The Uncarved Block

Changing to a kinesis keyboard

I thought I would never find a keyboard that I liked better than Typematrix, but I may have to eat my words...

Until yesterday, I used to use a typematrix dvorak keyboard. Typematrix is a fabulous keyboard with lots of terrific design features but its primary strength is that it has a small desktop footprint, and that it uses straight forward and back movements of the fingers without any of the small left and right movements that are required due to the staggered layouts of conventional keyboards. This is a massive improvement if you do a lot of typing or if you have problems with your hands and wrists.

The one weakness of the typematrix in my opinion is that the modifier keys (ctrl and alt) are not placed in a very convenient spot. This used not to bother me as I am a Vim user and so didn't require lots of control keystrokes. However, recently I have been doing almost all of my programming in a proprietary in-house environment and this has been causing my pinkies to take more and more of the strain. I finally decided to make the switch when I had a marathon coding day where I wrote something like 600 lines of very formulaic code in a day and my fingers were aching from the funny contortions I had been putting them through with all of the control keystrokes that had been required.

I briefly tried out one of my colleagues kinesis "Advantage" keyboards and immediately decided that it was weird enough that I should buy one. I opted for a model that has an inbuilt hardware dvorak mode. I prefer this so that I am able to use dvorak mode right from the login, rather than switching in user preferences or dotfiles.

So, the kinesis keyboard feels like a substantial unit. When you are typing on it, it has a pleasing clackiness, and the general functionality is good. It has a very cool hardware remapping thing that means you can move the keys you don't like around to your heart's content. It's a really nice keyboard.

permalink Updated: 2008-07-29