How to select the best ergonomic keyboard tray

How to select the best ergonomic keyboard tray

Key Features & Buying Guide for Adjustable Under-Desk Keyboard Trays

Adjustable Keyboard Trays Are A Necessity for Optimal Desk Ergonomics

The seemingly endless repetitive motion of punching, err, rather, gently caressing your computer keyboard has been scientifically shown to lead to a host of physical ailments including carpal tunnel syndrome, poor posture (hello unnatural shoulder rotation!), and strain injuries in the shoulders, arms, and wrists. 

Under-desk keyboard trays help alleviate some of the pain and suffering by positioning keyboards at in a more ergonomically optimal position. Specifically, keyboard trays can hold keyboards at (or closer to) elbow height allowing you to type with your elbows at slightly more than 90 degrees. 

Adjustable angle keyboard trays allow you to type with a negative tilt, allowing wrists to droop down naturally, and they give you the flexibility to periodically change the typing angle—and your wrist position. Finally, under-desk keyboard trays have at least basic adjustments that let you alter your body position, change the distance between your keyboard and monitor, and move around while maintaining engagement with your computer.

What to look for an in under-desk computer keyboard tray

When investing in office furniture, it may be a good idea to focus on products that you use the most. If you work on a computer, chances are one of the most frequented pieces of office equipment is your keyboard. Hence when you’re looking to improve desk comfort a keyboard tray or other platform that your computer keyboard rests on can be a good place to begin your investment. Like most products, there are a range of options, features, and huge price difference in the variety of keyboard trays on the market. Here are some of the best features to look for in an under desk computer keyboard tray:

  • Ease Of Installation: We mention this first because most keyboard drawers require installation and you’ll want to understand the time and resource requirement to properly install your new keyboard tray—some installation steps are easy, while other products seem to have been born in a medieval torture chamber.
  • Size: Before purchasing an under desk keyboard tray, measure the size of your keyboard and verify that the depth and width of your keyboard will fit on the best keyboard tray for your situation. As a general guide, common keyboards are around 18" wide with “ergonomic” or larger keyboards extending past 20". Don't get caught making a purchase decision, installing your computer keyboard tray, and then learning that your keyboard doesn't fit!
  • Slides: one of the most basic features, a sliding keyboard tray is important because it allows you to customize the distance between your keyboard tray, body, and monitor with the proper separation promoting a healthy posture and reducing eye strain. From a space perspective, a sliding keyboard tray gives you the freedom to tuck your keyboard away when you don’t need it.
  • Swivels: Swiveling keyboard trays open up a range of movement possibilities, letting you lounge to the side and watch a movie or mouse through a document. Additionally, keyboard trays that swivel make it easy to share your keyboard with a coworker or visitor if they pop in for a meeting and need to drive the computer.
  • Adjustable Height: One of the main reasons to purchase an underdesk keyboard tray is to improve your posture by positioning your keyboard at the correct height. A height-adjustable keyboard tray is a must to properly fit your desk to your specific, unique physique.
  • Adjustable Tilt: Poor wrist health is one of the most common ailments from typing. The use of an adjustable tilt keyboard holder, especially a negative tilt keyboard tray, is one of the best ways to optimize your wrist health.
  • Adjustable Mouse Pad: It’s a good bet that you spend a lot of time mousing and that this interaction can significantly affect your arm health. A keyboard tray with an adjustable mouse pad can make mousing more comfortable in a number of ways. First, if you type with a negative tilt, an adjustable mouse pad will maintain a level mousing platform. Second, an adjustable width mouse pad allows you to optimally position mice and keyboards to fit your broad or narrow shoulders. Finally, an ambidextrous mouse pad gives you the freedom to reduce repetition and mix it up by mousing with either the right or left hand.
  • Accessories: Many keyboard trays are spacious enough to provide basic wrist support; however gently elevating wrists on a cushioned wrist wrest may make typing more comfortable and give you another option for periodically changing your typing posture. Depending on the computer keyboard trays material, a foam mouse pad can make your mouse work much more smoothly.

Few underdesk keyboard trays successfully combine all of the above features into one product. To help narrow the selection when shopping for a computer keyboard holder, it’s important to understand which features are most important and advantageous for your specific situation. Prices range from a couple bucks to hundreds of dollars—since a keyboard tray is a long-term investment in your health and comfort, it’s probably not the best idea to purchase the cheapest keyboard tray. 

Conclusion

Usually a durable, functional, great value keyboard tray can be had for a small investment over the cheapest option. As you work up the price scale, most keyboard trays become more luxurious, smoother to operate, and pack additional features that may be advantageous to your specific situation. Remember that truly ergonomic products aren’t a static, rigid, cookie-cutter solution. Rather, the best ergonomic keyboard trays are adjustable in enough ways to help optimize your specific desk configuration and physique.

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