ISE Leader 5 Keyboard Tray Review
The Leader 5 does everything a keyboard tray needs to, does it well, and comes in at a surprisingly low street price. 15º of negative tilt is an industry standard for adjustable trays, and while the 5º that the Leader adds to that doesn’t sound like much, some users will find the extra tilt essential to finding a comfortable, ergonomic position - especially when using a treadmill desk. A wide range of height adjustment is complemented by removable gel/foam wrist pads (perfect for accommodating ergonomic keyboards).
The ISE Leader keyboard tray has all the perks we’ve seen with other systems, plus a couple extras. A category-topping 20º of negative tilt and a superb range of vertical height-adjustment help ensure healthy hand positioning. The Leader also comes with a positional display, a helpful addition for shared workstations.
Installation is an unavoidable drawback to rail-mounted keyboard tray systems, and users can expect to spend some time scrabbling about with a drill.
Any decent keyboard tray fixes two common ergonomic woes. Wrist extension (bending the wrists too far back toward the forearm) and elbow flexion (holding the elbows at too sharp an angle). Negative tilt helps with the former, while vertical height adjustment helps with the latter.
ISE’s Leader keyboard tray passes both requirements with flying colors. While the industry standard for negative tilt is 15º, the Leader goes the extra mile (well, 5º) and can be adjusted to negative 20º of tilt. This seemingly minor fix can do wonders for your wrists, as a few extra degrees allow a typist to keep his or her hands in a comfortable, neutral position.
The Leader also shines in terms of vertical height adjustment. Most similar products bring around 6” of height adjustment – ISE’s closest competitor quality-wise, Humanscale, manufactures an arm with 7” of adjustment. The Leader is capable of 8.8” inches of vertical adjustment, the best we’ve seen from a standard (some are specially designed for extended range) keyboard tray arm. With such a sweeping range of adjustment the Leader 5 can actually reach above the desk surface. For very tall individuals whose adjustable height desks just don’t reach high enough for ergonomic comfort the added height can be a real blessing.
These advantages were even enough to convince us to recommend the Leader as an OEM keyboard tray to our partner company, iMovR. It’s since reappeared as the Stowaway, a new, easy-install version of the Leader designed to match up to predrilled holes on all iMovR tops.
On the Grid
Given all that range, it’s a good thing that the Leader is so easy to adjust. We’ve seen few different height-adjustment mechanisms here at WorkWhileWalking. Cheaper trays like the Ergotron Neo-Flex tend to use knobs, which require loosening and retightening for every move, and sometimes have a hard time staying tight. Lever-locking mechanisms are one step up, and a welcome one at that, but truly nice keyboard trays – like the Leader 5 – use a lift-and-lock system. These products use the tray itself as a lever. Lift up on the front, and the arm unlocks, allowing easy vertical movement. ISE’s tray is also counterbalanced, making it extremely easy to find your perfect position.
Tilt is fine-tuned by twisting a knob. Both dimensions of adjustment are tracked by a slider on a “Battleship” style grid readout. The grid, which lies on the face of the adjustable arm, might seem like a strange style choice at first, but it makes it incredibly easy to remember your favorite arrangement – an extremely helpful feature if you’re switching positions, or sharing a desk with coworkers.
Many custom choices, but one beats the rest
ISE, just like Humanscale, has a vast array of custom options on all their products, and the Leader board is no exception. We checked them all out with the goal of finding the one model that will suit most people, most of the time, and we succeeded. The Leader 5 is the one we’re the biggest fans of, with its ideally-proportioned keyboard tray and clamp-on, fully-articulating mouse platform.
The mouse platform can swivel around from any position on the left or right edges of the keyboard tray, allowing you to bring your mouse closer to your body (eliminating reach is ergonomically beneficial). What’s more, the platform also has a couple of inches of independent height adjustment, and independent tilt adjustment – both of which are really handy features, as the best location for your keyboard isn’t necessarily the best for your mouse.
Those of you with Microsoft Natural ergonomic keyboards, or similar products, also have the option of removing the leather-like foam-filled palm rest, and using your board’s built in rests instead. The contoured front edge of the keyboard tray that is revealed when the pad is removed is perfectly shaped for the Natural.
It’s not uncommon for high end keyboard trays like this to have outstanding warranties, but it’s hard to do much better than “lifetime”. ISE trays join the limited number of products we’ve seen that do carry these guarantees.
Where to Buy
The SitLess online and retail stores sell the ISE Leader 5 Keyboard Tray for only $299, including FREE SHIPPING.