Seeking Personal Testimonies About Specific Keyboard Models
May 21, 2004 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Keyboards: I'm currently using a Microsoft Natural Keyboard, but I'm looking for something new. Does anyone have any recommendations? [mi]

Ideally, I'd like one without a number pad, but I'm pretty flexible on that one.

I sit in front of a computer for a living, so I need one that's not going to fall apart too soon, and if it's easy on the wrists / arms / shoulders, that'd be nice as well.

Also, I'm totally agnostic when it comes to connection types, and wireless capability.
posted by bshort to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
 
The missing information is: why do you want a new keyboard? Is yours just worn out, or is there something about it that isn't working for you?
posted by Stoatfarm at 11:07 AM on May 21, 2004


I've been using a Kensington Comfort Type keyboard at home for a few months and loving it. It's real easy on the hands--it feels like your fingers are barely moving.
posted by vraxoin at 11:35 AM on May 21, 2004


My current keyboard is slowly dying. Some of the keys are getting harder to actuate, and it's only a matter of time before I lose a key entirely.
posted by bshort at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2004


If it works for you, get a new one of the same.

I've gone through 4 or 5 between home and work.
posted by callmejay at 11:47 AM on May 21, 2004


i'd go wireless. having a wireless mouse and keyboard is wonderful!
posted by nyoki at 12:05 PM on May 21, 2004


See, I guess what I was looking for was personal testimonies about specific models.

For instance, I've been looking at the Happy Hacking keyboard. Has anyone tried these?
posted by bshort at 12:08 PM on May 21, 2004


Do you have space problems? Finding a board without a numberpad is likely to be more expensive than a regular keyboard simply because they are less common.

From what little I've seen of them, the happy hacking boards are reasonably well built, but tiny. I'd certainly never think of one as an especially ergonomic design.

My personal favourite is an old IBM board that weighs a ton. It has lasted forever and the key-presses just feel right. I hate the mushy Compaq ones we have to use at work.
posted by bonehead at 1:03 PM on May 21, 2004


I used to be a huge IBM Model M fan (the one bonehead is talking about) but recently I've been coding like I've never coded before and my forearms started hurting. Turns out the long key travel on my vintage 1986 Model M was wearing me out. I got a cheaper Logitech and haven't had the problems. I still love my Model M, though, and I'll never get rid of it.

I also really love laptop keyboards because of their short key travel; it seems like I can type a lot faster on them. I've got my sights on these two IBM keyboards. They're basically the keyboard from a Thinkpad with a USB cable so you can plug them into your desktop. They're not cheap, though.
posted by zsazsa at 1:37 PM on May 21, 2004


I love this Kinesis keyboard. (Link is to a framed page.) Were I not already married, I'd marry this keyboard. I got one at work and liked it so much I bought one for home. My wife said "Ick" -- about two days later she asked me where she could get one for her office.

I don't care about fast typing, but my typing speed easily doubled and I can actually touch-type now. The dished key areas make for very small and easy reaches. My only puzzlement is what were they thinking with the home keys? There are no bumps or textures; the home row is simply blue. Uh, my fingers can't 'see' blue. On the other hand, the 3-d nature of the bowl areas makes it fairly easy to settle into the right place anyway. It has no numeric keypad. (I occasionally miss that for number-crunching, but not often -- an accessory one is available.) The keyboard also has some memory (about 64k in my old model) and can store long key sequences, etc. Keys are easily reassigned using macros stored on the keyboard itself. I also use an accessory foot-pedal mapped to the space and page down keys. Great for web-page scrolling. In the old days I had the footpedal mapped to 'rn' keystrokes (n, for example) for reading news. Sorry for the foot-pedal digression.

I got mine after trying a fairly wide variety of keyboards in an ultimately futile attempt to conquer hand pain. I never got rid of it but this keyboard is by far the least painful I have ever used. Ninety seconds with a flat keyboard and I'm in agony. This I use all day. I found the key-resistance too high on the MS Natural keboard, and the spacing too big for my small hands. I've also used totally vertical keyboads, adjustable keyboards, Data-Hands, and MS-like convex keyboards. Kinesis rules for my use. Keyboards can be very personal, so try one if you can find one - you might hate it or you might date it.
posted by cairnish at 1:37 PM on May 21, 2004


No keyboard can stand next to a Model M, which is probably what bonehead refers to. They have buckling spring "clicky" keys that provide excellent audible and tactile feedback. They weigh something like nine pounds due to sheet steel construction, and pretty much never wear out. You can often find them used, but in very good condition, at garage sales, Goodwill outlets, or on eBay. pckeyboard.com licensed IBM's design, and now sells a variety of brand new buckling spring keyboards.
posted by Galvatron at 1:45 PM on May 21, 2004


If you use your keyboard for gaming, do not get a wireless model. They are nice for everything else, but you will need batteries. I personally dislike any keyboard with non-standard key placement, I'm just completely lost with them. I use the cheapest keyboard I could find and I like it better than the logitechs I use at school. Don't get something different just because it's different.
posted by lazy-ville at 2:33 PM on May 21, 2004


Mine lights up! most likely not the kind you are looking for, but it makes me happy.
posted by milovoo at 2:37 PM on May 21, 2004


i use a happy hacking keyboard and it is great. it has a really nice feel and a good response. it also (if you get the usb model) has two usb ports on the back of the keyboard, which i find useful.

the size is also nice, it saves a bunch of room on your desktop.
posted by callicles at 2:40 PM on May 21, 2004


If you're paranoid, don't go wireless. All wireless keyboards with the possible exception of bluetooth ones use either really weak encryption or refuse to disclose what kind of encryption they use but throw a lot of snake-oil-ish buzzwords around.

Ofcourse, this level of paranoia is only slightly below not using CRTs for fear of radiating your precious documents three blocks down the road, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
posted by fvw at 3:02 PM on May 21, 2004


OK, the old IBMs (which I too loved, but their day has passed-- we all need USB presently) are not the only models with collapsing-spring mechanisms.

My old pal Edgar Matias's company makes two, the Half-QWERTY (also known as the HalfKeyboard or 508) and the Tactile Pro. The latter defaults to Macintosh modifier keys, but you can use it on Windows if you can live with Ctrl and Alt being switched. That keyboard was Slashdotted and Tidbitsed.

The HalfKeyboard (based on the same well-researched typing methods I wrote about some ten years ago) is a keyboard you can type on with one or two hands. I have one and have only used it in two-hand mode so far. I find the keys are smaller in surface area than I'd like, and a couple of the ancillary keys (like Mute and the power key) were loose in the box, but all these models have the very same buckling-spring mechanism as the old IBMs.

The HalfKeyboard has every connector you could name (including ADB pass-through-- the connectors look like half a squid) and costs a small fortune.

I could go on about this at length, since I literally have a crate full of keyboards and used to write about them.
posted by joeclark at 3:45 PM on May 21, 2004


If you're interested in something completely different, try one of these. They are truly amazing and completely redefine the way you use your hands to control your machine.
posted by ulotrichous at 7:24 AM on May 22, 2004


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