Time for a new keyboard

June 13, 2010

The keyboard is an absolutely fundamental piece of equipment for us software developers. I’ve always used stock keyboards, but my fingers are in need of a keyboard designed for intense and constant use. There have been plenty of web articles on choosing the right keyboard but I’m specifically interested in satisfying a few specific needs (listed in priority order):

  1. Minimal stress on my fingers. When I’m really going at it, my pinkies can end up soar, which ends up slowing me down. Not to mention I don’t want to end up with carpal tunnel!
  2. 1st class support for Mac. I want a keyboard designed to be used with a Mac.
  3. Can’t be distracting. I don’t mind a keyboard with a bit of noise, but it can’t be loud enough that it distracts me or those working around me.

The keyboards that appear to meet my criteria are unfortunately not physically available in any stores to try out, which makes it a bit difficult because they aren’t cheap! So I’m throwing the question out there to here about the keyboard that you love and use every day. Here are a few keyboards that I’m interested in:

Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard

Matias OS X Keyboard

Das Keyboard, Model S (silent)

What do you think?

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15 Responses to “Time for a new keyboard”

  1. jasongk Says:

    I vote for Das Keyboard. A friend of mine has it and tiping on it is like having a orgasm on every keystroke :D (for programmers at least)

    So I’m getting one too.

    • Ken Says:

      I knew someone that had one, and it seemed like a quality product. They had the click-ity-clacky one though, which I don’t think my co-workers would appreciate!

  2. Pranas Says:

    Don’t you like original Apple keyboard? I wouldn’t find any better for me…

    • Ken Says:

      I do like the standard Apple keyboard, especially the wireless version that I have. I’m looking for a keyboard with a little more key travel, though.

  3. Robert Says:

    Never tried any of those keyboards, but have you ever used a Thinkpad keyboard? try one if you like it there us a USB version of it http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/LenovoPortal/en_US/catalog.workflow:item.detail?GroupID=38&Code=55Y9003&current-category-id=E9ADAEB6787146E29B78400A33E7FE8A&&hide_menu_area=yes

    Personally I can not work comfortably on a desktop PC without it, maybe because I am used to its layout, but you can try how comfortable it is for you on any Thinkpad laptop on store. The only drawback I find is the absence of the numeric keypad, but I am used to not use it

  4. jasongk Says:

    @Pranas : I don’t really like those keyboards. It’s sad that apple is opting for those keyboards. Because tiping on it for like 10-12 hours is not really good and the keys feel like typing on marshmallows.
    I’m not saying the’re bad or anything, just as a programmer that needs to type all-day-long i prefer keyboards like Das Keyboadr because of the feel.

    But you should definitely try those keyboards in a shop and get what you think what feels best for you. Because you’re the one who is going to type on them :)

  5. Pranas Says:

    You made me interested about those Das keyboards. Bad that i can’t actually try them because local stores don’t have any :)

  6. Farid Says:

    Hi guys !

    I’m just very happy with the Aluminium Apple keyboard !

    The only thing is that I’d LOVE to see a large (ie with numeric keypad) Bluetooth version. The small one is too small.

    And I speak as a guy who use the keyboard as a primary input device. OK, the key seem softy but this keyboard is sooo cool !

    My 2 cents from Paris, France

  7. sam Says:

    you can check the cherry initial mac keyboard. full apple keyboard layout, very thin keys und really cheap (here in germany 20€ – like $25). but there is no back lit and some times the keys feels a bit to soft.
    http://www.cherry.de/english/products/specials_INITIAL_for_MAC.htm

  8. David Says:

    I got a Logitech diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition (not the Edge version). I’m really quite happy with it.

    • Kathryn Says:

      I have the diNovo Edge for my entertainment system. It’s not bad for use from across the room.

      Since switching to laptops from my primary development systems, I’ve given up on separate keyboards. I used to use a Microsoft Natural keyboard. (The huge original version.) I’ve tried Kinesis ergo keyboard (http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/) but didn’t care for it.

      The biggest change I made that made a difference was retraining myself to use the Dvorak layout. I certainly don’t type any faster, but I believe that I have less repetitive stress.

  9. Justin Says:

    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&client=firefox-a&q=keytronic+keyboard+lifetime+series&cid=4124472596547834733#

    Keytronic keyboard bro. Doubt it works with macs; you don’t use a mac do you? If noise wasn’t a problem I would say a model M.

  10. Kathryn Says:

    Of course he uses a Mac, he works for Apple.

    Ken, what did you finally get?

    • Ken Says:

      Well, I have yet to get a new keyboard! (I can be a bit indecisive about certain things). But I’m leaning towards Matias Tactile Pro 3 ($149.95) after it got a great review in MacWorld. I’m OK with the hefty price tag, so long as it lives up to the review.

  11. Basil Bourque Says:

    Serious keyboards come from Kinesis. Pricey but good. They have Mac-specific versions of some models.

    http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/

    I wanted to like the Advantage, but the keys are the large plastic type that don’t travel well (the motion of each key going up and down).

    I liked my Freestyle very much until I spilled coffee on it.


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