The best keyboards tend to be the ones you don’t notice, because they simply work well. But that hasn’t stopped companies from rolling out innovative offerings. We sampled four newfangled models to see if they actually made us more productive. Here are the results.
Each key on this 1.75-pound keyboard can be programmed to light up in one of seven colors. Assign colors to commonly used keys—for instance, the Tab or Return buttons—to make them stand out, or color-code an entire bank of keys. You can create up to four preset color schemes and toggle among them with the press of a button. During our tests, the color coding was actually helpful. Unfortunately, the keyboard’s raised, rubbery keys slowed us down. Cost: $130
Designed to reduce wrist strain, this hefty 6.5-pound split keyboard sits on an elevated stand. After 2,500 clicks, a motor moves the two trays slightly to the right or left so your hands don’t stay in the same position all day. We liked the keyboard’s flat, Chiclet-style keys, but it took time to get the hang of typing on the separate trays, which were large and unwieldy. The Reflex also lacks advanced features, including the ability to program keys. Still, it may be worth checking out if you suffer from repetitive strain injuries. Cost: $150
This 1.4-pound keyboard doubles as an iPhone charging dock. You can also use the keyboard to type on your phone—in the Notes app, say, or Contacts folder. The Wow-Keys also works with a variety of iPhone apps that let you control your desktop with your phone. We tried it with JumiMouse, an app that lets you, among other things, play and pause songs stored on your desktop. We loved the added functionality, but the keyboard, which also works with iPods, does not come with its own apps, and finding compatible apps was a hassle. Cost: $99
Our top pick, this 1.6-pound wireless keyboard gets a charge from sunlight or indoor lighting, so it never needs batteries. You can download software to monitor the charge level and measure available room lighting. You can also program keys for quick access to e-mail and your desktop’s search window and calculator. We typed faster and more accurately on the keyboard, which has springy Chiclet keys, than on the other models we tested. Even indoors, the keyboard worked all week without a glitch. Cost: $80