I’m on a quest to build an ergonomic Valhalla in my workspace. It’s a grueling, tireless quest for a freelancer on a budget. Herman Miller just ain’t in the cards. But Office Max and IKEA are, as long as I focus on what I really need to be comfortable.

A big step forward was putting together a GALANT system. The selling point here was a desk with an adjustable height. Big win. I’ve got that puppy low as my Microsoft Ergo 4000 keyboard is sitting on top of the desk rather than in a tray.

Why no tray, you ask? That keyboard is wide. Twenty inches wide, to be exact. Couple the board with a mouse, or even a TrackMan Wheel and you just don’t have space on a keyboard tray.

Is there such a thing as a perfect keyboard?

This is an ex-keyboard
 
Photo by Edwinek

This leads me to my conflicting ergonomic needs. As I typed more and more it became clear that I needed to improve the situation. I took up the ergo keyboard to get a more natural position when typing. Now, however, this mondo keyboard makes movement over to my trackball quite a chore. This specific repetitive motion is getting to me.

I’ve always desired the opportunity to try a keyboard that eliminates the numberpad on the right side. Ideally, the board would move the number pad to the left, but I’m fairly confident that I could adapt if it just got out of town completely. The first attempt was to borrow a Goldtouch from The Brother. He actually had an old PC version, which I thought I might enjoy. Remapping to Mac keys on the PC board was going to be a major pain, however, so I checked into the Goldtouch Mac board. Check out the Mac key-mappings. They actually moved the CTRL key over for a Help key. I can’t imagine any reality where this would be considered a good idea.

Could Apple actually be an ergonomic solution?

Bold statement, as in the computer input device world Apple has never offered function over form. But what do I see here? A wireless Apple keyboard sans number pad? Granted, there are no real ergonomic points being made here, though Jobs would say ergonomics are benefited by the lower profile of the board. (Adjustable desk, remember?)

I really doubt the Apple board would be a net gain for me, but I’m willing to try. Getting that trackball four or five inches closer to me could make all the difference in the world.

Apple customer service failed me

No Logic
 
Photo by Devo(lutio)n

And here’s where the story goes a bit awry. I called the Apple store (an 800 number) to find out what the width of this keyboard is. See, the dimensions of the boards are not listed on the website. That’s an interesting failure given that the wireless board is being marketed as something to fit in one’s laptop bag.

I stepped through three prompts on the service line, arriving at a human answer quickly from there. After asking my question, I was told the rep would be “right back.” Click and I’ve returned to the first prompt again. Perhaps I had just been eaten by a grue.

Cleverly I wrote down the number sequence I pushed, and got back to a customer service rep rather efficiently. Same question asked, same response. Click and I’m told it is “after business hours” followed by dead air.

I call back. Prompt prompt prompt. This time I ask not to be put on hold and follow with my question. Thirty minutes later, I find that really no one in customer service knows the answer to my question. They needed to call the engineers, who are away for the night. It seems rather silly that Apple engineers are needed to tell me the dimension of a product they are selling. The customer service reps did not even know the dimensions of the box that would be shipped.

And the width of the new Apple Wireless keyboard is…

I called Apple the next day. After fifteen more minutes on the phone, Apple was still unable to tell me the dimensions of this wireless keyboard. They made some guesses, but eighteen inches wide seemed quite off to me. Their suggestion was to call a local Apple store and ask them to measure the board. I asked if the boards are even in the local stores yet. Apple customer service said yes.

My call to Apple Store Southdale was fruitless. The salesperson said they would not have the board until September, so he couldn’t help me. Does anyone inside or outside of Apple know the width of this keyboard?

Update

Thanks to Patrick Lenz, I have confirmation that the Apple wireless keyboard is 11 inches wide. Yes, nearly half the width of Microsoft Ergo 4000 board. Thank you Internet!

Aug 21, 2007 · Subscribe · Archive · Projects · Twitter · GitHub · Flickr