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Review of Das Keyboard 713

My old keyboard was so crusted up with junk from years of abuse that I found myself struggling to depress most of the keys on the left side. So I decided that it was time to find a new keyboard. My plan was to steal the keyboards of my co-workers and try them out when they aren't around. But as this plan was underway, Das Keyboard asked me to review their newest keyboard. I used it for a few days to see if their website's claim of 'the best keyboard on the planet' is valid. Read on to learn more.

First of all let me say that it sounds great. There's something really satisfying about the thunderous racket created by a nice tactile keyboard. The buttons move smoothly and lightly. As I type these words I find myself typing very fast. Ironically, I have to turn up my speakers just to listen clearly to the NPR program quietly playing... and this leads me to my first point. There are no volume control keys. So I have to navigate through various menus to put the volume control widget back on my toolbar. I haven't needed it for years, but this keyboard has none of the bloated keys that over populate a modern keyboard. Save for the 2 keys added for windows 95, this is practically the same layout as the first keyboard I called my own in the 80s. The keyboard is also available without any markings on the key- although my keyboard had them.

Then I hear the ping that tells me that I have mail so I apple-tab to go to my Mail program and then... crap. Did I mention that this is a windows keyboard? The alt key and the windows key are obnoxiously transposed, requiring me to rewire my brain to get to the program I need. It's not the end of the world- and of course it only matters if you are using a Mac. But since I switch daily from the laptop keyboard to a desktop keyboard, I suspect that I would slowly go mad as I was never able to reliably remember which key was alt and which key was apple. To say nothing of this meaningless preferences button which does nothing. Of course the OSX preferences panels contain an option to remap these keys, but I'd have to reset it every time I went home. And I just don't like the idea of monkeying around with this sort of thing twice a day.

So I decide that just for now I will use my mouse to navigate from app to app. This makes my heart cry a little bit- I don't much care for my mouse. He sits there lonely, the tool of last resort as I instead opt to use ridiculous keybindings requiring 7 fingers of syncronized chording. It only inflames my carpal tunnel, but I don't have to move my arm. But times of desperation call for us to rise up to the challenges that come before us.

Now Das Keyboard has the USB ports on the right hand side. I've plugged in 2 devices: the first is a little spinner wheel that I use for editing video, and the other is a little RF broadcaster for a wireless Logitech mouse. And like most of you, I'm right handed. So as I fling my mouse around, I find myself constantly bumping into the 2 giant USB plugs that now overlap my mousepad. My old keyboard had the mouse ports at the top and I never had this problem.

The toggle lights are completely invisible unless on, hidden cleanly within the black plastic surface. The num lock key doesn't seem to do anything, although I assume that's a mac thing. And scroll lock... well now seriously, who among us relies on that in any serious way? Maybe I should just remap those keys, along with the windows 'preferences' key to be the volume up, down, and mute key I'm missing.

But it's black. It's sexy. It's loud. It feels good to type on it. Which takes me to the big question: is this really worth shelling out $130 plus shipping for? For me the answer is a no. It feels great to type, but the lack of volume controls, the mac keys, and most of all, the irritating position of the USB ports make it an inferior keyboard in all practical ways except for the simple act of typing. But if you are a left handed windows user, you might feel differently. As for me, I'm going to have to keep searching for my perfect keyboard. This one is close, but it's just not it.

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Review of Das Keyboard

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  • by Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:00PM (#24002031) Homepage Journal
    It's called a Model M. Yeah, I have one and my wife hates it because it is indeed very noisy... (The keyboard, not the wife.)
    • I found a Model M at work (some 'Terminal' model lacking a number pad) and gave it to my brother for his birthday. It's 2 years older than he is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JeepFanatic ( 993244 )
      Only one model M keyboard? I have one that I'm actively using and 3 spares just incase of ... well ... um ... well just incase.
    • by sokoban ( 142301 )

      Yeah, and nowadays Unicomp is manufacturing them.

      They even have some that are much quieter, but still with the good feel.

    • by DJ Jones ( 997846 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:13PM (#24002249) Homepage
      Model M = The most annoying keyboard ever created. The guy in the cube behind me insists on using one. Aside from punch-card mainframes it is the loudest most obnoxious piece of computer equipment ever created.

      There is a reason modern keyboards are quiet and it's not because of cheap manufacturing. It's common courtesy.

      Seriously, it's not cool in an office setting.
      • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:26PM (#24002511) Homepage Journal

        As much as I'm an "old fart" kind of person, I really don't "get" the click keyboards anyway. I don't like the noise and it really doesn't feel that good anyway. The clicky fans often talk about how membrane keyboards are all bad, but the thing is, there are varying degrees and qualities of membranes.

        If you buy the $5-$10keyboards, then yes, they are problematic in that they don't last long and are prone to not have one button press "feel" equal one electrical contact. I'm still using a Natural Elite, which has lasted me many years and still does have that 1:1 tactile to contact, I don't get "bounce", nor do I get contact without the tactile response that should go with it.

        • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:52PM (#24002959) Homepage

          No kidding. I'm tying this on a 1995/6 Microsoft Natural keyboard. The first natural keyboard. The one that came with a diskette to add functions for the Windows key (which was new at the time). The logo on the bottom says "Windows Compatible". Not Windows XP, or 2000, or NT, or 95. Windows.

          I've used this keyboard daily for years and years. It got a break of a few years when I spent most time on a laptop in college (though I'd break it out for long papers due to comfort), but I took it to work (because typing on those standard non-ergonomics keyboards becomes painful quickly) and it's been in constant use for the last two years.

          It's big, it's heavy, and it feels great to type on. Only two letters (N and M) are faded, every other one looks as good as the day I bought it. I took it apart a year or so ago to clean it really well (grime and dust from sitting around unused) and it was very well built. It has a large steel or aluminum plate in it to provide support.

          Best of all, it has a real inverted T set of arrow keys and a 3x2 set of home/end keys. I hate the way they've changed those on all their models they sell now.

          I had one of their internet natural keyboard a few years ago (with all the buttons on top). I didn't really use them, and at this point I'm not even sure where it is.

          But my comfortable 1995 keyboard works as well today as the day I bought it. Microsoft can make some really nice hardware at times.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by bmajik ( 96670 )

            When the MS natural keyboard first came out i completely scoffed at it, as it was both goofy looking and from Microsoft.

            Additionally, at the time I was only using Sun and SGI machines so I had no need to try learning to use one.

            Fast forward a few years, and as luck would have it, I found myself working at Microsoft in Redmond. I quickly learned to love the original natural keyboard, especially because of its backward tilt / massive wrist rest. None of the subsequent kb designs had this feature, and IMO, i

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by MrScience ( 126570 )

            I highly recommend the Microsoft Ergonomic 4000. Everything that started going wrong with keyboards has been overturned with this model. I know I sound like a shill, but I bought two myself for both home and for work. Inverted T arrows, 3x2 home keys, number pad, and media buttons. Throw in the fact that they finally support tilting it *forward* (think of your piano teacher telling you to have a ball in the palm of your hand... tilting the keyboard so that the hands rest naturally is a good thing), and it's

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rastl ( 955935 )

        I'm not about to give up my extra ten words per minute I get on my clicky keyboard just because you don't like the sound.

        I don't like it when you listen to voice mail on speakerphone, argue with your spouse over who has to cook dinner that night, suck your teeth to get out the last shreds of the lunch you just ate at your desk, or any of the other annoying audible habits you have.

        That's why they make sound cancelling headphones.

        Note - I had a co-worker complain about my keyboard. This is the same co-worker

    • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:12PM (#24003337) Homepage
      I got the Scorpius M10 [] keyboard. It's basically a DAS keyboard, with actual letters printed on the keys, and without the scooped F and J keys. I am very satisfied with mine. Costs quite a bit less than the DAS keyboard too.
  • by monkeyboythom ( 796957 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:03PM (#24002083)

    Not only does it have the best spring action on the key, but it has the heft to kill a man.

    Just trust me on that last bit.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Before you say a keyboard has great tactile feedback try the Kinesis Freestyle. But don't take my word for it:

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lenski ( 96498 )

      Mee too. I replaced an old GoldTouch with the FreeStyle and haven't looked back.

      Nearly perfect keyboard for my ancient wrists and fingers. (I am 51; 38 years of typing, 33 years on wristbending keyboards, has *ruined* my wrists and hands.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lenski ( 96498 )

      Forgot to mention: Not having a separate numeric pad keeps the mouse within reaching distance of the part of the keyboard that I actually use.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I just might suggest shaving your palms and getting one of those covers you could just wipe clean after all the abuse.

  • by Xtense ( 1075847 ) <{xtense} {at} {}> on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:08PM (#24002159) Homepage

    Why don't they sell keyboards without these stupid windows-keys? I keep my old IBMish clone keyboard in top shape just so I don't have to endure getting used to such a gap in-between of Ctrl and Alt, and a much shorter space. I have no use for these additional keys, and I bet I'm not the only guy around who despises them. Why aren't old-style keyboards on the market? That's what I want to know.

    (And yes, I realize this is probably a years-old question)

    • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:11PM (#24002211) Journal

      You can use that key for other things: []

      if you are so inclined

    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:14PM (#24002261) Journal

      Why don't they sell keyboards without these stupid windows-keys?

      Because the windows keys are really, really useful? They give you 3 more keys in easy reach of your thumbs. I dislike the current trend to remove some of them. If yiu want to know how to get the best out of them, try running the following command:

      man xmodmap

      and if you want to do something handy with the key, try:

      man fvwm2

      Which reminds me... the reviewer complained about having to do lots of key remapping every day. Is this really the case? With a good system (eg, X) you can keep lists of kemappings in a file and just apply the whole file in one go. You can even bind the command to do that to a menu in any good window manager. That way, you can have as many keyboard types as you wish, for instance wierd laptop internal, external UK and external US.

      • by Xtense ( 1075847 )

        While i realize that they are indeed useful to one skilled with their use, I think i would waste a lot more time to just get the feel of 'em being there than actually doing anything productive, since they'd get in my way a lot, make me angry etc. I feel I remain quite fast working with just a few key combinations and shortcuts more, and have no need for further improvement, at least for the time being. Truth to be told though, I don't code much, mostly i just write stupid game reviews, so nothing really ser

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          If they get in the way, you can bind them to the key that you intended to hit.

        • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:55PM (#24003021) Homepage

          On windows, the "winkey" has a number of extremely functional uses exclusively tied to the operating system (rather than applications)

          Win + D shows the desktop. Hit it again, and your windows are restored. Not as swanky as Compiz or Expose, but gets the job done.

          Win + E opens a file browser

          Win + F opens the find file window

          Win + L locks the screen

          Win + R opens the "run" box

          The only thing missing is a built-in shortcut to open a command prompt.

          I also find myself using the context menu key quite a lot, as an alternative to mousing. This is especially useful when editing documents, or the like, and you don't know all of the keyboard shortcuts...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by El Cabri ( 13930 ) *

      Frankly, the issue is a bit old. Who cares ? These keys do a few useful things under Windows, and I, for one, have grown used to count on them for shortcuts that wouldn't exist without some third party, custom configured hotkey app.

    • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:35PM (#24002687) Homepage

      Unicomp still makes the old-fashioned keyboards ... unfortunately, looking at their lists, most of the 101 and 102 key ones are PS2 or AT, not USB. They have a 'linux' model, but from the description I'm not sure if any of them are available as USB: []

      (and if you're scared of the springs -- they have quiet keyboards, too)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sigismundo ( 192183 )
      The Model M style buckling spring keyboards often don't have the Windows key. I have one myself. Also, someone mentioned Unicomp [] above, they have several keyboards that fit the bill.
  • Overpriced (Score:2, Informative)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 )
    Preorder is $99, full price $129. A new in the box late 90s Model M can be had for $70 even with the USB adapter it would not break $80. Plus you get a durable piece of computing history, and no god forsaken windows keys.
  • Apple Pro Keyboard (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wizard Drongo ( 712526 ) <[wizard_drongo] [at] []> on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:10PM (#24002195)

    Apart from the fact it's obviously better for Mac users anyway since it *has* the Apple key and option key in the right place, it also has the extended F keys, the volume and the optical eject keys too.
    In addition, it's also really nice to type on and perfect USB-hub placement.
    The only caveats are that a) it's no longer made since they went to the casio-inspired ones of late and b) there isn't a power button on them like the old iMac keyboard (and the follow on almost identical white-iMac keyboard that preceded the Pro keyboard).
    That said, I still like the g3 iMac and the white iMac keyboards just as much, they're just harder to find. Virtually identical keys as well, nice and chunky.
    I'm even partial to the new calculator style ones. Thought I'd hate them but since I got used to my Macbook's internal keyboard I find I quite like them. Easier on the wrists and hands.

  • Wireless, cheap, lightweight, small footprint, no fancy features, has worked fine for over half a decade. Cost: At most one tenth the price of "Das Keyboard".
    • by pdboddy ( 620164 ) <pdboddy&gmail,com> on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:20PM (#24002385) Homepage Journal
      Ah, but can you go into hand-to-hand combat with it, and still hook it up afterward and type up your insanity defense?

      I think not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hatta ( 162192 )

        Unfortunately the Das Keyboard isn't as heavily constructed as the Model M. I can pick mine up and twist the sides and the frame flexes slightly. I doubt it would survive an encounter with an intruder. It doesn't have as much curve as the Model M does either, so it's slightly less comfortable to type on.

        But it's still an excellent keyboard. Keyboards are for typing, and the Das Keyboard excels at it. I don't change the volume from my keyboard, that's what the mixer is for. I don't plug USB devices into

    • My favourite keyboard was bottom of the line Logitech wireless. Unfortunately I was unable to recover from the blue vodka cruiser incident. Right now I have a Logitech Access keyboard. It's fairly quiet, the keys are good enough, and it has all those fancy buttons. After 3 years of service I'm almost ready for a new one. I bought my daughter a Saitek. It's a full keyboard with the feel of a laptop keyboard. It has an odd feel at first but it's very comfortable and quiet to type on. It's also a very
  • Das Keyboard user (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jordibares ( 1276026 )
    The only wish would be easier cleaning, the rest is just great.
  • ...a keyboard that has keys that are displays?

    When remapping characters to keys the display should change accordingly.

    Preferably with a nixe tube [] kind of look.

    Please someone tell me there is something like this.
  • by Scholasticus ( 567646 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:14PM (#24002265) Journal
    You don't have to pay $130+shipping for Das Keyboard. You can get it from for $80+shipping. It's out of stock right now but is estimated to be back in stock in 1-3 weeks. This is the model with no markings on the keys. I've had mine for about five months, and I love it. It's helped me improve my touch-typing, it has great tactile feedback, and the sound of those keys clicking is very nice. Sure, it's not the Model M, and it doesn't have multimedia keys, but if you use Windows or Linux (can't speak for the Mac, don't have one), it's a very nice keyboard.
  • by SpecialAgentXXX ( 623692 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:14PM (#24002271)
    After I first started using ergonomic split-key keyboards over a decade ago, I can't go back to the old-style "bust your wrists" keyboard. After 5 min of typing, my wrists hurt.

    So, no, Das Keyboard is NOT the best keyboard ever made. Microsoft's Natural Ergonomic 4000 is still the best IMNSHO.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by edwinolson ( 116413 )

      I bought a pair of MS Natural Ergonomic 4000s to replace my aging MS Natural Multimedia keyboards (which I really like, except for the grime accumulated over years). I'd hoped the 4000 was just a USB version.

      The 4000 key action seems noticeably stiffer in general, and the space bar is particularly stiff. I'm pretty disappointed.


    • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:08PM (#24003265)

      After 5 min of typing, my wrists hurt.

      Has the possibility occured to you that you don't know how to type?

      If your wrists aren't parallel to the keyboard and completely relaxed, you most likely don't. Double, if you're resting your wrists on something, and your hands and fingers are splayed up in the air like the legs of a cheap Las Vegas hooker.

      If an "ergonomic" keyboard works for you, that's great. But to me, that's a lot like saying there's nothing better than a big fat comfy chair for people who like to slouch. Who can argue with that? The irony, though, is that it's only in conversations that involve keyboards where people raise such ideas, while those who play piano, cello, guitar, violin or anything else that requires accuracy, dexterity and speed for 12 hours a day have no complaints, suffer no epidemic of carpal tunnel injuries, nor show interest in theories of how deviating from established technique would improve things.

      But while we're on the subject of theories, my own pet theory is that aside from the fact that few people today can be bothered to actually study typing, the height of desktops is mostly to blame. They're just too damned high. While the height does offset the too-low monitor problem, trying to type properly at that height is, if not next to impossible [], then definitely problematic.

      • No, not really (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:41PM (#24003833)

        Ergonomic keyboards have the keys in the positions your hands are supposed to be. It's a neutral position. There's plenty of research as to this, but really you just need to look at the position your arms and wrists take when you use one.

        As to you using a normal keyboard with no problems, well that's great, and most people can. Most of the population doesn't suffer from RSI, even when they do things improperly. However if you do, you need to deal with it, and part of that is getting ergonomic input devices.

        If you are really interested in this sort of thing, you should do some research. Most of what you know, the "mother's common knowledge" stuff is probably wrong. Like the idea that sitting up straight is the best idea. Nope. Reclining is a very healthy thing to do, and indeed the very best ergonomic chairs are made to support working in a reclined position.

  • Dishwasher? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:15PM (#24002285) Journal
    I've heard if your old keyboard gets too crusty you can throw it in the dishwasher. [] Anybody try it?
  • ATTN: CMDRTACO (Score:4, Informative)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:17PM (#24002317) Journal
    The OS X keyboard preferences are for a specific keyboard, NOT every keyboard. You can swap the das keyboard alt/windows keys without affecting the laptop keyboard layout.
  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:18PM (#24002337) get Das Boot.

  • by DrPascal ( 185005 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:20PM (#24002383) Homepage

    As a Das Keyboard user that -doesn't- use a Mac, I think it is wonderful. If you're a keyboard enthusiast (which is whom I would have expected to review A KEYBOARD), I highly recommend giving one a shot.

    Each key is individually weighted, which gives it a really fresh feeling, and the keys feel light but still click loudly. In my opinion, there's really three top-tier keyboards out there for awesome tactile feedback: the M series keyboard (for people that learned on typewriters, not me), this keyboard and its mechanical switches, and those people out there that refuse to use anything but an SGI keyboard, even though their SGI workstation has been unused for years (some of my coworkers).

    This guy just cares about the placement of the Command key (which is settable in the Options anyway), and the "extra" keys. If you're like that, this keyboard is not for you.

  • I only use ergonomic keyboards, both at home and at work, and have done so for years. Mostly I used Microsoft Natural, but for a while at work I was using a CompUSA-branded split ergo keyboard. It was cheaper, but CompUSA no longer exists, so oh well. In any event, no matter how hard it proclaims itself "best. . . Period," I have zero interest until there's an ergonomic version. I guess my wrists and I will have to settle for second best.

  • Caps-Lock key (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:20PM (#24002397)
    I really wish that one keyboard vendor would take a stand, and move that CapsLock key to a more remote part of the keyboard. It is rarely used, and often accidentally hit.
  • by Depili ( 749436 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:24PM (#24002463)

    I have one of them and they are just a trusty old KT-2001 "ergoforce" keyboard sprayed black, it's sticker on the bottom and usb-id both confirm that.

    While KT-2001 is quite excellent keyboard, the das keyboard is just plain overprized, also it comes in only the us layout.

    Pity that I only have a tech demo kt-2001 as an alternative, as it's candy colour-coded spring stiffnesses are quite ugly, but atleast it has scandinavian layout.

  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:26PM (#24002509)
    For only $130 you too can have a keyboard with no labels on the keys! This is perfect for learning how to type!!

    Because these days, electrical tape is bound to set you back a hefty sum.
  • Dvorak? (Score:4, Funny)

    by mrroot ( 543673 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:34PM (#24002671)
    No Dvorak version []?

    QWERTY is for losers!
  • by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:57PM (#24003059) Homepage Journal

    I believe I'll stick with my Happy Hacking Lites... All that extra bulk on the right side of a 104 keyboard has the effect of either pushing the main part of the keyboard to the left (increasing wrist strain) or pushing the mouse further to the right (real fun to reach for it, you know...)

    I wouldn't mind having some of those keys back, but only if I could put them on the left. Presently for Blender I use an external USB numeric keypad which I keep to the left of my keyboard... not too shabby.

  • by 26199 ( 577806 ) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:01PM (#24003129) Homepage

    Still -- several years after they stopped making them.

    Seriously, if someone could point me to a better keyboard that's under 4000 USD, I'd pay a significant finder's fee. Until you've used a really good keyboard you don't appreciate just how much they're worth ...

    (It puzzles me how people who work with computers all day seldom think to try anything beyond a $20 keyboard.)

  • by Steauengeglase ( 512315 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:04PM (#24003189)

    So after the long and painful voyage it gets bombed by the allies, right?

  • Cheap keyboards (Score:3, Informative)

    by LilGuy ( 150110 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:19PM (#24003467)

    Funny, I just did an annual clean of mine and it's just like new again. I've got an old logitech internet navigator keyboard that cost about $35, five years ago when I bought it.

    My friends laugh at me for doing something so ridiculous. They say, "Why not just go buy a new one?" when the hair and the crumbs and whatever else makes it look nasty. It took me about an hour, but the way I see it, I saved at least $35, plus I don't have to buy a keyboard that's going to require some retarded drivers, and have to get used to a whole new feeling keyboard.

  • by kithrup ( 778358 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:27PM (#24003607)

    on Mac OS X. Go to System Preferences, then Keyboard & Mouse, and click on the "Modifier Keys" button. You can then swap any around -- I set caps lock to be control, but you can also change the Alt and Command keys. So if the keyboard has them swapped, you can swap them in software, and be happy.

  • by mritunjai ( 518932 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @02:25PM (#24004615) Homepage

    Best Keyboard for unix geek... is a Sun Type 7

    * Damn good tactile feedback
    * Heavy
    * Has 15 (yes fifteen) extra function keys
    * Dedicated meta, compose and alt-graph keys.
    * 3 USB Ports (on top, not sides), including a hidden one for mouse.
    * Comes in a variety of native layouts
        - Traditional PC
        - UNIX (American)
        - UNIX (British)

    Country kit is $70 and comes with a keyboard and (a damn good ambidextrous) mouse. Choose carefully. Part numbers are google away.

  • Gross, Taco (Score:3, Informative)

    by statemachine ( 840641 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @03:05PM (#24005193)

    My old keyboard was so crusted up with junk from years of abuse that I found myself struggling to depress most of the keys on the left side.

    It's not hard to keep a keyboard reasonably clean. Here's what I do that helps:
    1) turn keyboard upside down and rap it a few times -- do this over a trash can (or an easily wiped surface if you want to see how effective it is).
    2) canned/compressed air to force out the rest
    3) wet-wipe or damp paper towel w/ a little windex to wipe the fingerprint buildup off the keys
    And you don't even need to do this that often.

    The only things that kill my keyboards are static electricity and obsolete plugs.

May all your PUSHes be POPped.