This feels like a troll review. I recognize that it's not, but it feels that way.
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.
> No multimedia keys (because really -- they're a pain in the rear)
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.
Maybe I have a different understanding of 'multimedia keys', but both you, your parent and the reviewer seem to think that there are none on the keyboard in question.
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 it interesting that you say this since it's quite opposite to my needs and usage.
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 felt the same way, but randomly followed a link to one of the suggested alternates and found it pretty compelling. Besides looking like a nice device, one can apparently configure a custom key layout with a web app and download the adjusted firmware. So, while I dislike the review site itself, the content was ultimately helpful. Maybe I just don't have the same aesthetic sense those who have serious opinions about keyboards.
Watch out if you're a Mac user. The TEK has some serious detection problems with Macs. Same with Windows 8. Also, their customer support is beyond useless. Firmware problems still unfixed from original models.
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.
Don't all the other keyboards he suggests as alternatives have most of the same [perceived] problems as the Code keyboard? They all seem to have similarly positioned left Alt keys, wide spacebars and traditional (not ergonomic) layouts.
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.
Most of the keyboards he links to don't achieve feature equality. As an example the first keyboard listed is the only backlit keyboard on the list. It has a bunch of extra "gaming" keys, has an identical list price of $150, and has a 70mb driver download. For the rest of the list the only thing they have in common with the CODE keyboard is mechanical switches. Sure Atwood didn't invent a new kind of keyboard, he just put one out with a certain set of features that he hadn't seen in an existing keyboard, which certainly wasn't contradicted by the linked article.
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.
The CM Pro isn't Costar, but the linked one in the post is.
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.
I've heard that argument too, but so does Rosewill and there are definitely some quality issues there; that's certainly up for debate though. Some might also call Filco overpriced, but I've certainly never heard that about a WASD board.
As a bit of a keyboard collector, I think the price for Atwood's keyboard is incredibly fair. It's actually priced pretty similarly to keyboards offering the same features and has some things that are really hard to get in an off-the-shelf keyboard (Cherry Clears).
The partnership with WASD Keyboards actually makes this board cheaper than it would have been otherwise.
Did you look at the keyboards linked at the bottom that the author suggests as good "modern" keyboards? They all look like either toys or else some kind of weird torture device for hands. I don't want a keyboard that looks like a modern art exhibit.
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.
about the left alt key, the author is an emacs user - so alt position is really important (Alt-X is a very popular shortcut). You can see on the pictures that alt keys positions do differ, sometimes as much as 1/4 of it's (alt keys's) width - it IS a lot.
You can't really remap keys on a dumb terminal. You're stuck with what they give you.
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.
The Alt key is one of the biggest critizisms (even though it's been the standard placement since the IBM-PC 101/104). Every other keyboard alternative shown has the exact same Alt key size and position.
It was a review. A review of the features. A review is not limited to merely being one thing. One can, after all, review the features offered up by a product without using those features, as was done here.
No, it's not a review. It is an ill-informed complaint. This is akin to a reviewer writing a review of a book they had not read. You can no more review a product based on it's "features" than you can review a movie based on its trailer.
Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it's bad.
"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?
I think his issue with the alt key is valid. If you're using this keyboard with a Mac you will use that key as the Mac command key. Since it's the most frequent shortcut key used, it should be convenient to press. There's really no need for the space bar to be so large (it does not have to be as small as the japanese keyboards). The command and spacebar key placement on the MacBook seems to be perfectly fine.
Yes, guy's either a troll or the worst reviewer ever.
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.
Some people just have really bad typing habits. I've blown out my arm on occasion by not paying attention to how I'm situated. Leaning over to use your mouse, having to reach a bit too much for it, can add up slowly over the course of weeks and wreck you.
If an ergonomic keyboard forces you to keep the proper posture and position, so be it.
Jeff Atwood writes that his new CODE keyboard is "the first truly great mechanical keyboard". Xah Lee takes issue with this in his review of the CODE keyboard, and in my opinion Xah makes some good points. First, comparable mechanical keyboards are already available at a lower price point. (For example, I own the CM STORM QUICKFIRE mentioned in Xah Lee's review; it's available from Amazon for less than half the price of the CODE keyboard. It has Cherry Blue switches.) The CODE keyboard looks like a solid keyboard, but is it worth paying double for essentially the same features? The Cherry Clear switches of the CODE keyboard are hard to find, but do they justify the price for a keyboard that otherwise seems
rather ordinary. The second point that Xah makes is that the CODE keyboard doesn't have a design that addresses many of the historical deficits in standard keyboards.
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.
So for grins and giggles I got one, (of Jeff's) and its fine but it isn't all that "special".
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.
Is this shaping up to be the Beats by Dre of keyboards? Take an okay but not spectacular product, slap on a name from an well known and respected name from the industry, and ride to combination to crazy profits.
Absolutely not. WASD Keyboards has reputation for impeccable build quality, reliability, and support. The combination of MX Clear switches (somewhat rare), backlighting, thick steel backplate, combined with the build quality put this in the "you get what you pay for" category as far as I can see. The comparisons that this poster linked to aren't really comparable when it comes to fit and finish...apart from maybe the Filco, which is the exact same price!
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.
Being a keyboard connoisseur, I own the Majestouch tenkeyless, the CM QuickFire, Happy Hacking keyboard, model M IBM keyboard, several Apple aluminum, Northgate ... many more.
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.
The new style Apple keyboards are probably the best I've ever used, and I was very skeptical at first. The low-travel, low-impact nature of them makes them easy, almost effortless to use. This compared to the rather heavy-handed typing you'd need to do on a full-travel keyboard, especially a mechanical one.
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.
I wish the default review was one in which the reviewer has actually used the product in question. Anything else should have to declare itself as a 'hands-off' review, which helps to highlight its ridiculousness.
I recently got a Mac-compatible model of what is essentially the original IBM Model M "Clicky" keyboard from the original manufacturer who now operates independently of IBM . I really like it a lot, and it's $50 cheaper than the CODE keyboard.
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.
Actually, for me personally, the most egregious flaw of Code is the backlighting that illuminates not only the characters but also the tray underneath the keys.
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.
I'm lucky enough to still own and use what I've always held as the perfect keyboard---the OmniKey Ultra. Bought it new. It has never needed repair although it could stand a good cleaning---every now and then I clean the worst off with a paintbrush full of Fantastic :) I like its layout to the point of not liking any other. F1-F12 are in a double column at the left of the keyboard. SF1-SF12 are across the top. The cursor keys are in their own grid as are the number keys. The control key is where it belongs above the shift key on the left and to the right of the space bar otherwise. The alt keys are on the extreme right and left of the bottom row. It is heavier than the Atwood. The keys response and sound are very similar to the IBM keyboards---stiff and loud. I've been a touch typist since the early '60s and this is the keyboard for me. In order to balance my review, it is a little bit difficult for me to find the home keys since I suffer from diabetic neuropathy in my hands; been thinking about using some Sugru to provide a bit more feedback. But that is my only quibble. Oh and the fact that they are no longer manufactured <sigh/>
I would buy an ergonomic version of the CODE keyboard in a heartbeat, and tweeted as much to Jeff Atwood. I guess we'll have to wait and see if he's willing to do that.
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:
I hope that's a troll "review". Actually is not a review at all, the guy didn't even used it or barely argued anything.
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 am not sure why people would be so upset about a keyboard. If you need an ergonomic keyboard, use one, but don't complain about a product not being ergonomic. That's like complaining about a bicycle not having 4 wheels and an engine when what your really want is a car.
It's not that we're upset about the keyboard, or at least, it's not that I am.
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.
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.
It's not something you can just pick up at your local retail store or order from Amazon, but if you're willing to use a soldering iron and a few other tools to assemble a kit, the Ergodox might fit your needs. The Ergodox is a split design with a non-staggered key layout, thumb clusters, Cherry MX switches of your choice, and is programmable to have whatever layout you please.
I think some people are just generally a bit suspicious of the motivation behind Jeff Atwoods's blog posts. Like he writes "here's my thoughts on a bunch of products" and then every one is Amazon affiliate-linked. This keyboard thing is just kind of like the ultimate version of that.
I've used the HHKB Pro 2 for a few years now and have really come to liek the fn+;['/ arrow keys, so much that I use an a program (KeyRemapForMabook...or something like that) to enable this same kind of behavior on my other keyboards.
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.
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).
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.
> And from there on, everything is wrong about it.
> - 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.
This does feel like a bit of a troll review. However he does link to the Filco Majestouch 2, which aside from having an awful name, is a very fine keyboard. I'm using a UK layout version (http://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/uk-filco-majestouch-2-ten...) and I love it. It's really, really loud though, if that bothers you. I don't want a numpad, media keys, or anything else on a keyboard, so this suits me great. YMMV.
Well that sucks ... I can't see the details of that deal without being registered/signed in. I was mildly curious, and may have bought in, but without seeing what the deal is I'm not gonna register :-/
The biggest reason I can't see making the switch to ergo keyboards is that at the end of the day I'm still stuck with my laptop when I'm out and about. It's just too much trouble to retrain my brain when I can only use these fancy keyboards 50% of my time.
I'm actually learning the 'workman' layout at the moment, on my MS 4000 ergonomic keyboard at home, while sticking with qwerty on 'normal' keyboards at work.
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.
- 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