November 20th, 2007


Lazyweb: Keyboards

Keyboards. Bloody keyboards.

Home contains two connected, working machines. One is a macbook. I love the keyboard on it, though only with a third-party set of keyboard mappings made by people who understand that no keyboard in the UK has a bloody @ as shift-2 except mac keyboards. Given that I've used computers before, the third-party bindings saved me from insanity.

The other currently has a Logitech UltraX keyboard. This is, for me, a near-perfect desktop keyboard. It's got an aluminium frame to give stability, it's slim, and the keys are laptop-style insted of the hideous lumps of plastic common to keyboards.

Unfortunately, it's on the way out. Too many books and blog posts have wrecked the spacebar. Logitech no longer makes the UltraX, or rather, the name applies to a distinctly inferior keyboard. Nothing on eBay or any of the usual places for tech kit. Hence, I'm looking for a replacement that's as good as the UltraX. Can I find one? Can I fuckery.

In order, a good desktop keyboard has to have a few things before I'll consider it:

  1. Laptop-style keys: This is a no-brainer, as they seriously reduce RSI for me.
  2. Full key layout: I can work with not having a numpad on a laptop, but for a desktop I don't want to have to. And put space between the bloody keys. I've got a desk, not a tea-tray.
  3. Properly-shaped keys: By which I mean a double-width backspace, and a return key that covers two lines.
  4. No stupid hotkeys: Remember those keyboards that made the 6-block a 9-block, shifting the traditional six down a row to make way for "Power", "Sleep", and so on? They can die in a fire, they can. I use the six-block. Even Insert. So you can piss off making it vertical as well.
  5. Unobtrusive kotkeys: If you must have hotkeys (the UltraX does), put them out of the way and make them look different to standard keys. That way I shift out of typing mode and into "audio control mode" or whatever.
  6. Just bloody keys: I have a mouse. I like my mouse. I don't use the computer for audio enough that a volume wheel would be used more than a mute button.
  7. Wired: I'm working at a desktop, not moving around. And I hate replacing batteries. I went back to a wired mouse (a Razer Krait), why the hell should I have a wireless keyboard?
  8. Unobtrusive features: I remember seeing the original successor to the UltraX had two USB ports and a headphone port, hiding out of the way on the side
What keyboards exist that fill my needs? Points 1-4 are a must, 5 onwards are nice to have but not essential. UK key layout should be taken as read.

Are my tastes too strange and anachronistic for this strange future world? Or is there somewhere I could purchase a sensible keyboard? Inform me, internets! INFORM ME!