14th March 2024 at 08:37

Back during my PhD years, I developed symptoms of RSI that were bad enough to make it painful to type at all, and it was my first medically enforced hiatus from using a computer. At the time I went to the GP who wasn’t particularly helpful, but thankfully my supervisor, Tom Melham was very supportive and helped ensure I had a good char and desk set up, and also gave me a range of input options to try out, including the Goldtouch Adjustable Keyboard.

RSI isn’t one thing, and so every person will need a solution that works for them; for me the lack of numpad on the Goldtouch brought my mouse arm closer to centre, and indeed I ditched the mouse for a trackball to reduce write movement even more. The Goldtouch split design also let me angle my wrists better when typing. This must have been around 25 years ago now, and I’ve not messed with that formula much over the years since, and that’s enabled me to keep RSI at bay. The couple of remissions I have had in those 25 years (e.g., this one in 2007) have been because I went back to typing on a regular keyboard or on my laptop keyboard for a protracted time.

I’m currently on my 4th Goldtouch keyboard: as a professional typist these things don’t last forever, but this time I’ve made an attempt to replace it with something a bit more nice again. Whilst the Goldtouch is great, there are a lot more keyboard options out there now, and as a person who types daily I feel it’s not extravagant to want a nice keyboard.

Getting split mechanical keyboards that aren’t ortholinear (where the keys line up in a vertical row) is quite hard. I did try multiple times to live with a Keyboardio Model 01, but it turns out ortholinear isn’t for me: it actually makes me feel nauseous after a while, a bit like motion sickness. I guess my brain is too wired to whatever poor typing style I’ve developed over the decades.

But this replacement cycle around I did spot that there are some options out there, and after watching some reviews, I took a gamble and have a Keychron Q11. We shall see how it goes; it’s not tented like the Goldtouch was, but if I feel I’m missing that I figure I can 3D print a stand for it. This post has mostly been an excuse for me to write some prose on it, and thus far I’m liking it, but I’m sure my wrists will let me know in a week or two if they are less impressed.

A photo of a split mechanical keyboard, in black with a mix of black, blue, and red keycaps. It sits on a desk, next to the keyboard is a trackball and a cup of coffee.