design Reduces Muscle Strain

Logitech MX Vertical

USB-C, vertical wireless mouse

Wacom Intuos S

Graphics drawing tablet

Case for Logitech MX Master 3 / Master 2S Advance Wireless Mouse- Gray

Travel case

A cheap little case for my MX Master 3S so I can toss my mouse in my suitcase or backpack when traveling.

My previous setup with a Keychron K2