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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!


( 11 informants — We want information! )
Nov. 20th, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC)
Nov. 20th, 2007 01:36 pm (UTC)
I'd been thinking of one of those. I can't find an answer as to whether it'll work without BootCamp drivers in XP, and if so, whether it uses a sensible code page or one of the Apple not-really-UK ones. If shift-2 generates " et cetera, I'm sold.
Nov. 20th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)
It's a usb keyboard; it should just work. Go into scotsys and ask them.

I would guess that shift-2 is the same as on your mac book.
Nov. 20th, 2007 01:42 pm (UTC)

Damn windows keys.
Nov. 20th, 2007 02:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I'm trained in standard UK keyboard layouts. I applied a hack to the mac so as not to fight against twenty years of finger-macros.

At least in OS X I can apply a sensible keymap. I've not found a similar mapping tool for the macbook keyboard through BootCamp, yet.
Nov. 24th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Nah. It's a USB keyboard. The keys send the usual signals (mostly), hence shift-2 is translated by the OS, not the keyboard. I was being paranoid about having to re-learn a slightly different layout, which was pointless.

By default, dead keys are eject and fn, all the others can be remapped. And it's a bloody nice keyboard.
Nov. 20th, 2007 01:37 pm (UTC)
p.s. I use the us keymap because I type # way more than £
Nov. 24th, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC)
I type " way more than either # or £. Moving " from where my muscle-memory recognises would take far too much retraining when I've a close deadline.
Nov. 20th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)
I have a USB keyboard damn similar to the one you describe (all points covered except 8, and the hotkeys are unobstrusive along the top row). It might actually -be- a Logitech. Unfortunately, I leave for Canada at shiteyes o'clock tomorrow morning, but if you want it, I shall leave instructions for the parentals to mail it.
Nov. 20th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
Canada? Permanent or holiday? I wouldn't want to steal the keyboard from beneath your fingers. That's not right.
Nov. 20th, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC)
This is the keyboard I've got at present. Can't send new messages thanks to your invisible status.
( 11 informants — We want information! )



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