I’ve never used a mechanical keyboard, so I get that there may be things I just don’t understand about the appeal. The keyboard I’m on now was purchased exactly because it is very quiet and is almost perfectly the size of a laptop keyboard, which is where I do most of my typing and all of my development. I guess my biggest question is what aspect of feedback is the keyboard giving that is gained just by looking at the screen and seeing the result? Or is this really something that I won’t be able to appreciate without using one for a fairly extended amount of time?
Standard Dell with wire. “Borrowed” from my previous job. The actual typing is rarely the bottleneck in my code
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever considered mechanical keyboards to be for speed, really. They just feel better.
For me it’s mostly about the feeling of the tactile feedback and the sound of the typing that I like. They don’t make me a better programmer. I just like using them.
Also have a look at the video I posted here - @fxn set up his keyboard according to most used symbols/characters (so no need to press shift for things like
@ $ etc). That certainly makes sense to me and I’m curious how much it’d help.
Love it, however after working away from it for a few days it takes a few hours to get back up to speed. The custom firmware allowed me to customize it for Elixir and save from finger work
What are your customisations @frigidcode? Can you link to the configurator with your settings please? Just curious
I’ve never used a mechanical keyboard, but liked the look of the Corsair K95 RGB that @OvermindDL1 posted above - turns out a workmate had one at home so he bought it in today for me to try.
I’ve been sitting typing on it for the last half hour, and now typing this on my macbook feels so wrong!
I’m definitely a convert, so time to save up and buy one I think!
Lol, you liked it I seemed to gather from your post.
But yes, I love it. ^.^
The new Platinum version only has like 8 G keys on the side, that part sucks, I like my older and more powerful (and slightly more expensive) model.
My daily driver is an old IBM Model M termial rj45.
NOTHING beats an IBM Model M!
Except maybe a Model F or one with beam springs? Just checked and people are selling IBM beam spring keyboards for more than 1000 € a piece…
I have several mechanical keyboards that I like and use, but most of the time I use Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop set up.
It is not the highest quality built in the world, especially the mouse that comes with it. It will only last like 2 years of use in my experience (both keyboard and mouse) and the keys require occasional cleanup, and even then will make unpleasant squeaking noises when you press them ;).
With all it’s disadvantages, this is my 2nd setup and I absolutely love it. I tried other ergonomic keyboards and Kinesis Advantage came really close but most of them have the same issue for me. While the wrist on Kinesis Advantage is really well supported and rests nicely, I still have to do some gymnastics to press certain keys and it requires some force to do so.
Microsoft Scuplt (and Surface that I did not try) have keys that are shallow and light to press.
The difference is that while typing on other keyboards I get the feeling that I need to put a lot of effort to type and my hands (wrists, fingers) become tired, Microsoft Sculpt feels like home. You put your hands on it and the hands are resting, it’s got this feeling of “oh I am home now” when I come to it from other keyboards.
While I’d like the build to be better quality, and the keys to make nice clicking sound, I think the overall design and typing experience exceeds anything that I tried. I would like some day to build a mechanical keyboard, similar in shape, with nice wrist support and shallow keys - or better - if some company made it this way, but so far I haven’t been able to find anything close.
Just got this done:
It’s an IBM Wheelwriter typewriter keyboard from 1986, that I converted for USB usage with a Teensy 3.2 and USB. Basically has Model M switches. I will post another topic with a blog post link and link to typing video when I get those done. This will probably mostly be a curiosity / fun keyboard rather than serious use, but it was fun to make the conversion.
Best part: It has a “Code” button! For those extreme coding sessions.
It has passed the test of time for me.
When I got the keyboard I spent a few days tweaking as if there was no tomorrow. Thanks to that, I got familiar with its features and saw how to combine them to match the way I like to type (eg. symmetric modifiers as dual keys in the home row is killer for my taste). Also ran statistics to optimize by frequency from center outwards, as seen in the video.
The result has stayed virtually unchanged.
I had a Kinesis Advantage Pro for 6 years, then got a Truly Ergonomic Keyboard, and finally my current one, the ErgoDox EZ.
The Kinesis Advantage Pro was amazing, had to learn to touch type for extra challenge, but it was totally worth it. From the Kinesis I learned two things that are musts for me since then: columnar layout, and halves. That rules out the majority of keyboards in the market. For example, I purchased a Happy Hacking right when they came out in the early 2000s, its minimalism was super cool, but it has a staggered layout without halves. No chance today for me. The new Ultimate is split, but staggered, so out too for me.
Those are the musts for me. Of course, these keyboards have also extra features, like macros, or the unique flexibilty of the ErgoDox.
Some people complained that the Kinesis had rubber function keys in that generation. It never bothered me, but I believe they are no longer rubber in the current models.
I got the Pro model to experiment with the foot pedal, but it didn’t work for me. Cool to try, but I couldn’t learn to relax my ankle having the foot on the pedal for a whole day of coding, day after day. In theory the pedal is designed to avoid accidental presses, but I couldn’t help but to build some tension in the articulation, so it ended up in some drawer.
The Pro model had also extra storage for macros, but I never recorded anything that leveraged that, the regular model would have sufficed for my usage (and I preferred the black to the silver color too!)
Something I didn’t quite like in the Kinesis Advantage was the modifier keys. When you need do do Command-Option-Shift-Something… your hands can get somehwat contorted and you move them to the key clusters, partially out from the halves. In the ErgoDox I have the modifiers in the home row and there is no way back from that (for me). The Truly Ergonomic has the same issue for me, but the modifiers are on the sides, so it was just a tad better in that sense.
Both the Kinesis Advantage and the TEK have a limitation: the halves are fixed. Worked with them fantastically for about 8 years total, so definitely not a deal breaker, but once I got the ErgoDox, I quickly realized how great is to have independent halves. Basically, that allows you to match their separation to your shoulders width and have what ergonomic specialists say should be a good configuration in this regard, with the arms oriented forward, not with an angle inward (the TEK is worse than the Kinesis Advantage here, the halves are much closer).
In the Kinesis Advantage I totally loved the palm rests, the halves are convex and a bit up wrt the table. I don’t have any in the ErgoDox because the height is shorter and the halves are flat, so I type as if playing a piano (an analogy I read somewhere years ago that clicked).
Hope you find this feedback helpful. In the end, I believe one has to read what people say, reviews, etc., but in the end you’ll need to match features with your style. That may require some experimentation, introspection, and some hundreds of bucks most likely :). But it is a wondeful journey.
Ah, a PD about changing keyboards.
I don’t have any issue whatsover changing keyboard, and in particular using my laptop (I am typing this with my laptop).
When I purchased the Kinesis Advantage, I needed and inmersion and avoided anything else as discipline. As I said I had to learn to touch type additionally, because with the convex halves you just cannot cheat.
But once that was done (and perhaps you can do without it), I could use regular keyboards just fine. Your brain (or at least mine), is just able to configure itself in one mode or the other, the same way riding motorbikes doesn’t prevent you from driving cars. You just naturally do it differently (don’t know how good is the metaphor, but that is the idea).
Something that did not transfer to me at all was touch typing. I have learned to touch type in columnar layout, and my ErgoDox has blank keys thanks to that (which gives you infinite possibilities wrt switching keys). The developed muscular memory does not work for me at all in staggered, since the finger movements are different, they need the twists that you save precisely with columns.
Here are mine https://shawnonthe.net/optimization-for-the-fingers/ it was originally optimised for Ruby dev but I haven’t really needed to make any modifications since switching over to Elixir. Link to the firmware is at the bottom.
I’ve made a few other changes to the layout since this that aren’t documented in the post like I switched the ctrl button on the right thumb group to toggle between the last window and current one on MacOS.
I went out and bought an Ultimate Hacking Keyboard last weekend since I heard a friend was selling their own. Really like it so far but it has taught me that I know nothing of proper touch typing so it’s a big learning curve. After three days I’m getting better though, so I’m staying hopeful. I like that my wrists are straight and I can position the halves freely. Of course made my own keymap which will probably evolve through the years.
Not sure about the Kailh brown switches, might replace those at some point in the future.
More info: https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/
Ah nice - let us know how you get on
Did you or are you planning on getting any modules or the tent kit?