March 13, 2013
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When I’m at work, there’s some desk items that cause some distraction. It could be the stuffed creatures on the shelf, it could be the NERF guns or the NERF Super Soaker missile (“The F Bomb”). But for some people, the thing that catches their attention is my keyboard. It’s a new keyboard, but it doesn’t look new. It’s old-school. It’s actually impossible to find a decent picture of it online. Even the manufacturer’s website doesn’t have a flattering photo of it. It’s a KeyTronic. It’s been my favorite keyboard brand for at least 15 years. It hasn’t changed its look in 15 years, nor has it changed its feeling.
Yesterday, I purchased the newest model of KeyTronic’s keyboards and this weekend, I’ll have the chance to find out if they are remaining true to their roots. There’s a couple things I can’t live without on this keyboard. When I say I can’t live without them, I mean, I bought one for home and one for work. The productivity loss when I change keyboard layouts is significant. The KeyTronic keyboard is offered with a large L Enter key instead of the straight bar Enter key. This makes the backspace half-sized and moves the backslash key up to the top row. The other thing I can’t live without is the tactile snap of the keys. Less important, but noticeable, is the huge chasm of empty space between keys. This is a very forgiving keyboard to type on. When you type code all day and in the evenings either code some more or blog, a good keyboard is required. Yet another design feature you don’t see everywhere is what someone called the “stadium seating” of the keys. When the top row of keys is nearly 50% higher than the lowest row, I find my thumb resting more naturally under my fingers to hit the space bar.
I was looking online to see if there were any other KeyTronic fans. Outside of product reviews, there’s a couple of threads on a mechanical keyboard forum praising the feel of the KeyTronic, although also admitting it is not a mechanical. So, besides that, I didn’t find much. And what I read sort of inspired me to type a bit and remember why I liked this keyboard so much.
In this day where flat keyboards are the standard, and chiclet keyboards are fashionable, it seems like typing is taking a back seat, which is consistent with the slow decline towards content consumption instead of content creation. You need a keyboard to type a URL or a status update or maybe an email (so long…); you don’t need a task-oriented keyboard. Gamers buy keyboards made for their needs. I would like to believe that this keyboard grew up as a product optimized for the needs of the time, which required much more typing than the current age. But now it’s become a keyboard made for my needs – extended typing sessions.
So now I’m waiting and hoping that I will have a new keyboard that has all the same great feeling of this one but has a look of “what kind of keyboard is that?” instead of “is that even a USB keyboard?”