There are two pieces of hardware that are part of your technology stack that you probably never think about. They’re the most used — but probably the most neglected – part of your computer setup: Your mouse and your keyboard. There’s a fairly good chance that you’re probably using the mouse and keyboard that came with your computer or was there when you started your job. But considering how often you interact with these two pieces of hardware (especially if you’re using keyboard shortcuts), you can do better than the basics. Here’s what to look for in replacements to make your computing life must easier.
Ergonomics: If you want to avoid repetitive stress issues or carpal tunnel in your wrists, you need to consider ergonomics when you purchase a mouse and keyboard. Consumer Reports recently did some reviews on ergonomic mice and ergonomic keyboards that shows some of the options out there. You’ll see vertical mice (which a couple folks in our office use), split keyboards, trackballs (which a certain CEO swears by) and more. The various ergonomic options all depend on your hand size and comfort level of change from the norm (as some of them are pretty extreme), so be prepared to possibly try something out and return it if it doesn’t work quite right for you.
Multiple Buttons: Your basic mouse will usually have two buttons and a wheel in the middle. But many mice will have additional side buttons that can be used for other features. The keyboard and mouse on my desk (which I really need to replace as the button labels are starting to rub off) comes with a mouse that has side-buttons that I have programmed to act as the forward and back buttons when browsing the web, which makes navigating pages a quick process.
Keyboard Mechanics: Keyboard keys can feel different, and it all depends on what is underneath the keys. That’s why laptop keyboards feel and act different than a desktop keyboard, for example. You can get keyboards with less button travel, more travel, and more or less resistance. You can get mechanical keyboards that act and feel like the old IBM Model M Keyboards, or you can get chiclet-style keyboards that act more like a laptop keyboard. Or you can go nuts and read this site that discusses the myriad of keyboard mechanisms. Long story short? Before you buy something, try it out first to see how it feels.
Wired or Wireless: Keyboards and mice can either be hard-wired to your computer or they can be wireless and battery-powered (or solar-powered in some cases). To maintain a cleaner desk, you can go with a wireless keyboard and mouse. Functionally, they’ll work the same, you’ll just occasionally have to replace the batteries in wireless models, and wireless input devices are generally a bit more expensive. We tend to prefer wireless, but some folks in our office have mechanical wired keyboards they love.
Have a favorite mouse and/or keyboard? Share it in the comments below.