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Input Devices Portables

Stop Trying To 'Innovate' Keyboards, You're Just Making Them Worse 459

FuzzNugget writes "Peter Bright brings the hammer down on the increasing absurdities of laptop keyboard design, from the frustrating to the downright asinine, like the 'adaptive keyboard' of the new Lenovo X1 Carbon. He says, 'The X1's Adaptive Keyboard may have a superior layout to a regular keyboard (I don't think that it does, but for the sake of argument, let's pretend that it does), but that doesn't matter. As long as I have to use regular keyboard layouts too, the Adaptive Keyboard will be at a huge disadvantage. Every time I use another computer, I'll have to switch to the conventional layout. The standard layout has tremendous momentum behind it, and unless purveyors of new designs are able to engineer widespread industry support—as Microsoft did with the Windows keys, for example—then their innovations are doomed to being annoyances rather than improvements.' When will laptop manufacturers focus on perfecting a standardized design rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with every new generation?"
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Stop Trying To 'Innovate' Keyboards, You're Just Making Them Worse

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @10:36AM (#45998023)

    Anyone else find that you cannot get 16:10 laptops these days unless they're made by Apple?

    Damn the "movie nerd" 16:9 ratio!

  • Oh yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @10:37AM (#45998025)

    Please don't put cursor keys where the right shift key should be. Nothing like pressing cursor-up in a console window when you meant to type a capital letter.

  • by hessian ( 467078 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @10:38AM (#45998035) Homepage Journal

    Too much "innovation" is appearance only, or the act of making gee-whiz gadgets that look like they might be far out. The clueless buying public falls for it every time.

    Back in the 1990s, I used one of those Microsoft ergonomic keyboards for a little while... but then I learned that it was in fact putting more strain my hands. Back to the old tried-and-true 100-year-old typewriter style configuration.

    Every time I've tried any kind of tricked out keyboard, the result has been the same. It doesn't work better than the original. For innovation to be actual innovation, it must solve a problem and do so in the context of reality, not merely be a nifty concept or look.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @10:41AM (#45998047)

    Forget 16:10. Give me some 4:3 alternatives please. Some of us actually work with our laptop, not just use them as YouTube clients.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @10:45AM (#45998085)

    Aaaaaand that's why most of Europe is bankrupt......

  • by ByTor-2112 ( 313205 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:10AM (#45998267)

    Agreed. I need the vertical space WAY more than the horizontal. If all you want to do is watch movies get a f'ing tablet.

  • by Ceriel Nosforit ( 682174 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:11AM (#45998279)

    The keyboard is a tool for the job... You seem to indicate that you know that by identifying as a touch-typist, but you also seem to be giving general advice as if this was a board for typists.

    Slashdot is frequented by programmers, researchers, analysts, hardware hackers, web designers, students, PC gamers, and and all manner of geeks. Personally I have 4 different keyboards and I'm looking for more.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:13AM (#45998289)

    OK, the poster has a valid argument perhaps within the Slashdot community, whom in a given day, may traverse their hands across a dozen or more keyboards in their various tasks, but the argument to manufacturers falls completely flat.

    Believe it or not fellow keyboard jockeys, the other 95% of the planet will buy a laptop...to use that laptop, pretty much exclusively, for the next 4-5 years. The average person does not know nor care about the day-to-day keyboard issues of the 5%.

    To be honest, I'd rather see vendor variety. Backlight keys, increasingly intelligent designs and layouts, and even the return of the buckling-spring design have all come about through constant innovation.

    Let me put this to you another way. Within your demands for a "standard" design, do you really want to subject the world to iKeyboard as the standard? Be careful what you ask for, for the 95% control your fate.

  • Bad example. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by csumpi ( 2258986 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:32AM (#45998393)
    I agree, the ever changing keyboard layout is frustrating. The worst ever offender is macbook keyboards where they made the power button a keyboard button (and in the worst place, where a 'del' or 'backspace' button should be).

    However, the keyboard linked in the article actually has some nice ideas, for example replacing the totally useless caps lock with 'home' and 'end'. It would be a great keyboard for programmers.

  • Get off my lawn? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:39AM (#45998435) Homepage

    I'm not sure about the rest of it, but I HATE the caps lock key. I NEVER use it. I'm glad someone has thought about how it's mostly a nuisance these days for typing in passwords, especially on a crowded laptop keyboard where it's easy to miss-type and hit a key without knowing it. Seriously, who uses freaking caps-lock?

      (Oh, and why yes, I am a software developer and use all kinds of strange keys, but certainly not caps lock). ~ occasionally, but not enough to get me cranked off. I also certainly don't expect a hardware maker to cater to the needs of the 1 person in several thousand that writes software for a living. I run linux too, but I rarely use the function keys. I really have rather a rare need to go to a text console.

    Frankly I think it's people like this guy that hold back any sort of innovation. The standard keyboard layout is archaic, and has needed to change for years. People that use computers these days are everyday people who don't need a freaking scroll lock key. The laptop I'm currently using has home and end on the top right, and doesn't have a scroll lock key at all. I didn't even notice that until just now and have had the laptop for a year. My only real complaint is it's too tight, and not comfortable. But it's a very small laptop that's light and really portable (perfect for travel, or just having a spare machine I can grab in my bedroom when I need it).

  • by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:50AM (#45998495) Journal

    What part of 'the spectrum' does that place them on?

    Is there a pharmaceutical treatment yet?

  • Re: Oh yes (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:56AM (#45998541) Journal

    You're only stuck with the keyboard layout on the laptop that you bought. In other words: you made your choice.

    Furthermore, you had your choice. And that's the point.

  • by taxman_10m ( 41083 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @12:01PM (#45998577)

    And a matte screen instead of glossy.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @12:09PM (#45998639)

    >Some people can't use a laptop efficiently if the screen is the wrong shape.


    Try this with an quality monitor with a wide vertical viewing range: rotate the screen 90* into portrait mode and use it to read websites, write software, type documents, work on projects destined to be printed "normally", etc. Give yourself a few days/weeks to get used to it, then switch back and tell me that screen shape isn't a major consideration.

  • Re: Oh yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Saturday January 18, 2014 @12:34PM (#45998809) Homepage Journal

    So then why didn't the Dvorak keyboard take hold? QWERTY was designed to keep keys on mechanical typewriters from jamming, Dvorak should be much faster.

    What the corporate (and yes, some open source) dumbasses don't understand is that if you change my interface there's going to be a learning curve. For someone who has touch-typed for years, it would take years to get up to speed with Dvorak; TFA was right on the money IMO.

    Unity, Windows 8, Lenovo and other keyboards... just stop already! Jesus, if they were designing cars you'd have a joystick instead of a wheel and the brake and gas pedals would be reversed (and have a hand-operated clutch).

    I only want new if old is broken or new is demonstrably superior. Change for the sake of change is stupid and counterproductive.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:02PM (#45999027) Homepage Journal

    Very few IT departments will let users install anything on "their" computers, which makes sense because otherwise you're going to have security problems.

    It isn't my computer at work, it's my employer's. He pays me to use it.

  • Re: Oh yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:52PM (#45999335)

    When will people get their facts straight? QWERTYdid not prevent jamming by making people type slower.

    The post you replied to didn't claim that it did. Why do I get the feeling that you were just looking for a place to "correct" somebody about the QWERTY layout, and this was the best place that you could find?

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @02:26PM (#45999569)
    You are right, what I should have said was something like this:

    That is interesting. I have had the opposite experience. When you say "in fact" did you mean that you read some study or got doctor's advice indicating that the strain was increased by switching to ergo? Or was that just your experience?

    Rudeness isn't productive. Misunderstandings are common in an online format, where would all of us be if everyone reacted the way you did? Well, I will take a lesson and try to phrase better in the future. But in this case if I had, I would have missed out on the useful data that you're a dickhead.

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