Can a new keyboard “help reduce Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) issues”? Alex White gets his hands on one to find out.
Cards on the table, I hate keyboards. Ever since I got RSI, I have tried to limit my hands-on experience of them but I still have to use them in the office for editing tasks. I have tried previous ergonomic keyboards such as the ones that are supposed to put your hands in a more natural position but I have never found one that really suits me.
So it’s fair to say that I was a little skeptical about a new keyboard that would “help reduce Repetitive Strain Injury issues”. My previous one probably had the remains of several years of ‘al desko’ lunches and the germ status of a toilet bowl so I thought “What the hell?”
The first thing that you notice about the The Penclic Mini Keyboard is it is so small (285mm x 162 mm). I know, I know: there is a clue in the product name but being confronted by the reality is still a bit of a shock. I was worried that my sausage fingers might have difficulty hitting the right keys but I was pleasantly surprised by the soft keys (and by the lack of crumb-attracting gaps).
In common with a lot of battery compartments, it’s very hard to read how the batteries are supposed to be aligned. However, despite this common problem with battery-operated gizmos, the keyboard was easy to set up and can fit any computer PC or Mac.
The supports on the keyboard look a little flimsy compared with more expensive keyboards but on the other hand the keyboard is very light (381g) and easy to carry.
The keyboard display is a little confusing in that you have orange numbers and black letters on the same key. This is a way to save space by incorporating the number pad but this can cause confusion for the idiot user (such as myself) when you have the num lock pressed and you type J and you get a number one! I wouldn’t have minded but I only realised once I’d called my IT helpdesk…
Teething problems over, I found that I quite enjoyed the soft keys. It is nice to type (when I have to!) but I still prefer to use voice recognition when I’m writing an article like this so it feels a little odd to be dictating an article rather than keyboarding a review of a keyboard!
The wireless version apparently can go two months of everyday use before it needs recharging. So far I haven’t needed to. Confusingly the manual tells you if the LED flashes green repeatedly or is constantly green these both mean the battery is currently being recharged!
I’ve not noticed much change in my RSI symptoms but they certainly haven’t got worse. Meanwhile I’m enjoying the extra space on my desk and not having a keyboard that was probably a risk to public health as well as my own!