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Ask HN: What keyboard do you use to code?
16 points by sriharis on Mar 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments
I want to buy a good keyboard for myself. And I didn't find a question here in HN that asked this. So I figured I'd ask.

What do you use?

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. https://www.microsoft.com/accessories/en-us/products/keyboar...

I have large hands so it's very comfortable and allows me to type without contorting my wrists. Conventional flat keyboards are likely a major cause of repetitive strain injuries.

The best reasonably priced keyboard I have found. Decided to give it a try 5 year ago when dealing with sport-induced shoulder issue and never looked back. I was briefly thinking about more expensive alternatives (Kinesis Advantage, Maltron) but decided that MS Natural 4000 is optimal for me.

I'm not picky as long as it is "tenkeyless" and not too bulky. I never use the number pad anyway; being right-handed, the mouse feels uncomfortably far away when the keyboard has a big bulky extra sidecar sticking out.

At present I'm using Lenovo's thinkpad-style USB keyboard (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F3U4TQS/). I like its slimness and the trackpoint is convenient. There's nothing especially lovely about it, but neither does it ever annoy me. It's also nice for muscle memory that all three of the computers I use regularly have exactly the same keyboard layout, whether they are portables or desktops.

I tried out the Happy Hacking keyboard, but it's been collecting dust for a year or two now. It's nice in a nostalgic way, reminiscent of the original Macintosh keyboard I used when I was first learning to type, but the long-throw keyswitches and loud clicking sound got old.

I use an ergodox (https://www.ergodox.io/) with Cherry MX Clears at work, and one with Cherry MX Greens at home.

The ergodox is a split-hand^1 columnar^2 layout, with a thumb cluster. I like the thumb cluster because normally your thumbs are wasted.

Also, as a bonus, I got to build it myself! This is not required, but I had fun doing it.

[1] Each hand has a separate piece of the keyboard, and these pieces can be moved independently of each other.

[2] A "traditional" QWERTY keyboard has horizontal rows of keys, and these rows are not aligned. An Ergodox has vertical columns of keys, and these rows are not aligned.

I've been thinking of ordering an Ergodox keyboard for a while, but the altered layout scared me off so far. Would you say you took up fast on the moved keys? Does the columnar layout provide some advantage?

Right now, I'm excitedly looking forward to the UHK. It really promises some quite unique takes on the concept of a keyboard.

I didn't find switching too bad, but I also set up my own layout for the non-alphabetic keys. So I don't find it hard to remember where most of the special characters are, because I just thought "where is the first place I'd look for them", and put them there. Then, when I have to figure it out, my first guess is usually correct. The only ones I mess up are - and =, which are the two innermost bottom keys of the "letter" clusters. But it's a small issue; I'm sure I could practice for a bit and make it easier.

> Does the columnar layout provide some advantage?

To me, I like the fact that if a keyboard was designed without paying attention to historical accident, there's no way you'd make it a row-based keyboard, but would instead make a columnar keyboard, or perhaps slightly staggered. To me, the thumb clusters are a big reason to switch. But then, I'm a big shortcut fan -- I use Emacs a lot.

But then, I also didn't have that difficult a time switching from QWERTY to Colemak, so perhaps my brain easily changes this kind of thing.

Thanks for the explanation :)

Sure! You might want to see if you can find someone to try out the keyboard before you buy it. If you're in the NYC area, I can be found at some events. My email's in my profile. (Open offer to HN members).

I use a Corsair Vengeance K70 Mechanical Keyboard. It's a "gaming" keyboard, so it's unfortunately got what I would consider garish red lights. But it was one of the more economical mechanical keyboards that I could get my hands on relatively easily.

I'm interested in an ergonomic mechanical keyboard -- either one that's completely split or something more reminiscent of Microsoft's Natural Ergonomic Keyboard series -- but I have yet to find one for what I would consider a reasonable price.

Kinesis Advantage 2 LF with US layout. Best there is, after a ~2 week adjustment.

Now they even offer it with blank keycaps, very much looking forward to those.

At home I also have a CODE TKL, also a very nice keyboard.

Kinesis Advantage, I used to have pretty serious carpal tunnel issues and the kinesis took care of the problem. I love the usability of the thumb buttons.

Topre Realforce, the tenkeyless 55g model. Very expensive but I can definitely recommend it.

It's quiet enough for the office as well.

On a sidenote, I hate the keyboard on my thinkpad x220. People rave about thinkpad keyboards but aside from the switches, which are nice, the base feels bouncy. Feels like it's mounted on cardboard.

In my opinion, the best resource for programming keyboards is Xha Lee: http://xahlee.info/kbd/keyboard_blog.html Agree or disagree, there is a lot of information accumulated over many years.


Tried before All versions of MS natural/ergo etc.. Happy hacking keyboard Truly Ergonomic DAS professional Apple keyboard Matias Ergo Pro

I finally settled on the ErgodoxEZ and it feels great. I had to force myself to learn touch typing. After about a month, it started feeling really comfortable.

I use a $25 or so PS/2 keyboard from Newegg that I bought 6 or 7 years ago. I couldn't be happier with it. It 's a plain old keyboard with zero flair.

I'm curious, though. Does anyone here have any experience with Jeff Atwood's CODE Keyboard?

https://codekeyboards.com/ https://blog.codinghorror.com/the-code-keyboard/

Edit: Of course after posting a see a few people's comments saying that they like them.

Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue for Mac: https://www.kinesis-ergo.com/shop/freestyle2-for-mac/

My coworkers make fun of me for it, but it really helps my posture and wrist issues to have a split keyboard. I thought it would take me a long time to adjust, but within five minutes I was good to go! I've heard some complain about the placement of page up and page down right next to the arrow keys, but it doesn't bother me. I really appreciate the one-button cut, copy, paste functions.

Yep, I also use the Freestyle2. I'm in Europe and the resellers charge double of the Kinesis price in the US.

However, nowadays Kinesis themselves are present on Amazon and sell a limited selection. Sometimes supply is short, though: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00CMALD3E https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CMALA46

It's the PC version, but on a Mac, the option/command keys can be correctly mapped.

Love this keyboard its so comfortable!

Cherry KC 4000: cheap, laptop-style, no num-pad and not ugly.

I removed the annoyingly positioned fn-key (removed the rubber-dome and glued it down, so the felt edge of the keyboard is the ctrl key).

I tried mechanical cherry brown keyswitches, but it wasn't for me.

No num-pad and no fn, because my keyboard layout┬╣ has the numbers under my right hand when I hold a modifier.

┬╣ https://neo-layout.org/ (hover "Ebene 1/2/3/4" above diagram of the keyboard)

I have tried getting into the Neo-Layout for a while (up to being able to use the basic letters), but I never got to really taking advantage of it. Then, because I started using Vim-bindings, I took up the basic US keyboard (I originally started on another locale) and am now wondering if the layout is worth training again.

Do you have experience with Vim on Neo? Would you say it's worth switching (rebinding all normal mode mappings is quite an undertaking...)?

Apart from jklm-keys, most vim keys are assigned by some letter-to-meaning relationship, less for ergonomics. Therefore it's not too bad if they jump a bit as long as you stick to the neo-native iael-keys for arrows.

I tried vim and liked it, but it's hard to rebind keys while you don't even know all the keys. Therefore I currently just use the neo arrow and delete keys.

I use a TVS Mechanical keyboard with Cherry blue keys. This is the only model we get in our country. I would like to have quieter keys but this is much better than the mushy keys.

Laptop is Thinkpad T410. Thinkpads always have awesome keyboards with good key travel and tactile feedback (atleast the older ones). That and the fact that I can always open the laptop and fix anything myself means I will be a Thinkpad user for a long long time.

I use a KUL ES-87 Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard: http://www.keyeduplabs.com/es-87.html

It's quieter than a keyboard with Cherry MX Blue keys and the tenkeyless form factor doesn't require my right mouse hand to travel unnecessarily.

Edit: I see that it comes with a choice of Cherry keys. I use Cherry MX Brown.

An IBM external keyboard with a trackpoint. I like it because:

- I don't need to move my hands back and forth to a mouse

- It only takes up 1 USB port



Have a stash of Model M's and a Kinesis Advantage, but seem to be liking the above-linked MS Natural Elite for now.

I would opt for the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000[1]. Those rearranged arrow and home/page keys will drive you crazy.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Natural-Ergonomic-Keyboard-...


You don't have to be a professional racer to drive a ferrari just as you don't have to be a gamer to appreciate a keyboard like this.

At work I use a Code keyboard with the MX clears as they are quieter. At home I use a Code keyboard with the MX greens.

I also use my macbook pro keyboard by itself a fair bit, but I feel much worse after a few hours of use of it vs the Code keyboards.

I use Cooler MasterMasterKeys Pro S RGB Keyboard. It's a Tenkeyless but there's a full keyboard available too. Comes with variety of Cherry MX choices. I've got one with Cherry MX Brown.

At home, Logitech G710+. I love the Cherry MX Brown keys on it.

At work, Logitech K120. The "we just buy everyone the same cheap keyboard" keyboard. I'm not particularly fond of it.

In the 15 years I work, I don't think I ever used an employer-issued keyboard. It's just too important to me.

Custom-made version of Atreus https://atreus.technomancy.us/

Cherry MX Blue switches.

Das Keyboard 4 Pro with Cherry MX Blues. I also use the keyboard on my 15" Clevo which, although not mechanical has good travel and a nice sound.

Razer black widow ultimate, most of the time. Sometimes I swap in a Logitech washable k310 if am on calls a lot because mechanical keyboards are noisy.

Magic keyboard. I've got into the hype of mechanical keyboards and bought HHKB2. Now it sits on my desk as a talisman.

A Filco Majestouch, the one without the num-pad.

So far, I see/hear good things about

- CODE keyboard - Mircrosoft Ergonomic ones - Filco Majistouch - Matias Ergo Pro

das keyboard (http://www.daskeyboard.com/). Built like a tank.

If I'm going to spend my life on a keyboard, it better be good.

I don't know if this is still the case, but when I bought my first mechanical keyboard 10 years ago, Filco was a much better option for the price. I bought a Filco Majestouch (2?) with MX Blues and it is still going strong.

That being said, I'd do some research on the mechanical keyboard subreddit before I bought a pricey keyboard of any sort. I did buy a Rosewill keyboard Cherry MX Reds right before they switched over to the off-brand switches, and it's pretty solid. Not as nice as my Filco, but it's more solidly built than the Corsair mechanical keyboards I've used.

Side note on Corsair, the font is thee worst part about their keyboards by far. It has some hideous font with a mix of capital and lowercase letters.

Happy Hacking Professional 2

Yep JP edition for me. More thumb keys are very useful.

Vintage Model M. I own several, some full size and one tenkeyless.

My Toshiba laptop's generic keyboard for most of the time.

Leopold FC750. Amazing build quality, super sturdy.

Cooler Master Storm Quickfire Rapid, Tenkey less

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