Thank you all for your input and suggestions!
The Corona and Blickensderfer compact typewriters are amazing! The "scientific" layout on the Blickensderfer in particular is very interesting. It looks better than Dvorak or Colemak in terms of efficiency, although it seems the bottom row is used as the home row, so in terms of comparison, the top row would become the bottom row on a modern board I guess. I like it a lot!
I like some of the layouts proposed by others in the thread, not such a fan of others. After using the GON version for a little while, my KBT Pure 60% feels too big
The most important thing I need to change is getting the Fn and EDIT keys into more accessible positions as this is hindering my typing on the GON. The main layer feels awesome to use, though, with the slightly narrower layout proving to take less effort to type, as I was hoping (and causing my right pinkie in particular to be less strained).
@PieterGen: I don't think it's a good idea to alter the stagger. It will be unfamiliar to both the normal QWERTY user AND the symmetrical stagger user, so will not appeal to either group. IMHO, if you're going to fix the layout, go the whole hog https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=49721.0
It's not the primary goal of this project to make something more ergonomic than a standard board, although I am keeping ergonomics in mind for all the changes from standard layout that I'm doing and due the compactness and design decisions it WILL be more ergonomic to use than a standard board.
The primary goal is familiarity along with compactness and ease of use. It must be something that immediately feels good to use and simply allows the user to get their thoughts down without getting in the way. Hopefully it will become a trusted tool, something like a favourite typewriter as many authors, playwrites, etc tend to have.
I would love for it to enhance rather than hinder creativity.
For this reason I really would like to use contoured SA keycaps as I believe they are the most homely and familiar to someone who's used to typewriters and familiar enough for someone who's used to computer keyboards.
If you look at a list of famous writers and their favourite typewriters (such as these listed here: http://site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters/typers.html
), most of them have spherical semi-matte or gloss keycaps.
Of the more recent writers on the list who have had access to word processors and computers, most still prefer to use a typewriter and of these, a few models stand out as being most popular: The IBM Selectric (I, II and III), Hermes (2000, 3000, Baby and Rocket), Olympia (SM3, SM4 and SM9), Smith-Corona (Portable, 2200, Silent Super, etc) and Olivetti (Lettera 22 and 32).
The Selectric has a profile identical to SA and all the others have spherical top smooth or semi-matte keytops. SA is the only profile that even comes close the feel of these. DSA's matte surface is simply too rough.
I guess I'm sort of refining the definition and target market of this product as the discussion continues, so please bear with me as we go through the process. And again, thank you for your input.
So at the moment I'm definitely leaning towards SA keycaps, despite their overall height and the increase in "thickness" it will cause to the product.
@jdcarpe: Your JD45 layout is really nice! I like the overall design of the 45 a lot more than the 40!
@jacobolus: Using spacebar / Fn keys larger than 1,5x makes the Alt and EDIT just a little too awkward to be used with the thumbs comfortably, but I do like the overall design of your layouts.
While including Bluetooth would make it a little less kludgy and simpler to use in some cases, it will increase the complexity and cost and reduce the usage time of both devices (and you're then dependent on whichever one runs out of power first), whereas with a little setup time (unhooking the USB cable and connecting it), it integrates the two devices into one, increasing the usage time and keeping things simpler. Also, if it gets as far as requiring certification, having BT will increase both the cost and time.