His main objection is that the CODE keyboard is not ergonomic. The ergonomic keyboard marketplace is very small compared to the 'standard' keyboard marketplace. In fact, once you get past the Microsoft Natural 4000 (which I'm typing this post on), the field gets esoteric, very quickly: http://www.amazon.com/Kinesis-Corporation-KB800PB-US-Freesty...
Second, the things he doesn't like about the CODE keyboard are the very reasons why the CODE keyboard was created:
- No multimedia keys (because really -- they're a pain in the rear)
- App launch keys (see above)
- Can't press alt with thumb curl (this isn't even home row at this point -- I can't imagine a thumb curl being seen as ergonomically safe).
I don't really see this as a review of the keyboard in as much as I see it as a rant about a keyboard the user doesn't like. I don't even see evidence that the user has actually purchased the keyboard, which I feel like should be a requirement if you're going to review a product.
While I completely agree about pointless "launch browser" buttons, I find the basic multimedia keys to be quite essential. It's a royal pain when one has to waggle mouse for a whole second or use tricky global shortcut keys around when there's a need to quickly mute music or change volume.
That's weird, since it _does_ have them (or some of them? No idea what would be missing here, I don't even use these). That's puts the review into a weird kind of light as well: It has its facts wrong in the first paragraph..
I find multimedia keys to be an annoyance. I only press a multimedia key by mistake when intending to hit a different key or when trying to rest the fingers of my right hand above the cursor keys (I'm left-handed and often rest my right-hand fingers when using only the mouse).
I'm not suggesting your view is incorrect or wrong in any way. Just interesting to see how one person's necessity is another person's annoyance.
I don't know why people keep saying this. It clearly does have media keys: http://codekeyboards.com/img/code-mediakeys.jpg
That being said, I don't know why someone who wants media keys would put them behind a stupid function key.
The company has a long history of failed promises and it took them _forever_ to get that remapping tool out...basically only after Ergodox started stealing all of their customers.
The Code keyboard does have multimedia keys — the insert/delete/home/end/page up/page down keys do that with a function button.
If I was in Atwood's position and making a perfect keyboard for myself, I'd do basically the same, but have dedicated multimedia keys.
The problem I have with all the alternatives suggested here is that I don't want my computer to look like a toy. Apple has done a good job at making their devices look sophisticated and professional, and I wish PC manufacturers made high end keyboards and mice for people apart from gamers.
He didn't really go into that though. He looked at features, not materials or build quality, which are both major factors in mechanical keyboards. I can tell you first-hand that the materials that Logitech, Cooler Master, and Corsair use on those particular keyboards don't compare to anything that WASD uses; the K60 isn't even completely mechanical! Those are all "budget" mechanical keyboards. The Filco is more comparable, but at the same price and without backlighting or MX Clears.
They keys are a bit nicer on the Filco and there are also more mods and replacement parts available for it (yay, aluminum bodies). The Filco PCBs are a bit better: "the through-holes for the switch pins has pads only on the top surface for CM, while Filco has pads that are on the top surface and goes all the way inside the holes. The trace/pads are less prone to being ripped out, but of course this probably only affects desoldering."
On top of that, Diatec (Filco) has great customer support and has been known to send their customers replacement parts long out of warranty.
Other than the stabilizer, they're almost the same keyboard by the same designer. :B
The partnership with WASD Keyboards actually makes this board cheaper than it would have been otherwise.
I've seen a bunch of these "reviews" and every single one of them seems to be complaining almost solely about the keyboard not being ergonomic. News flash, not everyone wants an ergonomic keyboard.
The only legitimate potential issue I've ever seen any of these reviews raise is that the keyboard might not be spill resistant which might be an issue for some.
I have a Das Keyboard S. Simple, high quality keyboard with everything in the right position.
I've used keyboards with backspace where F5 is on modern keyboards, and you know what? You deal.
are you going to let a keyboard tell you what to do ?
Your keyboard should be transparent, effortless, and this happens with any layout, no matter how ridiculous, with enough exposure. If customizing helps you, by all means, but some prefer to stick with stock layouts because it doesn't bother them.
I'm upset that, despite the incredibly vibrant community around interesting mechanical keyboards (ergo or not), Jeff Atwood came to "save us" all from the shitty keyboards we weren't using, without taking 30 seconds to actually look around.
From coding horror:
I'm just happy to live in a world where the first truly great mechanical keyboard finally exists now, in exactly the form it needed to, with every detail just so, and I can type this very post on it.
To some of us, especially members of communities like GeekHack, that's a massive insult.
I had two MS Ergo 4000 in one year and both are damaged now. I have a cheap Amazon Basics keyboard for now.
Ergonomic keyboard users don't have enough alternatives. So we will complain until we get them.
I am happy with a split keyboard in two pieces and no numpad.
Strange. I've got one of these keyboards* and have had it so long the type has worn off the middle row. The nubs of the J and F keys had also worn down that much that I ended up getting an old soldering iron and scarring those two keys again.
Only maintenance I do is take it outside every now and again and blast it with the air compressor to clean it out (which is well past due).
* Actually I have a spare one in the cupboard for when my current one actually dies for good. I used it for about two days after I spilled something on the other keyboard and had to leave it out in the sun for a couple of days to make sure it dried out completely.
The layout is basically identical to the Model M. A lot of people like that layout.
It's not "ergonomic". Most people don't use or want an "ergonomic" keyboard (I used a Microsoft Natural for years and my wrists always hurt. YMMV.) "Wrist problems in a day"? Yeah, ok.
I was looking forward to a real review.
> I was looking forward to a real review.
A hands-on review, one would say.
And yet you still call that a review.
"this is the worst new keyboard possible."
Is it? Really? The worst?
"first, it's PC standard from. Not ergonomic. And from there on, everything is wrong about it."
...which is fine if you need a PC keyboard and don't care for split keyboards. Also, the Alt and Windows/Command key can be swapped via dip switch, and WASD sells any custom keys you can possibly imagine.
"Non-ergonomic, wrist problems in a day."
I've been using standard keyboards for over a decade, with no wrist problems to speak of. I'm even usually using my MacBook Pro keyboard with chiclet keys - gasp - and I'm doing fine. Again, it's personal preference.
"Slanted arrangement of keys."
I don't know what this means.
"The left Alt key is between x and z, way too left. This means, you can't press it with a thumb curl."
The Alt key on my MBP is entirely under the Z key, and I have no problem hitting it with my thumb.
"Space-hogging space bar. 〔☛ Tiny Space Bar on Japanese Keyboards〕"
I hate tiny space bars. Once again, personal preference.
"No multimedia keys. No other app launch keys."
I don't want either of those on my keyboard. I can use Alfred to launch anything instantly, why bother with needless extra hardware?
This really feels like trolling to me. Poorly written, absurd claims backed up by half-assed points, at best. How did this make it to the HN homepage?
And for people who care about RSI -- funny ergonomic keyboards are the wrong answer. Make some exercises. Buy a Powerball; do some push-ups; practice any of the infinite number of Yoga asanas that put weight on your wrists. A few minutes of daily hand/wrist exercise will completely protect you from RSI, no matter how much typing or mousing you do.
If an ergonomic keyboard forces you to keep the proper posture and position, so be it.
this is a completely false statement
The one thing I really liked was the ability to convert capslock to control with an on board dip switch as opposed to xmodmap or other keyboard mapping. I have had issues with mapped keyboards when the OS call gets bypassed and suddenly the mapping is not there for that app.
If you wander around the WASD site you will see that you can "build" Jeff's keyboard using their keyboard designer tool (the base keyboard is their V2 model). So it really boils down to an interesting marketing/affiliate play on a tool that pretty much everyone uses (a keyboard). it isn't quite a replacement for the IBM 13H6705 I use but I like the key action relative to the Logitech G15 a bit better. I had not realized Logitech makes a cherry switch version of the G series.
It may be that Jeff really likes the PC keyboard layout, it may be that it was a way to raise money on his blog, it may be that after a while he will want different things. Can't really say, I think it is a fine keyboard for the price (these sorts of things all seem to go for $120 - $180.
It may seem absurd to spend $100+ on a keyboard to many/most people, but there's definitely a subset of people who really enjoy a nice feeling, reliable mechanical keyboard.
The Filco is the only board in his entire list that's actually a fair comparison.
I wonder what he'd say to people like me who bought a KMAC for ~$440.
My favorite are the Majestouch and QuickFire due to their shorter width minus the number pad which I never use. The same quality really. My Majestouch failed on me and it was 2.5X more in cost. QuickFire is highly recommended. Choosing the right QuickFire is important. Cherry keys code named brown, black, blue, red have their own characteristics. I like the Blue keys followed by Brown for coding.
If noise is an issue, it's hard to beat the Apple aluminum keyboards both wireless and wired. I use Apple keyboars on my Win7 boxes too.
Never been fond of the happy hacking keyboard. Keys aren't in the "usual" places. It got about a weeks worth of use. I do like the Ctrl key where the Caps lock is though and I configure that key through the operating system on all my keyboards.
My only two grievances with the Apple keyboards is you cannot service them, can't rescue from an unfortunate spill by dismantling and cleaning, and the caps are made of a softer plastic that wears down relatively quickly.
My typical "work" keyboard will last only about two years. Older types of keyboards would last longer, maybe four years at most, but would be in really rough shape, with most of the letter caps worn blank, and due for a swap anyway.
"It's not a review if you don't really know anything about the keyboards you're comparing it to."?
I doesn't have the ability to switch keys (for Dvorak or whatever) but I don't need that feature. It also lacks the hardware switch to go from Apple\PC mode, which I might actually use.
I've used such a keyboard in the past and this ends up being very bothersome. The light source ends is large enough that you will constantly see it in your peripheral vision. Furthermore, experience suggests that after one week of working with them, such keyboards end up highlighting everything that falls on the tray.
My two KBC Pokers have some lighting for special keys underneath (I have PBT caps on anyway) and that's about as much backlighting as I can stand.
Obviously opinions change, or other factors have prevailed in the design of this
There could be other considerations -- I wouldn't be surprised if there were patents around keyboard layouts, specifically the ergonomic keyboard. That could keep other companies from making ergonomic keyboards.
A quick google search pulls up the following patents:
And then there's this:
This shouldn't be in the front page...
And the arguments:
Non-ergonomic, wrist problems in a day. -> Not really, have been using non-ergonomic for years, ergonomic ones never fit me well
The left Alt key is between x and z, way too left. This means, you can't press it with a thumb curl. -> All keyboards I've seen are this way, including those others in the article
Space-hogging space bar. -> I always loved huge space bars, way more comfortable to type. I tend to type with both of my thumbs resting on it (I love this one: http://bit.ly/12TTRI4)
No multimedia keys. -> Yes there is multimedia keys, hidden in a very clever way IMO
No other app launch keys. -> Who wants crap CALC and WWW buttons on the keyboard anyway?
I've never used it, but it seems like similar overkill.
The ability to use just two fingers and not move them very far (for those times when you're not in something with vim bindings) is something I like a lot.
That said, I recently switched to this guy at work:
I'm a bit of a keyboard nut, (www.geekhack.org is a good forum for those interested in keyboards, though sometimes it's a bit to caught up with rare custom keycaps), and have found that the best thing to do to find a board that works for you is to try a lot of different switch types and layouts.
A few other boards that are IMHO worth trying (in case some are interested):
I can recommend www.elitekeyboards.com with enthusiasm, I've ordered many boards from them and they have always been great to deal with. They have a good selection of different Cherry MX swich boards in a variety of types as well as topre switch boards. They even have beuatiful 'otaku' boards with non-printed key caps.
Good boards can also be found on amazon and ebay (KBC races, Ducky boards and others).
Lenovo w/ built in trackpoint http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/itemdetails/0B47189/460/60AC6A0...
Kinesis Advantage (I have the Linear Force Model with Cherry MX RED switches, which do not provide any tactile response for activation, but require very little pressure) - http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/advantage.htm
The IBM Model M, these guys make great bucking spring boards if you're not able to find a real old Model M - http://www.pckeyboard.com/ (Unicomp)
I've never used the Cherry MX Clear switches in the CODE keyboard, but I'd be interested to try them. The CODE board has a caps-lock control which is good, but other than that it doesn't seem to offer much more than what most of the mechanical boards out there provide, and IMHO the font they've picked is pretty ugly.
Let's set the record straight here for a second:
If you want a keyboard with Cherry MX Clears, this is the best deal you can possibly get. Possibly ever. Most people take to building their own or "ghettomodding" another board to get Clears.
It's a solid board and has all of the features that you'd consider "standard" for a <$300 mechanical keyboard.
I'll still be keeping my Realforce 87U, but this is a kickass board at a kickass pricepoint. My only gripe is the ABS keys, but that's something you have to live with if you want backlighting.
> - Slanted arrangement of keys.
I'm curious how others on HN type with their left hand. The "standard" way is to type "Z" with your little finger, "X" with your ring finger, etc., which is awful. Makes your fingers bend in the complete wrong direction.
If you instead type "Z" with your ring finger, "X" with your middle finger, etc., you suddenly have a slanted layout that (like the right side) closely matches the angle of your hands laying on the keyboard. Seems like a very easy fix for the problem that "column layout" keyboards are trying to fix.
I'mm stick to my Microsoft Lazer 5000. The slight curve in the keyboard makes my hands sit in a more natural position and i don't get sore wrists from typing on it like I do with those straight keyboards.
Backlight? Meh, monitors spill so might light its not funny. I can't not see my keyboard with the monitors on.
I went a bit keyboard crazy, and think the ergodox is the best modern option. As far as I know, it's the only keyboard that is split, matrix key layout, mechanical, and has thumb keys.
You don't have to confirm it by email, so you can just put anything in.
* assembly required.
This is a dude who saw something on the internet he didn't like.
I like the idea of using a more efficient layout than qwerty, but still need to be able to sit down at any user's computer and help them and type quickly (sysadmin and support work...)
It seems to be going pretty well... Having a quite different shaped keyboard makes it feel quite different.
In some ways it's just like playing different instruments. I can quite happily switch between Clarinet, Recorder, Flute, Sax, etc, and that's considered reasonably normal amongst musicians. No reason computer keyboards should be any different.
I think it's a bit overpriced (20-30$) but beyond that, different people value different things in their keyboards. This should not be a revelation to anyone whose been in an office pissing match over the subject.
I'm glad my wallet is in the other room right now...
edit: oh shit, it has a numpadless version. Buying this as soon as there's stock again.
Completely standard layout and available with a UK layout.
I paid £60ea for my pair (one home, one work) and they are cheaper in the states.
They even sound like a Model-M.
- usb/bluetooth. (I really want to add bluetooth to a Model M so that I can use it
to control an iPad. or something even smaller. )
- Comparable feel to a model M
- more than just ctrl and alt keys down in the corner.
- in black
(edit - formatting)
Why would you ever want a back-light on a high-end keyboard?
The CODE keyboard has a traditional layout. I agree with Xah here that the CODE isn't an improvement over traditional designs and falls short of the more innovative attempts to improve keyboards. I've been programming for over 45 years, and I'm disappointed that most keyboards, like the CODE, aren't much better than one's I used decades ago.
I'm surprised by the comments that dismiss Xah as a troll. It's true that Xah (particularly in some of his older blog postings) can be provocative, but I don't consider his review trolling. Look at the keyboard link at the top of Xah's review: http://xahlee.info/kbd/keyboarding.html. It leads to a page of well over a hundred links to Xah's blogs on keyboards! Page after page of his thoughts on keyboards, his experiences with keyboards, instructions on how to remap keys, pictures of obscure keyboards, how to configure emacs keys, how to learn Dvorak, how to improve one's typing, the frequency of keys used when programming. It just goes on and on. If you are interested in keyboards it's fascinating, even if some of it is based on personal opinion. I don't know anyone that has written as much on keyboards as Xah. If you think he is a troll, at least check out the research and thought he has put into the subject--it might change your mind.
The CODE keyboard looks like it will have good construction and be backed by a good company; the standard layout will make it easy to learn to use. I've looked at keyboards from WASD and considered buying one of their keyboards because they look like they are well made. However, to me, there are shortcomings with any traditional design.
The Cherry Clear switches may have too heavy a feel for me. I've never used them but it concerns me that they aren't very popular.
The spacebar is too long. A split-space bar is better (if one side can be remapped) because it allows the backspace key to be hit by one thumb and the space with the other.
The important modifier keys are more difficult to use when they are under the [Z/X] and the [,/.] positions. Some keyboards position Alt or Command keys so they can be pressed with the thumbs while typing without moving the hands off the home row. On the CODE keyboard only the Control modifier (remapped to the Caps Lock position) can be pressed easily without awkward hand movements.
There are no extra keys; there isn't even a MENU key if it is remapped to a FUNC key so that multimedia keys are available.
For a keyboard being sold to coders, the ESC key is too far away. I have tried alternatives to ESC when using vim (chords, etc.), but weird customizations require extra software or configuration and are never around on coworkers keyboards.
Matrix key arrangements, where keys for each finger are directly above one another instead of being arranged on diagonals, really do help my coding. Some keyboards with matrix layouts are the Ergodox, the Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard (TECK), the TypeMatrix, the Kinesis Advantage, and the Maltron. I don't really type any faster on these layouts, but I'm much more accurate in touch-typing the symbols and numbers that come up frequently while programming.
While reading Xah Lee's blog I learned about the TECK. It is now my favorite keyboard, it has solid construction, uses Cherry Brown switches and seems to provide the right balance of ergonomics and ease of learning. (It works perfectly on my Mac.) It's great for an Emacs user. The only problem I have is that it takes a brief period to switch between it and my laptop keyboard.