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Spotlight on the keyboard: what to know when buying one

We still spend half of our computer time using our mouse, but we are increasingly being encouraged to make more use of the shortcut keys. That makes having a good keyboard essential. What should you be aware of when buying a (compact) keyboard?
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Indispensable for computer work: the keyboard
Research by Microsoft shows that an active computer user travels daily with his fingers up to 32 km on the keyboard. It is therefore an indispensable part of computer work.



The choice of the keyboard is therefore very important. Most keyboards that we see in offices are the so-called full-size keyboards; keyboards with a fixed numeric part (the part with numbers on the right side of the keyboard). But only 10% of computer users use this numeric part on the keyboard. By omitting the numeric part and thus making the keyboard more compact, the posture of the computer user improves. The numeric part is still there, but is integrated with other keys.

Advantages compact keyboard:
- Because the keyboard is narrower, the mouse is closer to the keyboard. This ensures fewer reach movements. This creates a better load on the shoulder, arm, wrist and hand.
- This leads to fewer physical inconveniences;
- Allowing you to work more comfortably due to less physical discomfort;
- Another advantage is that a compact keyboard is easier to take to another flexible workplace.
Full-sized vs. compact: how they differ
Size is not the only difference between standard and compact keyboards. The position of certain elements is also different. The numeric section is not included, but also the arrow keys are in a different place, and the compact keyboard has an editing section including the delete key.

The following illustration clearly shows how a standard full-sized keyboard differs from a compact keyboard:

1) the numeric section
2) the cursor
3) the editing section

Neutral posture
A compact keyboard allows you to reach less with your arms. The keyboard is less wide than a full size keyboard and therefore reduces the distance to the mouse. Your arms then need to stretch less in order to use your mouse. This means you put less strain on your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders. Working with the mouse 'far away' often evokes a pattern of high muscle tension in the wrist, arm and neck.
EU directive
Ever since IBM introduced the personal computer in 1980, the keyboard has always been an integral part of it. Back then, it was the keyboard alone that controlled the computer, but things changed in 1984 with the introduction of the mouse. The EU directive, which is virtually identical to the relevant ISO standard, applies ergonomic reasons to advocating more use of keyboard commands and less use of the mouse. The directive also advises a neutral posture for using the keyboard and the mouse. In the following video, you can see how a compact keyboard without a numeric section ensures a neutral posture. According to the ISO organization, this is impossible to realize with a standard keyboard. If you make frequent use of the keyboard’s numeric section, a good solution would be a separate numeric pad or a compact keyboard with a numeric section. The clip also shows why a compact keyboard (with or without a numeric section) works better than a standard keyboard. Because the width of a compact keyboard with a numeric section is almost 3 inches shorter than that of a standard keyboard, this makes it perfect for financial accounting specialists.
What else should you pay attention to when purchasing a keyboard?
Choose a compact keyboard when purchasing, because with such a keyboard you assume a better ergonomic working posture and you avoid physical discomfort. If you are planning to purchase a new keyboard, note the following points:

1. The keyboard may not be thicker than 35 mm around the letters "A S D F" and preferably thinner than 30 mm.
2. When purchasing, keep in mind that the slope of the keyboard is between 0-12 °. This prevents excessive extension of the wrist.
3. Also pay attention to the color of the keyboard. Dark letters on a light background are easier to read than the other way around, so a light keyboard with a dark print is preferred. And to prevent reflection, it is finally important that the keys are matt and do not mirror. So that the light does not shine directly in your eye and distract you.
4. Try a keyboard before purchasing. The sense of type is important (eg: how hard do you have to press the keys).
5. A light keyboard is easier to carry than a heavier keyboard. Traveling a lot? Then the weight is important.
6. Check whether the keyboard stays in place on your desk. A non-slip bottom ensures that your keyboard cannot slide away.
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