I was born an old man. When I was six or seven, I woke up many nights screaming in pain. Several X-Rays and MRIs later, and the Doctors had a diagnosis—arthritis. It’s something prevalent in my family, and arthritis was ultimately the cause of my grandmother’s death. I’m telling you all of this to give you a better understanding of why ergonomic keyboards are essential to me, and why I’ll only use the ERGO K860 going forward.
Watching my grandmother as I grew up was a bit like seeing into the future. Her fingers curled in on themselves as she grew older until she couldn’t stretch them out anymore to even point at things. But, she didn’t take care of herself, she didn’t exercise, and she didn’t take steps to stave off the worst effects of arthritis. When I was younger, I didn’t either.
But in my mid-twenties, I started dropping things—all the time. My hands would seize up, my fingers would refuse to cooperate, and then I’d lose hold of whatever I was holding. That’s when I knew I needed to make changes. The first step was changing my keyboard habits. I always used whatever keyboard was available, but now for the better part of a decade, I’ve been using ergonomic keyboards.
My primary choice has always been Microsoft’s excellent keyboards, starting with the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, then moving to the Sculpt Ergonomic, before settling on the latest Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard. I didn’t think I’d leave Microsoft, but Logitech convinced me otherwise. And, that’s due to nailing the ergonomics basics while providing useful extras.
Nailing the Ergonomic Basics
If you’re looking for an ergonomic keyboard, you want to see a few things.
Lift in the Right Spot
First, instead of lifting under the far end of the keyboard (near the function row), a keyboard’s legs should lift closer to your wrists. The idea is to raise your wrists and prevent bending them back into a pinch. The Ergo K860 does precisely that, thanks to legs under your wrists that offer three distinct angles, 0 degrees (legs put away), -4 degrees, and -7 degrees.
Microsoft keyboards usually tilt at around -7, so I started by trying Logitech’s -4-degree option to feel the difference. Within the hour, my hands were on fire, and that’s because that small change led me to pinch my wrists. Thankfully, I remembered I could adjust further, and that fixed the problem entirely.
A Comfortable Pad for Your Wrists
After that, you want a comfortable pad for your wrists to rest on while you type. Again, the idea is to prevent bending your hands back, so the pad needs to be higher than some of the keys. Logitech’s pad is a three-layer affair, comprising 4 millimeters of memory foam, topped by 2 millimeters of high-density foam, topped by an easy-to-clean knitted fabric.
Compared to the harder plastic pads I’m used to seeing on ergonomic keyboards, it’s super comfortable. Logitech managed to create something that both feels good on your wrists and cleans easily. The main downside to Logitech’s implementation is that the pad is not removable. If and when the memory foam loses its give, you’re stuck with old dense foam.
The Right Shape
Lastly, you’ll notice the odd shape of the keys themselves. The best ergonomic position causes you to curl your fingers somewhat downwards. Think of it like gently holding a couple of softballs. That calls for an overall curve, and to split and slightly twist the keys into an almost v-shape. Likewise, the keys nearest your index fingers should be higher than those nearest your pinkies, giving the keyboard an almost tent-like shape.
Most ergonomic keyboards have that general shape down, but Logitech’s ERGO keyboard deviates somewhat from other manufacturers. Look closely, and you’ll see some “stepped” keys, like the G, T, 6, 7, H, and N, and caps lock. Logitech tells me that it helps simulate the “key-shape feel” of a standard keyboard, which should help touch typists make the ergonomic keyboard jump more easily.
That is a concern and one I know all too well. When I first started using an ergonomic keyboard, the split quickly made me realize bad habits I had learned, like crossing my right index finger over to hit the T key. That won’t work on an ergonomic keyboard. The one bit of trouble I ran into came from the backspace and insert keys. When I first started using this keyboard, I hit the insert key frequently when I meant to hit backspace, but I eventually adjusted and don’t have that issue anymore.
The keys are a membrane style, which I prefer. It’s just enough give without feeling like I need to bang away to type. Mechanical keyboards hurt my fingers with prolonged use. But if you prefer mechanical switches, just be aware you’re giving that up with the ERGO K860. Unfortunately, the keys aren’t backlit, so you’ll be relying on touch typing in the dark. At least that omission increases battery life (more on that later).
Going Above and Beyond
From an ergonomic perspective, the ERGO K860 is no better than or worse than the variety of Microsoft ergonomic keyboards I’ve used. The tilt is the same, the keys are a similar shape and styling, and the ERGO gets a slight edge on the comfortable wrist pad. It’s exactly what I want but it’s not necessarily better than other ergonomic options. So, you might be wondering why I say this is the only keyboard I’ll use. Logitech nailed all the basics; then, it went above and beyond.
Battery Life That Won’t Quit
You might be disappointed to find out that Logitech’s ergonomic keyboard doesn’t use a rechargeable battery. Don’t be. I’ve been typing on the ERGO K860 eight hours a day, five days a week, for seven months. I’m still using the original AAA batteries I put in on day one.
Logitech doesn’t measure the ERGO K860’s battery life in days, weeks, or even months. It estimates it in years. Years as in “more than one.” Logitech says a pair of AAA batteries will last two years, and seven months later, I don’t doubt it. According to Logitech’s software, the charge is still “full.” Even if they died tomorrow, I’d be happy with seven-month battery life, let alone two years.
All the Connections
I owned three of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic keyboards, in addition to other models. But not because I loved that particular model that much. No, the problem was the wireless dongle. It kept dying, and without a dongle, the keyboard doesn’t work. The first time I got a warranty replacement, I had to buy a new keyboard the second time.
The ERGO K860 connects via a USB dongle or Bluetooth. And unlike Microsoft’s entry, you can replace the ERGO’s dongle, or pair it with another Logitech device’s dongle (like the MX Vertical Mouse). You won’t have to buy another keyboard because of a single failure. Logitech’s software can handle the connections.
Software That Connects All the Things
Naturally, I spend most of my time using my PC, but I also have a Macbook and a Raspberry Pi at my desk for testing purposes. Thanks to its Bluetooth and USB dongle capabilities and Logitech Flow , my keyboard (and my Logitech MX Vertical) can switch back and forth between those three devices at the push of a button. Even the keys show both Windows and Mac commands, so I never have to remember whether the Start button is also the command key or the option key.
Logitech Flow is making its way to more and more of the company’s devices, but I can’t think of another ergonomic keyboard that comes with software like it. For anyone that uses multiple devices, it’s a tasty bit of icing on a well-made cake.
Not Enough on Its Own, but a Great Ergonomic Keyboard
Here’s the thing, if you suffer from frequent pain of any kind, let alone in your hands, you should speak with a doctor. You’ll get the best advice there, not from a tech site or a keyboard manufacturer.
And, it’s unlikely a keyboard on its own will solve your problems. The hand-cramping and object-dropping issues I faced didn’t stop when I switched to ergonomics; it only helped. I had to take other steps, like grip exercises, to take care of my issues fully.
However, if you’re in the market for an ergonomic keyboard, the ERGO K860 is a fantastic choice. At $130, it needs to be. That’s nearly three times the price of Microsoft’s latest ergonomic keyboard. But that keyboard is wired and comes with useless office and emoji buttons. It lacks the extras Logitech thought to include. It doesn’t have backlighting, but neither does the Microsoft variants. You’d have to step up tot he $200 KINESIS Gaming Freestyle to get backlighting, and it’s not wireless.
I’d rather have a wireless keyboard, especially considering the amazingly long battery life. Not to mention the ability to change dongles, and easily switch devices. And the ERGO’s wrist pad feels more comfortable than Microsoft’s.
Everything is subjective, but having used this keyboard for seven months now, I won’t go back. I can’t go back. This is the keyboard for me.
Here’s What We Like
- Comfortable Wrist Pad
- Connect to three devices seamlessly
- Super long battery life
And What We Don't
- More expensive than other ergonomic keyboards
- Wrist Pad is not removable