The other thing is I'd miss the extra function keys I get on my full size Apple keyboard. Specifically F13-F19, which I have bound to a whole bunch of different things that help me throughout my day.
I have an Apple keyboard at work. I don't love or hate it. I'm indifferent to it. But I can totally understand why it may be the right keyboard for you.
Me? I type significantly faster and with fewer mistakes on my ancient Model M. The biggest factor I can see for me is the huge amount of feedback it provides both tactically and audibly (much to the chagrin of my neighbours, I'm sure). I think it helps my brain keep track of what my fingers are doing with less conscious effort, allowing it to work a few steps ahead of my fingers. I grew up when basically all keyboards were chunky and clicky, so it's probably primarily just what I'm used to.
Different editors for different folks. Different browsers. Different operating systems. Different styles of vehicles and modes of transport. Different clothing choices...
Btw, could it be the "feedback" those keyboards are providing is helping to balance the forces within hands/fingers an thus help to prevent various issues/strains heavy typing can cause?
The year on mine is 1993, which is when I graduated from high school.
... And keep using them.
I could threaten to beat you with one for disagreeing that
it's the best thing ever, knowing full well I could
continue writing scathing retorts online with it
immediately after, but I won't... Because it's not the
best ever /for everyone/.
I'm kidding though, I understand the appeal of having nicer things. But I suppose the reasoning above is why we aren't all typing on dvorak right now.
Learning to do so can be very rewarding, since the low travel allows a very fast keypress. Typing softly in general is great for finger pain, and mechanical keyboards allow one to use more force but retract before connecting with the keyboard's backplane (bottoming-out in keyboard-speak) and causing the louder "clack" after the initial actuation.
Apple keyboards are too low for that to be possible (without some finesse), but for me ~60g is just fine.
How soon am I supposed to feel pain in my hands? Two years? Four? Hasn't happened yet.
I have come to really prefer the low travel keyboards, even with my hammer hands.
Huh? I am wracking my brain trying to figure out how, biomechanically, a short keystroke can cause pain.
Using a mouse, or trackball, or trackpad, is just input. On my laptop, I don't even lift off of home row to 'mouse' -- I just move my thumb.
At my work desktop, I've got one of those apple wireless keyboards and trackpads and it's actually quite ergonomic, except for the staggered keys.
If I were to switch out, I'd probably get a Kinesis Advantage (I once had a QD Ergo Pro) or a TEK or a TypeMatrix thanks to suggestions in this thread. All three have straight-line keys.
The old ergo I had wore out because I think it was a pre-cherry design.
What slows me down isn’t necessarily the same as what does you. I find it difficult to start engaging with a pointing device after using a keyboard, though as I said, it is quite fast for many tasks once you’re already in that mode.
Furthermore, it’s possible that I am simply out of practice using pointing devices, because I don’t generally—when drawing or modelling I use a tablet. Absolute space is very different from relative space.
P.S. I prefer the mechanical switches but I had to give mine up for the sake of my wife, who was driven batty by the noise.
I switched back to the wired Apple keyboard and the pain gradually went away. For my posture and setup the ergonomics of a thin keyboard are a lot better. I can see the romantic beauty of mechanical keyboards, but they're not for everyone. If you're able to, borrow one from a friend before splurging... YMMV.
Here is what I wrote: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6287087
It's like the Gladwell piece on spaghetti sauce: there's not just one "favorite recipe" for all of humanity. :)
My Thinkpad x1 carbon keyboard comes next, scissor switches can be quite nice.
But you are missing the whole point.
Apple's flat keyboard is designed to look nice. Glossy finish, easy to carry and use cases around that. This looks like a keyboard designed for people who don't treat the computer as a work machine but as a utility device. More like browsing the internet or for writing emails.
But if someone is going to spend hours doing some deeply involving work like solving a problem, or trouble shooting or laying first bits of a project or stuck in deep with some interesting issue for hours. Which if you take your time seriously, you will work on such tasks anyway. Then comfort becomes a more important factor than looks and cuteness of the tool.
This is where IBM Model M scores over the glossy Apple's keyboard.
Personally, I prefer my Unicomp Spacesaver M keyboard, which I'm typing on now. But Apple's current keyboards are still some of my favorites, and it's not because they're pretty, it's because for low travel keyboards they're really fantastic. There's clearly a lot of thought that's gone into the haptics. They're not squishy. They feel good to type on. I'd rather use them than several mechanical keyboards that I've bought, and I'd much rather use them than any membrane keyboard that I've ever used, including some fairly expensive "ergonomic" models. I actually suspect, somewhat to my chagrin, that I'm faster typing on Apple keyboards than I am on the Unicomp.
Yes, Apple stuff is pretty. Tra-la, look at me, I'm an Apple product! Woo! But aesthetics and functionality are not opposite ends of the same axis.
Then your desk was too high.
But hey, ISO 9241 made the same mistake, and drove the best keyswitches ever off the market for being over an inch high.
The problem I have with the Model M and their various clones is that the keys simple sit too high. The only way I could get comfortable is by getting one of those keyboard gel cushions that sits in front of the keyboard. Not required with the Apple keyboard.
My model M made my hands hurt and pissed everyone else off after about 5 minutes. Plus it's not practical even with my docking station / desktop setup.
I do like the old Transparent Apple keyboards (G4 era?) with the nice slab of metal in it to keep them heavy.
This is literally never an issue with mechanical keyboards, because no guesswork is required. Once you're used to the activation points and tactile feedback, you should find that you're using less pressure and getting greater accuracy with your typing.
At least, that's how it worked for me.
(remember Arringtons tablet, anyone?)
From all I know, he was making a decent living from his blog alone before he started StackOverflow. And let's just assume for a moment that SO made him a bit more. Alledging he's doing this for the money is... surprising. Being needlessly offensive doesn't really help your point either.
I'm sure it will be a good keyboard (especially for enthusiasts looking to try out some Cherry MX clears).
they just came out with an 88 key version I might have to buy for my home office.
Check out the customer creations to get some ideas of what you can do:
> convince me that he's got the know-how to get into hardware production
Please, make claims based on things that are related topics.
If you were convinced that he was great at software, attacked nobody and never promoted himself, would you then be justified with evidence that he could get into hardware? Of course not.
I agree with you that this moves are money-motivated, which makes sense as I see him as a businessman first and foremost, but what you've said detracts from that point.
I saw similar complaints from other recent customers. It seems as though they have shifted production to a new Chinese facility which is causing more of these problems.
It works great, but breaks down quick. If you are in the middle of a coding project or something big, nothing can be more annoying: an awesome keyboard suddenly dying on you and absent customer service.
There were various changes to the ALPS line over the years, presumably to reduce costs, and many (including me) believe quality suffered. The Apple keyboards used the earliest, so-called ‘complicated long’ version, while Matias keyboards before the latest used the final ‘simplified’ version. (All these had various tactile and clicky variations.)
The switches in the big Apple keyboards had rubber bumpers to reduce the impact of bottoming out, which might have been the reason they were easier on your fingers. (On the other hand, buckling springs trigger low and land hard, so maybe not.) The latest Matias Quiet keyboard re-introduces the rubber bumpers. (I haven't tried them.)
Also, I hated the high-gloss easily marred plastic on it.
I returned it shortly after purchase and said "never again".
The point is, don't just buy a Das keyboard to hop on the bandwagon. They do have disadvantages.
Most people are intimidated by the absense of labels, but my daughter takes it as a challenge and does pretty well without them.
In my case, I didn't need a curved keyboard or a split keyboard, those things ended up in the cupboard. I just had to get rid of the numpad to change my position from awkward to healthy. So, for me, this keyboard is actually interesting, the variant without the numpad that is.
Oh never mind, I see your reply to the top post below now. Because it moves the mouse too far away.
So, what fixed my pain was the smaller keyboard, not the lack of a numpad. The numpad just happends to be a big, expendable chunk :)
One of the keyboards I got in order to fix this was a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, which includes the numpad and is also wider than what I've used before. So getting an ergonomic keyboard actually made things worse in one case.
I move my left hand about three inches to get the mouse. With my right hand (using the old MS split keyboard) it was nearly a foot!
I am an Emacs user with both keys either side of Space bar mapped to Ctrl. And I use Ctrl with either hand using my thumbs bent inwards (or sometimes with my palms).
I also try to use mouse minimally.
This is one of the reasons I absolutely love the trackpoint: it allows me to use a mouse without my fingers leaving the home row, and the buttons are conveniently placed where my thumb already is. I'm saddened that the trackpoint is a rarity on laptops these days, I hope Lenovo won't drop it as well.
(I've since gotten a keyboard without a numberpad and switched back, but I can still use a left-handed mouse pretty well. It's one step below having a trackball as far as confusing people who try to use my computer goes. :P)
Unfortunately, the Filco tenkeyless can be a bit tricky to find (and of course are not backlit).
I also use the Das Keyboard "ultimate", which has blank keys. I rarely look at my keys anyhow, so it's mostly a conversation piece at the office :P
It's a "gaming" brand keyboard I guess but it's half the cost of a Filco and comes in 4 different switch types. I just got one, seems pretty nice, although I only use it for gaming and my MS Natural 4000 for typing. Though I wish MS would make a tenkeyless version of the Natural 4000, because I do dislike the extreme width (they're making a new wireless ergonomic keyboard that's tenkeyless but it has scissor switches and I don't really like switches with little travel - almost went crazy when they gave me an Apple thin keyboard during an internship, and I quickly went to their old computer parts storage and got an older Apple keyboard to avoid losing my mind).
The only drawback I have found is some 3d modelling tools assume a keypad in their default settings. Obv. you can remap the keys but its not as natural and makes following tutorials harder. If I were to use these more I would consider purchasing an external keypad but not to permanently give up such prime desk real estate for it.
I have it at the office and it's just amazing.
It's really intuitive.
A mouse has "infinite" movement, the rod only has infinite vertical movementent, unless I'm missing something.
If you are into straight keyboards, http://pckeyboard.com/page/PC122/UB40B5A
My biggest complaint is they're not super durable. A single spill of water will destroy the keyboard (I've gone through about 5 this way), and the buttons do wear out over time (my home keyboard's '1' key is wearing out).
As you say, a better built, mechanical MS Natural would be God's Own Keyboard.
1 - http://urza.cc/pc2013
If someone invented a magic laptop that had a built-in Kinesis keyboard but could still close up, I would spend ridiculous sums of money to own one.
For me shift, space, backspace, tab, win, ctrl, alt, esc and enter are all thumb operations.
However I wouldn't go as far as saying it has solved my RSI, but it is definitely part of the solution that allows me to program 40+ hours a week (more like 50-60, 40 hour week professional + hobby programming).
FWIW the other parts include regular exercise, alternating mouse hands and using a trackball on my 'off hand', and a keyboard-heavy system (vim, dwm, etc.).
Like Jeff, I was not content with any of the available keyboards. I have two Kinesis Freestyles (the old one and the new one), and they are both great. But the halves only separate by 20", which is not enough to mount them on armrests.
So, I cut the separator cord one night, only to find that it contained twenty fine, individually shielded wires. At length, I reconnected them with an extension piece (three CAT-5 cables), first with breadboard (proof of concept), and eventually with soldering, heatshrink wrap, etc. I am NOT a hardware guy, and this took forever. But it was worth it.
Freestyle nitpicks: (1) The hardwired keys along the left (C-x, C-C, C-v, etc) are pointless and easy to hit by accident, yet hard to find on purpose. (2) "B" should be on both sides. (3) It would be nice if the two spacebars were distinguishable. I'd map one of them to Ctrl.
Mapping caps lock to ctrl is invaluable. (Except when you're on someone else's machine and you're constantly WRITING IN CAPS.)
You definitely have to be careful with your left pinky. I've started "palming" the corner control, when possible -- even for things like C-v and C-b where you can catch the other key with your thumb.
I've also tried key-chord-mode, with strong but uncommon pairs ("fj" "fk" "dk" "dj") set as a prefix for a custom map. The jury is still out on this, mostly because it's hard to change my habits.
Now I use Logitech scissor-switch keyboards (the K750 and the K800). Oddly enough, even though it has the same basic scissor-switch design as the Logitech keyboards, I do very poorly with Apple keyboards (and I did use one exclusively for a few months).
I guess there's no single solution to RSI that works for every typist!
P.S. What really got me over my RSI is learning piano teacher Dorothy Taubman's technique for prevention of RSI.
The first K800 I owned, the spacebar broke off within 2 hours of using it. I sent it back for a replacement. I was a lot easier, and cautious with the replacement, which ultimately hindered my typing ability.
There was some kind of key ghosting going on that disallowed me to type "ID" too fast. The D would always miss. I had to purposefully slow down when typing things like UserID, ProductID, things I type all day every day as a programmer. That was the last straw for me.
Just off the top of my head I count over $1000 worth of logitech stuff I own, but the K800 is the first product I would recommend against.
I have owned three K750s though. The K750 is a lot more likely to break than a good mechanical keyboard is, and the (silicone membranes in the) keyswitches get mushy a lot faster than mechanical keyswitches do, with the result that even though the acquisition cost is a half or a third of a good mechanical keyboard, the total cost of ownership is not any lower than with a mechanical keyboard, but I prefer them because their durability is within reason, they're very thin (short in the vertical dimension) and they're more "convenient" (specifically, they're wireless, and I can pick one up with one hand).
The tactile experience is almost as good as with a mechanical board. 90 or 95% as good, in my experience.
This looks pretty good, though. I've been looking for a new mechanical keyboard for a while but haven't found anything that quite fits yet. Would love to hear some reviews once this gets out there.
There is a tenkeyless option if that helps, and there is room at the front for a wrist rest that can be periodically replaced as it wears.
What did solve my RSI pain was simple: posture. The height of my desk/chair/keyboard/mouse/monitor were not in proper alignment. Once I properly adjusted all heights the pain went away in weeks. I also got a tenkeyless (Filco Majestouch 2) mechanical keyboard, which helped for its form factor.
The middle image is how I used to be. My fixed desk was too high (even with my chair at maximum height) and so my arm/wrist was bent up.
I then got a height-adjustable desk and a monitor stand, and I made my setup more like the top image. However, my monitor is quite a bit higher that what is shown in that first image. I look straight ahead and don't tilt my head down.
Incidentally, after years of proper piano training I feel like I hold my wrists in such a way that if I mostly keep typing, I won't strain my wrists too hard...and be able to type constantly all day. I only get pain in the wrists when using a Trackpad, surprisingly enough.
How often do you input text into a computer (or sleep in a bed, or whatever).
What is the hourly (or daily) cost of it over some reasonable timeframe (1 year, for example).
At what price point is owning a better tool worth it? (health wise, opportunity cost wise, etc).
Yes, it's mechanical, yes it has backlit keys and you can do some customizations. But where is everything else? Why are the keys still in the zig-zag formation? Why is the enter key so small? Why is the enter key on the right, where I have to use my pinky to hit it? Ever heard about ergonomics? Can I get one with DVORAK layout printed on? And so on and so forth.
If you want to create the best keyboard for programmers then create one that won't kill our wrists and hands.
It comes with a key puller, so you can easily swap the keys with whatever keycaps you like. WASD sells tons of different keycaps.
I love ergonomic keyboards too but for a mass market item we wanted to follow the classic standards everyone knows first and foremost. Perhaps if the base model does really well, we can come back with an ergo model.
I can appreciate that you are trying to appeal to the masses, maybe I was just expecting something more from a $149.99 keyboard. Or better yet, expected more from a keyboard primarily aimed at programmers (that was built by a programmer).
Anyway: I wish you the best of luck and a lot of sales so I can see what you can come up with in the ergonomics department (I'll stick with my TypeMatrix for now :).
I'd be interested in this if it didn't have a numpad, or maybe a detachable numpad.
I guess everyone has their individual RSI issues, but after experimenting with various devices, I noticed that mine were caused _exclusively_ by that silly old numpad thing I never use anyway. It forced me to place either the keyboard too far to the left or the mouse too far to the right, causing strain in either my left or right hand over time.
I really don't see what use a programmer (or any touch typist) might have for the numpad. I really don't see why they put one on this keyboard.
NB one of the things you're paying for with the CODE is decent integration, I'm sure. I do have to USB->PS2->USB this Choc Mini keyboard to work with OSX (seriously!). It works fine though!
For example, I'd think about reclaiming the top row, where the numbers live. On keyboards with a numpad, they're passengers. At the very least, invert the meaning of shift, so the default is to produce sigils.
I mean the next step IMO is to borrow inspiration from some computer game peripherals and allow buttons to be physically laid out in a different way.
You can get backlight keys in different colors through sellers that offer Ducky Keyboard brand backlight keys. You can find those in all sorts of colors and ISO/US formats, but nothing more than that unless you join some type of group buy through Geekhack.org or Deskthority.net where you can find all sorts of 'one-off' sets custom keycaps.
I have 4 Microsoft Ergo 7000s in case they ever stop making them.
You can choose which Cherry switches you want and the length and pretty much anything you can imagine.
Current Indigogo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/combimouse-combination-key...
(Disclaimer: I'm not involved with this project aside from contributing to a previous campaign.)
For some reason, I find the MacBook air 13 inch keyboard to be the most comfortable I've ever used.
I don't know why. Part of it may be the low height from the ground, and part is the great trackpad. (I tried the magic mouse and hurt my arm)
I expect other people have different opinions of the air's keyboard. The point is that I don't think there is any one keyboard that works best for everyone.
For my desktop I have a kinesis advantage, but I often find using my thinkpad for long periods of time to be very comfortable, I just wish I could find a decent trackpad for my desktop(s).
If you intend to be typing on a keyboard for more than the next five years and you're still using a straight keyboard, do yourself a favor and buy a split keyboard today.
Pains from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will most likely follow you for the rest of your life, just not worth it.
We resolved that problem: everyone in the group has a mechanical keyboard.
A good way to describe it is that the home keys are not asdf jkl; but rather more like qwdc mkp[ . I don't have any real fixed home position though, my wrists always "float" over the keyboard. Particularly the right wrist spends more time near the brackets and slashes for programming.
I code, game on a standard keyboard, no issues - don't get me wrong, I've had RSI before, but it was down to technique, posture.
This is getting ridiculous. It's not because there is now HN, reddit and everything that can feed a hipster that you should fall into this trap and buy a €149.99 a keyboard.
But looking at the price, you could easily get a Das Keyboard Model S with Blue/Red/Brown (your choice!) keyswitches and also, there's a discount during the school-preparation period.
In addition to better feel and ergonomics , switches also have better maintenance properties. If one goes bad, easy to replace. If something spills, easy to clean.
With non-switch keyboards once a key stops working unless it's just a hair blocking the contact, the whole keyboard needs to be replaced.
 Feel and ergonomics are definitely debatable, but I'm just super happy for the switch to Filco Ninja Majestouch-2 tenkeyless ~ a year ago.. Before that I was a big fan of cheap Logitech UltraX keyboards but a after even a day with switches, UltraX felt like something unconsistent, blocking and muddy.
$1 a piece is the price you get in the US, and as an individual trying to buy Cherry MX switches from a company that already bought them for a lower price.
In china things are different, and when you are a company and buying in bulk, the price can go to as low as $0.2 for a switch.
This keyboard is ridiculously overpriced. I am against this because it clearly shows the guy just wants to exploit this "kickstarter" mindset and HN entrepreneurship culture of "price high" and people will think it's revolutionary.
This reminds me of the beats by Dre headphones.
These are the same price as a standard WASD keyboard. There is no premium for the "Code, by Jeff Atwood" name. Also, they are comparably priced to "Das Keyboard" ($125) which is a comparable product which has been in production for a while.
Finally, if you want a "high-price geek-out" item, look at the "Optimus Popularis" keyboard, only ~$1090!
Interesting choice of words for Jeff Atwood...
Jeff is awesome, but don't ask me to treat him any different.
It's a boutique product that they've put time and effort into and won't ship volumes.
You're on HN, figure out yourself what business model they'll have to adopt and what that means they have to do with the price.
I do understand being frustrated in the search for a high quality mechanical backlit keyboard, as there are shockingly few contenders out there. I'm currently using a Max nighthawk (green backlit with brown key switches), and enjoying it. However, the Ducky Shine II was very close to the top of my list.
...until you hook up a PC to the big TV screen in the living room. ;) Then you'll beg for a good wireless keyboard.
And, because I'm a dork, I'd really like one that has no keys printed on it.  But that's just because I like showing off.
Second question - in this day and age of easy connectors, why are numpads attached to the side of keyboards? What do left handed people do? Or people who don't use the numpad? Why not have the numpad detachable? Same goes for the arrow keys.
It's beyond me why the "Z with little finger" technique is so widespread. It's universally taught, yet you're obviously bending your fingers in an uncomfortable and unnatural direction when you go to press the bottom row.
No one's complaining about the staggered layout of the right-hand keys, because it matches how your fingers bend. Staggering is great when it matches the natural angle of your fingers on the keyboard.
On the left side - if I hit Z with my ring finger. If I wanted to type ZERO, normally it would be Z(pinky) E(middle) R(index) O(right ring), but with this the easiest is to hit E and R with the index finger.
Anyway, doesn't make sense to have to hack around a layout whose only purpose was to key mechanics to not jam in typewriters.
At that angle, the U/J/M and I/K/Comma rows, etc., should line up pretty well with the bending of your fingers. Same with E/S/Z and R/D/X. But Q/A/Z (how most people type) requires a completely unnatural bend!
$59 and truly functional
Also, re: arrow and paging keys, I manage to avoid them as much as possible, but reaching for 'Fn' with the pinky and hitting the appropriate key with my index or middle finger became second nature rather quickly.
Also, rarely noted — and the thing that every single keyboard gets wrong, including Atwood's here — is that the HHKB has the Escape key in line with the number row, so that it can be reached easily without taking your fingers off the home row.
For us vim users, this is really excellent.
I am very happy with it.
Anyway I took a stab and joined the group buy. Apparently the clears have the same actuation force as the MS 4000.