New Logitech ergonomic keyboard offers pillowy-soft comfort

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With an ergonomic split design and a fancy wrist rest, the Logitech Ergo K860 keyboard delivers comfortable typing.
With an ergonomic split design and a fancy wrist rest, the Logitech Ergo K860 delivers comfortable typing.
Photo: Logitech

Logitech’s new ergonomic keyboard is designed to bring comfort to the heaviest of computer users. With cushy-yet-precise keys and a pillow-soft wrist rest, the just-announced Ergo K860 Ergonomic Split Keyboard puts comfort — and science! — front and center.

“We know that most people spend between a quarter and a third of their lives at work,
so it is important they stay comfortable while they’re at it,” said Logitech senior global product manager Lars Lauridsen in a press release. “We created a science-driven ergonomic keyboard to help office workers improve their posture, increase comfort and lower muscle strain.

“Ergo K860 is designed, developed and tested with criteria set out by leading ergonomists, resulting in a typing experience that does not compromise your productivity.”

Long known as a maker of quality computer peripherals, Logitech manufactures a variety of keyboards and mice to suit all types of computer users. For Apple fans, Logitech devices offer a welcome respite from Cupertino’s oft-despised keyboards and mice, which so often put form over function (sometimes with disastrous results).

Ergo K860 Ergonomic Split Keyboard

With the Logitech Ergo K860 ergonomic keyboard, it's all about comfort (and reduced muscle fatigue).
The design is all about comfort (and reduced muscle fatigue).
Photo: Logitech

The new Logitech ergonomic keyboard aims to make typing comfortable for people who can’t bear to use one of Apple’s ridiculously slim keyboards. Logitech says these power users can rack up an astonishing 3 million keystrokes — and 17 miles of mousing — a year.

Paired with Logitech’s MX Vertical mouse, the Ergo K860 makes an ergonomically sound input system. Together, they should reduce damaging muscular strain for people who can’t get away from their computers.

“Finally, we have a keyboard to complete the setup,” said Lauridsen in a video briefing with Cult of Mac introducing the Ergo K860.

The goal was to create a keyboard that encourages and supports a “natural, relaxed posture” during these extended typing sessions, he said. That can reduce muscular activity and help prevent (or ease) repetitive strain injuries that can prove crippling.

Logitech’s design team used rapid prototyping to try “lots of crazy ideas” on the way to the final design, said Nick Jinkinson, the company’s global head of industrial design. The process let them quickly identify which ideas worked in terms of ergonomics, comfort and design.

“We want to fail fast,” Jinkinson said.

Testing the Logitech ergonomic keyboard

You can adjust the height of the front of the Logitech Ergo K860 keyboard to optimize your wrist position at a standing desk.
With the palm lift, you can raise the front of the keyboard to optimize your wrist position at a standing desk.
Photo: Logitech

The team coupled its designs with user testing in the Logi Ergo Lab. Sensors placed on typists’ arms determined how people’s muscles reacted when using the keyboard.

“This isn’t just a bunch of designers in isolation in an ivory tower,” Jinkinson said.

A split keyboard with pillowy wrist rest

The Logitech Ergo K860 offers pretty much every key you need.
An overview of the Logitech Ergo K860 keyboard layout.
Photo: Logitech

Eventually, the team settled for a split keyboard design that looks similar to other ergonomic keyboards. (Logitech says users quickly adapted to the design. Testers also reported improved comfort and better perceived posture when using the Ergo K860.)

The keyboard uses Logitech’s Perfect Stroke keys, which feel great to me. However, obviously, this is a matter of personal preference. A row of function keys across the top reproduces the standard Mac shortcuts. A thin section with cursor control keys adds home/end/page up/page down to the four arrow keys. And a numpad gives number crunchers the dedicated inputs they demand.

The keyboard’s main ergonomic calling card is the wrist rest whipped up by the design team, which feels totally comfy. It’s a three-layer cushion composed of coated fabric, high-density foam and memory foam.

“We took inspiration there from the mattress industry,” Lauridsen said. The combination of materials creates a “soft, inviting feeling,” he said. It’s silky smooth and easy clean as well.

Finally, a little kickstand lets you jack up the front of the keyboard to suit your workstation. That makes it good for traditional desks as well as trendy standing workstations. The “curved wrist rest with pillowed cushioning places your forearms just above the keyboard, offering 54% more wrist support and reducing wrist bending by 25%,” according to the press release. Ergonomics lab testing by United States Ergonomics in New York validated the design, Logitech says.

A customizable ergonomic keyboard, Logitech-style

As with other Logitech keyboards, like the high-end MX Keys released last year, the Ergo K860 utilizes the free Logitech Options software to allow quick and easy tweaking. It supports key customization and app-specific profiles.

Three quick-connect buttons let you jump easily between different paired devices. And, when combined with a Logitech Flow-enabled mouse, the keyboard can move seamlessly from one computer to another. The Ergo K860 can connect via Bluetooth Low Energy or the included USB dongle. It runs on two AAA batteries, which Logitech says should give you up to two years of typing.

The Logitech Ergo K860 goes on sale on the Logitech website (and on Amazon) this month. It should hit other retailers in February. It retails for $129.99.