Is Standing Desk with Keyboard Trays Still Needed?

April 29, 2021

A worker typing on keyboard tray

There are things that are no longer around. Things like the rotary phone or the phone booth are no longer in use. Even the pager seems to go where the dinosaurs went. Into extinction. There was a time even the fax machine was the epitome of technology. The only thing constant here is change.

These are the subtle things around us in our daily lives that seem to be anachronistic such as a manual pencil sharpener, correction fluid, and a keyboard tray.

Articulated keyboard trays were developed at a slower pace than other work surface products in an office environment. The development of a keyboard tray is progressive: desk manufacturers would upgrade newer versions of their desks, and keyboard trays have to change also to work with the new desks.

Let’s look back on the evolution of the articulated keyboard tray.

Before the invention of the typewriters, office assistants took notes in longhand. The fastest a person could write was around 30 words per minute.

Today’s wireless keyboards were the result of the typewriter. Invented in 1867, it was not widely used in business until the 1880s, typewriters are a faster way of producing business documents.

Although typewriters played a big role in everyday business, they still are bulky and took up a lot of room. In time, a separate table for the typewriter became essential.

There were some upgrades to the typing table such as folded side surfaces that held the documents and wheels to move the table. Other than some aesthetics, it didn’t change very much.

Over time, manual typewriters became electric and evolved into desktop computers. Once technology progresses, word processors and desktop computers became the very tool for nearly all offices in the mid-1990s.


The Transition to Keyboard Trays

In the digital world, people began using articulated keyboard trays for many reasons. 

  • First Reason: Real Estate

When the business world joins the computer age, free space on the desktop became scarce. The reason is the large computer monitors.

The desks stayed the same size, but the first monitors needed a lot of room. So, a keyboard tray was needed to make way to the monitors

A shelf slid out from underneath the desktop holding a keyboard thus saving valuable free space. The shelf usually fits the size of a keyboard.

Extra space is a benefit articulated keyboard trays gave. But there is a more important reason behind the popularity of trays.

  • Second Reason: Times Changed

For many years, keyboard trays didn’t change. The way people worked on PCs didn’t require a computer mouse.

Created in 1981 for IBM-compatible computers, MS-DOS required users to open, navigate, and access files on their system typing on a command line. A mouse wasn’t needed. 

Things started to pick up in the latter half of 1995. Microsoft introduced Windows 95 and revolutionized everything about computers. Instead of typing the command line, people started using a mouse to work with icons on their PCs. As a result, keyboard trays are made with an extended board on one side giving room to the mouse.

Work Station Evolution

For two decades, desks with keyboard tray systems were everywhere. The design and use of trays changed with the coming of two technologies.

Flat LCD Monitors

Old computer monitors use cathode ray tubes (CRTs), similar to older TVs with a difference: the old CRT monitors on PC systems displayed monochromatic images.

As the need for higher definition monitors grew, so also the size and power consumption of the CRT monitors. The introduction of liquid-crystal display (LCD) technology made monitors flat. Using LCD flat screens eliminated the bulky, energy-sucking CRT monitor that occupies over half of a work surface, thus freeing several cubic feet of space.

Adjustable Height Desks

The speculation of altering the desk height seemed to remove the need for an articulated keyboard tray. But two factors proved it wrong:

  • The inability to incorporate a negative keyboard tilt

  •  Keyboards used up valuable workspace

  • Articulated keyboard trays proved their usefulness during the beginning of height-adjustable desks.

Height differential of people

There’s one problem with a standard desktop height of 29-inches: it’s made for a person who’s around 6′ 1″ tall. It doesn’t present a problem except the average man is 5′ 8″ tall and the average woman is 5′ 4″.

That’s a difference of 9″ from shortest to tallest. Since customizing every desk in the world is impractical for office furniture manufacturers, people needed to find height-adjustable desks. Using a height-adjustable desk can solve these problems. But using an articulated keyboard tray with a standing desk can guarantee to correct ergonomic heights.

Advantages of an Articulated Keyboard Tray

There are significant advantages to using a keyboard tray on a height-adjustable table

Customize

Adjusting the settings of the keyboard tray to your size and the way you sit, even if it is sharing a desk, takes no effort to readjust the tray to fit.

Space

Keyboard trays provide great working space if working in a small workstation.

Money

Usually, quality meant pricey items. Not so with articulating keyboard trays. 

Efficiency

Eliminates straining while reaching or feeling stretch while working. It allows working faster.

Flexibility

There are many options available for keyboard trays. If the preference of having the keyboard and mouse on the same level or for storage for pens or pencils, there are many types to suit your needs.

Ergonomics

A correct ergonomic height may not be possible even when using an adjustable standing desk. Using an adjustable keyboard tray allows you to correctly find the right height.

Installation

Installing a tray is simple. Articulating keyboard trays fit with all desks and can attach using screws.

Positioning

An articulating keyboard tray puts the mouse and keyboard in a neutral position with your elbows at 90º.

Tilting Feature

The extendable keyboard tray has a tilting function to allow you to create either a positive or negative tilt thus, improving ergonomics.

Wrist Rest/Support

With its tilting feature are the wrist supports for the keyboard and mouse. The purpose of a wrist rest is to keep your wrists in a neutral position lessening muscular tension in arms, shoulders, and backs.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

 This can decrease the cases of carpal tunnel by using an articulated keyboard tray. It prevents occurrences of hand and wrist problems. 

Disadvantages of an Articulated Keyboard Tray

Price

Do your homework and choose wisely. Make sure you find a keyboard tray that suits your desk and your needs.

Acclimation

 It takes time to adjust and get used to the tray system properly. Give it some time to be familiar with it.

Distance 

Using an articulated keyboard tray means longer reach for items on the desk.

Instability

Cheap keyboard trays are not stable, which leads to jerky movements as you type.

Space 

An articulated keyboard tray is usually placed underneath a desk. It may bang your knees if you are tall or have long legs.

If you want a good deal on the keyboard tray. The Clamp-on Adjustable Keyboard Tray KT2B from Flexispot.com is the ideal tray for your standing desk.

Conclusions

So, a standing desk with a keyboard tray isn’t going away in the foreseeable future. Unless technology has refined holographic science and made holographic keyboards, it is not going anywhere.



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