I know what Jeff Atwood is complaining about here .It can be really hard to track down a decent programming keyboard these days.
*Update*: I actually found one: the Belkin Wireless Keyboard. Amazingly enough, I found it at Big W, for only AU$60. I’m a little dubious about the wireless factor (I just know the battery will die some day when it’s really inconvenient), but it’s a nice responsive keyboard, and the keys are where they should be. The bundled wireless mouse will be a good “pairing mouse” as well – the fact that it doesn’t have a cable is a real plus for a pairing mouse, and means I can keep using my trackball.
You can get el cheapo ones that use PS/2 fairly easily, but getting a USB keyboard? It ain’t that easy…
The sort of keyboard I want to use has a few features:
- All keys in the standard place. That means arrows in an inverted T, two rows of keys above them for the insert/delete/home/end/page up/down, enter key on one row only, above the enter key.
Just for reference, here’s what a “standard” keyboard should look like:
- It should be USB. PS/2 is on the way out, USB is the way of the future. Heck, PCs are coming out without PS/2 these days.
- The Function Keys should be Function Keys by default; any “enhanced” behaviour is an optional extra.
- The keys should be responsive, but not stiff… don’t need any more aggravation to my RSI, thank you very much.
- No keyboard rest (at least not one that can’t be removed easily); I use my own.
Is that too much a list to ask for? Well, if not, here’s the things I’d like it to have.
- NumLock on by default.
- USB ports on the keyboard
That’s all I want from a keyboard. Honest. I don’t need fancy “media keys”, or a volume control on the sidebar, or a thumbprint reader, or an “ergonomic” split layout, or any of that. All I want is a standard bloody keyboard. Oh, and I’d like it to be less than AU$100, so wireless is out (and not really wanted, anyway) You think you can find one?
Look at Harris Technologies for example. They have 31 full-size keyboards on their books. 4 of them are out as they are PS/2 only. Of the remaining 27, 22 have mangled keyboard layouts. Of the five remaining keyboards, all of them proudly boast their “enhanced” function keys (which means they are on by default!). What’s a programmer to do these days?
7 thoughts on “I feel this guy’s pain”
W.r.t. having numlock on by default, that’s not up to the keyboard, but up to the BIOS and/or the OS. Check your BIOS and/or OS settings, depending on whether you have a PC and which OS you use…
Ever tried an IBM Model M keyboard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Model_M_Keyboard) by the way? “Classic” layout. Fantastic feel. Very sturdy (as in, they will last a hundred years and double as a murder weapon if need be).
I know the BIOS has a setting for it, but… some keyboards seem to ignore it (both to have it on by default and off by default).
Also, under Linux, X11 jumps in with its own toggle, which is annoying (as again, it’s off by default).
I found the Model M keyboards a bit stiff; my hands got sore after using it for some time. My personal favorite keyboard is the Apple Extended keyboard from around 1990.
I use them for severeal years now, and they are the best I have ever seen.
Looks nice enough, but the Enter key is still “wrong” by my standards… though I’m aware that’s the way most European keyboards are, I’m more used to the US style.
I’m pretty sure that they are available in US / UK layout also. If you look at
you can see that cherry manufactures keybaords with this layout. The site only states ‘104 or 105 keys depending on locale’ but does not show the layouts 😦 According to the wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layout ) the US layout should be what you want.
A bit left field, but have you tried an Apple keyboard? They fit your criteria, including the nice-to-haves, and cost AU$50.
To be honest, I haven’t tried one under XP in a while, so I can’t remember exactly how the ALT, CTRL and Windows keys map on the apple keyboard (I think it was the standard PC locations), and the sound and eject buttons won’t work by default (there is something called AppleK Pro which can help here). Try one first.
I like the Apple keyboards… unfortunately, I’d have to steal my wife’s to use it. 🙂 I’ll have to try it out and see how it works one day.