I’m not cheap—but it wouldn’t be wrong to call me frugal. I don’t mind spending money, but I want to ensure I’m getting my money’s worth. I don’t like buying cheap stuff that needs to be replaced because it wears out. But I hate spending a lot of money on something that doesn’t perform the way I expect it to.

A few months ago, my wife, a freelancer of many years, told me she wanted to get a new keyboard. That sounded reasonable to me. Though her current keyboard worked fine, she was complaining about hand and arm pain. She felt the keys were too tough to press.

A picture of a Realforce mechanical keyboard.

I will admit I did a double-take when she told me the price. The keyboard she wanted (Realforce) was in the neighborhood of $300. It wasn’t even wireless! It was a mechanical keyboard with an extremely low actuation force rating, which was essential to her. We went to the store, she tried it out, and was sold immediately.

I have to admit—it’s a great keyboard. After installing the foam padding (after removing all the keys), the actuation depth is shallow. It is a dream to type on. Since my wife spends the majority of her time typing, though initially shocking, this seemed like a good investment to me.

I’ll make do with what I have

I’ve posted pics of my makeshift living room office setup before. It’s simple, but it does the trick. The monitor on the right is an old HP that I bought second hand for about $30—15 years ago. I’m not playing games on it, and the resolution is noticeably worse than the laptop screen. But for editing documents, it’s all I need.

A picture of an English copywriter's workspace with a Panker wireless keyboard and mouse.

I was making do with my original wireless keyboard and mouse combo. The brand name is Panker—I’ve never heard of it. I’m pretty sure the reason I bought it was because it was cheap, had a unified USB receiver, and the mouse had a ‘back’ button. You know the saying, “Ignorance is bliss?” Until I tried my wife’s new keyboard, I had no idea how bad mine was.

It was very clunky. I started noticing keys sticking. The mouse was functional, but it wasn’t anything special. My wife reasoned that if I was going to spend most of my time typing, a better keyboard would be a wise investment. I had to agree.

Enter the Logitech K860 wireless ergonomic keyboard

I’ll admit, split keyboards like this have always intrigued me. They seem like they should function well. I get the theory behind the design, and it makes sense. My wife urged me to get a mechanical keyboard, but I didn’t feel I had to spend that much money. And this seemed like a good time to give an ergonomic keyboard a try.

A collage picture of the Logitech K860 wireless ergonomic keyboard, showing its curved design.

Knowing the keyboard connected via both Bluetooth and a unified USB receiver was a plus. I have limited USB ports, and though a USB hub is an option, this was a cleaner, simpler one. I know Bluetooth can be finicky. But knock on wood, since connecting it over a week ago, I’ve had zero issues. But knowing I have the USB dongle as a backup is comforting.

The main complaint against ergonomic keyboards seems to be the ‘learning curve.’ I have to ask—what learning curve? From the moment I started typing with this, it just felt right. Being a touch typist is likely a significant factor. Many of the negative online reviews came from users that admitted to not being touch typists.

Ahhh…home sweet home never felt this good

As soon as I put my fingers on the home row, I knew exactly where my fingers needed to move. It felt instinctive. It’s nowhere near as smooth a typing experience as my wife’s mechanical keyboard. But it’s plenty comfortable and a definite upgrade from my previous clunker. Though I’m sure my wife would roll her eyes at my “inferior” keyboard.

It has a few neat features too. You can customize the function keys with Logitech’s software. If you sign in to the software, it will back up your settings. So if I ever switch computers, I can install the software, and all my customizations will be right there. 

Furthermore, you can make customizations for individual apps/programs. The function keys can perform certain functions in your web browser but different ones in your media player or photo editor. I haven’t played around with these customizations much yet, but more on that later.

A picture with arrows showing how easy it is for an English copywriter to switch between devices with the Logitech K860 keyboard.

You can also pair it with up to three devices. Currently, it’s paired with my laptop and my phone. Switching between devices is as simple as pressing a button. Unfortunately, my TV only allows Bluetooth connections to specific LG keyboards. That would’ve been sweet.

Houston, we’ve got a problem

There are a few minor drawbacks. One of the major complaints about this keyboard is that there is no backlighting. But this is not an issue for me. I rarely look at the keyboard. Besides, the absence of a backlight means improved battery life. According to the documentation, the two AAA batteries can last up to two years. 

The biggest downside is that some previously one-handed keyboard shortcuts are impossible—or at least more challenging. I often use “Ctrl + n,” which was a comfortable pinky + index finger shortcut on my old keyboard. That doesn’t work on the split keyboard. I switched to doing it as a two-handed shortcut, but I realized it’s possible as a pinky + thumb shortcut. A little awkward—but doable. A minor drawback that I can live with, or at least find a workaround for.

A photo collage demonstrating the difference in using the "ctrl + n" shortcut on English copywriter's old Panker keyboard and the new Ergo K860.

One other minor drawback is that the keyboard is quite big—due to the palm rest. The palm rest is quite comfortable, but it’s not detachable. The keyboard would be pretty uncomfortable without it, due to its curved design. I sometimes like to put the keyboard on my lap when typing. It’s a bit big in that position, but it’s manageable. Actually, with the split design, it’s very comfortable typing in this position.

A picture showing how I like to type with the keyboard on my lap as I work on English copywriting tasks.

Logitech K860 Wireless Ergo (150,000 won / $130)—Overall rating: 8.5 It’s not as nice to type on as my wife’s mechanical keyboard, but I knew that when I purchased it. A slightly better typing experience and a smaller hand rest, and this would be a 10/10.

Who knew there were so many new styles of mice on the market? 

Part of the reason for choosing the Logitech keyboard was that I had options for the mouse. Logitech offers several mice that pair with the same receiver. It seems that Logitech is trying to bundle either the MX Vertical Advanced Ergonomic Mouse or the ERGO M575 Wireless Trackball with the Ergo keyboard.

The MX Vertical seemed intriguing, but I have a pretty shallow keyboard drawer. I was worried about knocking the mouse off every time I closed the drawer.

The Ergo Trackball also seemed interesting. But the thumb trackball seemed awkward and would likely involve a learning curve. I read complaints about thumb pad pain and anticipated selecting text being a nightmare. Having to hold down your index finger while moving your thumb—that just seemed awkward. 

A screenshot of the custom button assignments I use with my Logitech MX Master 3 to make English copywriting tasks more efficient.

So I settled on the MX Master 3. I chose it for a couple of reasons. First—buttons, buttons, and more buttons! I bought my last mouse because it had a back button. I use it all the time when surfing and miss it when using a mouse without one.

But this mouse also has a horizontal scroll wheel! I often zoom in on documents or pages, which requires me to scroll horizontally. Navigating to the horizontal scroll bar is a massive pain. With those two features, I was sold!

I bought this mouse for its buttons—and it’s got seven of them:

  • Left
  • Right
  • Middle
  • Shift wheel mode
  • Back 
  • Forward
  • Gestures

As you can see by the above pic, most buttons use the default settings. But the wheel mode setting button is customized to a triple-click (helpful when selecting a line of text). The gestures button is set to open my clipping tool, which I often need. Like the keyboard, they can be customized by application, and all settings can be backed up.

Shake it to the left, now shake it to the right

Because this mouse is so customizable, I didn’t need a keyboard with a lot of customization. I use a fair number of keyboard shortcuts, but the more I can do with my mouse, the better. I find multiple monitors necessitate using a mouse. I need to use my mouse, so if I’ve got my hand on it, I might as well be as productive with it as I can.

A picture with text, showing the custom mouse gestures that help me work more efficiently while doing English copywriting work.

Having seven customizable buttons is great—far more than most mice out there. But if you hold the gesture button and make a gesture with the mouse, you have four more buttons! Right now, I have it set up in the following way:

  • Gesture Button + move mouse up = show desktop
  • Gesture Button + move mouse down = refresh page
  • Gesture Button + move mouse left = open Documents folder
  • Gesture Button + move mouse right = open my time tracking app

I’m still playing around with customizations and trying to figure out which ones will work best for me. I never use the ‘forward’ button but have yet to decide what to set it as. But even while learning how to get the most out of it, I’m loving this mouse.

I can scroll for miles and miles

Another cool thing about this mouse is the scroll wheel. Like many mice, it has a ratchet and free spin setting. Since I never use free spin mode or switch between modes, I customized that button to a triple-click. But this wheel changes from ratchet to free spin automatically when you give it a hard spin. It goes from scrolling lines to pages like nothing—and it’s pretty much silent. Very cool.

Note page numbers at bottom of screen (Video has sound—really! Scroll wheel is QUIET!)

A function both the keyboard and mouse have that I don’t currently need, but is cool nonetheless, is Flow. You can pair these devices with two different computers (even Windows and Mac). And then drag and drop files between them! You can drag a document from your Windows machine to your Mac computer by dragging it to the edge of the screen. I don’t need that functionality, but it’s still pretty cool.

I was skeptical about the mouse being rechargeable, but Logitech claims you can use it for 70 days on one charge. In an emergency, you can get three hours of use out of a 1-minute charge from a standard USB-C cable. Other mice I looked at required much more frequent charging. I don’t expect any problems with this one.

It’s not all roses

There is one significant drawback to this mouse. The horizontal scroll wheel is very buggy. Sometimes it works—but sometimes it doesn’t. I didn’t come across this in my initial research, but it appears to be a widespread problem after Googling the issue. There doesn’t appear to be a fix, but you can be sure I’ll be bugging Logitech customer support. In the meantime, I’ve learned that shift key + regular scroll wheel = horizontal scroll. Who knew?

Close up profile picture of the Logitech MX Master 3 mouse with horizontal scroll wheel.

Other than that, I also love this mouse. I haven’t unlocked its full potential yet, but I will.

Logitech MX Master 3 (90,000 won / $77)—Overall Rating: 8.5 It would’ve been a 10 if the scroll wheel worked. That was one of my deciding factors for purchasing it, after all.

My last upgrade was free—well, sort of

Chrome has been my main browser for years. I’ve toyed with Edge (still use it occasionally), Brave, Firefox, Opera, but I always return to Chrome. But I’m guessing the thing you hate about Chrome is the thing I hate about Chrome—memory usage!

I saw a few posts about a newish browser based on Chromium, but it used significantly less RAM. I decided to give it a try.

It’s called Sidekick, and there’s a reason for that. Sidekick combines regular tabs with vertical tabs. But these tabs are ‘apps’ that live on the left side of your browser. It also has automatic ad-blocking and anti-tracking. It achieves its lower RAM usage by intelligently suspending tabs. You can set exceptions to never suspend specific tabs or apps.

A screenshot of the Sidekick browser that makes me more efficient as an English copywriter.

You can import most of your settings from Chrome (like bookmarks), but you can’t import your extensions. You’ll have to install those manually. The browser is still in beta. There will be a free version (limited sidebar apps), but there will also be a subscription-based version.

But…

…if you get 10 friends to sign up, you can get six months free. If you get 20 people to sign up, you get pro for life. Follow this link if you’d like to try this new browser and help get me one step closer to free pro for life. Please remember to download, install, and subscribe (for free). Thanks!

Holy inconvenience, Batman!

As much as I like this new browsing experience, there are a few significant downsides. There is currently no new tab page customization (though the FAQ states it’s on the roadmap). I’ve been using Dialpad 2 for ages, so that’s a bit of a bummer.

The other downside is that “Ctrl + tab” doesn’t take you to the next tab. It brings up a list of open tabs and cycles through them in the reverse order you visited them. At present, there is no way to override this. People seem to miss this functionality, and this software is a beta, so we may see this change.

But other than these two minor inconveniences, I’m also loving this browser—have you noticed a theme? I like having my most frequently used apps pinned to the left. Opening Google Notes in split view is cool and useful. It’s a beta, but I’ve made it my default browser. I still have Chrome on my computer, but I haven’t used it in over two weeks.

A picture of a woman with two thumbs up, representing how happy I am with workspace upgrades.

Sidekick Browser (Free / $8-$10/month pro) – 8/10: It’s similar enough to Chrome to feel comfortable but has enough unique and interesting features to be worth the switch. Pretty good for a beta, and if I can swing the pro version based on referrals, I’ll be happy. I’d be satisfied with the free version, but not sure I’d pay the $8/month for the pro version.

You don’t need fancy new tools, but when you get the right ones, they make a difference

I’m delighted with my workspace upgrades. Despite a few minor drawbacks, they’ve functioned precisely the way I wanted them to. And the customizations are definitely helping me work more efficiently. As such, I consider this money well spent.

Subsequent upgrades will likely involve my chair and desk. I bought both as a ‘temporary solution’ to teaching online. When I bought them, I wasn’t anticipating spending most of my day using them. I suspect those upgrades may have to wait until Santa comes to visit.

What office peripherals and tools could you not do without? Drop me a comment and let me know! And let me know what you think of Sidekick—very keen to hear your thoughts!

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