Keyboards

time

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I can't seem to find a thread (in the last couple of years at least) that surveys our current likes / dislikes in desktop keyboards. I really resent spending more than $100 for a halfway decent keyboard - $20 should be enough in these days of Chinese manufacture, surely?

Why aren't all keyboards backlit? We take it for granted with a phone, so why not a laptop, and even a desktop? It helps make up for the mind-numbingly stupid use of black keys (cause we all print on black paper, right?). Anyway, with my fading night vision, it helps enormously in the evenings when my eyes need a rest from bright lighting.

My current personal keyboard is a Logitech "illuminated" unit, but I can't pretend I'm happy with it. The keys started 'sticking' about 6 months after I got it, and despite the satisfying feel, my poor typing skills look even worse when I use it.

Locally, Logitech products are way over-priced, which doesn't help.

I recently tried a cheap A4 Tech backlit keyboard, but there was a problem with the finish and the customer understandably rejected it. It lacked any tactile feedback anyway.

In an attempt to avoid hassles with the customer, I plumped for a Microsoft X4 "gaming" keyboard. It gives a strong impression of quality with elaborate packaging, a reasonably stiff chassis and robust key presses. And at night, the red glow from the black keys is really something to see. Awesome.

BUT. The keys are slippery. They are somehow in the wrong place, for example, the Escape key is not easy to find as the top-left key; it's actually the second row from the top and second column from the left, and it's a half-height key. Really poor design. My typing is absolutely abysmal on it, as it was for three other people who tried it.

After three days of perseverance, I jumped on another PC with an ancient Samsung keyboard, and my typing accuracy improved out of sight immediately. I'm talking really basic things like typing URLs ...

So, what do you guys buy for other people?
 

Mercutio

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I almost always buy a $15 keyboard and mouse kit from Logitech. I use them in classrooms and on builds I do for other people when they ask for a keyboard. They're just fine for the intended purpose.

People who actually want wireless stuff are usually directed to Microsoft's least expensive offering.

I've bought a few of these over time for people who really, really like to type and I have one of my own in my office.
 

Buck

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I was using a variety of MS keyboard/mouse combinations. However, the models I used seem to be more difficult to get now and have begun using Logitech MK120 or the Logitech MK320. I have yet to select a new split-keyboard model, although they are my personal favorite.
 

Mercutio

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I have a ProMini. It's just OK. Range is good to maybe 12 feet, but if it disconnects, reconnection is as simple as bringing it in to range of its receiver and switching it off and on. The battery seems to last forever, but I'm in the habit of switching it off when I'm not using it.

I've been tempted by the Lenovo unit but it's not something I really need.
 

ddrueding

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I have several Logitech G15s. Black keys, backlit amber. Integrated LCD that will give the time and CPU/RAM usage. The Esc is not on the top row, but buttons above it are flush with the chassis, so easy to ignore. However, it is also not on the left column, and that took a few weeks to find without looking.
 

Santilli

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Buck, Sorry to hear that. I REALLY like having cheap, throw away keyboards that still work VERY well. Typing on one right now. Feels like the keys are starting to go, but, they still work fine.
 

Buck

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Buck, Sorry to hear that. I REALLY like having cheap, throw away keyboards that still work VERY well. Typing on one right now. Feels like the keys are starting to go, but, they still work fine.
Hi Greg,

The MK120 is a good inexpensive deal.

Buck
 

Stereodude

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I've been tempted by the Lenovo unit but it's not something I really need.
I have one. It's works well enough. If I could change 1 thing it would be adding a backlight to the keyboard. If I could change a 2nd thing, I'd up the resolution on the trackball / sampling rate so the cursor could be moved faster across the screen. If you spin the ball too quickly it seems to actually slow down the cursor movement.
 

MaxBurn

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I used to do the cheap ones with the squishy keys and just replace them every six months to a year. The really annoying thing on them is the keys start to stick. Not because I am spilling soda on them but because the plastic that rubs/slides when striking a key actually wears down and gets rough and makes the key harder to press. When I have to press extra hard or strike dead center to get the key to press the keyboard is going in the garbage. Command keys were especially prone to that being wide and with cheap support for an off center press.

I like the loud clicky ones and I got a Unicomp Customizer somewhere around the middle of last year. Very sturdy and the buttons are well defined and really easy for me to know I did a typo without looking at the screen or keyboard. I keep reading about cherry switches etc and those keyboards are even more expensive than this one.

http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/customizer.html
 

Stereodude

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I like the loud clicky ones and I got a Unicomp Customizer somewhere around the middle of last year. Very sturdy and the buttons are well defined and really easy for me to know I did a typo without looking at the screen or keyboard. I keep reading about cherry switches etc and those keyboards are even more expensive than this one.

http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/customizer.html
I've been to their keyboard factory in Kentucky before. Interesting to see someone still building keyboards in the US.
 

time

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Buck, how do you find the mouse that comes with the MK320? It's probably Logitech's lightest cordless mouse, which is good, but how comfortable is it?

I've noticed that mice with deep scalloping on the sides tend to be more comfortable for a wider set of hand types.
 

BingBangBop

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I have one. It's works well enough. If I could change 1 thing it would be adding a backlight to the keyboard. If I could change a 2nd thing, I'd up the resolution on the trackball / sampling rate so the cursor could be moved faster across the screen. If you spin the ball too quickly it seems to actually slow down the cursor movement.
I went to Frys today. They had a Lenovo on display and I really disliked the trackball. Stereodude is spot-on in his assessment. I then went through the various Fry's alternatives by having a salesman open up each one and plug it into a machine.

I ended up buying the SMK-Link. I had to fiddle with the mouse speed settings but found a setting (second slowest with enhance pointer precision) I could use to get some fine control. It isn't great but I much prefer it to the Lenovo. There isn't a backlight for this either, but I always have a light on in my living room so it isn't an important characteristic to me. The price at Fry's was the same as Amazon without shipping.

Really for this purchase I think that one needs to experience the different choices and see what works well for you rather than purchase through the reading of reviews and specifications.
 

MaxBurn

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Really for this purchase I think that one needs to experience the different choices and see what works well for you rather than purchase through the reading of reviews and specifications.
X2, I generally try to do this stuff locally for keyboards, mice and monitors when I can.
 

Buck

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Buck, how do you find the mouse that comes with the MK320? It's probably Logitech's lightest cordless mouse, which is good, but how comfortable is it?

I've noticed that mice with deep scalloping on the sides tend to be more comfortable for a wider set of hand types.
I find the mouse to be light and, uh, generic. Nothing particularly memorable about using it.
 

Santilli

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I'm changing out one of the MSFT keyboards today. The s and d keys are really sticking.
SSSSS DDdddddddddddd. D is pretty bad, though maybe something is stuck in there. We'll see.

The Logitech keyboard on the Server has been going strong for a long time.
It's an Elite Keyboard LE.
 

time

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I've had another session comparing a bunch of different keyboards, and I still disliked almost all of them. After two attempts, I would like to like the MS Arc, but without Home and End keys, it's no better than a laptop. So HTPC only.

An MS 3000 keyboard seemed passable, but I would have been more interested in trying a Curve 2000 because it's a) cheaper, b) doesn't have unwanted keys on the side, and c) supposedly uses scissor switches. Unfortunately, the Curve is a non-standard layout that most likely decreases typing accuracy and/or speed. I notice that most people are abandoning these claimed 'ergo' layouts.

My pick was the Logitech K800, but I was unconvinced by the key shape and definitely unenthusiastic about the price. What is this latest crap about rounding off the edges of keys? The edges are how you know that your fingers are in the right place and striking the keys properly! It's just as bad as the 'island' key keyboards that are proliferating, such as on the Lenovo Edge range.

Typewriter keyboards evolved over decades into the Selectric typewriter. In recent times, marketing types have been trying to devolve function into form. The latest desktop keyboards I've seen are just appalling; slippery, flat keys without edges and almost no rebound. Almost as bad as typing on a touch screen (which is good news for the Apple iPad, I guess).

Are scissor switches worth having? They have to be better than current polydomes, surely? Logitech offers them (as "PerfectStroke") with the K800, the "Illuminated Keyboard" and, if you can still find it, the diNovo Edge. I can also get an A4 Tech KV-300H, but it's another 'island' keyboard. Other examples such as the fullsize Enermax Aurora seem to have disappeared in a race to the bottom.

My only hope left is the Cherry Stream XT (G85-23100). Scissor switches, weighs nearly 1kg, standard layout and cheap as chips when compared to Logitech. I can't help but wonder if even it is soon for the chop. :(
 

time

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To put this in perspective, people now hold up laptop keyboards as faster and more comfortable to type on than desktop equivalents. WTF? Laptop keyboards haven't been getting better ...
 

Sol

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I'm thinking of going with mechanical switches for my next keyboard... Stupidly expensive but I feel like I can deal with that if I don't have to replace it for a couple of decades...
 

snowhiker

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I like the loud clicky ones and I got a Unicomp Customizer somewhere around the middle of last year. Very sturdy and the buttons are well defined and really easy for me to know I did a typo without looking at the screen or keyboard. I keep reading about cherry switches etc and those keyboards are even more expensive than this one.

http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/customizer.html
That's the keyboard I have (except it's the white one). I love buckling spring keyboards so much I'm tempted to buy one of those used REAL IBM model M keyboards as the Unicomp ones arn't quite the same.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_M_keyboard
 

blakerwry

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I love buckling spring keyboards so much I'm tempted to buy one of those used REAL IBM model M keyboards as the Unicomp ones arn't quite the same.

I think I still have one in a box somewhere. I could never sell it though... Unfortunately, they don't have the windows key, which I've grown fond of for shortcuts.

I'm currently typing on a logitech cordless navigator duo (kb+mouse bundle) keyboard and the mouse from the Logitech Comfort duo. I'm sure both are 5-7 years old, work fine. I have cleaned and lubricated the keys a few times.
 

blakerwry

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I'm pretty happy with the Dell quietkey variations throughout the years also. I've used them at work extensively, and they're easily (and cheaply) available new or used in bulk from ebay or some retailers.
 

MaxBurn

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Will the ctrl+esc plus something else work to replace the windows key?
 

Gilbo

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Lenovo still has the desktop version of its Thinkpad keyboards.

I liked these back when I only used Thinkpad's because it's very convenient to always be using the exact same key layout and spacing. Nowadays I switch between a Sony AW190 chiclet keyboard (18.4" laptop), a cramped but pretty damn good HP Elitebook 2730P (12.1" screen) keyboard, a wireless Logitech diNovo and a Microsoft Ergonomic. It's not good for error-free typing, I'll tell you that much.

I wish HP made an equivalent to the Lenovo to compliment their Elitebook series. I spend most of my time with the 2730P because it's small and it goes everywhere with me.


I always really liked the Microsoft ergonomic keyboards, but they're big and, in these days of typing on laptop keyboards all the time, I completely lose my touch with them. The key spacing is just too massive compared to everything else, and combined with the orientation changes they're a bit of a pain. The RSI has been holding off too. I often get twinges of it at the end of day, but it hasn't come back full blown for years now.
 

Gilbo

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Also, I need the Windows key now.

The CTRL+WIN+# shortcuts to start and switch between the 1st 10 pinned taskbar items are in my muscle memory now, and they're the most useful keyboard shortcuts for me period. Whenever I'm on a non-Windows 7 computer it drives me crazy not having that.
 

ddrueding

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Also, I need the Windows key now.

The CTRL+WIN+# shortcuts to start and switch between the 1st 10 pinned taskbar items are in my muscle memory now, and they're the most useful keyboard shortcuts for me period. Whenever I'm on a non-Windows 7 computer it drives me crazy not having that.
Interesting, I didn't even know about those. I'll need to try them out.
 

Santilli

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For what it's worth: The Panasonic CF-37 had a good enough keyboard to get me to 75 WPM, after 2 hours a day, for a year, work on Mavis Beacon.
I'm really wondering if a 100 bucks for an old style keyboard might be worth it?
 

LunarMist

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I don't recall ever using the Windows key.
Was it something from the XP?
 

LunarMist

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It showed up around the time of Windows 95. You somehow missed it for the last 16 years. :poke:
I did not have Win 95 until after Win 98 arrived when we bought the first computer. Clearly I don't have a need for the key since I survived for so long without it.
 

Santilli

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Wouldn't it be cheaper to spray paint a cheap keyboard?

Any reason not to get a PS/2 keyboard? Are the new motherboards getting rid of that standard as well?
 
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