Best Keyboard Tilt Risers
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Keeping Orthopedic Surgeons in Business for Over 40 Years
It took decades for computer keyboard manufacturers to acknowledge the droning complaints of ergonomists and finally stop putting those little pop-up tabs along the back edge of their keyboards. These tabs put the keyboard at positive tilt, putting more strain on wrists and forearm muscles.
Instead, manufacturers like Microsoft, Kinesis and Perixx built up the correct “negative tilt” along the front edge of their highly popular ergonomic keyboards. It’s these keyboards that ergonomists are likely to prescribe for someone suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
“Keyboard tilt risers,” like the pop-up tabs of yore, put the keyboard or laptop at a positive tilt angle, placing more strain on wrists and forearm muscles.
Why is this bad?
One of the two main functions of ergonomic keyboard trays is to provide negative tilt, which allows your wrists to be properly aligned in a straight line with the forearms.
This is perhaps the single most important concept that users, and even salespeople and websites that sell keyboard trays, get reversed in their minds. It’s easy to understand why this happens. The very word “negative” sounds, well, negative. But, in fact, it’s a negative tilt, as shown in the photo on the right, that you want to achieve with an ergonomic keyboard tray. The only application for positive tilt is typically for gamers who want to lean way back in their chairs and still be able to see and reach their keyboards.
In general, keyboard trays allow you to tilt the front edge of the keyboard up, bringing it into a negatively-inclined position from the perspective of where your wrists are resting on the keyboard. While this may depart from old-school, pre-ergonomic keyboard design (pop-up tabs on many keyboards used to let you elevate the back—a humongous ergonomic no-no) it’s actually ergonomically proper to tilt the keyboard the other way.
It’s only by placing the keyboard at a negative tilt that wrist flexion—and consequent squeezing of the carpal bones that surround the nerves and blood vessels that pass through them—can be neutralized. We’ve never been able to figure out how the computer industry started down this path of tilting keyboards in exactly the opposite direction as is ergonomically correct; the myth has persisted for decades and millions of computer users are still unaware.
Now, as keyboards have finally mostly shed the pop-up tabs, keyboard tilt risers are the last bastion of this damaging trend that just won’t seem to die.
These risers are designed to do the exact opposite of what an ergonomic keyboard tray should do: Provide positive tilt. Outside of a very small minority of users slouching back in their chairs, no one should have positive tilt. So why do these risers exist? It’s simply a hangover from decades of flawed thinking about keyboard tray tilt. Chinese manufacturers looking for some cheap, plastic products they can ship inexpensively glommed onto this wrong-headed idea some years ago and have unfortunately been all too successful selling it. And copying each other, selling even more.
As computer keyboard manufacturers gradually phased out the pop-up tabs, there was still instinctual demand by some users to replace those tabs. Enter keyboard tilt risers.
We’ve established that keyboard tilt risers are horrible ergonomically, but how are they as products outside of that huge flaw? Not good. We’ve reviewed some of the top options we could find on Amazon and many of them seem to have problems so obvious that it’s almost hard to believe that any manufacturer ever actually tried using them before slapping them online and charging $15.
Things like the heavily-advertised ESC Keyboard Stand only being 6” long. It’s clear from that single dimension it won’t support the ends of a keyboard and rampant user reviews back that up. It will tip over if you press keys near the edges of your keyboard. But they keep advertising and selling this product profitably.
Or the Source One tilted keyboard stand’s giant front lip. This lip cuts into your hands and prevents you from typing on the bottom row of the keyboard.
How about the ESC Flip Keyboard Stand using a cartoon hand in product imaging because they likely couldn’t get a human hand to look right?
Even if the ergonomics were fine, these products literally don’t function at anything close to the level they’re advertised. This is the absolute bottom of the barrel of ergonomic products at every level from design to customer service.
One last note: These products are a perfect illustration of how Amazon reviews are often exceedingly unreliable as most have wonderful user ratings despite these issues.
For a more in-depth discussion on what makes for actual good ergonomics with keyboard trays, as well as the best keyboard trays we’ve reviewed, be sure to check out our roundup of Best Ergonomic Keyboard Trays.
Take a look at our review summaries below for more details on each product.
Top Keyboard Tray Tilt Risers
Instead of correcting for a bad typing angle that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, the Lenfech keyboard riser exacerbates it.
By introducing extreme positive tilt angles, the ESC Flip Keyboard Stand does the exact opposite of what ergonomic keyboard trays are intended to do.
The ESC Keyboard Stand is only 6” wide, meaning essentially all keyboards will wobble and tip dramatically when you type anywhere but the middle.