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Kinesis report at three months: Broken!

For the next few days at least, I am back on my Microsoft Natural Keyboard.

The reason for this is that my Kinesis Advantage keyboard went belly-up last night. At around the time that Sweden scored their last minute equaliser against England, it suddenly decided to stop responding to some of the keys. Fortunately it is still under warranty so I will be sending it back to get fixed in the next day or two, but having said that, it is still a little bit annoying.

On the other hand, I’m not missing it too badly as of yet. While the Kinesis is more comfortable in some respects — it seems to have knocked a couple of my bad typing habits on the head and the mild discomfort in my right arm has more or less gone now — it does have a few niggles. The curly brackets and the +/= key are in totally the wrong places if you are trying to code in a C-style language such as C++, Java, Perl, PHP or C#, for starters. You have to curl your fingers on your right hand underneath your palms to get to the curly brackets, which tend to get used pretty heavily in the aforementioned languages, and the +/= key is placed counterintuitively in the top left hand corner of the keyboard. The position of the arrow keys is just horrendous — directly below the C, V, M and comma keys, where I am constantly pressing them by mistake, sometimes with fairly annoying consequences. To be sure, you can reprogram the keys if you like, but I haven’t done so as of yet, mainly because I haven’t been able to decide where to move them to or what to put in their place.

I will probably keep it once it’s fixed, but all in all I’m not sure that I would go out of my way to recommend the Kinesis keyboard. At £225 including VAT and delivery it is probably overkill, given that the Microsoft Natural Keyboard is a fraction of the price and you are likely to find it perfectly adequate as it is. On the other hand, if you are concerned about RSI and have to type a lot of ordinary text rather than C# code, it may be worth considering getting a second hand one. One thing is clear, however: both are a vast improvement over the horrible traditional flat keyboard layout.

Update: It was fixed under warranty.

1 comment:

  • # Reply from Wired Earp at 09:59 on 2 Aug 2006

    I would recommend you to keep at it. Several programming stunts seemed impossible to me with the Kinesis – uncluding curly brackets and using shit+ctrl when navigating text – but now it’s no problem at all. Unless, of course, I move to a normal keyboard. Remember that you can store the curly brackets as snippets in the keyboard memory; although I never had the need for that once I got used to it. I promise you *will* get used to it soon – and not hit anything be mistake. They should have positioned the arrow keys under the thumb, though. Good luck with the Dvorak and all.

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