Evoluent’s Mouse-Friendly Keyboard layout is unlike any other I’ve seen: the numeric keypad is on the left instead of the right. The reason, according to Evoluent, is that with a standard keyboard, the location of the numeric keypad makes right-handed users reach too far to the right to use the mouse. With the keypad on the left, the distance to the mouse is reduced, and your right arm is in a more neutral position when you use the mouse.
When testing the Mouse-Friendly Keyboard, I did find the mouse placement more comfortable than it is with a standard keyboard, especially over extended use. On the other hand, reaching to the left side of the keyboard may be awkward for people accustomed to keypad touch-typing with their right hand. And only right-handed users will realize the advantages of the Mouse-Friendly Keyboard; left-handed users already get these benefits from any standard keyboard.
The Mouse-Friendly Keyboard is quite small—just over 15 inches wide and only half an inch thick—with laptop-style scissor keys for a low-profile design. Although the keys have a good, responsive feel, the small keyboard size means that the keys are fairly cramped, so it’s difficult to use certain keys (especially modifier keys) when you’re touch-typing. And because the Mouse-Friendly Keyboard is a Windows-centric keyboard without Mac drivers, only three of the 15 custom top-row keys—the volume keys and the mute key—work as expected. Finally, the location of the delete and help keys, next to the Alt (option) and Windows keys, makes accidentally deleting text or launching Help Viewer far too easy. (The company’s position is that with the delete key next to the spacebar, you can access the delete key with your left hand while your right hand is on your mouse.)
Macworld’s buying advice
Despite its compact size and interesting design, most Mac users will find this keyboard disorienting and frustrating to use. The improvements gained by the non-standard keypad placement benefit only right-handed people, while the keyboard’s cramped, Windows-focused layout and odd key arrangement negate most of the advantages of reversing the position of the numeric keypad—not to mention that the special-function keys do not work on the Mac.
[ Dan Frakes is a senior editor at Macworld.]Evoluent Mouse-Friendly Keyboard