Author Topic: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?  (Read 13935 times)

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Offline pmdbt

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Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 12:44:01 »
Hey guys, I wanted to ask to see if someone who has been typing on an Alice layout for a long time actually finds the layout more ergonomical? My wrists used to hurt a lot typing all day on normal layout boards until I switched to split layouts. I've been typing on an Alice layout for a few weeks now, but my wrists seem to be acting up again, so I'm curious what experiences other people have had with that layout.
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Offline nevin

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 13:14:23 »
hand separation is key.
staggered or ortho is up to you.

alice.... minimal separation but angled to compensate....
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Offline Findecanor

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 13:39:37 »
[Disclaimer: I've not used it much] The thing is that a keyboard that fits some people may not necessarily fit others.
We are shaped differently and have different typing styles, typing postures, and different problems.
Thus, while the Alice layout may be great for some users, it may not necessarily be great for you and only you can figure that out.

There are two major ways that wrists can be angled unnaturally on a traditional keyboard.
Ulnar deviation: Rotating the wrist outward. (especially the left wrist)
Forearm pronation: Holding the wrists rotated too flatly against the desk.

The Alice layout can help some with avoiding the first point, but it helps nobody with the other. If forearm pronation is what affects you more then you'd be better helped with a keyboard that is "tented", i.e. having the left and side halves leaning sideways to form a "tent" shape.
You'd might want to check out the Type-K, which will have the Alice layout and 7 tenting. (I think the Microsoft Natural series had 8, but maybe varied)
Edit: There are DIY options Slice. and BuzzSaw.

Unfortunately the keyboard enthusiast community can be a bit opinionated at times.. Some "purists" might yell that the Alice (or even the Type-K) would not be ergo at all because it is not split into two pieces - and therefore not adjustable to fit everyone. Others might yell at you to get a columnar or ortholinear ("ortho") keyboard (because that is what they use) but I think those would require more tenting to avoid forearm pronation than with staggered keyboards.
« Last Edit: Fri, 15 January 2021, 14:21:03 by Findecanor »
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Offline nevin

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 13:59:51 »
thanks for the great explanation @Findecanor.

yes, finding what works for you is definitely a personal & individual decision.

true splits have a little more flexibility/options in positioning them than a one piece board. though i do miss the portability of a single piece board.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 17:39:04 »
There are two major ways that wrists can be angled unnaturally on a traditional keyboard.
Ulnar deviation: Rotating the wrist outward. (especially the left wrist)
Forearm pronation: Holding the wrists rotated too flatly against the desk.
Nitpick: these are uncomfortable wrist motions #3 and #4

The worst two types of wrist motion are flexion and extension, i.e. bending the wrist down or up, respectively. Fortunately these can be avoided on any keyboard; unfortunately they often are not in practice.

Quote
The Alice layout can help some with avoiding [ulnar deviation], but it helps nobody with [forearm pronation].
This is not quite the whole story.

There are a lot of degrees of freedom between moving/orienting keyboard and torso; and rotating shoulders, elbows, wrists, and finger joints. Static (i.e. sustained) muscle strain of one type gets traded off against static stress of another type, as people adjust to find the most comfortable position they can. Splitting the hands slightly, turning them a bit, and bringing them closer to the body definitely has the potential to reduce pronation slightly. But it is going to depend on how the typist changes their posture.
« Last Edit: Mon, 04 January 2021, 18:24:34 by jacobolus »

Offline pmdbt

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 17:45:55 »
[Disclaimer: I've not used it much] The thing is that a keyboard that fits some people may not necessarily fit others.
We are shaped differently and have different typing styles, typing postures, and different problems.
Thus, while the Alice layout may be great for some users, it may not necessarily be great for you and only you can figure that out.

There are two major ways that wrists can be angled unnaturally on a traditional keyboard.
Ulnar deviation: Rotating the wrist outward. (especially the left wrist)
Forearm pronation: Holding the wrists rotated too flatly against the desk.

The Alice layout can help some with avoiding the first point, but it helps nobody with the other. If forearm pronation is what affects you more then you'd be better helped with a keyboard that is "tented", i.e. having the left and side halves leaning sideways to form a "tent" shape.
You'd might want to check out the Type-K, which will have the Alice layout and 7 tenting. (I think the Microsoft Natural series had 8, but maybe varied)

Unfortunately the keyboard enthusiast community can be a bit opinionated at times.. Some "purists" might yell that the Alice (or even the Type-K) would not be ergo at all because it is not split into two pieces - and therefore not adjustable to fit everyone. Others might yell at you to get a columnar or ortholinear ("ortho") keyboard (because that is what they use) but I think those would require more tenting to avoid forearm pronation than with staggered keyboards.

Wow! Thanks for the detailed explanation. This makes a lot of sense. I personally love the typing position of the kinesis advantage 2, but don't like the plastic quality of it. Do you know of a higher quality split layout board with anodized aluminum finish etc.
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Offline jamster

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 20:59:01 »
I asked the same question six months ago, the answers were generally "not very" and "it's mostly for looks."

Having used a split board for the past six months and tried ortho/tenting, I am glad that I did not get an Alice board.

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=106819.0
« Last Edit: Mon, 04 January 2021, 21:00:58 by jamster »

Offline nevin

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 22:03:43 »
split and a cnc'd case...... that's going to be a small list.
here's some that were (at one point or another released with an aluminum case)
- VE.A
- YDMK split 60%
- Ai03's Orbit
- IMK Corne
- let's split (cases only) type 1, type 2
- Corne LP
- SP50

IC's
- Ai03's Orbit-X
- Corne-ish Zen

..... there may be others (these are just the ones i know or found quickly)

and as old as the ergodox is, i'm sure that has been done in aluminum at some point.

you can also search for 3rd party vendors that only make cases for some of the popular split boards.

most split/ergo cases are either stacked layers, spaced plates, or 3d printed.
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Offline pmdbt

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 22:47:08 »
split and a cnc'd case...... that's going to be a small list.
here's some that were (at one point or another released with an aluminum case)
- VE.A
- YDMK split 60%
- Ai03's Orbit
- IMK Corne
- let's split (cases only) type 1, type 2
- Corne LP
- SP50

IC's
- Ai03's Orbit-X
- Corne-ish Zen

..... there may be others (these are just the ones i know or found quickly)

and as old as the ergodox is, i'm sure that has been done in aluminum at some point.

you can also search for 3rd party vendors that only make cases for some of the popular split boards.

most split/ergo cases are either stacked layers, spaced plates, or 3d printed.

Thanks! I'll look into some of these or look into making one myself. I'm curious if you can explain why ortho is considered more ergonomic? Is it just moving your fingers up and down a perfectly straight line better?
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Offline nevin

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 23:21:28 »
again, it's all personal preference.
- if you type "correctly" it's probably less of an issue.
   - it's typical on normal stagger, and not typing correctly to hit wrong keys with wrong fingers
   - split boards or ortho boards help address this making "y" and "b" less of a stretch, or physically split to force correct fingers.
- you can get into all kinds of theory and what's "better" than another layout
- if you really want to go down the ergo hole... look at some of the alternate key layouts & efficiency, dvorak, colemak, workman, etc..etc...

lots of other examples & good info there
http://xahlee.info/kbd/diy_keyboards_index.html

...in the end the only thing that matters is you find something that you like and works for you.
« Last Edit: Mon, 04 January 2021, 23:23:38 by nevin »
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Offline yqqdrasil

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 04 January 2021, 23:36:39 »
Yea as stated previously, its not really considered to be an 'ergonomic' keyboard, but its more ergonomic than a standard keyboard.

Regardless, the Alice is a beautiful keyboard.. I'd love to own one.

But I think I'll be buying an ErgoDox EZ when I can afford it in the future to help me with my battle with RSI.

Offline jamster

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 05 January 2021, 00:53:36 »
Throwing it out there again... if you want ergo and want to be able to tweak the layout like crazy, check out the Dumang split boards.

They are not CNC'd jewellery cases and they are a bit DIY if you want tenting, but they are unbeatable when it comes to layout flexibility.

Offline vvp

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 05 January 2021, 02:48:34 »
Others might yell at you to get a columnar or ortholinear ("ortho") keyboard (because that is what they use) but I think those would require more tenting to avoid forearm pronation than with staggered keyboards.
I do not see how would columnar design require more tenting. Columnar (column staggered) design is just a bit easier to type without moving hands mostly thanks to pinkie columns stagger. Pinkie si much shorter so it is better when its keys are nearer which can be achieved by two ways column-staggering them nearer to the typist and moving them higher (as contoured keyboards like Kinesis Advantage do). But opinions differ whether it is good to be able to type without palm movement. Some say that it is good when the keyboard requires you to move hands. I'm not in that camp though :)

Kinesis Advantage is columnar and has tenting of about 13 but I think that column stagger and tenting are completely independent. I use tenting of about 33 on my K84CS. There are users who want more than 45.

I do not recall seeing a metal contoured keyboard. There were some very fancy wooden or metal custom builds with essentially two ergodoxes slightly tented and joined together with a trackball in the middle. A lot of metal keyboards  with standard shape and layout and aluminium ergodoxes are common. The main problem is that metal contoured keybaord case will need 5 axis CNC an probably multiple positions of the part on the CNC bed. That means dismounting and reattaching to the bed multiple times. That requires operator time. That makes it quite complicated to do and expensive.

Offline harlekein

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 15 January 2021, 10:12:32 »
Regardless, the Alice is a beautiful keyboard.. I'd love to own one.

A lot of people think so, but to me it's hideous:

259894-0

The 2 and - keys jump up, then the inner keys angle down. This creates ugly gaps, not only between those keys, but all the rows beneath it, working right up until the thumb keys.

Personally I am also not a fan at all of the stagger on both outer sides of the board.

Besides it not being ergonomic, just slightly above traditional staggered, I don't even think it's a nice looking layout. If this board wasn't made by TGR and didn't get hyped up by Taeha, it would never have gained the traction it did.


Offline jamster

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 15 January 2021, 10:47:36 »

Agreed- it's a remarkably ugly keyboard.

Offline pmdbt

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #15 on: Sat, 23 January 2021, 01:12:43 »
Regardless, the Alice is a beautiful keyboard.. I'd love to own one.

A lot of people think so, but to me it's hideous:

(Attachment Link)

The 2 and - keys jump up, then the inner keys angle down. This creates ugly gaps, not only between those keys, but all the rows beneath it, working right up until the thumb keys.

Personally I am also not a fan at all of the stagger on both outer sides of the board.

Besides it not being ergonomic, just slightly above traditional staggered, I don't even think it's a nice looking layout. If this board wasn't made by TGR and didn't get hyped up by Taeha, it would never have gained the traction it did.

You know, it's interesting you bring this up. I wonder why someone hasn't tried just taking the layout and continuing with the angle so that the entire keyboard resembles a v-shape.
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Offline S61

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 23 January 2021, 02:30:17 »
I prefer the design that traditional layout directly split into left and right  :cool:

Offline wolverine92

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #17 on: Tue, 23 February 2021, 19:21:36 »
Angle is good. But I prefer real split with keyboards like the Corne.

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Offline MajorKoos

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #18 on: Thu, 18 March 2021, 00:19:01 »
You know, it's interesting you bring this up. I wonder why someone hasn't tried just taking the layout and continuing with the angle so that the entire keyboard resembles a v-shape.

The LZ Ergo is still my favorite.

Offline pmdbt

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 18 March 2021, 14:10:13 »
Quote
The LZ Ergo is still my favorite.

Wow! Thanks for the comment, I did not know that was a thing. The angle definitely looks a lot more interesting to me. Do you know if this was open sourced?
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Offline MajorKoos

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 19 March 2021, 12:59:58 »
Sadly not.
it was a one-off GB that ran years ago.
Next closest thing is the FLX Virgo:
https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=104617.0

Offline nevin

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 19 March 2021, 13:04:28 »
you could pretty easily recreate it with a spaced plate handwire or sandwich style (stacked) layered case (if that would be acceptable)
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Offline Findecanor

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 19 March 2021, 15:02:46 »
Others might yell at you to get a columnar or ortholinear ("ortho") keyboard (because that is what they use) but I think those would require more tenting to avoid forearm pronation than with staggered keyboards.
I do not see how would columnar design require more tenting.
I think most people type with the right hand having a slight wrist angle against the keyboard plane on row-staggered keyboards, whereas the wrist is often perfectly parallel to the keyboard plane on columnar keyboards.

There is a lot of variation on how people type on the left side of a traditional row-staggered keyboard. Some people orient their hands so that the columns become Y-G-V, T-F-C, etc. in which case there is some wrist angle on that side as well.
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Offline MajorKoos

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 19 March 2021, 16:06:57 »
LZ Ergo is what got me into the keyboard hobby in the first place.

264781-0
LZ Ergo, TS65 and 3 x VE.A
I recently ported the LZ Ergo and VE.A to QMK + VIA :)

264783-1
3d printed Alice clones

264785-2
An Em.7 and a Prime Elise

264787-3
My Favorite LZ Ergo

264789-4
Good old Ergodox.  Hate the layout.

264791-5
The SP-111 turned out way nicer than I expected and is my #2 favorite ergo.

264793-6
LZ Physix.  Alice in a 65% layout that makes sense.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 March 2021, 16:15:38 by MajorKoos »

Offline pmdbt

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #24 on: Mon, 22 March 2021, 21:12:38 »
Quote
LZ Ergo is what got me into the keyboard hobby in the first place.

Amazing collection, thank you so much for sharing!!! I'm going to keep an eye out for any upcoming ergo group buys :)
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Offline Runningtarrens

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #25 on: Tue, 04 May 2021, 15:15:32 »
Corne checks all the boxes for me. looks good , split, tenting, colum stagger and ortholinear for the rows. 
also there is a mini dactyl version thats almost like the corne but has a round surface for the switches.
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Offline nevin

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Re: Is the Alice layout actually ergonomic?
« Reply #26 on: Tue, 04 May 2021, 15:57:18 »
oh, yeah i just recently saw them (Bastard Keyboards). very cool idea.
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