A lot of people wonder why on earth you’d want a keyboard that is split into two halves so I’ll begin this review answering that question. From an ergonomic standpoint, positioning your tools so you can work in a natural, relaxed position reduces the stress keyboarding and mousing causes. A split keyboard allows you to position each half exactly where you need it to be, to allow your hands and arms to work in as relaxed a position as possible. This means wrists that are straight and hands that do not need to reach upwards to type. While the first “natural shaped” keyboards marked a definite improvement for keyboards, such “one size fits all” solutions never work for all people. Kinesis has responded to this need for a healthier keyboard with the Freestyle keyboard.
The Kinesis Freestyle offers the widest range of flexibility for positioning on the market today. The two keyboard halves can be left linked together at a top pivot point or separated completely. This is especially nice for people with shoulder issues who may find reaching inward uncomfortable. The standard model separates up to eight inches and the extended models separate up to 20 inches.
Tenting is a word that describes positioning the keyboard so the center keys are higher than the outer keys. Tenting is accomplished on the Kinesis Freestyle keyboard by way of accessory kits. Several kits are available that offer a choice of angles up to 90 degrees and several are available with built in palm rests. Most customers find the VIP kit which includes palm rests or the V3 kit which does not, to be adequate. I use the V3 as I use a Rollermouse Free which sits directly in front of the keyboard and palm rests would be in the way.
Flexible positioning is just one feature of this keyboard. The Freestyle keyboard has been thoughtfully designed with keys that require a light force which is easy on the fingers and bonus keys on the left side that allow for one touch functions including cut, delete, copy and paste as well as Internet browsing buttons: search, home back and forward. A separate numeric keypad is available is available for those that prefer a 10 key numeric pad. By separating the numeric keypad from the keyboard, Kinesis allows consumers that don’t want one to skip it so they can place their mouse closer in to the center of the body – an ergonomic bonus. Alternatively, you can place the numeric pad on either side or put it away when not in use.
The Kinesis Freestyle keyboard is available for both PC and MAC users. Our in-house MAC afficionados were impressed with the effort that went into the design that places MAC control keys in familiar locations which makes this keyboard easier to use than competitive units.
I enjoy the luxury of trying all these cool tools out and selected the Kinesis Freestyle for myself for all the reasons above. I prefer to work with it spread about 2″ at the top and about 4″ at the bottom and at 10° tenting. The low force keys marked a huge improvement for me because I do have arthritis in my hands. I’m an extremely fast typist and this keyboard keeps up with me. It has proven to be a reliable workhouse I expect to get years of use from. Any person seeking to prevent or ease RSI issues would be wise to consider the Kinesis Freestyle keyboard.