Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Of Mice and Keyboards

Going on more than 30 years of dealing with keyboards I’ve gotten fairly picky. Same holds for mice. Keyboards, that major interaction device with the computer, is something a lot of people are very passionate about. I know I tend to get more than a little agitated whenever I have to go buy a new keyboard when my latest favourite dies.

I’ve watched friends rant on about things such as key click sensation, noise, speed of input, flexibility, layout and ability to absorb various spills. Although I’ve never spilled anything on my keyboards, I do know that it seems that quite a number of people do spill all kinds of things onto and thus into them. In fact, there are a number of keyboards that are designed with spillage in mind. I know of one Logitech keyboard that is designed so as to allow the liquid to pour through strategically placed holes. I guess you can wash it out that way, too, supposing you use distilled water. Pretty handy if you’re a bit of a land klutz or are just to spastic from drinking way too many caffeinated drinks during your latest round of WoW.

So whenever I have a chance I listen to what friends are going through re: keyboards and mice, especially if they touch type as I do or are similarly brutal to their keyboards.

And the opinions vary. Some still like the rectangular layout, but I find it confining. I’m 6’3″ and thus a rectangular keyboard is rather hard on my wrists. I prefer the ones with at least a subtle curve to them. I remember the original Microsoft Natural keyboards. They were brilliant. I went through a number of them over the years and they worked and were a joy to use. Unfortunately, Microsoft figured it important to change how they felt and operated and I fell out of love with them. I then moved onto the Logitech NewTouch. It was a monster of a keyboard, complete with a built in trackpad. I used them for a number of years until, it seems, Logitech stopped carrying them or, perhaps, the structure of my office disallowed the use of such a huge keyboard and a mouse. Thereafter I moved back to Microsoft keyboards, especially the various Comfort keyboards, none of which I was overly happy with. And then I found Microsoft’s Entertainment keyboard, the 7000 in particular. Ah. Heaven. Easy to type on. Great response. sleek and small. The only drawback is the lack of a number pad. However, after more than 2 years of using this keyboard I’ve not missed the number pad often. And, after 2 years of use, I’ve not had a single problem with the keyboard. Even the lettering is mostly still on, which is impressive.

But mice are another matter. I’ve mostly vacillated, as with keyboards, between Microsoft and Logitech mice. Of late I’m using the mouse that accompanies the aforementioned keyboard. Before that I used whatever mouse was reasonably comfortable and inexpensive, usually opting for Microsoft optical mice.  As a keyboard jockey the mouse is useful but it’s the keyboard that drives my decisions.

It’s why I’ve never liked Apple keyboards or mice for that matter. I’ve found the keyboards horrid — though they’re passable on their notebooks. And the mice are atrocious. Too small for my huge hands they result in some pretty impressive pain. Thus imagine my surprise when the new mouse from Apple turned out to be decent. It may be small, but it seems it so small that it’s like not having a mouse under your hand. Thus, the curve is more natural and I don’t get pain from it. I’d be willing to switch to this mouse full time in the future.

Now, if Apple could spend that kind of time building a proper, curved keyboard I’d be happy. I’d have 2 choices again — since nothing from Logitech works for me — I don’t like how their keyboards feel anymore. At the moment I’m rather trapped into using Microsoft’s keyboards and mice. Fortunately, that’s not a bad place to be trapped as their keyboards and mice are excellent!

I do, however, wonder why it is so hard for companies to make good keyboards. Or at least ones that I consider good. Of all the things that can make or break your relationship with the computer the keyboard and mouse are the most important. And Apple, of all companies, you would think would go out of their way to create decent keyboards for those, like myself, who prefer a curve. They finally got the mouse right, now maybe they can focus on the keyboard…

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January 2010
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