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In pursuit of the perfect keyboard

Over the years, I’ve used many different keyboards. From the flat Atari 400 keyboard, to the DEC VT100 terminal keyboard, to portable systems such as the Hyperion keyboard, to Apple II and so on. As a developer / programmer, the keyboard is the main interface to the computer, and I always look for the “perfect” keyboard.

The last keyboard I used is the Microsoft Keyboard Elite for Bluetooth, and I just bought a new wired keyboard two days ago.

Why get a wired keyboard again? It’s basically because I’m tired of waiting for the Bluetooth keyboard to respond. You see, it can get pretty frustrating when typing something and there’s no response. Sometimes it would take a good 15-20 seconds before the keyboard is fully awake. I’ve tried re-installing drivers and what not, and it’s still up to the keyboard to decide if it wants to accept my input! Even though this Bluetooth keyboard is nice and comfortable with a large palm rest, convenient Forward/Back keys, and a scroll wheel, the waiting is unbearable.

In terms of ergonomics, the standard Apple keyboard is rather mediocre. There is no palm rest, and the keys layout just don’t feel “right” for some reason. The old Apple Extended Keyboard II felt much better in comparison, although it isn’t particularly ergonomic either, but I’m not the only one who feel this way.

So I got adventurous this time and bought a Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.

The layout will definitely take some getting used to. The odd shape and profile do provide comfortable typing, as it is the major selling point. The reverse slope attachment tilts the keyboard backwards (i.e. the front of the keyboard is higher than the back), changing the normal hand posture. Only time will tell if this is the right keyboard for me.

As a side note: I’m still extremely happy with the Logitech MX 1000 Laser Cordless Mouse. In fact, I have two of them – one for the main PC and one for the Mac (the original Apple Mighty Mouse is horrible compared to the laser mouse). I know, colours don’t match (the Mac), but it’s function over form for me in these cases.

Which is your favorite keyboard or mouse?

14 replies on “In pursuit of the perfect keyboard”

I have to say that is a very sexy looking keyboard. I have horrible wrist issues so I am always on the lookout for a good keyboard as well. At first, I am intruiged by the reverse tilt of the keyboard, but upon testing it a bit (jamming a roll of tape under my current ergonomic keyboard by MS), I am feeling some sheering forces going through my wrist as my hands rest on the keyboard pads… however, not taking the wrist into account, the position is rather nice for typing.

Very interesting. When you get a good feel for it, please blog about how your wrists feel and how typing feels on the reverse tilt.

I use the very same keyboard. When I got it for work, I went out and bought one for home. It rocks. The keys are smooth and the higher front makes so much sense from an ergonomic standpoint.

The only thing I wish it had is more media buttons (forward, back, open). Not sure why there are so many program buttons. I also never use the other program shortcut keys (Web/Home, Search, etc.).

I’d replace most of the special keys for a rotary volume control.

Still the most comfortable keyboard I’ve ever used.

I spent a while searching myself, and when I turned my eyes to ergonomic keyboards due to carpal tunnel syndrom, I found

http://www.typematrix.com/

and have not gone back since. It takes about a week to get used to it, but it is so much better for your hands. I can code all day and my hands will be fine.

I can really honestly recommend this keyboard.

Good choice, i’ve been using one of these for about 4 or 5 months and its beautiful. The first week was difficult and my hands hurt a bit because they were so used to the laptop keyboard i had been using.

But after a week my fingers were reprogrammed to go to the right places and now I never get any aches or pains even after coding all day..unlike before where I had to take frequent rests.

Also i was unsure of the backwards tilt at first, but once you get your chair and monitor setup correctly its perfect.

Definitely recommended..i can never go back to a flat keyboard.

I’m a bit crazy about keyboards. And when working with a laptop, a good keyboard is fundamental. A couple of years ago it was almost impossible to find a decent usb keyboard (here in Portugal) to connect to the laptop. These days they are all usb.
I have a Logitech ‘Cordless Desktop MX for Bluetooth’ and I have any complaints, even regarding responsiveness. I also have a Logitech ‘Internet Navigator Keyboard’, which is very similar to the other, but wired.
They are both really comfortable. Typing with them feels really good. And they have a scroll wheel, media keys, special/configurable keys…
I can’t understand how some people have keyboards without wrist wrest. And those apple keyboards are really uncomfortable.

Actually microsoft have recently started making an ergonomic keyboard for Mac:
http://www.pcwb.com/catalogue/item/MSKB0004?speedtrapid=froogle&lead=froogle
But in my opinion, the best keyboard is going to be the Optimus keyboard which in theory should be coming out at the end of this year. Hope they do an ergonomic version of it as having now finally learned to touch type I find I really need the ergonomic type to avoid RSI.
http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/
By the way, I typing this on the same keyboard you have and I love it – although I find all the extra function keys a bit pointless.

I have about 10 keyboards sitting in a box at home and have spent a considerable amount of time and money looking for a simple keyboard that has “shallow throw”.

Essentially, laptop keys on a full size keyboard.

After much searching, I found this one at Fry’s:

“BTC 6300CL Full-Size Ultra Slim Luminescent Multimedia Keyboard” (what a product name!)

You can see it here:
http://www.btc.com.tw/english/2-7-25keyboard.htm#6300cl

It is by far the best keyboard I have ever had. It just feels great to type on and my wrist problems have disappeared.

Luke

I have the same keyboard… for both work and at home. MS makes the best keyboards and Logitech makes the best mice. Conversely, that’s not the case.

I don’t have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome yet but as a programmer, I didn’t to look out for my future and ergonimics is something I don’t spend on lightly.

Hey, I use that keyboard too! I’ve used the curvy keyboards ever since I started getting a bit of wrist pain a few years back, and it has all been good. The worst thing about the ms keyboards was f-lock by default, and they’ve changed that with this one. Victory! They do need to put the F1, F2… back on top though – now what you see by default doesn’t match what you get by default. Why does it take them three iterations to admit they made a stupid mistake?

I think this one is the best for tactile feel, I missed the media player button, but was albe to reprogram the fn keys for those things. I still have no idea why they insist on putting buttons like search on there, other that I guess they can try to lure users away from google (good luck). And my favorites right in the center? I guess they are different than me.

Dave;

Just wanted to mention that this keyboard is now available at factorydirect.ca for $19.99 plus $6 for shipping. I just got 3 of them, for work, for home and for my wife. I found the “n” key was sticking a little so I took the one keyboard back to get a replacement, so that meant for a while I was using my old keyboard which was still ergonomic. I couldn’t believe the difference that the tactile keys make.

In any case, I’ll never go back to a flat keyboard.

James

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