If you spend lots of time at your keyboard, you know how much difference a change in position can make. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be a major change. Just a little tweak can make a big difference in comfort and ergonomics. For many people, the little feet on the back of your keyboard are enough. You can prop it up or lay it down as needed. But what if you want the angle to be steeper or shallower? In that case, you’d need a stand that’s easy to adjust. Not only that, but you might need to replace a stand. In all of those cases, a third-party keyboard stand is going to be a solid investment.
There are many options on the market, in many different styles. There are full-sized stands, standing desks, props, wedges, and even laptop car mounts. If you can think of a way to prop up a keyboard, odds are good that somebody’s already patented it. That’s why it’s so exciting when someone comes along with a truly innovative design.
We’re about to review the ESC Flip Pro. This is a unique keyboard stand that recently launched on Kickstarter. The launch was a success, and now they’ve finished shipping to all of their backers. At this point, the Flip Pro is now available to the general public. But just because you can buy one doesn’t necessarily mean you should. First, we need to learn a little bit more about this keyboard stand. We’re about to discuss how it’s designed, and what you can do with it. Then, we’ll talk about the various reasons you might want to use a keyboard stand in the first place. In light of those reasons, we’ll be able to render our verdict. Here’s everything you need to know about the ESC Flip Pro.
The ESC Flip Pro
The ESC Flip Pro is built primarily from black nylon, which is surprisingly durable. It consists of two primary parts: a sturdy frame and a pair of pads to support your keyboard. Let’s take a look at each of those parts separately.
The bottom side of the frame has a set of feet at either end, which fold down flat. There are actually four sets of feet, nested inside each other. This allows you to choose between not one, but four different heights. These are 0.6 inches, 0.95 inches, 1.31 inches, and 1.66 inches. The feet themselves are constructed from the same durable nylon as the rest of the frame. However, they are tipped with orange rubber feet that are designed not to damage your desk. These same feet also serve to keep your keyboard in place, so it won’t slide around while you’re typing.
In the back of the frame, you’ll also notice that it has a telescoping design. This design allows you to adjust the size to accommodate a wide variety of keyboards. In total, it can extend between 10 and 15 inches in length. That’s enough to fit both full-sized and tenkeyless boards from almost any manufacturer. You’ll be well equipped for Apple Logitech, and other popular brands. When you adjust from one step to the next, it clicks firmly into place. This keeps the frame from slipping shut or sliding open when you don’t want it to.
The two pads can be clipped into the top of the frame, but they don’t need to be. They can also be kept separately, which makes the stand easier to carry around. If you want to take the whole thing apart and put it in your laptop bag, you can. The tops of the pads have a grey micro-suction finish. This material clings to smooth surfaces, so your keyboard stays securely in place. That said, it does impose some limitations. If the back of your keyboard is irregular or rough, it won’t stick correctly to the pads.
Why Use a Keyboard Stand?
So, why would you use a keyboard stand to begin with? Let’s start with height. The average desk is around 29 to 30 inches tall, which is a comfortable height for many people. Unfortunately, “many” is not the same as “all,” or even “most.” All too often, you’ll find that a keyboard is either too high or too low for your needs. If it’s too high, you need a taller chair. Many chairs are adjustable, and it’s worth messing with yours to get it to the right height. Some people also use an aftermarket keyboard tray in this case. But these need to be installed on your desk, and they aren’t terribly portable.
But what if your desk is too low? In that case, a keyboard riser can lift it into place. Let’s be honest. The Flip Pro is not exactly ideal for this purpose. It’s made to change the angle, and doesn’t actually raise the keyboard as a whole. The bottom edge of the keyboard will still be resting on your desk.
Another similar concern arises when you’re using a standing desk. Standing desks are a great way to relieve stress on your back. Nobody wants to sit down all day, and people will spend hundreds of dollars on an ergonomic chair. This stands to reason. Our bodies are made to move around, and being locked into a single position is unhealthy. For this reason, a lot of people use a standing desk, or even alternate between sitting and standing. With a standing desk, there’s less strain on your buttocks and lower back. You also improve your circulation, since you’re not compressing your thighs by sitting on them.
For a standing desk, changing the angle of the keyboard can be helpful. However, think about the way your hands hang down when you’re standing. Your palms are going to be above your fingertips, not below them. If anything, you’d want your keyboard to be angled forwards, not backwards. Technically, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that with the Flip Pro. But in practice, installing it backwards is awkward, and you have nowhere to rest your wrists. A better solution is to elevate the entire keyboard to a level where your wrists are in a neutral position. Then, you can decide whether or not to use a stand to adjust the angle.
That said, most people are sitting down when they type. What benefit does a Flip Pro have for you? The main benefit is getting your wrists and fingers into a neutral position. Try holding your hands in front of you, palms down, with all the muscles relaxed. Your wrists will be almost straight, ever so slightly angled forward. Your fingers will have a slight curve to them. This is the ideal position for your hands to rest on the keyboard.
This is important because your wrists are one of the body parts most susceptible to repetitive stress injury (RSI). All the blood vessels and nerves that go to your hands go through a narrow channel in your wrists. This channel, called the carpal tunnel, is a tiny gap in your wrist bones at the base of your wrist. It’s protected on the bottom only by the soft tissues of your finger tendons.
Under normal circumstances, this works very well. But if anything causes those tendons to become enflamed, they’ll press on your nerves and blood vessels. This can cause tingling, pain, and numbness, and make it impossible to type. Under extreme conditions, it can become very difficult to use your hands at all. The more natural your resting position on the keyboard, the less likely you are to suffer this kind of injury.
Generally speaking, your keyboard angle will depend on its relative height. The lower your keyboard, the flatter it should be. Conversely, the higher your keyboard, the more it should be tilted towards you. This is exactly what the Flip Pro is designed for. If you use a sitting desk and the keyboard sits higher up, this stand is going to be perfect for your needs. That said, it’s also suitable for some lower typing surfaces. With the adjustable legs, you’ve got plenty of options.
Another reason you might want to use a keyboard stand is to improve your overall posture. If you’re like most people, you’ll naturally tend to slouch towards your desk. This is a normal human tendency, but it’s not a good habit to be in. Just as sitting in the wrong position can injure your wrists, it can also cause damage to your back. When you use a keyboard stand, it becomes uncomfortable to slouch. Because the keyboard is angled, your wrists and elbows can’t easily get into position when you’re too close. As a result, a keyboard stand like the Flip Pro is a great way to keep your back straight while you sit.
The last reason you might want a keyboard stand is if your keyboard’s existing legs broke. The legs are the flimsiest part of any keyboard. If you’ve got an expensive mechanical board, the legs may break years before the board itself needs to be replaced. In that sense, the Flip Pro is a suitable replacement. On its lower settings, it’s very similar to the legs on most keyboards.
As you cans see, the ESC Flip Pro is just one of many types of keyboard stand you might want to use. But it’s ideal for use in a sitting position, where you’ll get the benefit of an angled board. It’s less well-suited for a standing desk, where you primarily want the keyboard to be elevated.
That said, it’s very good at what it does. The frame is tough and durable, and won’t fail easily. It’s easy to adjust, so it works with a wide variety of keyboards. It’s collapsible, which makes it easy to take on the road with you. Finally, the nested feet are very well-engineered. If you want an adjustable way to prop up your keyboard, you’re going to be pleased.