The Logitech Ergo K860 keyboard has joined the company's ergonomic mouse lineup. I've tested the Ergo K860 (which, yes, really does sound like a Star Wars droid's name) for about a week now, and while the keyboard definitely encourages better hand motion habits, I found its design a bit hard to get used to. At the same time, it introduced me to new features that I'll now want in every other new keyboard. Typists looking for a split-design ergonomic keyboard should definitely consider the Logitech Ergo K860.
Logitech Ergo K860 price and availability
The Logitech Ergo K860 costs $129, and is available for pre-order on Amazon now, shipping on Jan. 30. The device will also be sold from Logitech.com this month, and arrive in select brick-and-mortar retailers next month.
This keyboard supports Windows 7, 8 and 10, macOS 10.13 or later, and iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth. You can expect the Ergo K860 to last up to two years on two AAA batteries.
Logitech Ergo K860 design
The Ergo K860 offers two ergonomic design qualities. Its split keyboard design — which breaks the keys into two halves, down the center — is meant to keep your hands and fingers in a consistent position, to cut down on repeatedly stretching your nerves.
That stress to your nerves, muscles and other tiny parts of your hands is what ergonomic technology aims to alleviate. If not addressed, bad practices can lead to repetitive strain injuries (RSI), which could lead to physical therapy. The Ergo K860 isn't a substitute for said therapy, but Logitech did get the keyboard certified by US Ergonomics, an independent firm that recommends tech to potentially prevent the need for medical intervention.
Logitech also implemented an inventive wrist wrest, which is made of three layers of padding. The top layer is a fabric that Logitech touts as easy to clean. Under that, you've got memory foam to give your wrists some cushioning. At the bottom there's a harder, high-density foam, to provide support.
Below the wrist-rest, you've got a pair of feet with two height settings: minus-four degrees and minus-seven degrees. Different height settings are normal for the back of the keyboard, but novel for the front. These allow your wrists to sit at a good angle, no matter your height.
Logitech Ergo K860 typing experience
I found mixed results as I tested the Ergo K860 during one of the most difficult times of the year: CES. As I supported my colleagues by editing articles back in the NY office, I found that I had some trouble getting used to the split layout of the keyboard. For the most part, though, my touch typist tendencies helped me navigate the keyboard, so my wrists could stay in place.
The issue I hit was remembering which keys in the center of the keyboard were on which side. Specifically, those were the T, G and B keys on the left half, and the Y, H and N keys on the right. It wasn't the hardest problem to overcome, but it introduced typos that I wouldn't have made on a regular keyboard.
This slowed my writing speed down a bit, with my 10fastfingers typing test score going from my usual 80 words-per-minute average to 57 wpm (with 86% accuracy). I can't speak to how well other people might adapt to the keyboard's layout, though.
Logitech told me that people who tested the keyboard took less than 2 days to get used to it, and that 75% of testers reported improved comfort and posture. However, the company makes no guarantees.
The Ergo K860 uses Logitech’s Perfect Stroke key system, which have mechanisms that provide pleasant-feeling feedback for each click. The concave letter key caps are a nice touch, and I mostly noticed them when my fingertips rested on the keys. Function, modifier keys and the space bar are convex, which proved comfortable for typing.
I found the multiple typing angles of the Ergo K860 useful, as I have a standing desk at work, and my arms fall on the keyboard at different angles. When I'm seated, the keyboard lies flat, and when I stand it's at the higher (minus-seven degrees) setting, so my wrists and forearms sit at straighter angles.
Logitech Ergo K860 special features
The function and media key row at the top of the Ergo K860 has some really neat tricks (though none is unique). For starters, you can pair the keyboard with up to 3 different devices, and switch among them using dedicated device buttons labelled 1, 2 and 3 (which have a laptop, a tablet and a phone symbol next to them, respectively).
I used this feature to switch among two MacBooks and an iPad Pro, and it worked seamlessly, as the Ergo K860 supports both the USB wireless adapter that Logitech includes, and Bluetooth for connecting to secondary and tertiary devices. Of course, you've also got standard Function and media keys.
To the left of the three device buttons, there's a Print Screen button, which works differently on Macs than it does on PCs. With a single click on a Mac, you take a screenshot, replacing the keyboard shortcut of Command+Shift+3. I now would like all keyboard companies to follow suit.
To the right of those, you've got dedicated buttons for opening the device's calculator app and locking the device's screen. The second button is great for when I need to step away from my laptop at work.
During my time with the Ergo K860, it proved comfortable, but my difficulty adjusting to its shape negated some of the conveniences it offers. If you're looking for an ergonomic keyboard, and you're already used to the divided-keyboard design, I bet you'll find the Logitech Ergo K860 to be an excellent addition to your desk. Its multiple height settings also give sit-and-stand typists more options for comfort.
That being said, prospective split-board typists might want to find one in stores, to see how it feels, before they commit to this device.