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Clickity Clack

You know, the weird thing is that the only class I ever got an “F” in was typing class. Now, I can type as fast as most people and actually the lessons in typing class served me well as I do not have to look at my keyboard and I use all ten fingers.

I have been fascinated by ergonomic keyboards for some time. This started way back when Small Dog got its start at my house in Warren. About a year after we launched the company I was having severe discomfort in my wrists and arms. It was so severe that it would keep me up at night as my arm and hands got numb. So, I went to see about it and was sent to a neurologist who confirmed that I had carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists.

The neurologist was Dr. Freize, ironically. He hooked up electrodes and shot current and measured it. This is memorable to me because his equipment was sort of old and he kept banging on it to make it work. Nevertheless, I went to see a surgeon and scheduled the surgery to open up the tunnel. They didn’t want to do both at the same time but I insisted and looked pretty pathetic leaving the hospital with both arms immobilized. It took some “special” tools for me to do daily functions and I wasn’t typing too much for awhile. Artie and Hapy had to do all my work for me.

So, I got interested in ergonomic keyboards and here in Kibbles & Bytes, I wrote a series of articles about some of the best boards. My favorite and the one I have used for almost 20 years is the Advantage Pro by Kinesis. Kinesis Technology is the leader in ergonomic keyboards and pointing devices. It took me about 3 weeks to get used to the very strange looking keyboard but it is clearly a superior design. It has the added advantage that no one else wants to use my keyboard so they stay away from my desk.

Now that I am about to move to the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar I am looking for a Bluetooth keyboard that has the same ergonomic features. Luckily, Kinesis came through again. They have recently sent me their new Freestyle2 Blue keyboard for the Mac. It is what I am using now and I love it. If you are old enough to remember the Apple ergonomic keyboard, the Freestyle2 is a bit like that.

The Freestyle2 has a bunch of cool features. It is Bluetooth (cool feature #1) so no cables to my Mac. Not only that but the Freestyle2 features multichannel technology that allows you to not only connect to your Mac but also simultaneously to your iPhone or iPad. It has 3 channels so you can instantly switch between them.

Most keyboards, including ergonomic models, have a 10 degree positive slope from front to back. These designs tend to bend your wrists. The Freestyle2 has a zero degree slope which minimizes the height, effectively creating negative slope and reducing wrist extension. The slim design provides you a 2-in-1 office and travel keyboard.

It has even more versatility. From small to tall and body types in between, the Freestyle2 allows for maximum flexibility catering to each individual’s unique needs. Out of the box both modules are connected together by a flexible pivot tether allowing an infinite range of splay. Disconnecting the pivot tether allows up to 9 inches of complete separation of both left and right keying modules. Perfect for individual needs ranging from a narrow footprint to complete separation. This design greatly reduces and/or eliminates ulnar deviation.

For even more versatility you can add the VIP3 kit which I did. The VIP3 and V3 accessories attach easily to the base of the Freestyle2 keyboard allowing quick and reproducible tent settings of 5, 10 and 15 degrees greatly reducing forearm tension. For people who want integrated palm supports get the VIP3, and for people who prefer tenting without palm supports get the V3.

It is quiet, too. Rob Amon has the company’s loudest keyboard, I think it is an old Datadesk, that he loves but I can always tell if he is working by the insanely loud clicking coming from his office. The Freestyle2 utilizes a quiet, low-force, tactile membrane key switch. The typical average maximum key force of a switch is 45 grams. This is at least 25% less than most traditional and many ergonomic keyboards.

It is clearly made for the Mac. Driverless hot keys for commonly used mouse actions such as Internet Page Forward and Back, Beginning of Line, End of Line,Cut, Undo, Copy, Select All and Paste. A vertical rib is located on the inside row of hot keys to provide tactile notification to the user. And, like the iMac keyboards top-row driverless hot keys provide quick access to Esc/Force Quit, Brightness, Exposé, Dashboard, Play Audio, Audio Volume, Dock, Eject & Off/Sleep.

I am only a few days into using the Kinesis Freestyle2 keyboard but I can tell already that is not only gives me the adjustability I need for proper ergonomics but it also has the functionality that will improve my overall productivity. I highly recommend this new keyboard from Kinesis.

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