Megan’s blog buddy VE wrote a post recently that covered what I like to call “alternative lifestyle user input devices”, also known as ergonomic keyboards. He’s largely poking fun… which is fair enough, there’s a lot of screwy ergo keyboards out there and he’s got most of them on his list.
He missed one. This is mine:
The Kinesis Classic was introduced to me by the programming crew at Idealab, in 2000. I cannot recommend this keyboard (or the Advantage or Pro models) enough, I currently have two of my own, and two that I’ve dragooned CS into purchasing for me, one for each office. Unfortunately, I can’t get Kitty into using one, so the keyboard at home is still an old school 101 enhanced.
Here’s a list of the awesome (assumes the Advantage Pro model):
- The keyboard is programmable, hence the “CTRL” key can now reside under your left thumb instead of your left or right pinkie finger. For anyone who operates a UNIX command line, this is divine.
- You can get a footpad for it, enabling all sorts of advanced control magic.
- It has a built-in USB hub.
- You can toggle it between QWERTY and DVORAK.
- You can pull it off of your desk and type with it in your lap. For mixing up your body positioning during long terminal sessions (ie, a normal day at the office for me), this is good at preventing all sorts of bad ergo-related consequences.
- The keyboard is macro-programmable, so you can actually (if you’re crazily patient enough) write your own macros for keycombos you use regularly. This is more of a time-burning bug than an actual feature, but it can be dork fun.
- And, of course: nerds think you are cool when you own one.
- It takes anywhere from 2 hours to a week to get used to it (I was at the 2 hour end).
- They don’t have a wireless model. Boo (although I have seen one hardware-hacked into wirelessness).
- If you share a computer, you have to get your terminal partner to use it, which is a social engineering problem (see above).
- They’re expensive.
How expensive, you may ask? Well, $289 for the Classic, $299 for the Advantage, and $349 for the Advantage Pro. I know, most of you reading at this point just decided I was out of my mind… $280+ for a freaking keyboard?
YES. For anyone who spends hours a day at a computer, this is good money to spend. A good 55% of the people who do my job have crippling RSI by this point in their career, and I don’t. That’s worth a lot more to me than the money I’ve spent on these keyboards.