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The CODE Keyboard (codinghorror.com)
356 points by basil on Aug 27, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 326 comments

I don't understand what the obsession is with the old IBM Model M type keyboards. I am able to type faster and more accurately on my Apple flat aluminum keyboard that I have ever been able to type on a Model M. On top of that, switching to a flatter keyboard that sits closer to the desk has actually caused any and all pain I used to get while typing to go away.

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've got two Model M keyboards at home. 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 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...

Different keyboards.

Yea! A Model M as close encounter weapon of choice and some older nokia phone models as range weapons. Way to go to win any "fight" in the age of "planned obsolescence".

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?

I brought my Model M to work. The only problem with the Model M are open offices; thankfully my Chinese office mates are very tolerant to noise (and of noise in general, like cell phones ringing all the time).

The year on mine is 1993, which is when I graduated from high school.

Mine is 1988. I've bought 3 of them in a computer cemetery. You'll take it from my cold dead hands.

That wasn't necessary. They can be purchased, brand new, from the same factory.


You'll take it from my cold dead hands.

... And keep using them.

The hands?

I've bought 3 of them in a computer cemetery I bet after you pry off the rigor mortis hands, all three still work.

You will apparently have to, since you wont be able to pry them from the keyboard

You can reduce the noise a lot by damping the echos. Even putting a towel under your keyboard will make it a lot quieter.

  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/.
Uh, you speak as if the Apple aluminum Keyboard wouldn't hurt just as much or be almost as durable :-)

The aluminum keyboard bends easily. Perhaps if you used it edge on, like a sword.

You've thought this through too much for my liking ;)

Using it edge on is painful...

There's a pretty big mass different to account for

Warhammer versus sword, I'd like to see this happen.

I have a Logitech $10 keyboard. I can keep it on my lap when I type.

I wonder how much net gain a better keyboard gives you in terms of time spent getting it, extra money buying it, and time lost on the internet arguing about it, compared to whatever minor time you save from typing slightly faster or making slightly fewer errors.

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.

I think usually the draw of a nicer keyboard, if you do it right, is not in speed but in saving your hands from having serious problems down the road. Problems which could seriously end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars if you type for a living.

Actually that's a good point I haven't considered. Would the keyboard really make that much of a difference though? It's pretty much the same muscle movements with your hand in the same place.

It would probably make a bigger difference if you got something like the Kinesis Advantage Pro.

The difference is pressure - you have to be used to typing softly on newer Apple keyboards or else you'll soon get pain from the low travel.

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.

Cherry MX Red switches require less actuation force than an Apple keyboard. A Red will take 45g of weight to depress, while an Apple seems to be closer to 60g [1].

[1] http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1727025

Exactly. The difference is those switches allow a wide range of force, from 45g up, as long as the typist is quick enough to retract before hitting the backplane. Kicking instead of pushing.

Apple keyboards are too low for that to be possible (without some finesse), but for me ~60g is just fine.

I pound on my Apple keyboard and my Macbooks like a madman. It's actually quite loud, especially when I get going.

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.

or else you'll soon get pain from the low travel.

Huh? I am wracking my brain trying to figure out how, biomechanically, a short keystroke can cause pain.

Because you bottom out. With some practice, you can use a mechanical keyboard with never hitting the bottom because you can tell when the key engages (e.g. with a click or change in pressure). Some people believe this can reduce stress on the finger.

I don't understand the fascination with keyboards by software developers. I spend a lot more of my day thinking, testing, navigating code, etc, than I do punching keys. There are a lot of professions where keyboard interaction is critical but I don't think software development is one of them.

  navigating code
I do this with the keyboard (vim)

Same in Emacs. I always watch with fascination (and some frustration) when my friends and coworkers use IDEs—Visual Studio and Xcode, mainly. Some navigational tasks are much faster with pointing or gesturing, but many basic tasks require the same context switch between mouse and keyboard, which I can’t tolerate.

My desktop is currently lacking a screen, but I have purchased a small Thinkpad keyboard for it: great, lite keyboard with a trackpoint - the trackpoint essentially solves the context switch problem and is good enough for everything apart from games.

That's not a context switch. Changing to email is a context switch.

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.

> That's not a context switch.

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.

I don't see anything wrong with picking tools you like to use. I'm not a writer, but I do like the crisp feeling of a nice pen on nice paper. A Bic ballpoint on a cheap pad is just not the same, even though it gets the job done.

It's all about the effortlessness that comes when you do start typing. You want it to be as automatic as possible so you're not wasting any of your attention on it. If a keyboard lets you type faster or with fewer typos, that's a win.

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 went with Cherry MX browns for a combination of tactile feel and quiet operation. Plus, you can get damper rings for the switches so that the keys don't bottom out, which is the majority of the noise, in my experience.


It's not so much that I spend a lot of time punching keys, it's just that I don't want to /think/ about punching keys. If a keyboard is off, it's always a slight distraction while you're trying to focus on other things.

Yes, that's the trend for the last years... writing code with the mouse _shrugs_ ;)

Different (key)strokes for different folks.

I had the same experience. After hearing friends rave about mechanical keyboards I ordered a custom one from WASD. Great build quality though custom engravings are less sharp than I expected. It's a lot of fun to click clack away on, but within 2-3 weeks I developed serious wrist pains that I had never experienced before. My typing wasn't any faster, the noise was distracting (even with "quieter" Cherry Brown switches) and it was seriously crowding up my workspace.

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.

Did you use a "wrist rest" up front?

Unless you've tilted your keyboard down (away from you), you shouldn't wrest your wrists while you're typing. If the tips of your fingers are above your wrists, you'll get a lot of strain.

You don't have to rest them, but the fact that it's there prevents the wrists from going any farther than that minimum.

I have the same experience as you. I expect there are small differences in arm structure or posture that make us prefer the apple keyboards.

Here is what I wrote: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6287087

Some people have reported smaller hand fatigue using the Model M. I am not one of them, but I respect their different needs.

It's like the Gladwell piece on spaghetti sauce: there's not just one "favorite recipe" for all of humanity. :)

FWIW I type on a mechanical keyboard daily (cherry mx browns) but I am not a fan of the model m keys (buckling springs or rubber dome IIRC), they are very different in feeling.

My Thinkpad x1 carbon keyboard comes next, scissor switches can be quite nice.

The Model M uses buckling springs. Rubber domes are the cheap keyboards you get for $10.

Not quite, the 'Model M' actually refers to a collection of keyboards, some of which used rubber domes (see column 2 of [1] for a quick reference)


Interesting. I have a few IBM non-buckling-spring keyboards, but didn't realize they might also fall under the "Model M" designation.

They're like the Klingons from TOS -- we just don't talk about them.

I can type faster and accurately on any keyboard. In fact once you've learned how to touch type, you can type on any kind of keyboard.

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.

No, he's not missing the point, he's expressing a preference. As shocking as this may be, there are people who do actual real programming that involves solving problems and troubleshooting, and being stuck in deep with interesting issues for hours, on Apple's current keyboards. I know more than one of these people. I know more than one of them have tried objectively good mechanical keyboards and discovered that they prefer Apple's flat keyboards.

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.

I don't think he's missing the point. I also find the scissor type keyboards to be a better fit than the model M and derivatives. And I also touch type & spend hours a day typing.

> switching to a flatter keyboard that sits closer to the desk has actually caused any and all pain I used to get while typing to go away.

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.

My desk is the right height so that my elbows form just over a 90 degree angle with the table. Having my chair lower, and thus having my arms bent more is extremely uncomfortable.

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.

I don't follow you. If ‘the keys simple sit too high’, then the keyboard is too high, which can be solved by lowering it.

I think he means too high with respect to the desktop/table surface.

Having used them for years, I still kinda hate apple keyboards. It's the shape of the keys. Most keyboards have keys with a slight indent, which guides your fingers as you type, whereas the completely flat keys on apple keyboards makes every keypress feel tentative. They /look/ nice, but the overall feel is terrible.

Agree but in my case a ThinkPad T400 keyboard. Quiet with positive feeling and plenty of space between keytops.

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.

The bad part about the T400 for some people is the ESC key is on the 7th row, where it should be on the 6th on the left of the F1 key.

I actually find that better as I'm forever hitting F1 instead of Esc in vim.

The much prefer the Model M to any other keyboard I've used including Apple keyboards.

I do like the old Transparent Apple keyboards (G4 era?) with the nice slab of metal in it to keep them heavy.

From my experience, the obsession lies somewhere in the overlapping segment of the euler diagram of "nerd-cred", liking the tactical feel, and nostalgia.

Same here. I've used a Filco MajesticTouch (with Cherry MX Brown) for a like a month but switched back to Apple keyboards because I prefer its flatness.

This is the exact model I'm typing on now, and have a Das Keyboard for Mac at home (because I couldn't find anything less pretentious-sounding with Mac keys). The thing I prefer with this keyboard over the Mac standard, and similar low-profile keyboards, is the lack of 'mushiness' when you hit a key. Did I hit that key with the right amount of pressure? Did it really register, or just kinda mush into place?

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.

Unicomp's Spacesaver M is a buckling spring keyboard with Mac keys. I like it a bit more than the Das, and it's both cheaper and seems to be built better. (It's pretty ugly, though.)

I got a das keyboard at home and at work. Its awesome, and I'd recommend a mechanical to anyone who works on a keyboard for a living. I would never buy anything like this from Atwood, though. His 'expertise' in software, personal attacks on other developers and tedious self-promotion don't really convince me that he's got the know-how to get into hardware production, but rather that he's found a way to make money off his sycophantic fan-base of mediocre programmers who take his word as gospel.

(remember Arringtons tablet, anyone?)

> rather that he's found a way to make money off his sycophantic fan-base of mediocre programmers who take his word as gospel.

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.

WASD is an established entity in the mechanical keyboard scene, so I'm sure they did most of the heavy lifting in regards to hardware.

I'm sure it will be a good keyboard (especially for enthusiasts looking to try out some Cherry MX clears).

Just wanted to put in my reccomendation for WASD. I got the Cherry MX brown switches (tactile bump). I love the ability to completely customize each key. I've had mine for about 2 years now and I really dig it.


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: http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/gallery2/customer-cre...

I like your Triforce key :)

> His 'expertise' in software, personal attacks on other developers and tedious self-promotion...

> 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 too have a das keyboard. I wouldn't recommend them to anyone. I just got mine less than a year ago. One of the keys started getting sticky and would not jump back after a key press (the command key.) They haven't answered my email asking for any solution to this.

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.

Well, if it makes you feel better, the new code keyboard also uses Cherry switches, so they may hit the same issues. AFAIK cherry's the only mechanical switch key maker left.

ALPS still makes mechanical keyswitches and I think Filco makes their own, don't they? Also, Unicomp makes "buckling spring" keyswitches for their own use.

ALPS hasn't made their keyswitches for a long time, but Matias [1] has put a slight variant back into production. (ALPS switches are probably best known from the Apple Extended and other Apple keyboards of that era.)

[1] http://matias.ca/

Interesting! I thought Matias was using ALPS switches, rather than producing their own "ALPS-like" switches -- although that makes sense. I own a Matias Tactile Pro and liked it initially, but over the course of a few weeks I realized it made my fingertips sore in a way that I didn't remember old Apple keyboards doing (or my TRS-80 Model 4 keyboard, way back when, which turned out to use ALPS keyswitches). My favorites now seem to be Unicomp's buckling spring, although the Cherry Blue switches are a close second. (I haven't been able to try any of the other Cherry switches.)

Matias did use ALPS switches until the latest models. (Actually the ALPS production was taken over by another company, and finally discontinued in 2012.)

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.)

Unicomp actually got the patent(s) from IBM, and they don't license them to anyone else.

I imagine most big name guitarists don't have much expertise in building guitars, but that doesn't stop manufacturers making custom signature models. The end result is usually a pretty impressive piece of hardware that's tailored to the way the artist plays. The manufacturers gets the PR of having the guitarists attached to their brand, and the guitarist gets their dream guitar. I'm pretty sure the same thing is going on here.

I briefly owned a das keyboard: loved the touch response of it, but the wacky USB hubs they had built into it caused me no end of trouble on some more niche operating systems due to some non-standard implementation choices.

Also, I hated the high-gloss easily marred plastic on it.

I returned it shortly after purchase and said "never again".

A shiny finish on a keyboard is just.. evil and wrong.

Yeah, I have 2 DAS keyboards as well. Got em a few years back and they are so much better to type on. Mine have no letters on the keys so people that can't type don't just come to my desk and "Hop on my machine"

It sounds really cool, but in practice having unlabeled keys has just been tiresome for me. The numpad symbols and F keys always mess me up, and I'm hopeless when it comes to trying to print screen. Also the Cherry MX Blue switches are amazing for typing but not that great for gaming since there's so much dead space between subsequent taps of the same key.

The point is, don't just buy a Das keyboard to hop on the bandwagon. They do have disadvantages.

I have had one too for several years and it's one of the best decisions I've made. It's still holding up quite well and no letters on the keys is great. Though I still, after all these years, have a little trouble being able to type the number keys without the labels on them.

Most people are intimidated by the absense of labels, but my daughter takes it as a challenge and does pretty well without them.

I have two Das Keyboards (the Ultimate edition). Amazing typing experience, and the noise scares away distracting colleagues.

I really can't think of anything good to say about this keyboard. I've used keyboards like this, and I've damaged my body with them. You know what matters a lot more than a backlight? Ergonomic design. Get a Kinesis Advantage instead.

As someone who has suffered from RSI, my advice is to not fix a problem you don't have. I've been there, and it just cost me money.

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.

Why does the numpad make your position awkward by its presence? Can't you just pretend it's not there? Every keyboard I've owned since the late 80s has had a numpad and I've hardly ever used it.

Oh never mind, I see your reply to the top post below now. Because it moves the mouse too far away.

It forced me to either move the keyboard too far to the left or the mouse too far the right, the former causing wrist pain in both hands, the latter causing pain in the right wrist.

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 had the same problem and solved it by switching the mouse to my left hand. It was awkward at first but then I got used to it.

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!

But then how do you cut and paste? Ctrl-Z, X, C, V are going to be hard to reach if you're mousing with your left hand.

This problem never came up for me.

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.

I've moved numpad to the left instead:


Context menu select?

With a mouse in your off hand? That's got to be slower.

Southpaw copy/paste/delete shortcuts: ctrl-insert, shift-insert, shift-del

Southpaw here. Right thumb on left ctrl, zxcv are all right under my fingers.

A friend of mine did the same to improve his ambidexterity (he's a surgeon and fine motion is important to him). I can't get used to it though.

I very rarely use my mouse while working, and most of the time I stick to touchpad or trackpoint navigation when I need the mouse.

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.

It's because it takes up space and puts the mouse further to the right. Tenkeyless fans like how you can have the mouse in a more comfortable place.

You have to move your hand more if there is a numerical part. Make the keyboard narrower and you reduce hand movements by a lot. And that helps.

FWIW, when I used focus more on networking rather than development, I always used the numpad for typing in IP addresses. I found it was much faster to use it rather than moving horizontally across the number keys, but YMMV of course. Disclaimer: have a DAS Model S at work and home...can't really do without it (at least when the alternative is a terrible laptop keyboard)

I switched my mouse over to the left side of my keyboard (despite being decidedly right-handed) to avoid the numberpad issue. In the end I still had to ditch straight keyboards to avoid RSI.

(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)

I usually use a thumb trackball, but once when my wrist pain got pretty bad I started using one of the ambidextrous trackballs with my left hand for a bit, it was actually pretty nice.

For a long time I used the Filco tenkeyless with Cherry MX brown key switches, together with an Evoluent vertical mouse. That particular combination was very good for my wrists.

Unfortunately, the Filco tenkeyless can be a bit tricky to find (and of course are not backlit).

I have one of these as well (majestouch tenkeyless). My girlfriend routinely threatens to throw it out the window (which would obviously be devastating), but I am holding on to it tightly. In my excitement I bought a version without key markings. In retrospect, this was kind of silly. Theoretically it was supposed to promote touch typing, and so consequently increase my speed. In reality, I don't really notice a difference, and it mostly just serves to deter friends and family from using my computer (probably both a positive and a negative outcome).

I had the tenkeyless "ninja", which basically means the key markings were on the front instead of the top. It was a nice compromise.

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

There's a newer mechanical tenkeyless keyboard that's pretty cheap, the CM Storm Quickfire Rapid: http://www.amazon.com/CM-Storm-QuickFire-Rapid-Mechanical/dp...

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).

Actually the successor to the 4000 is what you are asking for. http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/sculpt-ergonomic-d...

I am a Filco 10 keyless and wouldn't go back. I find it crazy that we have this 5" of obligatory keyboard everywhere as through everyone really needs a specialised desk calculator. Its where the mouse is meant to go!

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.

Try this: http://www.contour-design.co.uk/products/rollermouse-red

I have it at the office and it's just amazing.

I read through that page and it doesn't seem to explain how it actually works. With only one roller how do you move the mouse up and down, left and right?

I was confused at first but I realized I was looking at the scroll wheel surrounded by mouse buttons. Cursor movement is done with the "bar" above the buttons/scroll wheel. Move left/right in a finite lateral motion or up/down in an infinite scroll motion.

You roll the roller for up/down, move it left/right for ... wait for it ... left/right :)

It's really intuitive.

What happens when you reach e.g. the rightmost position of the rod?

A mouse has "infinite" movement, the rod only has infinite vertical movementent, unless I'm missing something.

There's a "button" on the end of the rod. If you slide the pipe fully over and depress the button, your mouse will continue to travel horizontally.

Imagine a long rod. Slide a shorter pipe onto it. You move on the X-axis by sliding the pipe left/right on the rod. Move on the Y-axis by rolling the pipe. Click by pushing the entire contraption down.

Yeah, the RollerMouse is awesome. Turned out not to be a good solution for me, but I had no trouble operating it.

My wife uses one of these, and it has completely eliminated her RSI. Great product.

The perfect one for me would be a clicky/mechanical, buckling spring, backlit Microsoft Natural.

If you are into straight keyboards, http://pckeyboard.com/page/PC122/UB40B5A

I've been using the plain, MS Natural keyboards for over a decade; all the way back to when they had normal arrow key & home-cluster layouts. I buy one for every computer I use with any regularity, which turns out to be one at home and one at the office.

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.

I am also using[1] microsoft natural keyboard, because it is the best (for me) combination of ergonomic split-hand slightly skewed keyborad that has normal querty layout. BUT.. the quality of the kyeboard is terrible. I with it the MS Natural would get Cherry MX Clear keys and better wireless tranciever.

1 - http://urza.cc/pc2013

Yep! I like this code keyboard, but its ergo or no go.

Is there actually any evidence ergonomic keyboards reduce risk of RSI? Last time I looked into it it seemed like marketing fluff with no actual studies that backed it up.

I don't know, but I hasten to point out that the Kinesis isn't one of those generic "ergonomic" keyboards. It's a very different shape. One of its best features is that the keys are vertically aligned in straight columns, so that you're not constantly exercising the muscles to move your fingers slightly to the left or right. It makes a huge difference.

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.

FWIW I tried the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard, which is similar to the Kinesis in that it has the keys in straight columns, and I found no discernible benefit. In fact, I ended up going back to my MS Natural 4000 and returning the TEK because even after 60 days I couldn't get used to the layout (it's nice that they let you do that though!). I may have to try the Kinesis though, the curve seems better. TEK looked nice in theory but the flat style didn't really work for me.

Although this is subjective, the kinesis advantage keyboard has really helped me better deal with my RSI; it has clusters of keys under each thumb and is fully programmable so I am able to move problem keys around (for me pinky keys are quite uncomfortable).

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.).

RSI is a complex thing. Some people have pain that is fixed by uniquely shaped keyboards, others need to just switch ctrl and capslock, get rid of the numpad or whatever. I don't think there is such a thing as a keyboard that cures any kind of RSI. But I do think something super flexible like the Kinesis Freestyle comes close.

I love emacs, but I can definitely see how rms got RSI.

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.)

Mapping caps lock->ctrl destroyed my pinkies on Emacs, just saying... thumb modifier keys is the way to go IMO

Yes, and I tried using AutoHotKey to use spacebar as a modifier. But it's too hard to avoid conflict with "actual" spacebar usage.

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.

Look at your hands. Look at a flat keyboard. Look at a Kinesis. Is this evidence? No, but fortunately you are allowed to use your brain on this exam.

I used a Kinesis Advantage for many months as my only keyboard, but did not recover from RSI until I got rid of it.

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.

I went through two K800s before giving up and getting a mechanical. The K800 is buggy and broken.

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 am glad you wrote because I used the K800 for only 2 weeks. (I bought and returned a K800 because of a consideration that is relevant to only a tiny fraction of users.)

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.

Buy if for the Ergonomics, keep it for the thumb modifier keys. I can't go back to a normal keyboard now. Having the modifier keys under your thumbs is just to damn nice.

I've always wanted to buy the Japanese version of my favorite keyboard, and remap the extra thumb keys to modifiers: http://i.imgur.com/uRI0joS.jpg

Gotta admit that I wish the shift keys were on my thumbs too.

+1. Plus some extra keycaps for when you remap them.

There is ‘room’ in the matrix for additional keys, and various people have experimented with adding switches. See http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=26579.0

I've been using a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboard for a long time and it's relieved a lot of wrist pains I used to have. I'm a little tentative to switch to something without a palm rest and without being able to position my hands farther apart.

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.

I love ergonomic keyboards too, but they're extremely specialized. A mass market keyboard needs to appeal to as many folks as possible, and using the "classic" standard keyboard layout is the best way to do that.

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.

+1, I use and love my Kinesis Advantage, one of the best investment I've ever made

I've been using split keyboards for many years and my wrists have thanked me for it. I get weird looks and people have a hard time using them, but it's worth it.

...or a Goldtouch Adjustable Comfort keyboard for a slightly less eccentric layout. Even a Microsoft Comfort Curve keyboard will treat you better than the world's greatest straight keyboard.

I'm the opposite. I used to use ergonomic keyboards, including a Kinesis keyboard many years ago. It never solved my RSI pain.

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.

Do you have a setup guide you recommend that others follow, or did you do it by feel and what felt comfortable to you?

This page kind of explains it: http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/ahtutorials/typingposture.html

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.

I switched to a Kinesis Advantage years ago, and it's hard for me to imagine going back to a flat keyboard full-time for the reasons I wrote about here: http://jseliger.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/further-thoughts-on... .

Has anyone used the foot pedals with the Kinesis Advantage or Advantage Pro? Are they ergonomically recommended?

I have the foot pedals. I never use them, because it is so convenient and comfortable to hit Ctrl/Alt with my thumbs. Maybe there are better keys to assign to my foot pedals, but I haven't really thought about it much.

I recently broke my arm and have been using foot pedals. I grabbed generic ones, and they help. I can't speak to the kinesis ones, they didn't seem to be easily programmable. The feel of the pedals I bought is horrible. Screwing them into a board with a carpet pad beneath helps a lot for organization.

I have a triple foot pedal (from an old dictaphone) but never use it.

My wrists seem ok, but my finger joints felt like they were developing arthritis, which is a common malady for typists. I bought a couple Leopolds (one with red switches, one brown), learned to type without bottoming out much, and it cleared right up.

I tried it and it didn't work for me. Hand size was wrong and the placement of the modifier keys was unintuitive. With my day-to-day usage, I couldn't come up with a mapping that fit my needs.

I agree that with small hands, reaching the number row of a Kinesis advantage can be a challenge (I use one for my RSI issues, and I'm right at the threshold of hand size)

I have trouble typing on an ergonomic keyboard, otherwise I'd probably use it.

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.

If only they were cheaper :/

When pricing tools you have to consider the cost per time-unit, or cost per use. Looking at the total cost is a waste of time.

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, but your time-unit won't change if you get a Kinesis Advantage over a regular keyboard, so, even per time-unit, it's still more expensive.

I suppose that's true in a tacky arithmetic way. Shit keyboards are basically free. They also ruin your hands. So you have to prioritize a little. Having used the same Kinesis for six years I don't have a lot of sympathy for not being willing to shell out <$50/year for the most important part of the computer. In a discussion about someone trying to sell me a $150 dollar version of the free shit keyboard it seems even more disingenuous.

Yes, but people are reporting that the very expensive keyboards are not helping them. So, we are not solving a problem for $300 or whatever, we are taking a chance at solving a problem at $300. That's a different optimization problem, with a perhaps different solution.

If there is pain involved with one option, then it's logical to assume that time will change. When I do get wrist pain, it does cut into how I use my time.

Sure, but that would be assuming you personally are experiencing this pain. It goes back to what someone else in the thread said: Don't go looking for solutions if it isn't a problem you're experiencing.

I don't want to take anything away from Jeff, good for him for realizing his dream. But claiming that this is the best keyboard for programmers is an overstatement if I ever heard one.

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.

You can choose Dvorak, Colemak, QWERTY via dipswitches on the back. As well as Mac (Alt/Command), disable Windows Key, switch Caps Lock with Ctrl, etc.

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.

Do note that you will need new keycaps to use Dvorak or Colemak. Each row of keys in a WASD keyboard has a slightly different height/slope, so you can't move the keys around between rows (without having all of your keys being different heights, that is). You'd have to order new keycaps with the correct letters AND the right height/slopes.

...or learn to touch-type, which anybody motivated enough to switch to Dvorak or Colemak is probably doing anyway.

can anyone confirm this is still the case with this new keyboard (keycap height thingy)?

Well if I can swap the keys then that's awesome!

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 :).

You shouldn't expect anything less of Jeff Atwood. Every thought out of his head is apparent perfection for programmers, he's the only writer I know that makes people feel like idiots if they dare to do something differently to him. Take everything you read on Coding Horror with a salt lake.

He wants to make some quick money - not release something risky.

Edit: Turns out they have a variant without the numpad, should have bothered looking for one! So, actually an interesting device. http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/code-87-key-mechanica...

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.

Ouch, I should have bothered actually looking for one instead of going ahead with assumptions, thanks!

They have it in 104 and 87 key versions (ie with or without a num pad). http://codekeyboards.com/

It might be a good time to take a look at the product page.

Other than for very specific ergonomic uses, I honestly don't understand the appeal of a heavy mechanical keyboard; the old IBM buckling-spring Model M keyboard doesn't appeal to me at all. Personally, I do all my work on a ThinkPad keyboard, and I actually have a USB ThinkPad keyboard/mouse for use with non-laptop systems or docking stations. I like the short throw of the keys, I like keys close together (as long as my fingers have room to type, which they do on anything >11" or so), and I like having a mouse on home row.

You can tear my Model M from my cold dead hands. Ya, when I'm on a laptop, I use a chiclet keyboard like everyone else. But I can feel myself typing with the Model M, my finger energy is returned fairly efficiently on each keystroke, it just feels better for coding tasks.

I agree and use the ThinkPad USB keyboard on my desktop machines - they are great ergonomically, especially if you ditch your mouse. It seems like the USB interface is super cheapie though with lots of missed key presses, or an occasional stuck key. I'd pay a premium for the ThinkPad form factor with higher quality electronics.

This is a very overpriced mechanical keyboard. The backlighting is silly and useless. Check out http://elitekeyboards.com/ instead. The Leopold keyboards are very fairly priced. The Rosewill mechanical keyboards from NewEgg are pretty alright, too. Filcos are on the higher end of the price spectrum but are a better value than the "CODE".

Also there's a lot of good-value Chinese mechanical keyboard imports (like the unbeatable Choc Mini).

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!

You can use this kext with Noppoo keyboards: https://github.com/thefloweringash/iousbhiddriver-descriptor...

Whoa! Awesome, thanks!

Thanks for reminding me of the Choc Mini. They look very nice.

I really don't see anything special about this keyboard. It's backlit and mechanical. Seems like it's been done a hundred times already.

Having looked over a lot of mechanical keyboards recently, it's fairly uncommon to find both mechanical action and backlighting in a single keyboard. I think some of the 'gamer' class ones have them, and that's about it.

When I saw the book mention below the first picture, I thought I misread and that this first picture was just the starting point before being inspired by code analysis found in the book. I imagined a new , more efficient, principled layout.

So did I.

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.

Nice idea, even though I'd head toward a more dramatic different path.

Such as?

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.

I agree. I hope WASD starts making custom backlit keycaps though

Considering that their current methods of creating custom keycaps consists of either laser engraving or etching, and not actually molding plastic, I would not expect this to happen (ever).

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.

This looks like any typical mechanical keyboard, like a DasKeyboard. I don't see what sets it apart?

I have 4 Microsoft Ergo 7000s in case they ever stop making them.

I have several of these as well (wired and wireless with the boob mouse). I can't fathom not being able to get one.

Cherry Clear switches, steel backplate and dip-switches for various options such as Mac compatibility...

Backlighting . . . man, tough crowd on HN.

So tough they can't even RTFA that consists mostly of pictures.

There are plenty of niche mechanical keyboard manufacturers. They even sell these kinds of keyboards as gaming keyboards now so it's not that niche. I got a Ducky which is a Taiwanese company that makes hundreds of different variations of this type of keyboard.

You can choose which Cherry switches you want and the length and pretty much anything you can imagine.

People might be interested in the Combimouse which is in development. It's a keyboard in two parts, where the right part doubles as a mouse.


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.)

I had RSI. Got over it, but still found mechanical keyboards uncomfortable.

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.

Scissor switches can be quite comfortable, and the macbook air has quite nice switches (IMO I like the thinkpad x1 carbon's a little better, but it is close), and the location of the trackpad being under the keys is much more comfortable than having a physical mouse to the left or right.

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).

WASD Keyboards (well, Weyman) has given me some of the best customer support over the past few years. They even recently fixed my busted Caps Lock key (my own fault) outside of warranty for just $10. I broke my space bar in-warranty, and it was fixed for free. I wanted some custom settings/layouts the keyboard designer couldn't handle, and they obliged. My WASD has lasted for several years now (including a few minor repairs) and I've had nothing but good experiences with them. I've been waiting for their v2 keyboards (they've been "coming soon" for months) and I'm excited to see they finally launched!

While I can understand the appeal of mechanical keyboards (at least appeal for you but hatred from your coworkers), I really don't understand why any programmer today is still using a non-ergonomic keyboard. These straight keyboards will kill your wrists, forehands and tendons eventually.

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.

Switching to colemak has helped to alleviate a lot of the wrist pains I was having for a while. http://colemak.com/

> While I can understand the appeal of mechanical keyboards (at least appeal for you but hatred from your coworkers)

We resolved that problem: everyone in the group has a mechanical keyboard.

You can type on a straight keyboard with your wrists turned in like with an ergonomic keyboard.

Absolutely. That's my natural position and I've been typing hours per day for 20 years with no signs of stress injuries at all.

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.

Yeah, this is my default posture. Something tells me a lot of this RSI nonsense is due to bad technique.

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.

I wonder what was the real price of making this keyboard, probably not more than $10. I mean China.

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.

I agree! It's truly overpriced. I have expected a cheapish, not groundbreakingly, but still, cheapish mechanical keyboard as it was presented by some programmer, not a company that is going for money money money all the way.

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.

These keyboards come with Cherry MX switches. Very hard to find them cheaper than $1 a piece. For a 104 key keyboard that's already over $100 :)

In addition to better feel and ergonomics [1], 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.

[1] 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.

You are one example of people falling into the trap, sadly.

$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.

Now when I think of it more, yep, thanks for the reality check and wholeheartedly agreed.

> 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!

The biases in your reasoning lies in the fact that you are assuming I am considering "Das Keyboard" and the likes to be reasonably priced. I am not. Don't try to justify an overpriced item by showing me another overpriced item in the same category.

'The guy'?

Interesting choice of words for Jeff Atwood...

In case you thought this was unintentional, it was not. I chose to use these words specially because I am against people like you with this "God worshiping" mentality, wanting to treat people differently because they are awesome.

Jeff is awesome, but don't ask me to treat him any different.

That's a serious chip you got on your shoulder there.

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.

If you can find it $1 retail, wholesale is fractions of that price. (some parts can even be 1/10 the price)

Can anyone who has used the Cherry MX clears comment on them as compared to blues or browns? I've found that I dislike blues, and loathe reds. Browns are hands down my favorite, and the key switch I use both at home and at the office.

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.

Clear is sort of like blue without the noise. It's a strong actuation force, closer to real buckling spring keyboards... but without the deafening gunshot sounds every time you press a key. :)

I've got a Ducky Shine II 87-key that's looks extremely similar to the CODE Keyboard. I got mine with Reds, which I don't care for, so I stick to my Filco with Browns or a Leopold with Blues, but the Ducky looks great, has great build quality, and has nearly all the features of the CODE Keyboard.


Clears are heavier browns with a more pronounced bump. IIRC they have springs from the Blacks and the stem protrudes a bit more to make the actuation bump more noticeable. I got a Leopold FC660M from Qtan's ebay store yesterday, liking it more than my Ducky 9008 G2 Pro with Browns that I got in June.

What I would really like is a version of the Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard, that is backlit + mechanical. And WIRED, please, I hate wireless keyboards.

> I hate wireless keyboards

...until you hook up a PC to the big TV screen in the living room. ;) Then you'll beg for a good wireless keyboard.

Right, but most of us can buy any wireless keyboard, or even get a cool remote/keyboard combo, but a good ergo mechanical backlit keyboard for not a million dollars? nah.

I'm with you. I need something like the Egro keyboard, or my hands die with pain.

And, because I'm a dork, I'd really like one that has no keys printed on it. [1] But that's just because I like showing off.

[1] http://www.daskeyboard.com/product/model-s-ultimate/

I've never understood the appeal of wireless keyboards. They don't move, so once the wire is placed it just doesn't matter.

Yes Yes Yes. And please come with extra key caps so I can put my Mac modifiers in the correct places. Though I'd prefer wireless.

Mechanical keyboards are awesome and after a year+ typing on them I can't stand typing on regular rubber domes. My favorite switch is the MX Brown, as the Blues got annoying to me. My current keyboard, which I think is a better coder's board, is the tex beetle ( http://i.imgur.com/ivEH2Av.png ). If you want to go down the mechanical keyboard rabbit hole I recommend checking out http://www.reddit.com/r/mechanicalkeyboards

"I'm just happy to live in a world where the first truly great mechanical keyboard finally exists now." That's subjective. To me this keyboard is average and over priced. I personally hate that keyboard layout, so for me, this isn't the first truly great keyboard.

Why are we continuing to use staggered layouts on keyboards? It is clearly inefficient, and not difficult to switch to a matrix (ie. grid based) layout, since all of the keys are close to where they were before.

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.

There's an easy fix for the "staggered" layout problem: type "Z" with ring finger, "X" with middle finger, "C" with index, etc.

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.

I don't think on the right side it matches either. From J if I move down I always hit between N and M. Actually, at least on my keyboard, I think that the right side is worse - I find myself in a position where my thumb is on the space bar, my middle finger and index finger do all of the typing, and my wrist constantly shifts to hit enter.

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.

Your hands and forearms should be hitting the keyboard at an angle, due to the way your elbows hang outside your shoulders. Don't bend the wrists to make your hands go perfectly vertical; that's a major RSI concern.

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!

I'm still waiting to buy a mechanical keyboard with a TrackPoint. Until then, the ThinkPad external USB keyboard [1] is perfect. Its big delete key is great, too.

[1] http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/itemdetails/55Y9003/460/60AC6A0...

I've got two old Model M 13s with trackpoints. Unfortunately, the buttons on one of them are failing. I never realized how much I used the trackpoints till they didn't work.

Came here to say this.


$59 and truly functional

What about the Happy Hacking keyboard? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Hacking_Keyboard

I use a HHKB Pro 2 and I believe it's as close to keyboard perfection as humanly possible. It's evident from the pictures that it partially inspired this CODE keyboard.

I'm thinking of giving a try to mini-keyboards, but I also use the arrow keys/pgdown/pgup frequently. So I have 3 tenkeyless for now.

I'll add my voice to "the HHKB2 is the greatest keyboard imaginable."

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.

Have you tried the Realforce? I'm more interested in it than the HHKB because of the ergonomically weighted keys (jrockway here says he likes them).

I haven't tried it, no. I'm big on the HHKB's layout, so the Realforce didn't really interest me.

This keyboard looks awesome. Another mechanical keyboard that is very interesting is this new split-design one: http://ergodox.org

I built myself one of these, and they are awesome. Mechanical switches and firmware that you can tweak and compile yourself:


There is currently 4 days left on the current ergodox massdrop: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/ergodox

Anyway I took a stab and joined the group buy. Apparently the clears have the same actuation force as the MS 4000.


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