It will be seldom if ever that you will find a high quality computer keyboard tray at a retail furniture showroom. It’s just not what they specialize in. You will come across the odd store that may have one, but most of them will provide the standard roll out wooden keyboard trays. Office furniture suppliers will carry both types of trays, and office furniture dealerships, that represent major manufacturers, will always have a variety of trays to select from. These trays are made for long term usage and are designed to last a long time.
There are two basic types of computer keyboard trays. One type is a standard roll out platform tray. It doesn’t go up or down. It doesn’t tilt back or forth. It just rolls in or out. You attach it to the underside of a work surface and voila, you’re done. It is simply a tray to put your keyboard on and allows you to roll it out of the way when you are not using it.
The other version is an ergonomic, fully articulating keyboard tray. Once you have gone out and spent your hard earned money on a high quality ergonomic chair, then it is nice to complement that with a high quality, fully functioning, keyboard tray. These are trays that allow you to have your hands in different positions to fit your body and the way you like to work at the computer. They have the ability to tilt up or tilt down in extreme positions. This will allow you to keep your hands in a neutral position (your hands flat on the keyboard tray) at all times, which is the ideal position to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. These will also have a height adjustment so that you can lift the entire keyboard up past the top of the work surface you are sitting at, or lower down below the work surface. They have a release pin that, when activated,makes the tray mechanism go limp in your hands and then you simply select the desired position, release the pin and lock the tray into the new position. It’s that easy.
They come in different widths for those that like to have a keyboard and mouse at the same height, on the same platform. Some manufacturers have a separate mouse arena that can be mounted beside the keyboard tray; to work in concert with each other. If your mouse is not at the same level as your keyboard, then it will be a little higher up on your worksurface and you will have to keep moving your hand from keyboard up to mouse, which is a lot of extra movement. This is up to you on which one works and feels the best for the type of work you are performing.
The most important thing to remember with ergonomic keyboards trays is that they are adjustable which allows you to work in a multitude of positions. The idea behind these products is to prevent long term injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, which can be debilitating and expensive to get treatment to recover from. Allowing you to choose the best position to work with is always the smartest option.
Roll out keyboards can be bought for a $100 in some stores depending on size and the quality of the glides. Ergonomic keyboards tray are more costly and can easily be $200 to $400 per unit, but as mentioned previously, they are designed to last for decades of service.
Both types of keyboard trays are attached to the underside of your existing work surface with screws and can usually be installed within a few minutes from a trained technician. They are not so complicated that you cannot do it yourself at home, but it will take you a while to select the correct positioning and apply the required hardware.