Feeds

back to article Keyboard, you're not my type

When I chose to wave goodbye to wage slavery by turning freelance some (cough) 19 years ago, it was during an era in which the principal means of electronic communication between IT journalists was called Cix. Computers were powered by coke burners and required a team of navvies to work the bellows; monetary currency comprised …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Thumb Up

Best keyboard?

Subjective, of course, but I deliberately bought a bog-standard Unicomp space-saver with the original IBM style buckling-spring mechanisms. Loud and noisy and perfect! Technically the model is not very old (manufactured on Feb 3rd 2011, a day after I ordered it) but I suppose it's an old keyboard still

1
0
Coffee/keyboard

Re: Best keyboard?

ah yes, the IBM keyboard to end all keyboards. Do they still make them?

I use a lappy day-to-day and the wafer thin scissor keys are ok but I do seem to get more typos than with big tall and clunky keys but that could be due to the flatness of the keys maybe.. or is it the fact they don't go straight down but lean slightly as you type? Easier to hit two keys too. It being in a laptop complete with massive flat bit in front of keyboard doesn't help. I'm sure some will say that's good for you or some such bollocks but it fucks up my typing.

But then I often have to go and sit in a meeting room to get some respite from my noisily typing colleagues.

Old coffee stained keyboard because their the best. That faint smell of fresh roast on your fingertips after a hefty session.

1
0

Re: Best keyboard?

Unicomp bought all the Model M tooling and kit from IBM and the keyboards they make are pretty much identical to the originals save for things like USB and Windows keys. They even have the thick steel backboard like the original.

I like the Model M but I'd get crucified if I used one in the office for the racket they make. Cherry have a nice range of keyboards that have fairly quiet mechanical switches.

1
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Re: Best keyboard?

@firefly: same here. I've got a fair pile of Model M's at home (some in use, the remainder in storage), and a Cherry 3000 at work. Although, given the noise the guys behind me tend to make when discussing whatever matter it is that needs discussing, I expect even a dozen Model M's operated in parallel would go unnoticed.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Best keyboard?

If you have a model-m, the problem of people complaining about the noise of your typing is not actually a problem, you can't hear them over the keys. I've been on conference calls where my boss has told me to mute myself, since my typing of notes is louder than the people on the phone.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Best keyboard?

The IBM Model M - and the DAS Professional - with the Cherry Blue switches ( noisy ones ).

I have both.

I love HEAVY keyboards that rattle away like machine guns......

However the IDIOTS at Unicomp - (excuse the stupid American jab) - they still have the habit of sending ONE keyboard overseas at the MOST expensive rate possible.....

So you pay $80 for the keyboard and $80 in postage, where as other vendors freight them for $20 a piece...

Hence the repurchase was a DAS, mostly out of spite towards an idiot sales dept at Unicomp with their lazy deadbeat manager.

Unicomp - too stupid to imaginate (like offer better postage rates or package deals in the first place), and too stupid to listen or take advantage of worthwhile feed back (like take the advice of using better postage rates or package deals - after decades of pricing themselves out of the market on shipping alone).

0
1

Re: Best keyboard?

The best keyboard I've used was an Apple Adjustable Keyboard that I bought to replace the POS that was the Apple Design Keyboard that was apparently giving me RSI by the character typed.

This was in a time before the return of Steve, when Apple made beige boxes and not even the salesmen knew the different between the different models, however the keyboard was fantastic. Not least because it forced me to learn to touch type.

0
0
Facepalm

Editor gone down the pub already?

WTF the first two paragraphs are repeated!?!?

Yes, I know there is a 'corrections' link but it's much more fun to mock the Reg in public...

13
0
Bronze badge

Re: Editor gone down the pub already?

Be reasonable. I only filed my copy about 30 seconds before it was supposed to go live. My fault, not the editor's.

1
0
Pint

Re: Editor gone down the pub already?

If you'd been using a proper keyboard with heavy action you'd have got it done much quicker and you wouldn't have double-tapped that (ctrl+)c key!

2
0
Paris Hilton

Microswitches

You cannot beat a proper microswitch keyboard. It is worth all the comments from people about how loud you are typing to actually be able to tell when you are pressing the keys properly. And they seem to last forever, My Dell keyboard has been going strong for at least 12 years, which is odd because the company i work for never had any Dell servers or desktops. I will be keeping it when i move to another computer. I expect i will have to buy an adapter for it as noone seems to make new computers with PS/2 connectors anymore.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Microswitches

Probably because people like me although wasnt supposed to order Dell's when they could order some test ones, its surprising as some of the Dell keyboards are still floating around here.

0
0

Re: Microswitches

I, too, never owned a Dell, but I spent years combing over surplus computer outlets to acquire a nice stack of their mechanical keyboards for quite cheaply (sadly they seem to be all gone from those sorts of places.) I have had a few die, but they'll do for parts when the rest of my stash needs them.

My favorite part (other than the keys) is the steel plate stuck in there to add heft - a single keyboard weighs more than a typical laptop.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Microswitches

The Dell keyboards were re-badged IBM model Ms

I got rid of mine because of A. the noise and B the footprint on the desk.

0
0
Bronze badge

PS/2?

I expect i will have to buy an adapter for it as noone seems to make new computers with PS/2 connectors anymore.

My keyboard is so old that it needs an adaptor to fit my PS/2 KVM switch!

I's just a cheapo ALPS jobbie, but it amuses me to keep it because it was supplied by Dan Computers, and so has my name silk-screened onto one corner.

0
0
Silver badge

Hm, you can make your own changes

In layout, for example. I use mostly custom layout that puts my hands further apart.

There are also nice ergonomic keyboards available: Maltron, Kinesis.. for the hardcore, the DataHand..

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Hm, you can make your own changes

Or good ol' TypeMatrix, with a Dvorak layout (or equivalent, depending on your native language).

Add a vertical mouse to the mix (eg. Evoluent's) and the RSI goes away in just 2 weeks.

As far as I am concerned, it was the best investment ever.

1
0
dvd

Re: Hm, you can make your own changes

Typing this on a Maltron - with the proper Maltron key layout too. Great keyboard.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

Don't count on RSI going away, not when you've properly got it.

I've got a version of it and I seem to be stuck with it. But a keyboard bent around the middle letters so that your fingers line up with your forearms instead of bending from the wrist can avoid it coming on in the first place. I haven't seen this as a touch-type option in tablet on-screen keyboards and I think that's a pity. I think speech recognition is the future, although by now it should have been the present. And in the meantime, I'm using "Fitaly" on-screen with a stylus, at about half of my former proper typing speed. It's good for what it is, though.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't count on RSI going away, not when you've properly got it.

>I haven't seen this as a touch-type option in tablet on-screen keyboards and I think that's a pity.

Well, touchscreen keyboards seem to be designed for those people that type with exactly one finger out of ten (usually the right index; the tongue sticking out while they type is optional but a nice additional touch). That takes "touch typing" to a whole new level. :)

2
0
Silver badge
Gimp

BBC Master

Was messing around with my BBC Master the other night and although the keyboard is very clunky and noisy, it's actually very nice to use. Suspect the noise would do your head in if you had to use it all day though (as well as annoy anyone nearby).

1
0

This post has been deleted by its author

I like proper keyboards, with big keys that you can tell when you've pressed them. They last ages and I find them easier (although maybe I'm just used to them). I don't like laptop keyboards or ultra thin keys, and I've often found them to be questionable (sometimes requiring a firm press to get a response).

I don't beat my keyboards into submission because since I am quite young I never used a typewriter. My fingers fly over the keys pushing them just enough to get a response, but I still like the traditional basic Dell or Logitech black keyboard with large keys where you can really feel you have pushed the key. My dad learnt to type on a typewriter and he murders keyboards and claims he cannot relearn to stop hitting the keys so hard.

1
0
Happy

Funny your old man would say that; I learnt to type on a typewriter, but the only residue from that, that I notice, is a preference for the keyboard to be at quite a steep angle.

A do know that my old Imperial 66 typewriter had a couple of pressure settings on the keys: there was a lever that adjusted the tension on the return spring for the keys. It was never as light-touch as something like a laptop keyoard, but it was quite close. The biggest problem seems to be that as you make the spring looser (the keys "softer") the maximum typing speed would go down, as the type didn't come away from the paper quite as fast. This made a trade-off between speed and strength. I almost always went for the soft, since my typing wasn't (as still isn't) very fast at all.

Still, I must agree that the tactile feedback is essential, especially if transcribing something, It is nice to know from touch that the letters are in fact there. This is something that bothers me about the preponderance of flat laptop-style keypads: they don't seem to have enough travel, and the mechanisms don't have a decided "on-off" point; that is, they almost seem to vary a little as one is typing so that what is a sufficient pressure with one key-press is not for another.

You know, I think I'm going to dig out the old typewriter and have a play with it now. Lets see if I can upset the neighbours with the racket of flying metal!

0
0

What happened to the Optimus keyboard? http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/maximus/

I thought this was quite a good idea.

0
0
Silver badge

But WAY too expensive.

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/04/the-optimus-max/

No one wants a computer where the keyboard is the most expensive piece of hardware. Besides, there is a question about the longevity of the keys. There is something to be said about simplicity, which is why microswitch keyboards last so long.

2
0

Yes it's definetly too expensive if it's not in mass production. I would have thought it could be a lot cheaper if it was mass produced. Couldn't you also implement a similar idea but instead of using screens in each button you just have a single screen underneath the keys with lenses in each button to project the image, not much different to backlighted keyboards as they are.

0
0
Sil
Bronze badge

Mechanical it is

After years of typing on soft keyboards I treated myself to a mechanical keyboard and boy I don't want to type on everything else. Kudos to the first company that will integrate mechanical keyboards to notebooks!

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Mechanical it is

Soft keyboards will never replace physical keyboard for heavy use. To be able to type at a reasonable speed you have to be able to touch the keys, feel their position relative to each other, and your finger's position relative to the middle of the key. You don't get that with a soft keyboard. The most you get is a buzz or a beep telling you that you've hit a key somewhere on its screen. You also run the risk of false presses as your hand moves too close to the surface.

I still have a phone with a slide out keyboard and still use it when I need to type something bigger than a quick text message.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Mechanical it is

"Kudos to the first company that will integrate mechanical keyboards to notebooks!"

I have a feeling the Amstrad PPC512 had a mechanical keyboard back in the late 80's! - http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=195

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: PPC

I very much doubt the PPC had a proper mechanical keyboard. Although I never used one I suspect they were basically the same as the cheap keyboards used by the desktop equivalents (after all the whole point of buying an Amstrad PC was they were so much cheaper than most of the competition). At least the PPC had all the right keys and in the right places though.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Mechanical it is

"To be able to type at a reasonable speed you have to be able to touch the keys, feel their position relative to each other, and your finger's position relative to the middle of the key."

There has been research into flat surfaces which fool the fingertips with the "feeling" of touching a moving solid key. They use various methods eg jets of air; vibrating surfaces. Not sure if any of them are reaching a viable mass production stage.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Mechanical it is

Kudos to the first company that will integrate mechanical keyboards to notebooks!

My Sparc based laptop had a mechanical keyboard. I can't remember the brand, but they were eventually bought out by the folks that made Sparcbooks. The downside was that the steel case the machine was in, which meant that using it on my actual lap would result in the flow of blood to my legs being cut off ...

0
0
Silver badge

The best kind of keyboard

...is one you can beat a man to death with and type his obituary on afterwards.

27
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The best kind of keyboard

My Filco Majestouch whole heartedly agrees.

1
0
J P

Re: The best kind of keyboard

You mean like one of these: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/15/usb_typewriters/

(That's the second time I've been able to use this link in one of Mr Dabbs' forums in the last 3 months; he clearly has a thing about keyboards...)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The best kind of keyboard

My introduction to computintg was using a teletype (ASR-33 I think .... waves of nostalgia came over me when I saw one at the start of a "look how computing has developed" in the National Media Museum in Bradford last year !) ... a "proper" keyboard which would come off the winner if/when you hit it in a fit of anger about something didn't work as planned! They don't make them like that any more!

0
0
Silver badge

Re: The best kind of keyboard

Beat a man to death, clean it off in a dishwasher and then write his obituary on.

0
0
Thumb Up

@ Thomas 4 & AC

The steel plate that acts as a base to my Filco Majectouch TKL also agrees with you. The perfect portable weapon for all occasions :)

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The best kind of keyboard

Yes, but being brought up on ASR-33s is why some of us still bang the keys so hard. I like to be able to get to the end of a line with no characters missing, without having to look at what I'm typing.

I simply cannot understand people who sacrifice a proper keyboard on a smartphone for a bigger touchscreen. It's definitely fashion over function.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: The best kind of keyboard

I don't have a thing about keyboards. I'm just short of ideas.

2
0
Bronze badge
Windows

Re: @ Thomas 4 & AC

"The steel plate that acts as a base to my Filco Majectouch TKL also agrees with you. The perfect portable weapon for all occasions :)"

Available new, UK made, down the road from me, bit expensive. Are they really noisy? Might spring for one as the ten quid no name sponge monster I use at present is getting knackered.

Tramp icon because at £120 the keyboard is 50% as much as my recycled Xeon base unit

0
0
Bronze badge
Coffee/keyboard

Re: The best kind of keyboard

"I don't have a thing about keyboards. I'm just short of ideas."

Write about the joys and troubles of working in other people's offices, and from a home office. That's topical. The one about the old guys running a business *around* computers was fun.

0
0

Still the best

I'm typing this on a genuine IBM Model M keyboard (made in 1985 according to the label on the back). The only potential problem is the lack of a "windows" key but I'm running linux so who cares. I suspect the keyboard will outlive me.

3
0
Thumb Up

Re: Still the best

My Model M [ '87 version] is also going strong - in daily use - now on PS2 connector + cable - all the insulation cracked and fell off the original. Couldn't find anyone selling the right cable+connector into keyboard so had to splice/solder into remnants of old cable. Excellent afternoons 'farting about' with a good result at the end.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

> Despite this, people insist that the best keyboard they ever used was one they had a long time ago.

Because the ones they are remembering were usually proper mechanical keyboards and not cheap rubber dome USB shit they bought in Tesco for three fifty.

Pay at least £75 for a decent mechanical and get the PS/2 version if at all possible. There are plenty around and are usually based on cherry switches which come in different travel / action / sound flavours. The difference is like night and day.

If you really want to go overboard then get one of the £300 Topre based ones that pretty much fellate you whilst you are typing.

10
1
WTF?

PS/2?

Why on earth would you want the PS/2 version instead of USB? So you can enjoy the "convenience" of not being able to chain it to a hub or using it on anything other than a desktop pc?

1
6
Holmes

Re: PS/2?

PS/2 has no limit on simultaneous key presses. However, USB is limited to (I think) six regular keys. Additionally some operating systems / BIOS setups / embedded systems don't support USB keyboards.

Personally I stick to USB as it's usable on a wider selection of "regular" machines, but I can see why some people might prefer PS/2 . For those odd situations I keep an old PS/2 as well as an IBM AT keyboard at the back of the cupboard.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: PS/2?

One issue, what was the last bit of kit you had a PS/2 port on?

1
1

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.