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Need New Ergo Keyboard (for Programmer)

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I have been using a Datadesk SmartBoard ( ) for some years now and it's beginning to fail (keys are sticking a bit). It is better than my old MS Ergo piece of junk, but I am not in love with this keyboard. Not all, in fact.

I am a programmer and I type fast. This keyboard, however, has hard-to-press keys I think, and home/end/pgup/pddown are on top of the numeric keypad which means they're hard to reach--and I like using those keys. :(

So I've been looking at the Kinesis Maxim and the Goldtouch Adjustable Keyboard. I also looked at the Kinesis Advantage (contoured keyboard) and while it looks VERY interesting, I am not sure if I want to invest $300. Partly because I live overseas (Israel) and I have someone coming to visit this month from the USA who could bring a keyboard, but if there's a problem, returning it would be a pain.

Anyhow it seems like one of these split keyboards should be better than what I have. I suppose I would also then need a numeric keyboard as I also use that. Probably that I could find cheaper than what Kinesis or Goldtouch sells them for however. :)

I use Linux but I presume/hope that I can find drivers for these keyboards. I presume actually that standard drivers should work--I don't need anything special in particular.

So, any suggestions or advice for a new keyboard?


You typically don't need special drivers for keyboards. Certainly not for PS/2, and USB 'boards usually are plain ol' HID devices as well.

As for the Kinesis Maxim, try looking around for a Siemens / Fujitsu-Siemens / Fujitsu KBPC E in ol' Europe, maybe a UK layout. That may be quite a bit cheaper provided you don't mind an ISO layout (here in Germany they are €50 or thereabouts).

Be aware that both the big Kinesis and Maltron boards have F-keys that are, umm, F'd up - by which I mean they do not use the same nice mechanical switches as the other keys (usually Cherry browns) but rather some rubber domes or worse and are smaller to boot.

BTW, you can determine actuation force on your present keyboard using the "ripOmeter" method - level it and stack some coins onto the key in question (they have a precisely defined weight). I would recommend an iterative approach, i.e. start with the heaviest coins until it goes down, then take away one and determine the point more precisely with the next lighter kind of coins, etc.
This is a fairly one-dimensional kind of "measurement", but does give you an idea (rubber domes usually are kinda similar anyway, while with mechanical switches the force displacement graphs and corresponding feel can vary a good bit). For a FSC KBPC PX, a conventional-layout relative of the KBPC E, I determined a peak force of about 50 g recently - subjectively this is Cherry blues ballpark, or medium to low force. Like the feel, hate the lettering contrast.

Thank you. The more I look into it, it seems the Kinesis Freestyle Solo Keyboard is even nicer than the Maxim. Seems definitely more flexible. I also just realized that it has an integrated keypad on the right side. I guess one of the far left buttons toggles that feature. Looks good to me actually.

Unless there's a better idea, I think I will try that keyboard.


For something more familiar to your Datadesk, you might want to try a Northgate Omnikey Evolution.  You can get one (either NIB or refurbed) from  They are built like tanks, and they have Alps switches.  The Datadesk uses an Alps-compatible switch, so they feel should be pretty close with the Northgate probably feeling better.

Ah, now I've got an idea of why the OP doesn't like the feel of his board... Even original black Alps aren't among my favs by any stretch - bottoming out is nearly unavoidable. The KBPC E / Maxim would be about the exact opposite, and browns and blues would be rather different too.


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