A good keyboard is important

    For most people, the keyboard may be the cheapest part of a computer that they buy (with the possible exception of the mouse). However, the keyboard is for most people the most important interface that the have with the computer. Depending on how you use your computer, you might be spending many hours a day typing away. And whenever you spend so much time doing one particular task, it is important that you do it in a way that doesn’t place undue stress on your body (and mind).

For a good few months I have been using my laptop keyboard almost exclusively. I really like my laptop keyboard, the keys are of a good size, close together and they are absolutely flat.  The space around the trackpad provides a convenient location for me to rest my wrists. As a result, I’ve developed a way of typing which involves very little actual hand movement. I just rest my wrists and then sweep my fingers across the trackpad, rarely lifting them high, I don’t actually strike the keys anymore, I just press down on them until they give away (which happens with quite little force). I’m still not quite sure if all this is all well and good from a medical point of view, I have a feeling that resting my wrists all the time may not be so good. But I’m quite certain that it is more efficient. I’m typing faster and more accurately, I think the fact that I don’t have to hit the keys hard makes it somewhat easier.

At the moment though, I am typing at an old Mac keyboard, the white chunky ones. Although I know a good few people who swear by it, I find it intolerable. The height and thickness of the keyboard makes my hands rest at what feels like an awkward angle. The keys themselves are quite high and curved and the keys require more force than my laptop keyboard. All of these make it impossible for my fingers to glide across the keyboard like I do with my laptop. I’ve become so used to that feeling that doing anything else for a long time feels very uncomfortable. I haven’t managed to try out the new keyboards, but I feel that I may be more comfortable with them.

I have an old G4 mac which right now has a older keyboard. I find the Mac interface very soothing for (non-coding) writing projects but the keyboard puts me off. I have been looking for a good keyboard for it, and if I like the new ones, I might even get one. I also looked at the DiNovo Edge keyboard, but at a price tag of over $160 at Amazon, it is just a bit too much. And when it comes to something as important to me as a keyboard, I would like to try before I buy, which would not be an option in this case. I’ll post a follow-up as soon as I get my hands on a slim Mac keyboard.

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Shrutarshi Basu

Programmer, writer and engineer, currently working out of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

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