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Ergonomic Product Categories > Keyboards > Compact Keyboards          
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Compact Keyboards

What are Compact Keyboards?

A Compact Keyboard is a keyboard which has a smaller horizontal footprint than conventional keyboards which are typically 18" wide.  This is typically achieved by eliminating the numeric keypad on the right side of the keyboard, resulting in a keyboard with around 80 keys instead of the usual 104 key layout.  Access to the numeric keypad is usually maintained through the use of an Embedded Numeric Keypad.  Some other compact keyboards move the keypad to the area of the keyboard above the Function Row

Note: Keyboards which have reduced size keycaps or key pitch may also be Compact Keyboards, but are discussed under the Mini Keyboards article.

What are the Ergonomic Benefits of an Compact Keyboard?

The only ergonomic benefit arises from the common design requirement that Compact Keyboards are typically relatively symmetrical, with the removal of the discrete numeric keypad.  This allows for the mouse to be located in the space created through the removal of the numeric keypad.  For right handed users this will help to reduce Overextension for the mouse and bring it into their Comfort Zone.  Some Compact Keyboards are also Neutral or Negatively Inclined as a function of their portability, which would provide benefits as noted for that class of keyboard, but this is not always the case.

A secondary benefit is that Compact Keyboards are of course smaller than most other types of keyboard, so for mobile workstations the ability to transport them easily provides some ergonomic benefit.

What are Potential Concerns when Considering a Compact Keyboard?

Compact Keyboards do not actually improve the ergonomics of the keyboard in any manner (they simply improve the geographical location of the mouse).  The same risk factors of Ulnar Deviation, Pronation and Wrist Extension which are inherent in conventional keyboards typically apply to Compact Keyboards.

For What Types of Tasks / Users are Compact Keyboards Suitable? 

The primary benefit of a Compact Keyboard is usually the portability associated with the smaller size.  For users who routinely enter keyboard input on tablets or laptops and need to transport their devices regularly, an easily portable external keyboard is beneficial.  However, for users who typically use their tablet or laptop in one or two regular locations, there are more ergonomic benefits to be garnered from other types of keyboards which do not have portability as their key design feature.

What Physical Injuries or Conditions Typically Benefit from Compact Keyboards?

Compact Keyboards can be of benefit to a wide variety of users including individuals with wrist conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  As they also reduce the amount of movement to use the mouse, they are of potential benefit to individuals with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.

 

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Last edited December 9th, 2013

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