THE BLOG

Why We Need Less Gimmicks and More Ergonomics in Tech Gear

29/09/2014 00:54 BST | Updated 28/11/2014 10:59 GMT

All this hysteria over a bendy phone - yes, it appears the new iphone 6 has flaws already - really doesn't concern me. When I changed from using a Blackberry (for years) to an iphone 5 last year, it wasn't the apps, the built in sat nav and sexy packaging that won me over... it was the light-touch screen keypad.

I've had RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) since my teens and so any gadgets I use have to be RSI (repetitive strain injury) friendly. This means that I, like the hundreds of thousands of others world wide with joint problems, need our tech gear to be mobile tech gear to have been designed with ergonomics as a priority and not an after thought.

With a growing ageing population, the big technology companies really could do with assessing just how ergonomically designed their products are - the Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy customers of today will one day be old (!) and a lot less nimble fingered and clear sighted.

It seems to me that in the rush to create mobile, hand held technology that fits in just about everything imaginable into the sleekest design, the user experience for the elderly, those with disabilities and basically anyone who struggles with RSI is far too often overlooked.

I've not checked out the iPhone 6 but I am pleased that there is an option of a slightly larger handset - sometimes small is not always better. Ergonomically, good sized keyboard buttons can make the user experience a million times better.

As a journalist I've also developed quite bad RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in my hands too. However, as so many of us use a keyboard these days, cases of RSI are higher than ever... so bring on the ergonomic designs please!

For as long as I've been typing and suffering (!) I've been on the hunt for useful aids to make my typing and computer experience less of strain on the joints in my wrists and fingers.

Over the last 20 years I've tried countless 'ergonomic 'PC keyboards of various sizes, brands and structures.

For my main office I have used a full-size, curved, wrist-friendly plat-formed keyboard but for my note book laptop (which I use more than any other writing tool these days) I've struggled to find a keyboard that's compact, light-weight and also easy on the joints in my hands.

I came across the Penclic Mini keyboard recently and decided to 'test drive' it for Shine! as I know many readers also have joint problems and, in the age of constant computer interaction, it is hard for anyone to avoid RSI.

To make sure this was a 'real life' test of the keyboard and its matching mouse, I alternated using the Penclic and my standard in-built keyboard each day over one month to see if I felt any difference.

So, a month on I am pleased to report that the Penclic experience has been very positive. The Penclic keyboard is a Swedish design and let's face it, those style and design savvy Swedes are good at creating next generation, quality and good value gadgets.

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This keyboard is so light-weight that it's no trouble at all to carry with you if you are a mobile worker like me - I often write on the train, in cafes or hotels (if I'm reporting away from home), so investing in a good ergonomic keyboard is essential.

Now, if you have RSI it is often the constant pushing down on to the keyboard buttons that aggravates the strain on your fingers and wrists.

However, the Penclic buttons are remarkably light, soft to the touch and best of all just a touch bigger than a standard keyboard.

I'm informed that this is because it's a 'chiclet' keyboard which uses scissor switches which don't have the same springy feel of mechanical keys but are better than silicone dome switches alone.

The Penclic mouse is great too - it's a very clever pen-style design - elegant and actually enjoyable to use. I now can't use anything else. Why aren't other computer companies making more mouse accessories using this design?

With over 10 million of the new iPhone 6 phones sold already world wide, that's a lot of fingers and wrists in regular use - let's hope Apple and all the major tech companies heed the need for designs that support our joints.

More info: read more about the Penclic keyboard and range here www.penclic.se

To order - go to www.viking-direct.co.uk