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

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the we've-randomized-the-keys-for-your-convenience dept.

Input Devices 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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Isn't just the keyboards (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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!

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998097)

Most monitors these days can do 1440 x 1080 if you want 4:3

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998143)

Thanks, although I think you're missing the point.

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998207)

Ah yes: Some people can't use a laptop if the screen is the wrong shape.

Re: Isn't just the keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998349)

Yes, and its nice to have the keyboard *and* trackpad positioned centrally, relative to that screen.

Re: Isn't just the keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998397)

ah yes some people WON'T use a laptop if it's the wrong shape.
and some people will eat whatever shit they are fed, because thy're mostly not doing anything useful at work anyway.

Re: Isn't just the keyboards (3, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 6 months ago | (#45998495)

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

Is there a pharmaceutical treatment yet?

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (4, Insightful)

ByTor-2112 (313205) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 6 months ago | (#45998379)

That, and I like my keyboard centrally located, the wider 15" laptops have the stupid number pad, so it offsets the keyboard.

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (1)

Christopher_G_Lewis (260977) | about 6 months ago | (#45998533)

Agreed!!!!

With the number pad, it feels like I'm typing with my whole body slightly twisted to the left - to the point that I much prefer to use my laptop in the docking station.

Kind of pointless...

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (1)

VVelox (819695) | about 6 months ago | (#45998479)

If you really want vertical space, you an always rotate a wide screen monitor and then have the OS/display server rotate the display. It was worked nicely with xrandr for a long while now and most drivers for Windows support it as well. I assume it works nicely for Apple too.

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about 6 months ago | (#45998561)

*cough*laptop*cough*

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998301)

Are you retarded? Just press ctrl alt right cursor key and you have all the vertical space you can use.

Forbidden Knowledge (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998069)

Anybody ever notice that anytime you are watching the News and they say some guy was arrested for robbery or something like that, it's always a black guy?

I know you're not SUPPOSED to notice that. It is heresy to suggest differences! But really - anybody ever notice it?

Re: Forbidden Knowledge (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998169)

Yeah. Damn racist country writes laws that affect Blacks more for similar crimes ( powder cocaine vs crack). Damn racist cops arrest more blacks for crimes they didn't commit. Damn racist media show more blacks getting arrested.

Re: Forbidden Knowledge (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998245)

Damn racist blacks for asking for laws that treat powder cocaine different to crack.

Re:Forbidden Knowledge (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998335)

No. You WANT to notice that. It's confirmation bias. You already have the erroneous subconscious opinion that blacks commit more specific crimes, as such you only notice those instances that support your internal bias.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

Re:Forbidden Knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998391)

Blacks really, honestly do commit a higher number of violent crimes, relative to their proportion of the population.

E.g. blacks are about 13-14 percent of the US population. They commit MUCH MORE than 13-14% of all violent crimes. Infact so far as racism goes, black perpetrators attack white victims much much more often than the other way around. You would know that if you would look it up instead of kneejerking like you are doing now.

No group in people in all of history ever handled it smoothly when all the facts went contrary to their cherished beliefs. The catholic church went so far as to tortore and murder people over this. Times have changed so now people just kneejerk and insist it can't be so. That's what you are doing.

Re:Forbidden Knowledge (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998491)

Hi racist. Having fun playing the white victim?

Wow. Some people here aren't even real.

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998257)

Why not just buy one from Apple?

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998421)

Heh, that was a good one. Nice try.

Re:Isn't just the keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998551)

I like my Apple keyboard. I never understood the fetishism about long strokes with huge gaps and high pressure resistance. It's so much easier and faster to type when your finger barely have to move. Sure you need to retrain. But I could never again like an old fashioned keyboard like the IBM M.

I'm serious. Not kidding. I type much faster with such a flat keyboard layout. You are going to make more mistakes at the beginning, sure, but with training I'm now much faster than before.

Oh yes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re: Oh yes (2)

Adriax (746043) | about 6 months ago | (#45998091)

But without going through annoying changes like that they'll never stumble on that one "Oh yeah, this is much better" change they can patent and make a fortune off of.

You know, it's really insensitive of you to want a product that works nicely when they're only trying to find their way to dominate the industry and get a slice of everyone else's pie.

Re: Oh yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998369)

But without going through annoying changes like that they'll never stumble on that one "Oh yeah, this is much better" change they can patent and make a fortune off of.

The problem is, that they're doing it to laptops. So for the average user, if the layout stinks, they're stuck with it.

Re: Oh yes (1)

Adriax (746043) | about 6 months ago | (#45998475)

All the better to get a standard. A captive audience will get used to a shitty design as they forget what a non-shitty design looks like..

Re: Oh yes (1, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 6 months ago | (#45998541)

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.

I think you're in the small minority... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998027)

...of people touch typing with the F keys. I like this keyboard.

Worst keyboard I ever used (4, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 6 months ago | (#45998029)

The worst keyboard I ever used was the Logitech MX5500. Poor design all over - it was clear that whoever designed it was focussing on ideas that sounded nice, but were ergonomically unfeasible. Stupid things like putting keys underneath the keypad such that pressing them from a natural posture caused cramps, or removing the numlock key and replacing it with some calculator function integrated with the LCD display. Perhaps they forgot that computers powerful calculators in of themselves? The list went on - I wrote an eight page engineering design critique (I teach college mechatronic design) and sent it to them. The logitech PR person who answered it said they'd send it on to the design office. From what's come out of there since, I'm sure they just sent it straight to trash. :P

eh, it's not that bad (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 months ago | (#45998033)

Many Europeans are already used to using different keyboards at different times. As we speak I'm typing on a Danish-layout keyboard remapped to US-English. Which is... almost like US-English, except that the Enter key is vertical rather than horizontal, so \| is located to the left of enter rather than above it (can't remap the physical shape of the keys...). Oh, and `~ is to the left of Z. Sometimes I use a UK keyboard, which is somewhat different yet again.

Re: eh, it's not that bad (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998085)

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

Re: eh, it's not that bad (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 months ago | (#45998107)

The infidels shifted Scandinavian keyboards' parentheses one key over, so they're on 8 and 9 instead of 9 and 0, might deserve bankruptcy and worse, but somehow their countries are prospering anyway.

Re: eh, it's not that bad (3, Informative)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 6 months ago | (#45998355)

We have  where ~ should be. That's a big clue right there who's responsible for this shit.

Re:eh, it's not that bad (1)

dwater (72834) | about 6 months ago | (#45998147)

I disagree, but make the same comment with the point that there isn't such a thing as a single 'standard layout'.

On the other hand, the USA and China both use the same layout, so perhaps that's enough people to count as 'standard'. I wonder what they use in India.

Re:eh, it's not that bad (1)

Boltronics (180064) | about 6 months ago | (#45998483)

I just got back from a trip to Hong Kong, and the shape of keyboards I used there somewhat resembled the parent poster's layout description (with the exception of the ~ key relocation). Granted this could be related to Hong Kong's history as a British colony and might well be different to mainland?

Re:eh, it's not that bad (2)

Fusselwurm (1033286) | about 6 months ago | (#45998195)

Many Europeans are already used to using different keyboards at different times.

Yes. For me it's three.

Mostly, I'm using the Neo2 [slashdot.org] layout. When gaming, I use the standard German qwertz layout, and sometimes I have to use US English. It takes time getting used to it, but once you've mastered a layout, you're fine on ANY DEVICE.

The problem I see here is that the X1, by re-positioning or abandoning physical keys, effectively forces you to not only know 3 different layouts, but 3*2 = 6. Great.

(Plus, with the caps lock key gone, I'd have to hack Neo2 to get the 3rd level switch on the home or end key, blegh.)

Re:eh, it's not that bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998197)

"almost like US-English, except that the Enter key is vertical rather than horizontal"

That must be awkward, how high does it stick up above the rest of the keys, and in order to press it do you push it to the left, or toward the back of the keyboard

Re:eh, it's not that bad (4, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | about 6 months ago | (#45998273)

Many Europeans are already used to using different keyboards at different times. As we speak I'm typing on a Danish-layout keyboard remapped to US-English.

As someone who touch-types Dvorak at home, and has to switch back to QWERTY at work, I think I can safely say my experience trumps your few symbol keys moving around...

The thing that bothers me the most is poor visibility... I'd be fine with the CTRL and ALT keys moving all over the place with different laptop keyboards, IF the keyboard was backlit... Those with small, low-contrast ink labels in low-light are the WORST. Without a clear visual indicator to orient yourself to using a different keyboard than usual, it can be painful to switch... Lighting can make all the difference, and a smooth transition.

Personally, I'd like laptops to standardize keyboard sizes and connectors so we can swap them after-market, as I previously said here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4683675&cid=45998205 [slashdot.org]
But I prefer the current state of uselessness to laptop makers standardizing on lowest-common-denominator crap that is good for nobody.

Re:eh, it's not that bad (1, Interesting)

Raumkraut (518382) | about 6 months ago | (#45998439)

As someone who touch-types Dvorak at home, and has to switch back to QWERTY at work, I think I can safely say my experience trumps your few symbol keys moving around...

I'd argue that no, it actually doesn't trump it.
IME it is *far* easier to switch between two completely different systems, than to switch between two systems which are exactly the same, except for one or two minor parameters.

Consider a Brit, who fluently speak both English and Russian, conversing with two people; one of whom speaks Russian, and only Russian; the other speaks US English, and only US English. When speaking with the Russian, the Brit's brain need switch to and maintain Russian only once. When speaking to the USian, the Brit can speak in their native tongue - except when certain words come up, which the brain must anticipate, and engage to translate those to US English.

Re:eh, it's not that bad (1)

Aphadon (3402087) | about 6 months ago | (#45998291)

Not only can the physical keyboard layout be different, but applications have a habit of overriding the keyboard layout at a whim as well, or not honoring the layout the OS is set to. I use Visual Studio 2012 at work, and it switches between so many keyboard layouts at seemingly random times during the course of a day that my muscle memory has adjusted to automatically try all the different possible keys whenever I need to type symbols like backslash or the at sign. Of course using a US layout keyboard at home and a UK layout at work doesn't help the situation either.

Re:eh, it's not that bad (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 months ago | (#45998315)

I suspect that's a lot true now than it used to be. A decade ago, I would typically type on 3-4 computers a day, and now always the same set. I tried switching to Dvorak, and found it was great on my home desktop and on one other machine where I'd changed the keymap (and the keycaps - it was an old model M that let you pop off the keycaps and rearrange them), but it was painful switching to the other computers that I had to use that day, so eventually I gave up. Now, most days the only keyboard (discounting on-screen keyboards, which suck for motor memory anyway) I type on is my laptop. Now is probably a much better time to try innovative keyboard designs, because most people won't have to switch between them.

"Innovation" needs to correspond to reality (4, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about 6 months ago | (#45998035)

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.

Re:"Innovation" needs to correspond to reality (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 6 months ago | (#45998445)

I really like my $20 MS comfort curve keyboard. Recently got a new computer and the chicklet style keyboard was unusable for me so I tossed it.

It's the same reason I don't go for laptops in general. I wish someone did some innovating at least, like make a keyboard that can pop up and split in half or something. Until then, I have to stick with desktops for real work or be prepared to carry a second usb keyboard around, killing portability and laptoppiness.

Oh! Don't buy them! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998041)

Problem solved. Next?

As long as we have the option of buying the regular layout (and we do), who cares? If a minority of models make changes, that's great, one of them might be a genuinely better way to interface with your computer and a real innovation. The alternative is stagnation.

Probably... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#45998057)

...as soon as you can patent "improving standardized designs"...

Windows keys? (5, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | about 6 months ago | (#45998059)

The "Windows key" location existed before on other systems, it was called the "meta" key. Apple had the Apple logo in that place, Sun keyboards had the diamond logo, even the Symbolics machines had the key well before Microsoft even talked about ripping off DOS.

Re:Windows keys? (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about 6 months ago | (#45998255)

Typing on a Sun Type 5 always screwed me up when I'd been using a PC keyboard for a while; my fingers were all out of place because of the row of keys on the left hand side.

Re:Windows keys? (1)

phayes (202222) | about 6 months ago | (#45998363)

Ahhh, Symbolics Keyboards...

Shift-Control-Alt-Meta-Super-V for the WIN!!!

Re:Windows keys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998451)

Shift-Control-Alt-Meta-Super-V for the WIN!!!

SCAMS?

Re:Windows keys? (1)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#45998529)

Symbolics machines had the key well before Microsoft even talked about ripping off DOS

The serviceable 16 bit CP/M clone was the Holy Grail for every geek in his garage who saw the potential of the 8086. What the geek didn't have was a full suite of programming languages ready to port and the resources to build on the launch of the new IBM micro,

Don't stop innovating keyboards yet, please (5, Interesting)

sideslash (1865434) | about 6 months ago | (#45998061)

I would pay a lot of money for a backlit, Microsoft Natural style keyboard. Googling indicates I'm not alone. I don't care about gaming, but when I walk into my home office at night and sit down, I want to see where all the keys are. And I'm used to the Microsoft Natural keyboard shape from many years of exclusive use.

You getting this, Microsoft / clone manufacturers?

Re:Don't stop innovating keyboards yet, please (-1, Troll)

Jamu (852752) | about 6 months ago | (#45998173)

I avoid backlit keyboards. They're invariably poorly designed for a touch-typist. I'm currently using the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop.

Re:Don't stop innovating keyboards yet, please (4, Insightful)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Don't stop innovating keyboards yet, please (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998311)

You forgot trolls. Never forget the trolls. Slashdot abounds with them. Oh, and, once every 15 years, on April 1st, ponies.

Re:Don't stop innovating keyboards yet, please (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#45998235)

Then I **highly** recommend the Verbatim keyboard. Nice and heavy, solid business-like feel with great tactile and audio feedback. I bought two, one for replacement if first breaks. Great keyboard.

Re:Don't stop innovating keyboards yet, please (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 6 months ago | (#45998241)

I'm starting to see a "keyboard matrix" forming here. Backlit seemingly can be added to any working design. Microsoft Natural can be done with any working type of keys... are all the good keyboard patents about to expire on us or something?

Dvorak did a good one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998063)

PC Mag sells this? He is author there.

Standard laptop keyboards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998077)

There used to be such a thing up until recently with the IBM / early Lenovo ThinkPad layout. You can pick up an X200 from 2008 and the original 700 from 1992, and they'll have exactly the same keyboard layout.

Sadly for the last few years, Lenovo have been doing to the ThinkPad what GM did to Cadillac in the 1980's by simply bleeding the brand dry.

Re:Standard laptop keyboards. (1)

TheGavster (774657) | about 6 months ago | (#45998225)

Putting the home/end/etc cluster in upper right in the same configuration as desktop keyboards is one of the more intuitive pieces of design I've seen. I use home/end a lot while coding, and it took me about 5 minutes to adjust the muscle memory when I got my first Thinkpad (well, only Thinkpad; the T40 is built like a tank).

Re:Standard laptop keyboards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998461)

Which is a huge shame, since the earlier Thinkpad line (even up to a point after the Lenovo acquisition) was great. I'm typing this on an X201, and it's the best laptop I've owned, and it was nearly the cheapest. But now they're getting rid of everything that made them great in favor of becoming Mac-alikes (because forsaking your userbase for the sake of chasing another product's userbase always works, right?)
Oh well. Ebay is in no danger of running out of used, old Thinkpads that will likely outlive most of us.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998089)

I was expecting some weird layout where they swapped the position of some of the letters or something.
But this seems like a very reasonable and also very easy thing to adapt to.
I use several keyboards all with slightly different layouts for the home, end, etc keys and I after a couple of days I don't even have to think about which one I'm using.
Note that the only think different in the keyboard in the picture is that it has a home and end key instead of caps lock.
I rarely ever use caps lock, so I can't really see how this would be a problem.
I guess there is also a real del key and a smaller backspace, that might be slightly annoying.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998199)

"I use several keyboards all with slightly different layouts for the home, end, etc keys and I after a couple of days I don't even have to think about which one I'm using."

This is more than a "slightly different layout". This is cleverness like splitting the backspace key in two and putting delete right by it, which makes "Note that the only think different in the keyboard in the picture is that it has a home and end key instead of caps lock." wrong.

"I rarely ever use caps lock, so I can't really see how this would be a problem."

Congratulations! Pity that you're not everyone. Perhaps Peter uses caps lock a lot more than you do.

"I guess there is also a real del key and a smaller backspace, that might be slightly annoying."

Oh, you did notice that! Astounding.

IBM's Thinkpad keyboard was best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998123)

I *really* wish that Lenovo would stay ***completely*** away from keyboard redesign. NOTHING they have ever done to the layout of the Thinkpad was good. NOTHING. I've been a loyal Thinkpad buyer, but Lenovo sure makes that hard.

PLEASE!! The Fn key in the lower-left corner is a good thing. An escape key, a normal-sized escape key in the upper-right corner is a good thing. A normal-sized delete key next to page-up/page-down is a good thing. The previous-page/next-page keys above the normal arrow keys is a GREAT thing. IBM's most recent configuration was the very best. They should have stuck with that.

Also, forget that 16:9 or 16:10. The aspect ratio I want for doing real work is 4:3.

Re:IBM's Thinkpad keyboard was best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998137)

Oops--I meant to say escape key in the upper-left. I got ahead of myself.

Going bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998193)

Exactly, they are screwing up the keyboards more and more. Why did the desktop switch buttons go away? Same road for the mouse buttons as seen in the latest T series. At least they kept the red stick for now...

X1 Carbon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998133)

Funny the stories mentions the X1 Carbon. I have an X1 Carbon and it has a slightly different layout than the picture in the link but it has an equally fk'd up design too.
I constantly get backspace and delete mixed up and it is frustrating.

Re:X1 Carbon (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 6 months ago | (#45998155)

Are you sure it's not the old X1 Carbon? The one in the picture is the new one presented like last week or so.

Optimus keyboards (3, Interesting)

abies (607076) | about 6 months ago | (#45998153)

Take a look at
http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/concept/ [artlebedev.com]
http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/tactus/ [artlebedev.com]
and other things from this family.

This is an _adaptive keyboard_.

Yes, it is plain horrible for coding or text editing, but idea behind it is to support some more niche programs for video/photo editing, 3d modelling etc, with keyboard changing icons on keys depending in which mode are.

Fn before CTRL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998183)

Fn before CTRL makes me want to put my first through the computer.
I literally returned a laptop after I saw that on it. I didn't even care any more.

I can adapt easily to things generally, usually doesn't matter how crazy it is.
I even wrote a keyboard replacement script that replaced the entire middle row, for a community and for fun admittedly.
Or game controllers, I can easily swap things like move to right analog sticks and look to left, or on PSP, I made movements on the action buttons and used the only analog nub for look, weird as hell but I got used to it after 10 minutes.
But Fn before CTRL? HELL NAW SON DON'T YOU EVEN DARE. That key position is SACRED!

Standard sizes & interchangable (3, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | about 6 months ago | (#45998205)

Input devices are the most important part of any computer, yet we don't worry about keyboards/mice on desktops, because we know we can swap them with something we prefer, at will. With laptops, we're stuck with the cheap junk that's included. And worse, we're stuck with the economics laptop makers are under, and we don't want to pay $500 extra for a high-end laptop, just to get a $20 keyboard we like.

If laptop makers standardized on a few sizes of keyboard, and made them easy to slide in and out and swap with a different model, life would be good...

It's POSSIBLE for laptop makers to get it right and include a great keyboard with their laptops. There are innumerable awesome small keyboards out there. In fact, I use nothing but ultra compact keyboards for my home computers, because the ergonomics of super-flat are best, and the lack of a keypad on the side makes reaching over for the mouse vastly quicker and easier. To make an awesome laptop, start with a keyboard like this one: http://typematrix.com/ [typematrix.com]
But the odds of them doing that are far too slim, and there's just too little incentive to ever expect it to happen. The input market is far too specialized. Instead, just make the parts interchangeable, and not only will your core customers be happy with their input options even on the cheapest laptops, but your products will also sell better to non-English speakers, who want a very different keyboard.

It's long overdue.

And what about REISUB? (4, Informative)

nicomede (1228020) | about 6 months ago | (#45998217)

As a Linux user it's sometimes necessary to cleanly reboot the machine through the Kernel call Alt+PrintScreen+ REISUB, I don't see how to do that on this laptop?

Re:And what about REISUB? (1)

OiPolloi (638427) | about 6 months ago | (#45998415)

I've been using Linux every day for most of my life, and I've used this key combination once or twice.

Apple rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998247)

More evidence that only Apple understands what the fuck the users want to do with their laptops. IBM used to be it, Lenovo has no clue.

screw you Brite (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#45998253)

cubic yards of standard keyboards are out there for you. some of the rest of us appreciate some choice and variation. carry a standard USB keyboard for those times you have to use someone else's machine and don't like their keyboard.

Re:screw you Brite (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 6 months ago | (#45998437)

I believe the topic is laptop keyboards, no? So if you're stuck on a laptop with a weird layout, even adjusting back to a standard keyboard can be a problem.

Just moving between a standard keyboard and a microsoft curve (with only a slight curved layout) can be challenging

Beyond Keyboards (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 6 months ago | (#45998263)

This is the same principle that makes heavy customization of OS installations not worth while. If you have to move between a large number of machines, you can't count on that certain editor being installed or your favorite key mapping configured. After a while, you give up and get accustomed to the least common denominator.

timely advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998269)

...like the 'adaptive keyboard' of the new Lenovo X1 Carbon.

I'm due for a refresh of my company owned work laptop. I was considering the X1 Carbon. I guess now I'll pass.

What else is there, besides a MB Air? (I work for a major Linux company, you can probably guess who; buying an Apple with company money would a CLM. But I'll replace my personal 2008 MB Air after the next refresh.)

I demand my UNIX! (1)

ElectraFlarefire (698915) | about 6 months ago | (#45998281)

Move the Control(Ctrl) key back to it's rightfull place where CapsLock is on most keyboards..
And make the 'Windows' key into a Meta key and I'll be happy with the basic layout.

Re:I demand my UNIX! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998407)

You reallise that takes one line in your .bashrc and a splash of Tipp-Ex?

You are the 5% that vendors don't care about. (4, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Best keyboard (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 6 months ago | (#45998295)

In my opinion, the best keyboard for over a decade is the "whatever the cheapest keyboard Microsoft is selling".
Currently it's this: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/wired-keyboard-200/JWD-00046 [microsoft.com]

It's wired.
It has all the keys, all in the usual place, all actual clickable buttons.
It doesn't have RSI-inducing wrist-rests.
It isn't colored like a rainbow.
It doesn't bend in contortionist ways.
It doesn't have a "shutdown" button you accidentally hit every once in a while.

I've been through multiple iterations of this "cheapest MS keyboard", and they're all good.
(When MS software finally croaks, their hardware division will still be going strong).

Some other brands have similar keyboards too, also cheap and also better than the more expensive keyboards.

With keyboards, as you go up in price, you go down in usability.

Re:Best keyboard (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 6 months ago | (#45998443)

Not always. Unicomp's model Ms are rather expensive ($80 or so), but very usable. I also have a Corsair K60. It's a gaming keyboard, so not as good for long typing sessions due to the lack of "click" in the mechanical switches, but the shorter key travel and lighter activation force are good for fast action, as is the true n-key rollover. It has the same layout as a model M, with a cluster of buttons at the top right for extra functions (media controls, mostly useless due to global hotkeys, though the key to disable the "windows" key from registering is handy.)

In general, there seem to be four classes of keyboards:
Cheap, usable enough for most work due to sticking with the standard layout.
Expensive, useless junk that messes with the standard layout.
Cheap-end mechanical keyboards, ($80-$100) that stick to the standard layout and are very usable.
Ultra-expensive mechanical keyboards, which add useless gimmicks and often mess up the standard layout.

Also, this is purely about physical layout. The logical layout can be changed in software. Both of my keyboards are qwerty, but I use Colemak as the logical layout.

Better keyboard standarization (1)

martiniturbide (1203660) | about 6 months ago | (#45998309)

It will be great if all keyboard can have the exact number of key everywhere. And only change the position of the characters according the language, but all have the same number and sizes of keys. Ex: Latin America has a big "enter" key, which in the US is smaller, because the US has a extra key over the "enter" key. I don't care which layout is better, but it will be great to have the same keyboard keys size everywhere.

There is also a nag that Spain has a different kind of keyboard of Spanish Latin America. Why they don't just merge it together to single one :)

Ergonomic 'Split' Keyboards! :D (5, Interesting)

devphaeton (695736) | about 6 months ago | (#45998317)

The only thing I would ever want from a laptop is a keyboard that's in the ergonomic 'split' style. Yes that would be butt-ugly and probably make the laptop itself the size of an elementary school desk, but with RSI issues I can't type on a standard keyboard for very long. Yes you can plug a standard ergo USB keyboard into a laptop, but that setup requires a desk as it is too big for my lap. Since I'm desk bound with that, I just use the desktop computer I already have.

Meanwhile, I'm noticing that decent ergo kbs are getting scarce for desktops too. Back 10 or 15 years ago there were dozens of brands and all of them cheap and good, now there are only 2 or 3 to chose from with crappy key layouts and they last about a year or so.

Re:Ergonomic 'Split' Keyboards! :D (1)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | about 6 months ago | (#45998493)

Myself, I'm "stuck" on a keyboard released over 10 years ago, soley because the keyboard layout provided no longer exists (L-enter and big backspace, ergo split).

Simple solution for me:
Find and stock from ebay. Yes, I have 3 identical keyboards, still in plastic, sitting in my closet. Right next to the one or two with blank keys due to wear.

No Emacs on the X1 Carbon, I guess. (1)

hey! (33014) | about 6 months ago | (#45998359)

Personally, I tend not to use my laptop keyboard much. Instead I put the laptop on a folding stand to raise the monitor height and use an external keyboard and mouse. One reason for this is ergonomics; I get less neck strain and can choose a keyboard I like. But the primary reason is that I wear keyboards out. After about eighteen months or so the keycaps are falling off and the identifying marks on them are a distant memory. That's a little more frequently than I like to change laptops and it's a pain to replace laptop keyboards. I haven't had a laptop keyboard that has stood up to two years of use since IBM was making the T series laptops.

Anyhow, my lightweight folding stand and compact keyboard fit into my laptop case. I hardly ever use the laptop's built-in keyboard, but even so the control key caps are falling off.

Stuff your yap-hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998365)

Really ?

They've been doing this Silly thing since the birth of keyboards.
Those were the days. you'd had to wait patiently in the clinic for your keyboard to be born, and you'd be the proud father, teacher, and apprentice, to this new life, brought into the world.
Then you'd spend the next years, teaching it how to behave, smacking it around, the way kids these days are no longer allowed to be smacked around, the little pricks. If we should do one thing, it would be to kill most of the mainstream politicians, including their offset base.
freedom it's the lie with which they keeps you caged.

[wdw]

Bad example. (3, Insightful)

csumpi (2258986) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

.

Re:Bad example. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998471)

To some touch typist CAPS is second delete.

Get off my lawn? (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | about 6 months ago | (#45998435)

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).

Re:Get off my lawn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998515)

I agree. I changed it into an F13 with this registry script:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout]
"Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,02,00,00,00,64,00,3a,00,00,00,00,00

Re:Get off my lawn? (3, Interesting)

dokebi (624663) | about 6 months ago | (#45998559)

I have been remapping caps lock to ctrl for years, and it's really nice. Having it (capslock/ctrl) be replaced by home/end would be a disaster for me.

I don't care... (2)

David Betz (2845597) | about 6 months ago | (#45998469)

...what people do, as LONG AS THEY REMOVE THE CAPS LOCK! Yes, I typed that holding shift. The first thing I've done on every KB since 1998? REMOVED THE CAPS LOCK! Yes, I'm a programmer, yes my #DEFINE are in caps, yes, I type my SQL in CAPS. No, I'm not going to cry about my first-world problem of NEEDING TO HOLD DOWN SHIFT! It's easy to train your pinky to hold it-- it becomes natural real quick.

Just fix the %^&**$%$# CAPS LOCK key... (2)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 6 months ago | (#45998481)

Give me an easy way to permanently (and independent of the OS in use) disable the CAPS LOCK key. That is all I ask.

Of course, the best keyboard ever is this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998501)

http://www2.b3ta.com/buffyswear/

Give us back IBM Model M 'clicky' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998507)

I have 2 of them. Perfect after more than 20 years of use. Not a single problem.

Oh and I tried cherry mx switches too, silent but nothing beats the feeling of the buckling spring mechanism of this great keyboards!!!

Stop making new patents! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45998513)

Anything and everything worth inventing has already been discovered.

Why try to fix poor technique with a keyboard? (1, Informative)

John Allsup (987) | about 6 months ago | (#45998555)

People should learn to sit properly, and type properly.  This greatly increases health and mechanical efficiency.  It is from poor mechanical efficiency and techniques that stress the body that injuries and wear-and-tear come.  Fixing this is a matter of training: stretches like Yoga, on a daily basis, movement like Taiji, again practised daily, studing how one moves in activities they do regularly and striving to understand and refine them, like the way a concert pianist develops from a beginner to what you see perform on stage.  There is no substitute for proper learning, whether a special chair or a weird keyboard.  If you can't sit properly, a fancy chair won't fix that.   If you can't type reasonably effortlessly and with a minimum of stress, changing the keyboard layout won't help.  At best a new layout can give you a few percent improvement in speed, but that is unimportant: time spent learning a new layout should instead be spent improving basic posture and technique, and proper posture and technique will give sufficient speed on a standard layout.

Obviously if you can't be bothered to learn and practice and improve, you won't develop in terms of posture and technique, and this short-sightedness and laziness is endemic in the West, and is exacerbated by pressures to do more and more in ones job.  But work pressures will not magically make things better, and work pressures plus strange keyboard will not do so either.
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