I tend to think about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in much the same way that I regard mad cow disease or getting struck by lightning. Sure, I know it exists and that it’s theoretically harmful but, at the same time, I’ve never really given much thought to it. The folks at Truly Ergonomic, on the other hand, clearly have spent a lot of time thinking about it, and it’s evident in the Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard (TECK) Model 207 ($248 list), one of the most unique keyboards that I’ve ever encountered—for better or worse. The Model 207′s unconventional symmetrical design lessens the risk of CTS by letting users type with their wrists as straight as possible. Despite its high-quality construction and excellent Cherry MX mechanical key switches, though, the steep price tag and overall wonky design ultimately undermine its positive aspects.
The TECK Model 207′s radical design looks unlike any keyboard that I’ve ever seen before. Before we get to that, though, it’s worth noting that the keyboard is housed in a sturdy plastic enclosure that, at 1.4 by 11.5 by 9.2 inches (HWD) with the detachable padded wrist rest attached, is roughly 60% of the size of a traditional keyboard. The reasoning behind the smaller chassis is that it reduces the need to reach out for your mouse by keeping it closer to your body. According to Truly Ergonomic, this aligns your mouse closer to your neutral position and consequently reduces stretching in a way that minimizes wrist and shoulder pain.
“Neutral position” is actually a phrase that appears a lot in the TECK Model 207′s marketing materials. Its keys are laid out symmetrically so, rather than bending your hands and wrists outwards to type, they remain straight; as you may have guessed, typing with straight wrists also happens to follow the neutral position of the human body. Consequently, the TECK Model 207′s keys are arranged in the standard QWERTY fashion but, because of the symmetrical layout, some keys are located in different positions compared with conventional keyboards. This is most prominent with the Enter and Backspace keys. You can find the Enter key at the center-bottom of the TECK Model 207 in between a bifurcated space bar that’s been split in half in a manner similar to the dual-function spacebar seen on the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Keyboard . The Backspace key, meanwhile, is also in the center of the keyboard directly above the Enter key. The Caps Lock, Function, and Num Lock keys are clustered together in a central row. The Num Lock key turns selected keys on the right side of the keyboard to function as an embedded numeric keypad, and the front of each such key’s denotes its corresponding numerical value. The Function button activates designated shortcuts when pushed in conjunction with the top row of keys, such as opening your internet browser, accessing your mail client, and media playback keys.
The keyboard is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. A Superkey located on the top-center performs differently depending on your OS. In Windows, it acts as the Windows key. It acts as the command key in Mac and as the Meta key in Linux. The keyboard connects to your system via a USB 2.0 cable.
The TECK Model 207 sports mechanical key switches like the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate and Rosewill Mechanical Keyboard RK-9000I. Its Cherry MX mechanical keys are very durable and have a 50-million click lifecycle. At the same time, though, its keys aren’t backlit, so users who prefer to work in dark quarters would be better suited with something along the lines of the Logitech Wireless Illuminated Keyboard K800.
To test out the TECK Model 207, I used it for a few days in the Labs. As one can imagine, typing on it is very a strange experience. Whereas switching between keyboards is usually a seamless transition that entails a minimal learning curve, the TECK Model 207′s unconventional key layout takes at least a few days to get used to. For instance, the Enter key is intended to be pressed by your thumb or index finger. The Backspace key, meanwhile, is meant to be pressed with either index finger. While the padded wrist rest helped increase my overall comfort level, the strange layout and sensation of typing with straight wrists combined to make for a bizarrely awkward typing experience.
Even with the keyboard’s strange layout, its mechanical keys are a joy to type with, offering a fantastic springy feel and terrific key travel. On a tactile level, few keyboards have provided me with as many satisfying clicks as the TECK Model 207. Still, the keyboard’s unorthodox layout wound up thwarting the brilliant mechanical keys, resulting in a sort of tease where users are offered wonderfully constructed keys that perversely feel out of reach.
Given its funky layout, Truly Ergonomic suggests using the Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard Model 207 for several days to grow accustomed to using it. After typing on it for a few days, though, I have yet to grow used to its unconventional layout. Despite being in the “neutral position” of my body for all that time, I didn’t notice a difference in the way my extremities feel or in my overall comfort level. While it helps that Truly Ergonomic offers a full refund for anyone who changes their mind within 60 days of purchase, that fact remains that, at almost $250, it’s priced too high in the first place. In all truthfulness, I plan on returning to my former keyboard. Sure, it’s not as high-quality as the TECK Model 207, nor does it feature mechanical key switches, but at least I can actually type on it.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc