2007-10-22

Ergonomics FTW

I went out yesterday and picked up a couple of things, and I'd just like to say, ergonomics FTW.

First off, I'm typing this out on my nice new Logitech Wave corded USB keyboard. The keyboard is also available as a wireless desktop combo with an LX7 laser mouse; the keyboards are identical save for the wirelessness.

The keyboard shows off Logitech's typical quality and attention to detail; I've always loved Logitech's products. The drivers are good, but not great, and the UI they use is dated. However, the keyboard itself is lovely; it features an ergonomic design that works quite well for me; I've never been able to tolerate the split keyboards that have been the only ergo-option for some time. The keys are all the same size, and, as the name suggests, there is a gentle rolling curve to the keyboard that feels very comfortable under the fingers. It includes a built-in wrist wrest (not removable - not a problem for me, but it may be for those with less desk space), and has 4 and 8 degree angle stands. It has the usual menagerie of multimedia and function buttons, as well as a suite of fn buttons laid over the F-keys - luckily, unlike most keyboards with this feature, they are normal F-keys by default and only use the special action if you hold down the fn button.

The caps/scroll/num lock lights are strangely placed below the numpad; it's not really a problem, just unusual. The keyboard also features the same navigation key layout with the large delete key and no insert key that I enjoyed so much on the Microsoft Comfort Curve that this board replaced.

One downside to the board is it's just not very comfortable for WASD FPS gaming; something about the arrangment of the W key just makes it difficult. Luckily I had an old Fang sitting in my "spare peripherals" bin, so I hooked that up and it works quite well. It is something to keep in mind if you're considering this board, however.

Onto my new pointing device, another Logitech product, the Wireless TrackMan Optical. I'm not sure exactly why it's wireless - wires only ever bother me on mice, not on trackballs - but it's not much of a downside; I would have preferred a wired version to save me the trouble of dealing with batteries, but alas. Also, unlike their wireless mice, the trackball uses standard AA batteries rather than utilizing a charging dock.

The trackball is a small finger-operated (as opposed to thumb-operated) trackball, featuring left and right click (left click is the silver sliver in the thumb rest, NOT the giant silver pad on top), clickable scroll wheel, cruise up/down, drag lock, and back/forward buttons. The buttons are all fairly comfortably placed for me, but would probably be more comfortable for someone without my huge mitts. See notes above regarding the drivers; it's a different tab in the same program.

All in all I like the trackball; I've used trackballs before extensively, and I keep going back and forth; I prefer trackballs for their ergonomics, but I prefer mice for their precision. However, as I haven't been doing much FPS gaming or graphic design of late, I'm going for ergonomics over precision. (However, I'll be keeping my trusty MX1000 handy for the occasional bout of Team Fortress 2.)

Last, but absolutely, positively not least, I picked up a Eurotech Ergohuman EH-HAM/ME7ERG, a super-ergonomic mesh executive chair, at Office Depot. I won't talk about my experience at Office Depot. It wasn't good, but it wasn't bad enough to rail them for it. The chair, however, is a work of art.

Not to say it's beautiful; I like the look alright but it might not be for everyone. The comfort, however.... oh, my goodness. Okay. Adjustables: seat position forward/back, seat height up/down, arm wrest height up/down, arm wrest angle left/right, back height, headrest height, headrest angle, back angle, back tension. All of it has a wide enough adjustment range to suit me, and I'm 6'6". Well, okay, to be fair, I'd like it if the back came up just one more inch. But, it's better than any other chair I've sat in by far regardless.

The back of the chair is three parts: the main back of the chair, which is just like any office chair back, is in the middle. Above it is the headrest, really a neckrest, and below it is the lumbar support. The lumbar support is on a hinge-and-spring mechanism so that when you're leaning forward it still provides support, and when you lean back, it folds back enough to keep you properly supported without jabbing you in the spine.

My only real concern about the chair is the attractiveness of the mesh to cat claws; we'll see how it goes. I got a 3 year warranty that covers the upholstery just in case.

On an unrelated note, I also picked up the Logitech Precision Gaming Headset, and as it wasn't available in USB form near me, I also picked up the SIIG USB SoundWave Pro 7.1. More on those as time permits... for now, I'm going to get out of this insanely comfy chair and go to be.
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