Form over function

Form over function

Evoluent vertical mouseI’m kinda broken. I have super bad tennis elbow, which I’ll expand upon soon, but needless to say my medical needs hamper my ability to comfortably use and enjoy technology. I don’t just like using a split keyboard, I NEED to use one. I have this special terrifying mouse that’s so guest-unfriendly, I make a point of keeping a wireless “guest mouse” to the left of my keyboard. Touch screens hurt me. Monitor stands are too short for me. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to ergonomics. And most Apple hardware can kiss my broken ass.

I’ve become a bigger and bigger Apple nerd since Grant surprised me with a first-gen iPhone in early 2007. However, I haven’t actually owned a Mac since high school. Shameful, I know! I fully intend to pull the trigger on an upgrade as a birthday present to myself in March. Yet this isn’t an easy decision, partly because Apple’s products, while beautiful, are incredibly unfriendly to my body.

I now spend more time working from my home office than anywhere else, largely because I like to force myself to work from the most ergonomically happy setup possible. It hurts me within ten minutes if I type from my laptop on the couch. So in deciding upon an upgrade, I first thought I might get an iMac to reinforce working from the same spot. I had my eye on the previous 27″ model, which was the ONLY model at the time that had a removable stand with VESA mount compatibility. But that was their ONLY option with that capability—they did away with the removable stand in the sexy new iMacs. So disappointing. Especially because a computer with an attractive display is a huge benefit for my client-facing desk setup. So I decided to get a laptop and maintain portability instead, even though I have to bring a keyboard and mouse with me to use it safely.

No num pad, but that sucks for alt codes which I use frequently.I’d also love to have a Bluetooth keyboard as sexy and beautiful as Apple makes them, all white and alumin(i)um and whatnot. But of course, those aren’t great for ouchy typists like me. Not only are they rectangular and the wrong springiness of key, but they have that stupid non-removable tube at the back that places them at the wrong angle for wrist health. At least they do make a model with no num pad, which is better for mousing since it allows you to place the mouse closer to your core, but still.  If they made a lovely wireless split keyboard that wasn’t a perfect rectangle but had the typical Apple keys, I’d still go for that. It’s 2013; it kind of blows my mind that the company that drafted their well-respected Human Interface Guidelines for software doesn’t seem to give a damn about how the rest of the human body works.

The exception to this problem might be their mice, sort of. I can’t tell yet. I find most track pads insanely painful to use, but the track pad on Grant’s work MacBook is less horrible than the 2007 Dell track pad I have on my laptop. I can’t tell if this is because track pads in general are better now, though. And I can’t yet say how I feel about the Magic Mouse —I’ve only gotten to play with them at Apple stores, and that never feels like an authentic user experience to me. If I do ever buy one, I’ll let you know how I feel.

Few can argue that Apple’s industrial design isn’t stunning, especially compared to the sea of shiny black plastic out there. But the “function” part still seems stuck in the 80s. If the retina iMacs and skinny retina displays down the road aren’t VESA-compatible either, I’ll be even more frustrated (and forced to seek some sort of attractive non-Apple hardware to get my needs met). It’s a real shame, since pretty matters to me almost as much as healthy does. Almost.

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