My advice on keyboards: follow the herd. Don’t get fancy.

Let me explain: way back when I was using Linux, my wrists were beginning to bother me, and a friend recommended the Microsoft “ergonomic” keyboard as a good solution. Great, no problem–after a couple of weeks of getting used to it, I was a convert. My wrists felt better, and my typing speed actually went up a little. After a couple of months of using it, typing on a standard keyboard felt awkward.

A few years later, it died.

By this time, Microsoft had discontinued the original design, and had replaced it with two new ones: the “chicklet” ergonomic keyboard, and the “multimedia” ergonomic keyboard. The “chicklet” version had half-sized keys for the arrow/home/end/etc. keys. No good–I wanted full-sized keys. The “multimedia” version had a bunch of useless stuff on it, and cost twice as much. I bought a banged-up original from eBay (and later inherited a black model from a friend). Great, back in business.

All was well for several years.

Then I bought my TiBook (Macintosh Titanium Powerbook, for those who don’t know). I still used a Linux box at work, but the writing was on the wall–I was moving to Macs. When I finally ditched Linux and got a Mac workstation, I needed a new keyboard. The Microsoft keyboards were PS/2, and the command/option keys were in the wrong place. I found the Addesso ergonomic keyboard, which looked like the same thing, so I bought one.

It wasn’t–the keys were mushier, the endpoints of the key strokes were at different heights, and within a year, some of the keycaps were falling off. I dug around on the internet until I found a PS/2-to-USB converter that worked with keyboards and a utility that remapped the keys on my Microsoft keyboard to match the Mac layout. A hack, but it worked.

Then I left that job, started a company and began doing all of my dev work on my laptop. In the office, I hooked up a big LCD monitor, mouse and keyboard. At home, I sat on my couch with the laptop on my lap. Remapping keys didn’t work for me anymore–I’d be constantly turning it on and off. Back to the Adesso.

More keycaps broke, and it’s still mushy. Superglue only solves the former.

Now I’m looking for another keyboard–one with a Mac layout–and the options for the split design are thin. There’s the updated Adesso, the Goldtouch, the Kinesis and the Fentek. The Adesso is out–the one I’m using now is of such poor quality that I’m hesitant to try them again. The Goldtouch is a “compact” keyboard, and doesn’t have a separate arrow and home/end/etc. blocks. The Kinesis is well-reviewed, but I don’t want to learn yet another keyboard layout. Finally, the Fentek moved the ‘6’ key to the right-side of the split, making it impossible to hit with my left hand. Didn’t these guys take typing in high school?

So I’m going to buy a standard keyboard, and learn how to type on it again.