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Input Devices

Blank Keyboard 994

Raynach writes "A friend of mine recently sent me a link for Das Keyboard, the keyboard for UberGeeks. This keyboard is unique in that it has no inscriptions on the keys, which the maker touts will make you type 100% faster in a few weeks since it will keep you from looking at the keyboard. This keyboard also features individually weighted keyswitches, "The keys are divided into groups and their feedback springs are weighted differently; from 35 grams to 80 grams, which correspond to the strength of the finger that touches the keys." But is this "UberGeek" keyboard really worth the high price tag?"
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Blank Keyboard

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  • Keytronic Ergoforce (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:36AM (#12634070)
    I thought that the differing force between various keys has been standard in all keyboards for a very long time. Keytronic has called it Ergoforce [].
  • Re:a tip (Score:2, Informative)

    by Second_Infinity ( 810308 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:37AM (#12634092) Homepage
    Good idea... but primer wears off quite easily if a final coat of paint isn't applied.

    Maybe a high-gloss paint would suffice.

    I agree, it's a bit much.
  • One Word Answer (Score:2, Informative)

    by ultimabaka ( 864222 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:38AM (#12634115)

    More detailed explanation:
    (a) I can type at 85 wpm, and sometimes I still forget where a key is sometimes. Even if you know where all the keys are, sometimes you may brush the keyboard to one side, and lose orientation, thus needing you to look down at the keyboard anyway to get it back. Not seeing keys makes it harder to regain that orientation.
    (b) Differentially weighted keys is a minimal improvement at best. Regular keyboards with regularly weighted keys have never bothered me, and unless these keys make me feel physical pleasure of some form when I hit them, it ain't worth spending extra money on.
    (c) It's not even wireless. No bells, no whistles, nothing. Pass on it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:39AM (#12634132)
    As far as typing without looking at the keys, I've had my Virtually Indestructable Keyboard [] for going on 4 years now. I've never had any issues with it, and as a side effect of the letters being painted on the rubber coating, over time all my letter keys have been worn blank. The F1-12 keys, and various other seldom used keys are fine, but all the letters, most puncuation, and most of my numpad is blank. All for only 40$ when I bought it (they're cheaper now) and I never have to worry about damaging it with food/drink near the computer.

    All in all, I'd say this keyboard is an expensive toy for people to make themselves feel better, than an actual useful tool.
  • Re:Two words: (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:43AM (#12634198)
    They already have a keyboard that's pressure sensitive, and a lot less costly ($30): p []
  • Re:Calculator key? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Conrad ( 600139 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:43AM (#12634200)
    special keys are so last year. get a real OS with a Dashboard so you can have a key for a calculator or anything else.

    Uh, even Windows can map keys. Like I said, I *don't want* to lose another key by mapping it to calculator.
  • Spray Paint... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Caeda ( 669118 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:53AM (#12634373)
    You have to show ID because it's been a law for a long, long time. Computers are just making it easier by reminding people now. Wal-Mart, K-Mart, all stores are required to see proof of age for purchase of all products distributed in a spray can, as well as anything that can be huffed for a high. Other products on this list include painballs and related supplies, pellet guns, and most obvoiusly ammunition. Note this is not a "Wal-Mart" policy, but a law requarding dangerous substances. You could actually have any place that didn't ask for ID investigated and fined for not following the law :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:53AM (#12634386)
    Actually, it looks to me like Das Keyboard [] may have ripped off [] Keytronic's Ergoforce - or at least PC World's illustration of it.
  • by aliasptr ( 684593 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:57AM (#12634441) Homepage
    To be truly annoying I point out from the website, "Most keyboards use a standard 55 grams of force required to register every key...". It's not really accurate to say this seeing as grams are a unit of mass. I guess it just means if you put a 55 gram mass on the key (with Earth's gravitational acceleration around 9.8m/s^2) it'll be acutated? I'm not some physics master- actually I'm just an idiot. But this is slashdot and so I figured I'd post this annoying little prod at the company. As for the actual keyboard it's not bad but if value your money more than the time spent modifying your own keyboard you might not be interested in this.
  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @11:00AM (#12634483) Journal
    Why not just wear a bag over your head all the time to get the full effect?

    Hah, very funny. I was being serious. Google yields very few good QWERTY keyboards with braille, about the best one I found was here [].

  • by christophe ( 36267 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @11:11AM (#12634628) Journal
    Friends of mine live in France at borders, work in Germany or Switzerland, occasionnaly fly to the US or China. These people are used to mentally swith keyboard mappings. (*)
    Imagine blank keyboard everywhere: impossible to know wich language it uses!!

    [(*) As many people of my generation used to games which thought American keyboards were the only ones: in France convert A to Q, W to Z, comma and M, and do not use Shift for numbers...]

    On the other side, these keyboards would be the first real international keyboards: just configure the OS, and you don't have to learn a new keyboard mapping each time you visit a new country.
    (Yes, we can already do that, but it seems humans need a reason to be lazy and force the computer to adapt to them instead of adapting to it).
  • by Proteus ( 1926 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @11:56AM (#12635213) Homepage Journal
    In the world of keyboard manufacuturing, the "grams of force" is the "equivalent compression weight" to trigger the key. An 80-gram key would require an 80-gram weight to be set on it to trigger its function. You have to push as hard on the key as an 80-gram weight would in order to type on it.

    This is useful because its relatively easy to measure it consistently, meaning it's harder for manufacturers to fabricate results.

    Factory testing means a couple things. First, it means that a *sample* of keyboards are put through the full service cycle; all the switches on the keyboard can be hit simultaneously -- it might take a half-day to test a keyboard, but that's OK. It also means that each keyboard is likely tested for each key's function before it is packed for shipping.

    "Premium keyswitch technology" is probably just marketing-speak.

    A keyboard without letters on it will not make a typist any faster unless they are not a touch-typist. It's also stupid, since keyboard layouts are not completely standard, and since even the best touch-typists ocassionally have bad days and may need to glance at the keyboard.
  • by Alowishus ( 34824 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:06PM (#12635320) Homepage

    I'm a big fan and longtime user of Keytronic's keyboards, and I'd say it's more likely that Das Keyboard is simply reselling the Keytronic with new keycaps (and a 4x markup). Perhaps Keytronic is even doing the manufacturing for them.

    Das Keyboard looks EXACTLY like Keytronic's standard black USB model [].

    I'd also venture to say that this "article" submission was done by someone who would benefit from more sales of Das Keyboard. :)

  • Re:a tip (Score:3, Informative)

    by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:16PM (#12635439) Journal
    What you're looking for is the Customizer keyboard, with buckling springs. []

    And unlike the keyboard reviewed in the article, you can get this one without the Windows keys. They are $59. I've had mine for about a year and a half, it still looks and feels brand new.
  • Re:a tip (Score:3, Informative)

    by F34nor ( 321515 ) * on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:22PM (#12635535)
    The real joke is when you then change the keyboard mapping to Davorak and double your speed again. QWERTY was designed to be a--s s--l--o--w a--s possible to keep you from jamming the damn keys. []
    Its built into Most OS just change it now in your keyboard setting and give it a try.
  • Happy hacker (Score:2, Informative)

    by POPE Mad Mitch ( 73632 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:33PM (#12635669) Homepage
    The bunch that make the Happy Hacker Keyboards also make a version with blank key caps. They are quite expensive but well made.

    UK Distributor: []
  • by mr.bri ( 886912 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:51PM (#12635895)
    This keyboard is simply a Keytronic E03600 Black USB with the caps replaced. They didn't even change their wording for most of the description.

    See the link for the Keytronic E03600 [], notice the pictures, key placement/arrangement, are exactly the same.

    They didn't even bother to update the layout image for the different key weights (they simply resized it and put a note that "...the letters are visible on this diagram for information purposes only." See Keytronic's version [] and Das Keyboard's Version []. Though for some reason, Das Keyboard's image is better.

    And you can buy Keytronic's for $21.50 directly from the manufacturer, or even less elsewhere. It's currently out of stock from Keytronic; maybe these people bought them all thinking they had a gold mine at 400% profit! :-b

    Marketing! Marketing! Marketing!

  • by Proteus ( 1926 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:08PM (#12636120) Homepage Journal
    Stronger fingers have a tendency to push harder whether it's required or not. Weighting keys like the spacebar, which is pressed with your thumb(s), more heavily means that you don't bottom out the key with as much force. The result is less jarring on your fingers.

    The alternative is to train yourself with minimal-force exercises, wherein you learn to press all keys only as hard as you need to. Unforutnately, this can easliy lead to increased tension in the hands, increasing the risk of RSI. Most decent ergo keyboards have distributed the "key weight" somewhat. It is possible, however, to learn to distribute it yourself -- take piano lessons from a good teacher, and you will learn a lot about consistent keystroke force.
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:42PM (#12636506)
    |\ key takes the top of the Enter key, and Backspace is a double length key. Mistery solved, have a cookie.
  • Re:a tip (Score:1, Informative)

    by Dayze!Confused ( 717774 ) < ... m ['ao.' in gap]> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:43PM (#12636518) Homepage Journal
    I've been typing in Dvorak for about a year and am highly found of Vim. I often use a lot of their shortcuts all the time, it doesn't take too much getting used to, it's just relearning the shortcuts at a much higher pace than when you originally learned them.

    All in all I'm happy for the switch, not only do I type more fluently, but it also keeps people off my computer.
  • by Ineffable 27 ( 203704 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:58PM (#12636684)
    I can't resist the opportunity to blatantly plug my favourite keyboard for the Mac: the Matias Tactile Pro [], which has the excellent IBM-style keyswitches.
  • by Dragee ( 881700 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:25PM (#12636957)
    Looking at the keyboard to find certain buttons (usually the rarely-used ones (for me)like the ~ key) doesn't cost me that much time or significantly slow my WPM. However, I've noticed that when I'm doing something like typing in a terminal session to a remote server with poor bandwidth in between, my typing skills go all to pieces.

    What (I think) happens is that when my eyes are seeing letters come up on the screen that are a character or two behind the letters that my fingers are typing to spell the word correctly, there is some sort of confusion in my "muscle memory" about what letter comes next, and I have to slow down my typing until the letters on-screen are coming up in synch with the letters my fingers are typing.

    If the echo on the monitor is slower than my fingers are getting to the keys, I start misspelling everything; I think it's because my fingers are trying to type the letter that comes next according to what my eyes are seeing, rather than going by the more-concious(?) part of my brain that knows which letters have already been typed.

    Has anyone else experienced this, or is it unique to the way I've learned to type? (I was forced to take keyboarding classes (on PC's) in Junior High & early High School, but my touch-typing skills sucked until I started having to type lots of papers for classes. Now, I'm reasonably fast.) Does anyone know of a way to correct it? I'm thinking that I can work off the theory of this keyboard and practice typing with my eyes closed, but without constant spell-checking, that could be rather detrimental to my career. =)

  • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:38PM (#12637086) Homepage Journal
    Just change layout to DVORAK in software. You'll either learn to touchtype it or go insane.
  • by IdahoEv ( 195056 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @05:52PM (#12638940) Homepage

    I use a Kinesis Countoured Programmable [] keyboard with a footswitch. Mine is in Dvorak layout, but they're switchable in hardware., so use whatever you like. Among other things, I use one of the footswitches as the shift key. That solves part one of your problem. In addition, most of the modifier keys are under your thumbs, which get six keys each instead of sharing just the spacebar.

    Aside from the ergonomic benefits (this thing cured my tenosynovitis in college a decade ago and I've never looked back), the keyboard can program a macro to any key. And, it has an additional modifier key that lets you define a second meaning for every key - the idea being that you use this to emulate a keypad.

    I use the second layer to define code macros. HTML macros on the left, C-style code macros on the right. I use one of the footswitches to activate the second layer. So, for example,[right foot][k], meaning the key under my middle finger, home row, gives me this:

    for (*;;)

    Where the * represents the location of the cursor after the macro runs, since the macros can include arrow keys. All that from a foot-tap and one non-pinkie homerow keystroke. I make new macros on the fly when I find I'm retyping something too often. Like an identifier, if I'm not in an IDE with auto-complete, or deleting the first character of every line, if i'm in an editor without rectangular selection.

    Tapping the footswitch and hitting middle-homerow-left gives me:

    I have equivalent macros for every HTML entity I use frequently. If I need to add a code around existing text, I use the shifted macro, which I've defined to be "cut - type macro - arrow between the codes - paste". I manage to bang out most programming code and most HTML without touching shift. And most of the long complex strings - like your example - take only a few keystrokes.

    When I have to use my laptop, I feel pretty crippled. So I often carry the kinesis with me. Fortunately, all those macros are in hardware, so I can. And the USB keyboard is Mac/PC switchable: it's plugged into my KVM and I drive my windows, mac, and linux boxes all with the same macros. Great for cross-platform development and testing.

  • Re:a tip (Score:4, Informative)

    by lav-chan ( 815252 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @06:54PM (#12639542)

    I don't really do any coding, but i have remapped a lot of my keys. Like i put ( and ) where [ and ] are (and vice versa). Easier to reach them that way. And i switched / and ' around, so the / is on the home row. And i switched ~ and ` (since i use ~ all the time and i never use `).

    If you use Windows, Microsoft has a fancy little program that lets you create keyboard lay-outs. It's called, ingeniously enough, Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. You can download it from their site. The benefit is that they're regular software keyboard lay-outs, so you don't have to worry about screwing with the Registry or anything that takes a bunch of work to undo. You just create a new lay-out and double-click the file it makes and select it in Regional Settings.

Loose bits sink chips.