Comfortable keyboarding


It seems just like yesterday…

  • feet flat on the floor
  • hands on the home row
  • eyes on your copy
  • begin

Every typing class had those instructions at some point. Particularly in the beginning, we all typed keys at our typewriters at the same pace, driven by Mr. Renshaw who kept beat at the front of the classroom. We were loud; the noise from each key hitting the paper was loud and crisp.

I struggled that first term and got 65. Things got better and I was up in the 80s or 90s during the second and third terms. I guess I was a slow learner. But I still maintain that this was one of the best skills I ever learned and I use it daily today.

These days, I use a laptop for the most part and it’s OK. For serious work though, I sit at a desk where I have a full sized keyboard. You know, the type with function keys and embedded number pad. My current old faithful is starting to show its age and I’m looking for a replacement. It has survived a number of different laptops and desktops. It gets treated to some compressed air every now and again to clear out the dust and crumbs.

Unfortunately, it is white in colour or was when I bought it. It now has taken on whatever colour gets imparted by oils from my fingers and whatever food I happen to have been eating over top of it.

Over the years, I’ve used a number of different laptops. Some of these I’ve really liked; others not so much.

Likes

  • IBM Keypunch
  • Logitech Media Keyboard
  • IBM PS/2 Keyboard
  • Macbook Pro
  • Acer Chromebook keyboard

Not so much

  • Anything where I’m typing on glass
  • Every Apple external keyboard I’ve ever tried but, in fairness, I haven’t tried them all
  • A cheapo keyboard that was thrown in with a no-name computer
  • The ergo keyboard that splits and each half of the keyboard is on an angle

For the most part, the “Likes” had what I’ve learned to consider a standard keyboard (except the Macbook Pro) and the keys have a certain depth of travel when you press them.

The “Not so much” list all didn’t have the same feel to them. They often feel mushy to the touch and there isn’t much travel to the key. That short travel is a feature that modern laptops try for to make them slimmer. It hasn’t worked out well. Apple’s butterfly keyboard hit infamy for its problems.

So, I’ve done an extraordinary amount of research on this! The best keyboard I’ve ever used was the IBM PS/2 keyboard and I actually had one at home at one time. Sadly, it used one of those big rounded keyboard connectors that just aren’t used anymore, dropped in favour of wireless or USB.

I bought a wireless unit once but returned it as there was a bit of a lag between the keypress and it registering on my computer. When I’m typing along at a fair clip, that’s an annoyance that I don’t need.

For the most part, looking to purchase a keyboard after all this time is like being in a time warp. So much research has developed entire new technologies for something as seemingly simple as a keyboard. It reinforces the notion that one person’s preferences will differ from another’s and they’d both be right!

Sadly, stores that sell this type of product aren’t deemed to be essential services. Plus, even if they are opened anytime soon, I suspect that it will be months before product is unboxed, on shelves, for exploration. It seems that the only alternatives are to read the reviews and make a decision based on someone elses’s recommendations or to just hold off until things return to whatever our new normal will be.

Looking through the websites, there are so many options and another complete world of products. There’s a whole series of gaming keyboards made by major manufacturers. If I could only go into a store and just touch them and compare one to each other.

What to do, what to do, what to do…