Learning to type correctly - Keyboards


#1

The keyboard thread.
Not the musical kind, but the one you use to interface with your computer.
This is the one computer accessory that you use every day and your hands are always using. A good one can last a life time.

The quirk is that it is completely subjective as to what type you enjoy using the most.

Archived posts -

I’ve been using a membrane tenkeyless recently to see if I can deal with data input and program controls without my numpad to allow the keyboard to be more centred with the monitor and have the mouse in close reach. I switched back to my full sized Das Keyboard for a day and couldn’t deal with either the mouse being too far to the right or the home row off to the left.

I’m considering buying a mechanical switch tenkeyless keyboard and possibly even considering a 60% keyboard (no numpad, no arrow keys, nav cluster or function keys), where you have access to these not so often used keys using function layers. Common ones you may or may not have seen are the Vortex Pok3r and Happy Hacking Keyboards. The whole point of these keyboards is to not need to move from the home row (similar to the VIM philosophy).

I fell down a deep well in keyboard geekery forums and found that most of the best keyboards come in kits and need you to solder them together and customise your preferred switch type with the style of keycaps and plastic used. I haven’t soldered electronics in decades now so can’t see myself buying a soldering iron setup to make a keyboard.

Amongst the enthusiast community it seems that most all Cherry switches (except Cherry Clears) are manufactured with better materials by a Chinese company - Gateron. Gaterons are Cherry MX switch clones but feel better to use and are cheaper to buy (other clones are pretty terrible apparently).

So for my next board I’ll likely be looking for either Cherry MX clear or Gateron blue switches in a 60% format to see if I can deal with it. Many of the smaller sized keyboards are completely programmable so you may have a layer where an entire snippet of code or writing or program specific shortcut is bound. Or you may want to swap the control with Caps lock or remove caps lock from the standard layer completely or you want your arrow keys to be the same as how they are on VIM but across all your different OS’s as it’s stored on the keyboard.


#2

The keyboard I’ve been looking at buying is Keycool 84. It’s a rare 70% keyboard which means it has function keys but not the spacing of a 80% board. Unfortunately, the Cherry version is no longer produced and only the Kailh version is being sold now. I wish there were more 70% boards but I’ll probably buy the Keycool 84 eventually.


#3

I think the 84 key keyboards are 75% sized.
Other keyboards with similar or the same layout are -

However Noppoo has stopped using Cherry and using their own switch which is not well regarded or tested yet. The ones that are still available with Cherry MX switches are on Aliexpress, which I’ve used before. I would get these earlier rather than later as they seem to be finishing off the old stock which is not available elsewhere. The keycaps might not be great but you can easily grab high quality keycaps from many sources (WASD and Signature Plastics).

KBT is the same company as Vortex, all these boards have PBT plastic keys (very good quality) and use Cherry MX switches. They seem sold out on mechanicalkeyboards.com, and only available in Cherry MX Black on Ali Express.

If you’re OK with losing the function keys and accessing them using a key combination with numbers e.g. FN + 1 = F1
You get 68 key keyboards and for some reason these are very well regarded (I guess you get the compactness of the 60% keyboard but also an arrow cluster).
In which case you have the following choices open up -

All of these are in high demand amongst those who like the form factor.
The Leopolds will be available in Cherry and Topre switches but are coming back in March.
Varmilo is a boutique Chinese manufacturer which does limited runs of these smaller boards and have aluminium or metallic housing.
Input Club’s Whitefox was very successful during last year’s releases. They will undoubtedly come back, I think I’ll get one when it comes back into stock.

Varmilo and Whitefox are best grabbed from Massdrop for a definite purchase and in that manner you can pretty much ask for any key type, they usually have all Cherry and Gateron switches available and often even the community designed switches (like Zelios which is the result of the combination of Cherry clear actuation + Cherry Blue or Black springs with Gateron manufacturing process).


#4

At home I have a Rosewill RK-9100 with Cherry MX blue switches. The layout is completely standard, and the switches are just perfect for typing. Nobody cares about typing noise since it’s in my apartment. While I am extremely bothered by other people’s typing noises, for some reason I’m not bothered by my own. They aren’t idea for gaming, but I’m not playing any games that seriously where switching to Reds is worth it.

However, this keyboard does have a few annoyances. For one, the LEDs are kinda always on the fritz. They’ll turn on after I turned them off. They’ll reset to the highest brightness after I dim them. Also, they are really quite annoying blue. The crazy bright green that comes from underneath the numlock when its enabled (always) is also annoying. It has a USB 2.0 hub, but it also takes TWO USB ports from my actual PC. Also, the caps lock key is actually a caps lock, and I have to edit the registry to change it to ctrl instead.

I would rather have a different keyboard, but since it still works perfectly at its primary function, and the switches are just fine, it would be quite pointless to replace it. I think I will replace it after USB C has become the standard. My PC will have nothing but USB C ports, and the keyboard will have a USB C hub.

At work I have the WASD CODE keyboard with Cherry MX clear switches. The clear switches are the stiffest ones available, so they are closest in feel to a real IBM mechanical keyboard, they have the tactile bump, but they are non-clicky, so are less noisy for the workplace.

This keyboard has basically no problem. The LED backlight works properly, and is a subdued cool white that is not bothersome. It has dip-switches to change caps lock to ctrl, and make other modifications, so no registry hacks are necessary. It only uses one USB cable.

Both keyboards have the exact same standard layout, so the actual differences between them are quite small. However, the most significant difference is the placement of the media keys. On the Rosewill, the media keys for track forward, volume up, play/pause, etc. are on F3-F8. On the WASD they are on the block with Insert/Page Up/Home, etc. The WASD is a much better placement. I find myself using Fn+PageUp/Down to change volume quite frequently. Whereas at home on the Rosewill I’ll just reach over and turn the volume dial on the speakers/headphones.


#5

Quite a lot of pros use MX Blues for playing Star Craft 2 and MOBAs because the tactile nature clickiness gives your brain a check mark on whether you have pressed the button without having to bottom out. Very light switches can cause erroneous inputs, which is a very annoying when typing now imagine if you used an ultimate ability or accidentally commanded your zerglings to halt in the middle of a fight.

I think it is whatever the individual is accustomed to. Some Korean Star Craft 2 pros use MX Clears in competition too which one would think is crazy considering the APM required however you get a definite tactile feel for successfully getting past the 65cn to actuate.


Overwatch
#6

I got my new keyboard in the mail today.

It’s a Vortex Pok3r with Cherry MX Clears with 0.2mm sound dampeners and shock absorption.
The build is incredibly solid, the base and plate is made out of aluminum and the keycaps are made out of PBT plastic (doesn’t wear out as quickly as ABS and provides a bit more friction).

I tried them out for playing games, they’re a little harder to press but they don’t travel as far and actuate far earlier than a membrane does. Also it’s way easy to not bottom out with these compared to the lighter switches which I’ve tried out in the past (Topre, MX browns and reds).

very relaxing to type on and use the mouse as my keyboard gets to be right in front of the monitor rather than to a side, same with the mouse.

I would recommend a 60% or other small form factor keyboard to most people who can deal with pressing more than one key at one time for the improved comfort and ergonomics.

Now I feel like getting one for work.


#7

I don’t get how y’all can use such minimalist keyboards. I cant imagine not have a keyboard with a numpad outside of a laptop. Even then, I’ve had laptops with numpads. I love my Logitech g15 with all its programmable keys,


#8

I got 4 times the number of keys you see there as there are 4 layers you can switch between and all the keys are programmable so if there are particular shortcuts / key combinations they can be programmed via the hardware to the buttons or combinations I want and they will be present between computers and across all OS’s that can interpret key input.

Also I can activate all the most important keys with the same ease and I’d hesitate faster as I don’t move my hand away from the home row.

But seriously your back and shoulders will be thankful if you don’t have to angle your arms and are allowed to be square at all times including when using your mouse.

Victor, how often are you looking at that tiny LCD display? I’ve never understood that keyboard design. I also had a keyboard with programmable macro keys but I never ended up using them even after programming them. Also how often do you use your nav cluster and function keys? I actually started using the nav keys more often because they are easily reachable and have developed muscle memory for them fairly quickly. e.g. End is FN + N (the natural programming notation for the end), home is FN + H, printscreen is FN + P.

But yeah use whatever is most comfortable, I was pretty hesitant about going from 100% to 60% but am very thankful for trying it. Use whatever makes you most productive and comfortable without getting tendinitis or carpal tunnel. Plus it’s not like I can take a break and do some surgery or lift dogs and dog food to relieve discomfort from bad posture while typing up histories.


#9

Very few people actually use or need those extra keys. I think the only ones that I actually use are Print Screen and Page Up/Down (for reading PDFs). Aside from that, there’s just too much excess.


#10

My LCD screen acts mostly as a clock that I can quickly glance down at, but I also use it for the stopwatch when I’m rehearsing scripts. I use my macro keys ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. Each mode is set up for one of my editing programs (Audition, Vegas, Premier) so I basically can keep one hand on the macro keys and the other on my mouse. Super comfy and fast for editing when all of your normal tools are right there. I use the function and nav keys fairly frequently (daily, if not hourly).


#11

This is pretty much what the TouchBar on my new MacBook Pro has become.


#12

If I was working with something like Audition / Vegas / Premier.
How one may use a compact keyboard is to make Layers 2, 3 and 4 be Audition, Vegas and Premier. Switching between would be a 2 key combo.

imagine every time you move your hands off the keyboard home row to move to the cluster and arrows, instead of moving your forearm away and rotating your shoulder multiple times every hour to reach these buttons, you could just use the keys that your fingers are resting upon.

I was hesitant about trying a compact setup out but wouldn’t stop using it now.

I mean I could even program “True” and “False” to keys “d” and “f” to the layer I use for playing Fact or Crap in under 15 seconds.

I suspect you could also use an on screen stop watch on the screen too .

Like I said though, in the world of keyboards it’s whatever the hell you want. Like I went from full layout to 75% to TKL to 60%. The smaller keyboards just seemed more comfortable every time.

I’m possibly looking at this for my work keyboard (or I could just carry my current keyboard to work every day since it’s tiny).


This one really allows you to keep your forearms parallel all the way onto the table and possibly be great for gaming too (with the left side and a mouse).lol.


#13

I ordered a Plum 84 because I wanted minimal resistance on my keys and silent operation. Considered briefly something with Gateron Brown. I’m not too worried about bottoming out and all that because I’m not a heavy typer, and am usually pretty good about training myself to use minimal force (those 30ish years of violin…). Still waiting for it to arrive from the China, and will discuss impressions when I get it. Only real concern is having to move my overwatch ult key which is long overdue anyway, since I hit it when I’m just thinking about ulting.

EDIT:
So I am typing this on my new keyboard, and damnnnn it’s gentle. I’m bottoming out on maybe half my keystrokes, typing a little slower than average. But it sounds and feels nice.The body of the keyboard is a bit high, so I’m going to try putting a book or something in front of it, to force my forearms higher. Stay tuned.

EDIT 2: Working from home tomorrow, so that’s the real test. Still getting used to the layout, but elevating my elbows above the keys definitely helping.


#14

I would recommend getting a wrist rest, one that is a few millimetres higher than the base of the keyboard means your fingers are above the keyboard and your wrist doesn’t really move only your fingers.

I’ve currently got two types of wrist rests being delivered in the mail.
A cushioned version with good stitching and mostly the best reviews due to the stitching (some complaints about the stitching wearing out but others who swear by it.
The other one is a wooden one. Some really like these and others hate it, I got it at half price and thought I might as well try it out, keep one for work and one for home.

The Plum 84 comes with those great stock PBT keycaps, happy typing.


#15

Please report back when you’ve used them, I’m looking to get one soon.


#16

As far as I’ve heard, wrist rests are bad for tendonitis, since they literally put pressure on wrist tendons. My wrists also tend to hurt when I use wrist rests, so I’ll take that as an indicator. I’ll just wait until human exoskeletal suits are mainstream.

Also out of principle, I distance myself from anything using the language of eugenics, even jokingly. It’s less of a joke when people have personally told you that you are of an inferior race.

I’ve had good results just making sure my elbows are not at table level, and then holding my forearms horizontal, wrist neutral. I just put another cushion on my memory-foam-on-cushion-on-ottoman-on-box “chair” (LOL ERGONOMICS), which added a good 3-4 cm., and now my elbows are perfect. This feels amazing guyssssssssssssssssss. I just wish there were a little more tactile feedback regarding location (apart from F & J)

This keyboard has an LED feature where the backlighitng changes on actuation, so I’m training by watching for those changes.


#17

I just got them in the mail today.

I’m trying out the wooden one first.
the higher position and support for my palms is welcome. As now only my fingers move and if I get into a 90+ wpm typing frenzy my arms will start moving around a bit (I have fairly average length fingers compared to some) people.
However I’m not really at this speed when coding or doing anything thoughtful.

There is a nice angle at the back of the wood one where your palm and wrist rest but barely move at all.

I will try out the memory foam one for tomorrow and see how it compares.

The build quality is definitely excellent, no moving, real wood, treated and perfect size for 60 - 75% keyboards as only covers alphanumeric keys.

Definitely better than nothing but you should really have your table, monitor, and chair in a good setup.
I think more and more that a standing desk would work best for me, as I’ve been use to doing work on my feet for years, sitting for the majority of the work day (in a bad chair) is crazy for my back, the massages at work only help for a day or two. It’s kind of bullshit considering there are some very nice ergonomic chairs for most of the other employees, however I don’t want to really shake shit up at work till after my probation at which point my fellow team mates have said I can get most any keyboard, chair and table I want.


#18

Alright so after a bunch of typing on fast fingers. I got much better using the wood palm rest and got between 83 - 89 wpm fairly comfortably without making too many mistakes. This is about how fast I type without the wrist rest however I move around a little more.

My particular rest has some more graininess on the left hand side which causes more “grip” to my skin then I would prefer, but this is the result of a real wood result and possibly the quality of manufacturing.

I got the thick version of the memory foam wrist pad at 25mm, it feels like a brilliant cushion to rest my hands on and is super smooth, nice to the touch and very supportive however on my Pok3r keyboard the front side is quite low as it seems to have a slightly steeper incline than other boards so the cushion feels to high. It resulted in quite a few more errors and my typing speed to drop to about 67 - 76 wpm. There is a 13mm thick version which is probably the one I should have bought (and may still for work).

The thick one was perfect for the old Das Keyboard that my Mum uses so I gave it to her.

She exclaimed out of nowhere that ever since she started using the mechanical keyboard at home she’s hated using her keyboard at work which was quite funny coming from her but does indicate that the typing experience is more satisfying using mechanical keyboards for the non geeky / technical person.

Weird thing is that for gaming I hate using the wrist rest and just remove it. Weird.

Conclusion
If yo’re getting a wrist rest just grab the memory foam version that is appropriate to the height of your keyboard.
If the lip closest to you is around the 15mm or lower you can type just as fast and may be just as comfortable without the wrist rest as with it.
If you want to be an enthusiast geek about it you can get a resin, wood, marble or whatever type of wrist rest that you would like although for most cases I would recommend the foam one I’ve listed in the prior post.


#19

I got some awesome PBT keycaps from China for less than a third of the price that they sell at retail.
The PBT feels really great, it’s not shiny or smooth it has some graininess which increases friction for accurate key presses, just the spacebar by itself has increased my typing accuracy.

Ignore the shoe it’s a mechanical keyboards subreddit meme.


#20

Whbat’s the difference between PBT and ABS?