Author Topic: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?  (Read 5749 times)

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Offline jamster

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Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 00:42:34 »
So I was wondering the other day- it looks like smaller format (by smaller I mean <TKL) keyboards have been gaining popularity. This is based on the large amount of IC/GB posts here, from what I've seen available from online retailers, and what I've seen in stores.

The sub-TKL boards, by design, are geared towards portability. They have a definite trade-off in that you need to relearn a new format and use multiple function layers, so they don't seem suited to work/home desktop usage where space is not usually at a premium.

Yet in the last five years, I have only every seen a 60% board used in public, once. And personally, if I need portable computing (e.g. taking a laptop to a cafe) I'll just use the laptop keyboard. I want to be carrying as little as possible. [Edit: I realised after Sifo's comment that it was something much smaller than a 60%]

Can anyone comment on this- have you noticed an increase in people using small form factor boards in public settings, or are people using these at home (and if so, why?)
« Last Edit: Fri, 29 May 2020, 04:49:14 by jamster »

Offline Sifo

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 00:50:38 »
https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=105188.msg2877454#msg2877454

i like using keyboards that has the keys i actually use and doesn't have the keys i don't ever use

as for portable I can't really answer, I don't go outside
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Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 00:59:32 »
https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=105188.msg2877454#msg2877454

i like using keyboards that has the keys i actually use and doesn't have the keys i don't ever use

as for portable I can't really answer, I don't go outside

Thanks for your perspective. So you use small form factor boards for the home desktop?

I was wondering about SFF boards and the relative difficulty access things like symbols. I regularly use them in passwords (even if I'm using a password manager, it'll have a load of symbols in the master password). And anyone involved in coding (which seems to have a skew towards an interest in keyboards) needs ready access to symbols. Ditto regular Excel users.

I admit that one of the things that got me wondering about SFF boards was seeing someone's desktop the other week. He had a Ducky One Mini set up in the middle of a massive desk pad, and my first thought was "doesn't he need special characters?"
« Last Edit: Fri, 29 May 2020, 01:02:27 by jamster »

Offline Sifo

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 01:02:30 »
you can type special characters with a 60% the same you would with a full sized keyboard, I'm not quite sure I understand. Unless you're referring to a 40% which doesn't have the dedicated number row.

For myself I can hit every key on a standard 104 full sized using only my left hand as fast or faster than having a dedicated key, using a 60%. Personalized layouts are pretty standard in the keyboard hobby
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Offline cptbubbles

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 01:21:15 »
Very new to the hobby, but I prefer smaller keyboards (65~75%) because they take up less space on my desk!

They are also aesthetically more pleasing, though that's a subjective thing.

Offline mode

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 01:44:06 »
I didn't really get it until I had to work at home all the time with a laptop, smaller keyboards are a lot more comfortable to use than a fullsize when you're using them in front of a laptop.

People may get into them for other reasons, but as someone who prefers fullsize at a desk, I definitely prefer a smaller board in the situation a lot of us find ourselves in now!

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 01:46:34 »
you can type special characters with a 60% the same you would with a full sized keyboard, I'm not quite sure I understand. Unless you're referring to a 40% which doesn't have the dedicated number row.

For myself I can hit every key on a standard 104 full sized using only my left hand as fast or faster than having a dedicated key, using a 60%. Personalized layouts are pretty standard in the keyboard hobby

Hm, you are totally right, I was confusing them with the even smaller boards. With 60% I had been wondering about function keys, but I've come to realise that a lot of people (especially Mac/Linux users) don't need them.

I'm still interested in how big a factor portability is. Seems to be a much-touted feature (matched with the popularity of detachable USB cables, carry cases), and maybe it's more popular in other locations than mine.
« Last Edit: Fri, 29 May 2020, 01:48:26 by jamster »

Offline Sifo

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 01:55:22 »
40s is a whole different story that I couldn't begin to explain, but I fully believe that dedicated 40s users are just as efficient as one would be on a full-sized keyboard if you really wanted to learn it (with the exception of numerical input vs a tenkey)

As for portability, a lot of custom keyboards are extremely heavy so even the physically small keyboards aren't exactly portable. Lots of people are just using them at their home PCs.

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Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 02:18:08 »
40s is a whole different story that I couldn't begin to explain, but I fully believe that dedicated 40s users are just as efficient as one would be on a full-sized keyboard if you really wanted to learn it (with the exception of numerical input vs a tenkey)

As for portability, a lot of custom keyboards are extremely heavy so even the physically small keyboards aren't exactly portable. Lots of people are just using them at their home PCs.


Yeah, this is what I am finding confusing. These boards seem geared totally towards portability (weight aside), so I was thinking maybe I just haven't seen the wave of mobile keyboard users out here in Asia. But I travel frequently (well, I used to) and never noticed standalone boards in other parts of the world either. I'd certainly like to think that mech boards were going that mainstream.

I'm sure that a 40% user can build up speed, but why someone would want to go through the multi-week pain of relearning how to type if they didn't need the small form factor is a bit of a mystery to me. Some people might enjoy relearning, but I suspect that for most it's more a chore than a joy. Relearning for an ergo board or Colemak/Dvorak I can get my head around much more easily- there are much more obvious payoffs.

Recently I joined the Atreus Kickstarter (44 key ergo board with multiple function layers). I joined purely to try the split layout, the portability aspect of it was a heavily pushed selling point (it's tiny doesn't even have big space bars, it has a custom carry case, detachable cables) is overall more of a negative factor to me, so I am wondering if portability is really that much more important to a lot of other people.

Offline chyros

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 02:27:33 »
Fashion.
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline Findecanor

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 02:48:24 »
When switches cost $1.30 a piece you don't make a keyboard with 120 of them ...
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Offline typo

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 04:03:59 »
I did the 60% thing and I was so happy to go back to 105+. That is just me though. Small boards feel much to cramped to me. Plus I hate hitting FN. It seems on a lot of small boards the per key spacing is narrower too. I hate that.  A good Korean is a lot of money either way. Might as well get the extra keys.

Offline chyros

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 04:15:58 »
When switches cost $1.30 a piece you don't make a keyboard with 120 of them ...
I know our priorities are in different places, but I'd so much prefer to spend more money on more and/or better switches than to stick everything in a super-expensive but tiny chassis, plate and brass weight or whatever xD . But that's just me.
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Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 04:52:11 »
I think that if cost is a concern, someone's probably going to be sticking with the free Dell membrane, or some cheap generic and normal(ish) board from China rather than 40%/ortho/milled aluminum/other fancy thing :)

Offline mode

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 05:09:33 »
When switches cost $1.30 a piece you don't make a keyboard with 120 of them ...


Hohoho.

My next build is a fullsize with SKCM amber. $3 a switch.

This hobby will never be cheap.

Offline DALExSNAIL

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 07:59:47 »
Getting used to FN keys and macros is a benefit for a lot of people. Less movement from homerow is always nice, if the form factor is workable.

The desk real estate gained from a smaller board is pretty significant as well. Because of this, tkl will always be the largest I'll go personally.

That being said, you're asking on geekhack, and these days the most active commenting crowd leans towards the largest and loudest keyboard they can find.


Offline Sup

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 09:05:48 »
When switches cost $1.30 a piece you don't make a keyboard with 120 of them ...

You would be suprised people used to pay 6 dollars each for a Invyr holy panda lol. There are always people with the cash that will buy it and build there keyboard with it.
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Offline IceCandle

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 09:13:17 »
For ergo/symmetry key B has to be in the middle, but with numpad and arrow keys you won't have enough space to move mouse.

Offline Tactile

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 09:22:04 »
My HHKB says hi, btw. Anyway...
60% keyboards in public? It happens...

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Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 09:28:27 »
1. Many users of small form-factor boards are 'gamers' who find that a 6x% gives them more space for mousing. They are willing to have keys that they don't use much in gaming [nav cluster, even F-keys] placed under layers.

2. 6x% boards can be cheaper to make and much cheaper to ship than something like a solid metal TKL.

3. There's less labour involved in soldering 6x switches than 87 or 104. This is a bigger deal when using custom switches. If you are combining two switches to make Holy Pandas, and lubing them, and filming them, or removing factory lube from your Alpacas, then spring-swapping then filming them, how many switches do you want to do that for? 67 or 87? 104?

Given the labour involved in custom switches, having fewer to create makes a project more viable.

4. There's an aesthetic concern. Many people involved in customs find TKLs and full-size boards ugly. Smaller boards can be made to look neater and 'cuter.' Look at the current "Heavy Metal" GB. The GB runner is showing aesthetic sets like Taro on 65% or 75% boards.

5. The smaller boards are obviously more portable, although it's kind of moot when they are made from a solid block of aluminum.

6. 60-65% boards are perfectly sized for smaller laptops in the 11-13" range. If you have some kind of small desk setup, or are using them mobile, you can fit both the keyboard and laptop in a relatively small space.

7. There's the aforementioned cost reason. What if you are using NOS Orange Alps or lubed, spring-swapped vintage Blacks or Nixies? That's well over $1 per switch, maybe $5 per switch. With the above switches, there may not even be enough good switches available to make a TKL.

8. Many people are building for the first time, and are not sure what they like yet. It's easier to see how you like lubed Gateron Yellows on a cheap and easy 60% board with C3 stabs before moving on to something larger.

When you build a board for the first time(s), you are testing multiple concepts, from the type of mount and PCB to the case material, switch customization, LEDs, stabilizers, and dampening. So maybe you want to sort that out before building a TGR Jane 2 with lubed Aqua Zilents.
Some people value a minimalist aesthetic on their desks.

9. There's an exclusivity factor, in that most people are using full-size ANSI and ISO-inspired boards, or maybe a TKL. 6x% is much more 'pro.' And Youtube / Twitch streamers have popularized the small form factors to their masses of fans, many who will buy anything if they believe it gives them an edge in Fortnite.

10. Some people have meticulously-cultivated desks with a minimalist aesthetic. So even though they have a giant desk with carefully positioned LEDs and case LEDs, they want most of it to be 'white space.'

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 09:30:42 »
One of the biggest reasons is that there are users who have taught themselves to type much more quickly within a limited 6x% space.

They find that they don't have to move their hands or fingers as much in a smaller, more confined layout. Once they are properly positioned, they can type faster and more sustainably. They might use CapsLock as the FN key to access layers, putting the arrow keys in the WASD alphas under a layer, for instance. For those users, this is faster and more comfortable.

Offline VP

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 10:47:53 »
you can type special characters with a 60% the same you would with a full sized keyboard
How to get Alt codes with TKL?

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 11:00:25 »
@HungerMechanic Hey, really good and thoughtful points. Thanks for putting them together.

The way this thread is going is convincing me that portability isn't really a factor when it comes to mech boards. Which is a pity, it would be kind of nice to see more of them about.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 11:22:20 »
@HungerMechanic Hey, really good and thoughtful points. Thanks for putting them together.

The way this thread is going is convincing me that portability isn't really a factor when it comes to mech boards. Which is a pity, it would be kind of nice to see more of them about.

That's not true though...It is a factor for a good number of people..but maybe not the main factor for most...

Personally, I think with the right layout 60% is super easy to work with and in a lot of ways, easier than with a larger keyboard.  I do think if you have particular needs of a keyboard, smaller boards may not work for you.

I also think smaller than 60% is incredibly niche, even within the mech keyboard community.  For some people they may love it but it is purely an aesthetic thing.  If you have to go to multiple FN layers, you're just going to lose efficiency and you've gain very little space.

That said, if I needed a board as small as I could get it for transporting around and I could find a 40% that worked out well, I'd definitely consider it...for use at home, it would be more difficult to justify, as interesting as they may look.

If someone is using a 40% and finds it as efficient or more so than 60% or TKL, it would be good to understand why they think that and how unless you don't use certain keys so that doesn't factor into having multiple FN layers..


Offline funkden

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 11:33:48 »
60% day in day out. Most effective form factor key layout for me.

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Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #25 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 11:57:03 »
Basically, 65% can be incredibly versatile given the spaces they fit, they can look very neat, and they require less money and sometimes effort.


From what I see from long-time builders, if you can get used to a 65%, you have it made.

You will always be paying less for switches, spending less time making switches, and paying lower shipping costs. Which is huge over time.

It will always fit your desk, and make it look really clean. 'Clean' Silicon-valley / hipster aesthetic rules uber alles on Reddit. https://www.theverge.com/2016/8/3/12325104/airbnb-aesthetic-global-minimalism-startup-gentrification

And people with 65% keyboards don't have boring jobs, like accountants. They don't need a numpad, etc... Because they have layers.

As said on another forum, something like a KBD67 is a Miata/MX5 of keyboards.

Offline Sifo

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #26 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 12:12:36 »
you can type special characters with a 60% the same you would with a full sized keyboard
How to get Alt codes with TKL?

i can toggle numrow to send numpad codes
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Offline DALExSNAIL

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #27 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 12:18:30 »
you can type special characters with a 60% the same you would with a full sized keyboard
How to get Alt codes with TKL?

i can toggle numrow to send numpad codes

Just copy paste from unicode website, vro

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #28 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 13:09:34 »
That being said, you're asking on geekhack, and these days the most active commenting crowd leans towards the largest and loudest keyboard they can find.

I was going to leave this thread alone, since I'm not one to care much about following trends, like tiny keyboards, outside of portability and desk space, etc. I like everything from 60-65% (I need dedicated arrow keys, etc, as I can't just use custom desktop keyboards exclusively all day every day) to aircraft carriers.

I don't know that the giant keyboard and clicky trend statement is necessarily the case though. There's a handful of us, but especially when I'm going through and trying to respond to new member posts, etc, it seems to me that a huge proportion of this site's members prefer tactiles, linears, or both, be it because of sound considerations in environments with other people, or they just dislike the sound generated by any of the clicky switches that they have heard so much that they would rather have a tactile, or, like yourself, prefer the bump provided by a specific tactile switch. People also seem, to me, to tend to follow the general trends of tiny boards, specific stabilizers, lube this and that, dampening, etc, etc. Most of the threads, of any kind, that I see have to do with linears and tactiles, and usually on tiny boards as well.

You're seeing it in this thread too. Most comments are promoting the potential benefits of tiny keyboards. Who was a detractor so far? Chyros?

I think that's the case with the current state of the hobby, as a whole. I don't watch a lot of keyboard-related Youtube channels very often, but it seems to me that most of the big ones, with large followings, follow those trends moreso than anything having to do with giant, retro, and/or thunderous clicky boards. Supply and demand with kit boards follows that trend as well. Options are mostly 60% or find that one obscure thing that's in stock on that one possibly sketchy website, somewhere, and your options are just like how Henry Ford once put it so eloquently, "You can have any color you like, so long as its black."

That's not to say that this is a bad thing either, preference is preference, and supply and demand is a beautiful thing, even if someone may personally prefer that supply of a given thing were increased.

Offline mokeyjoe

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #29 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 13:11:11 »
For ergo/symmetry key B has to be in the middle, but with numpad and arrow keys you won't have enough space to move mouse.

I can understand this as a good reason to go tenkeyless (it's the main reason I prefer it for home, where I don't really need the number pad) but smaller than that is diminishing returns as far as desk space goes.

I've been curious about smaller keyboards, but I really think I'd miss the arrow keys more than anything - I use them for all sorts of navigation. I actually have quite a small computer desk, so it might be useful. I use the mouse on the left (despite being right handed) and tend to use the right side for my ipad, phone, notebook etc., so reclaiming that numpad space is useful and ergonomic for me. I can always use my separate USB numpad if I need it. I just wonder if gaining an extra two inches on that side is really going to make much difference. Perhaps there's some value in the idea of not needing to take your fingers of the home row, as a touchtypist - but I guess I could always remap things in Karibiner to emulate that anyway.

They do look kinda cute though.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #30 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 13:20:26 »
For ergo/symmetry key B has to be in the middle, but with numpad and arrow keys you won't have enough space to move mouse.

I can understand this as a good reason to go tenkeyless (it's the main reason I prefer it for home, where I don't really need the number pad) but smaller than that is diminishing returns as far as desk space goes.

I've been curious about smaller keyboards, but I really think I'd miss the arrow keys more than anything - I use them for all sorts of navigation. I actually have quite a small computer desk, so it might be useful. I use the mouse on the left (despite being right handed) and tend to use the right side for my ipad, phone, notebook etc., so reclaiming that numpad space is useful and ergonomic for me. I can always use my separate USB numpad if I need it. I just wonder if gaining an extra two inches on that side is really going to make much difference. Perhaps there's some value in the idea of not needing to take your fingers of the home row, as a touchtypist - but I guess I could always remap things in Karibiner to emulate that anyway.

They do look kinda cute though.

You can retain dedicated arrow keys on something at least as small as a 60%. Your cap options will dwindle though.

You use a touch screen on a tablet ... while sitting right in front of a real computer, with a mechanical keyboard?  :eek:

Offline rxc92

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #31 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 15:18:31 »
For ergo/symmetry key B has to be in the middle, but with numpad and arrow keys you won't have enough space to move mouse.

I can understand this as a good reason to go tenkeyless (it's the main reason I prefer it for home, where I don't really need the number pad) but smaller than that is diminishing returns as far as desk space goes.

I've been curious about smaller keyboards, but I really think I'd miss the arrow keys more than anything - I use them for all sorts of navigation. I actually have quite a small computer desk, so it might be useful. I use the mouse on the left (despite being right handed) and tend to use the right side for my ipad, phone, notebook etc., so reclaiming that numpad space is useful and ergonomic for me. I can always use my separate USB numpad if I need it. I just wonder if gaining an extra two inches on that side is really going to make much difference. Perhaps there's some value in the idea of not needing to take your fingers of the home row, as a touchtypist - but I guess I could always remap things in Karibiner to emulate that anyway.

They do look kinda cute though.
 
 
I have the same opinion but feel like 65/60% is about the minimum for functionality. For day to day use, I don't mind using an Fn key to use the arrows since there's a big space difference between 60 and TKL (the two form factors that I use), but while gaming lacking the F keys as well as the arrow keys can make things inconvenient. However, 60% is more comfortable on my wrists and easier smaller to carry around. 
 
Since I use a really heavy 17" laptop it doesn't really make a difference if I bring a TKL or 60% though since both fit in the same backpack. If I could have a 65% then I'd probably use that, but they are much less visually pleasing to me than HHKB-style 60%.

Offline ideus

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #32 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 15:31:41 »
A sixty board healths my carpal tunnel syndrome by making my desktop more ergonomic. Portability? Na. I have one board at work and more at home. Now doing home-office, I use just one daily.

Offline mokeyjoe

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #33 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 15:34:23 »
For ergo/symmetry key B has to be in the middle, but with numpad and arrow keys you won't have enough space to move mouse.

I can understand this as a good reason to go tenkeyless (it's the main reason I prefer it for home, where I don't really need the number pad) but smaller than that is diminishing returns as far as desk space goes.

I've been curious about smaller keyboards, but I really think I'd miss the arrow keys more than anything - I use them for all sorts of navigation. I actually have quite a small computer desk, so it might be useful. I use the mouse on the left (despite being right handed) and tend to use the right side for my ipad, phone, notebook etc., so reclaiming that numpad space is useful and ergonomic for me. I can always use my separate USB numpad if I need it. I just wonder if gaining an extra two inches on that side is really going to make much difference. Perhaps there's some value in the idea of not needing to take your fingers of the home row, as a touchtypist - but I guess I could always remap things in Karibiner to emulate that anyway.

They do look kinda cute though.

You can retain dedicated arrow keys on something at least as small as a 60%. Your cap options will dwindle though.

You use a touch screen on a tablet ... while sitting right in front of a real computer, with a mechanical keyboard?  :eek:

I make a lot of handwritten notes in my work, and annotate academic papers and so forth. I'm really disorganised with paper, so I bought an iPad Pro with pencil and have gone paperless - syncs straight to my computer too, which is nice.

I mainly used it when I was away from home, but as meetings and so forth have been over Zoom etc. I use it at my desk now. I'd still rather handwrite notes than type, even at my desk. I was on a call and someone had a mechanical keyboard the other day and we had to keep muting her because nobody could hear what anyone else was saying, lol. Pro-tip - don't use a loud, clicky keyboard when videoconferencing.  :)

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #34 on: Fri, 29 May 2020, 15:46:50 »
For ergo/symmetry key B has to be in the middle, but with numpad and arrow keys you won't have enough space to move mouse.

I can understand this as a good reason to go tenkeyless (it's the main reason I prefer it for home, where I don't really need the number pad) but smaller than that is diminishing returns as far as desk space goes.

I've been curious about smaller keyboards, but I really think I'd miss the arrow keys more than anything - I use them for all sorts of navigation. I actually have quite a small computer desk, so it might be useful. I use the mouse on the left (despite being right handed) and tend to use the right side for my ipad, phone, notebook etc., so reclaiming that numpad space is useful and ergonomic for me. I can always use my separate USB numpad if I need it. I just wonder if gaining an extra two inches on that side is really going to make much difference. Perhaps there's some value in the idea of not needing to take your fingers of the home row, as a touchtypist - but I guess I could always remap things in Karibiner to emulate that anyway.

They do look kinda cute though.

You can retain dedicated arrow keys on something at least as small as a 60%. Your cap options will dwindle though.

You use a touch screen on a tablet ... while sitting right in front of a real computer, with a mechanical keyboard?  :eek:

I make a lot of handwritten notes in my work, and annotate academic papers and so forth. I'm really disorganised with paper, so I bought an iPad Pro with pencil and have gone paperless - syncs straight to my computer too, which is nice.

I mainly used it when I was away from home, but as meetings and so forth have been over Zoom etc. I use it at my desk now. I'd still rather handwrite notes than type, even at my desk. I was on a call and someone had a mechanical keyboard the other day and we had to keep muting her because nobody could hear what anyone else was saying, lol. Pro-tip - don't use a loud, clicky keyboard when videoconferencing.  :)

That makes sense.

I will continue to use a thunderous clicky keyboard when videoconferencing, and there's nothing anyone can do about it dang it! I just have the common courtesy to mute myself when using it.  :p

Offline mobileb

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #35 on: Sat, 30 May 2020, 17:48:02 »
At this point I only use 60%/65% boards. I mainly use an HHKB Type-S.  I also use an FC600C as the keyboard I take outside when I have to work onsite or on my alternate machine setup. My setup uses a trackball, so the smaller form factor works well with a trackball, as it can be placed right next to the keyboard. I started using a trackball because I have a dual 5K monitor setup and I found that with the mouse, I needed a large area to move around. This allows me to have minimal travel distance when going from keyboard to trackball.

I was a bit skeptical on the HHKB initially. However, I did find that these smaller keyboards are easier to type with. I'm a dev and type a lot. I don't need Caps Lock and as I am on a Mac, I have little need for function keys, although activating any are easy on both keyboards. I haven't found any issues typing what I need. The only issue I've really had is when playing games. You can do it, but, at least for me, I feel a bit hindered.

I'm sold on these smaller keyboards. However I am on the market for a full size keyboard for gaming and 3d modeling.

Offline ullr

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #36 on: Sat, 30 May 2020, 20:39:20 »
You know immediately when you go from your new 60% to a full size board at a public computer. Suddenly you notice how annoying it is to move your whole arm to reach parts of the keyboard, and all of a sudden the mouse feels very far away.

60% is also a very attractive form factor.

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #37 on: Sat, 30 May 2020, 21:39:07 »
A sixty board healths my carpal tunnel syndrome by making my desktop more ergonomic. Portability? Na. I have one board at work and more at home. Now doing home-office, I use just one daily.


Do you find that a 60 is markedly improved over a TKL? Is it the slightly narrower base, or less reaching for keys?

I've noticed a difference going from full size to TKL, but wanted to retain function keys and separated cursor keys. I'm going to move back to a trackball soon, so expect the whole 'mouse hand further away' thing to become moot.

Hm, another thing that I've noticed which contributes to my wondering whether portable keyboard use has climbed is the current emphasis and availability of Bluetooth connectivity, but I guess this is a totally different topic.
« Last Edit: Sat, 30 May 2020, 22:22:42 by jamster »

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #38 on: Sat, 30 May 2020, 22:41:14 »
I don't understand all of this focus on having to reach for keys myself. All I move my right hand away from the home keys for is the arrow keys. That's not really a big deal to me. You've got to reach further to return to the mouse, which you're going to do just as often, or more often. I guess I'm used to not really even leaving either hand on the keyboard at all for very long anyway though.

Offline mobileb

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #39 on: Sat, 30 May 2020, 23:08:24 »
I've noticed a difference going from full size to TKL, but wanted to retain function keys and separated cursor keys. I'm going to move back to a trackball soon, so expect the whole 'mouse hand further away' thing to become moot.

FC660C has dedicated cursor keys. It does work well. HHKB is more difficult, but it is pretty easy to adapt to. Strangely if I think about using the cursor keys it's a lot harder than me just doing it. At this point it is automatic.

I will note, I do not use keys like Pg Up/Pg Dn/Home/End. For whatever reason, they are difficult for me to remember. Most likely because I seldom use them as I have alternative means.

Offline ideus

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #40 on: Sat, 30 May 2020, 23:19:34 »
A sixty board healths my carpal tunnel syndrome by making my desktop more ergonomic. Portability? Na. I have one board at work and more at home. Now doing home-office, I use just one daily.


Do you find that a 60 is markedly improved over a TKL? Is it the slightly narrower base, or less reaching for keys?

I've noticed a difference going from full size to TKL, but wanted to retain function keys and separated cursor keys. I'm going to move back to a trackball soon, so expect the whole 'mouse hand further away' thing to become moot.

Hm, another thing that I've noticed which contributes to my wondering whether portable keyboard use has climbed is the current emphasis and availability of Bluetooth connectivity, but I guess this is a totally different topic.


The sixty board allows fitting room at its right side to put my trackball in a position where my right arm's elbow and wrist are at a more natural position than with a TKL. At the same time, the board itself is centered between my arms, which helps keep my arm comfortable while typing. It has been like seven years since I adopted only 60 boards, and I have not suffered any pain since. It is not an option to go back to a TKL board or anything with a larger footprint.

Offline Rafen

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #41 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 01:17:40 »
I moved to a 60% when I kept hitting my mouse on my keyboard while gaming (I use a low DPI for FPS games). The smaller board still allows me to place my hands in a comfortable position and it doesn't interfere with my mouse movement.


Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #42 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 05:05:18 »
I've noticed a difference going from full size to TKL, but wanted to retain function keys and separated cursor keys. I'm going to move back to a trackball soon, so expect the whole 'mouse hand further away' thing to become moot.

FC660C has dedicated cursor keys. It does work well. HHKB is more difficult, but it is pretty easy to adapt to. Strangely if I think about using the cursor keys it's a lot harder than me just doing it. At this point it is automatic.

I will note, I do not use keys like Pg Up/Pg Dn/Home/End. For whatever reason, they are difficult for me to remember. Most likely because I seldom use them as I have alternative means.

For me and TKL, the space between arrow keys and the rest of the board is very important. Ditto the home/end/up/down cluster. I tried switching to a board without separated nav keys the other week. It's been pretty painful.

I suspect moving arrow keys to WASD and a function layer might actually work better for me.

Offline Sup

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #43 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 07:35:22 »
60% Because i haven't moved my elbow and my whole arm to get to a key in years! Muscle memory made me as fast or faster then going to a key on a full size board
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Offline ideus

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #44 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 12:06:28 »
Full-size boards are vestiges of a gone era when the only available computers were mainframes or desktop PCs. There were no pointing devices other than arrows. TKL and smaller boards free desktop space to keep different devices like digitizers, mouse, and trackballs. There may be pure aesthetic reasons to prefer smaller boards; but, functional purposes are more than enough.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #45 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 13:21:09 »
Yup. That's the way it is seen.

Full-size boards come from when you needed the F-keys to get functions like "Spell Check" or "Maximize Window" rapidly. The navigation cluster and numpad keys may have been used to navigate around a document or 3D model. Those keys were needed because often a keyboard was the only common input device available.

Now, you would use the mouse or other pointing instrument. Even a TKL is considered excessive for much gaming these days, and computer design work uses the mouse far more than it relies on keyboard navigation. That's why lots of people use 65% day-to-day.

Offline dusan

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #46 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 13:48:52 »
This is my 75% keyboard. I love the form factor because:

1. It is compatible with the standard keyboard (in terms of number and location of keys). Before IBM model F and M keyboard, I've been using 60%. Every navigating or editing command must be typed with Ctrl under the little finger. It's not healthy at all.

2. It allows me putting the mouse closer to my shoulder, in either side. When I code or playing fly simulation game I don't need the mouse. But when I draw I use the mouse by left hand, when I play (other games) I use it by the right hand.

Furthermore I like this particular keyboard because:

3. It is symmetrical.

4. It separates my hands far enough.

5. It reduces the load on my little fingers. (Caps and Num locks, Enter and Esc are put under index fingers. Shifts, Ctrls and Backspace are put under thumbs.)

6. It gets rid of the F row which is immediately above the num row on a typical 75% board, which bugs me.
« Last Edit: Sun, 31 May 2020, 14:04:22 by dusan »
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Offline alexives

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #47 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 16:00:55 »
Hey friends, 40% ortho user here.

I moved to 40% because I find the keys are easier to reach. As a programmer who uses a lot of symbols, I actually have an easier time typing symbols than I do on a 60%. The key I use for the layer is under my thumb, and most of my symbols are on the home row. I'm not sure this actually makes anything faster, though I've hit a point where it isn't slower. The most important aspect is comfort! Because I don't have to reach as far for keys I've found it's actually a more comfortable typing experience than having to reach over a row to hit a symbol (or a number I guess, but TBH I probably use more symbols than numbers).

Offline funkmon

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #48 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 18:21:23 »
This seems to be a huge factor, but I wonder if it's true or if it's the feeling. I think it's the feeling, which definitely must be taken into account.

Earlier today I was trying to come up with things to do with all the keys on my 122 key terminal keyboard. I mapped Left F9 to Windows, Left F10 to Context Menu, and Left F8 to Ctrl+Shift+Esc, and that's all I really came up with off the top of my head. Other things could have been done, but the thing is that I already know how to do most of those things with two character keyboard shortcuts, meaning I don't really see the need to map a new key to something occasional. At that point, I almost saw the 40%ers point of view.

On the other hand, I type 90 WPM, which is fine, using a nonstandard typing form and I'm not glued to the homerow. Hence, I have few issues reaching keys. I'm always reaching keys. No problem. I'd rather have more keys so I can do more stuff. I use the F keys. That's how I do spell check. I control my browser with F keys.

Just because we can use the mouse doesn't mean we have to, or indeed that it's better for most usage. Surely, we here on geekhack, when we're done writing a reply, just hit tab then enter, right?

Offline walie

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #49 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 19:15:19 »
The Boomers here grew up using full size keyboards, and thus prefer them.

The Zoomers here did not grow up using full size keyboards and thus do not prefer them.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #50 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 19:22:21 »
There's definitely a generational difference.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #51 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 19:57:03 »
The Boomers here grew up using full size keyboards, and thus prefer them.

The Zoomers here did not grow up using full size keyboards and thus do not prefer them.

Interesting hypothesis. I wonder if millenials are split down the middle.

Offline atarione

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #52 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 20:40:17 »
umm.. I like 80% keyboards or full sized because my hands are too big to deal with little tiny 60% boards.... I can't really use those small keyboards at all..

I am Gen X for the ageist theorists out there.

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #53 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 21:02:36 »
When I made the original post, I hadn't really intended to kick of a discussion about fullsize vs everything else, thought it seems to be going that way.  Personally, I think that fullsize and TKL are practically the same for most people when it comes to usability- I have noticed that the majority of fullsize keyboard users didn't even use the numpad (though I sorely missed it when moving to TKL).

I was really more interested in whether portability is a major factor behind keyboards these days. The factors were that for sub-TKL, you've got to learn new key locations or rely much more on function layers. And nowadays there seems to be a big deal with Bluetooth connectivity, and I just noticed another group buy for keyboard cases* kicking off yesterday.

So... anyone here actually carry their keyboard around on a regular basis and use it outside the office/home? So far there's a resounding lack of support for portability, but lots of comments about ergonomics or aesthetics.


* The small number of times I've carried a keyboard around with me, I've just wrapped it in a t-shirt. My TKLs take up enough room in my bag, I don't want a padded case making it even bigger. And the bonus of using a t-shirt is that I now have an extra shirt in case I need to get changed :)
« Last Edit: Sun, 31 May 2020, 21:12:27 by jamster »

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #54 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 21:05:12 »
There's definitely a generational difference.

I don't think so at all...In fact, older gens didn't actually have FULL size keyboards early early on.  Of course they did after awhile and practically everything was full size after that...

It really falls into more of how you use it. 

I think most people that get into keyboards have a better understanding of what their needs are when it comes to keyboards and what they're willing to tradeoff when it comes to functionality.  Most people that have actually used TKL will prefer it over full size simply because the extra space for your mouse feels tremendous but will they be willing to trade that for no numberpad?  Some will, some won't. 

Once you've gone TKL you're looking at what else you can do to make things more efficient...but beyond that and it becomes more and more niche. 

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #55 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 22:03:31 »
Fair enough. But there seems to be higher support for 65% boards in Discord, which is a younger cohort. Full-size is uncommon there.

I agree with jamster that portability has not come up in this thread as the main factor behind 65% adoption. But when I hear about people taking their keyboards around, they tend to be 65% or smaller. Relatively more carrying cases being made for <65%. It's considered awkward to bring something as large as a TKL to a cafe or library.

Most of these 65% boards are photographed in home settings, but a good number are used for commuting.


Offline funkmon

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #56 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 22:16:25 »
When I made the original post, I hadn't really intended to kick of a discussion about fullsize vs everything else, thought it seems to be going that way.  Personally, I think that fullsize and TKL are practically the same for most people when it comes to usability- I have noticed that the majority of fullsize keyboard users didn't even use the numpad (though I sorely missed it when moving to TKL).

I was really more interested in whether portability is a major factor behind keyboards these days. The factors were that for sub-TKL, you've got to learn new key locations or rely much more on function layers. And nowadays there seems to be a big deal with Bluetooth connectivity, and I just noticed another group buy for keyboard cases* kicking off yesterday.

So... anyone here actually carry their keyboard around on a regular basis and use it outside the office/home? So far there's a resounding lack of support for portability, but lots of comments about ergonomics or aesthetics.


* The small number of times I've carried a keyboard around with me, I've just wrapped it in a t-shirt. My TKLs take up enough room in my bag, I don't want a padded case making it even bigger. And the bonus of using a t-shirt is that I now have an extra shirt in case I need to get changed :)

The only time I do it is when I go to my mom's house for an extended period of time. Then I bring the keyboard and mouse, because otherwise I'm using their POS stuff.

I will also say that I've been shopping for a 60% board with Alps switches that isn't the Matias, though I think it's a fine keyboard, for that express purpose. Matias is supposedly developing a 65% that's wireless but they've been doing it for 5 years and I don't trust them. I might pick up Unicomp's SSK when it's released, since it seems to be a lot closer to being done than the Matias. Or, I've been considering just dropping one of my Models M off there for my usage in the basement.

I think that by and large, that's what people do. I have a Dell AT101W with black Alps for "quiet" typing at the office, like a billion keyboards at home, and I'll just drop off some random board off with my mom that I like to type on and maybe an old mouse.

My dad went all wireless a few years ago, but my mom doesn't take care of things like he did. No batteries in the house often, and she uses a laptop. My dad's computer is aging, because he's dead obviously. An AMD A9 dual core APU was great at the time, but it sucks now. I'm to the point where I bring my Netbook over there. It's a Lenovo 11 inch yoga something or other. Here's what portability looks like.



It's actually not that bad. Cheap Razer Abyssus mouse and the terminal board just shove right into the USB ports. So I figure I might just leave those two at my parents' house.

Offline typo

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #57 on: Sun, 31 May 2020, 22:34:57 »
walie, I appreciate that you did not take the liberty to insult me.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #58 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 00:28:35 »
Fair enough. But there seems to be higher support for 65% boards in Discord, which is a younger cohort. Full-size is uncommon there.

Full size is pretty uncommon here...there are some people that like it..but for example, how many group buys and custom keyboards are we seeing in full size?  Not a lot as far as I can tell..

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #59 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 10:42:51 »
This seems to be a huge factor, but I wonder if it's true or if it's the feeling. I think it's the feeling, which definitely must be taken into account.

Earlier today I was trying to come up with things to do with all the keys on my 122 key terminal keyboard. I mapped Left F9 to Windows, Left F10 to Context Menu, and Left F8 to Ctrl+Shift+Esc, and that's all I really came up with off the top of my head. Other things could have been done, but the thing is that I already know how to do most of those things with two character keyboard shortcuts, meaning I don't really see the need to map a new key to something occasional. At that point, I almost saw the 40%ers point of view.

On the other hand, I type 90 WPM, which is fine, using a nonstandard typing form and I'm not glued to the homerow. Hence, I have few issues reaching keys. I'm always reaching keys. No problem. I'd rather have more keys so I can do more stuff. I use the F keys. That's how I do spell check. I control my browser with F keys.

Just because we can use the mouse doesn't mean we have to, or indeed that it's better for most usage. Surely, we here on geekhack, when we're done writing a reply, just hit tab then enter, right?

I was baffled about the whole mouse thing too. Clearly anybody who thinks a mouse is a good stand-in for a lot of the keyboard's navigational tricks must not do a lot of data entry.

So... anyone here actually carry their keyboard around on a regular basis and use it outside the office/home? So far there's a resounding lack of support for portability, but lots of comments about ergonomics or aesthetics.

I have taken multiple full-size Alps, capacitive buckling spring keyboards (including an 8 pound F77), and others back and forth between work, and at multiple locations at work multiple times. I imagine I would take one around to public places, if I had a 60-75% that was relatively portable and didn't suck, and actually went to public places with a laptop.

Fair enough. But there seems to be higher support for 65% boards in Discord, which is a younger cohort. Full-size is uncommon there.

Full size is pretty uncommon here...there are some people that like it..but for example, how many group buys and custom keyboards are we seeing in full size?  Not a lot as far as I can tell..

Yup. How much of that is because there are no alternatives though either? Once something is a trend, it has its own gravity. If there are no good alternatives, then that's what you're going to get if you want any options, regardless of whether or not it was your first choice.
« Last Edit: Mon, 01 June 2020, 12:59:48 by Maledicted »

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #60 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 10:55:43 »
Yup. how much of that is because there are no alternatives though either? Once something is a trend, it has its own gravity. If there are no good alternatives, then that's what you're going to get if you want any options, regardless of whether or not it was your first choice.

If there was a group buy for a reasonably-priced full(ish) sized board with the bloody numpad on the left I'd be all over it. I was away from the forum when the Southpaw GB started (which I guess turned out to be okay as it went so far over schedule).

Offline ideus

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #61 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 11:59:07 »

By definition, mechanical boards are old technology. But we use new computing power with mechanical boards. Thus, these should adapt to share space and resources with brand new tech.



Offline DALExSNAIL

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #62 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 12:59:13 »
TKL is my go to, I use it almost purely for aesthetics though. 60% would be my go to for functionality, as most of the keys I need are macro'd to keep me on the homerow.

I was baffled about the whole mouse thing too. Clearly anybody who thinks a mouse is a good stand-in for a lot of the keyboard's navigational tricks must not do a lot of data entry.

I'd say this is true, the norm these days seems to be to learn with the mouse, and I think you have to have a specific need to delve into them (or perhaps friends who guide you). I only really moved to using keyboard shortcuts in the past few years, because I pushed myself to learn VIM. Once I was in the swing of that it sort of pushed me more towards more and more keyboard shortcuts.

Although, in my case vim specifically pushed me towards using smaller keyboards as well. It got me in the habit of wanting to stay on my home row for everything haha.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #63 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 13:32:59 »
Yup. How much of that is because there are no alternatives though either? Once something is a trend, it has its own gravity. If there are no good alternatives, then that's what you're going to get if you want any options, regardless of whether or not it was your first choice.

That might contribute but it isn't the reason.  If there was enough demand someone would've made it.  It isn't like this hasn't been tried...simply do an interest check, if there is enough demand someone will do it.  Be vocal about it, polls, etc, etc...

A few years ago there were a number of complaints from a few people about GMK scoops/bars...which was basically there are a number of people who actually prefer bars and adding 2 keys to an overall set wasn't a big ask compared to the number of users that wanted it...vs. all of this other support for 1800, 75%, etc, etc, that actually applied to fewer people...polls started confirming that was at least the general feeling.  Now you don't see too many GMK sets that don't include FJ barred as part of the core set. 

Given the number of polls on this, I don't think Full is in that much demand...I mean, there is definitely enough for some GBs..but enough to be a common GB?  Not so sure.  I think the people that actually need a numberpad is relatively small and in the mech community, a good number would've tried 1800 as a good in between or a dedicated numberpad.  Even if my role was primarily to crunch numbers I'd seriously consider 1800 or dedicated first...feels excessive but the whole hobby is a bit excessive..

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #64 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 13:40:27 »

By definition, mechanical boards are old technology. But we use new computing power with mechanical boards. Thus, these should adapt to share space and resources with brand new tech.

Devil's advocate:

You've got a lot of free space on that keyboard tray. Why not fill it with a bigger keyboard? I still use a full-size K70 with my gaming rig, mostly because it has MX reds in it, and it is what I have always had for that purpose. I'm not using my keyboard tray for anything else, and can't think of anything else I would use it for if I did stick a tiny board there instead. If anything, I would try a TKL or something to see what everybody is saying about moving your hands closer together for gaming. I can't imagine they need to get any closer than that, if I would notice any ergonomic benefit to begin with.

At work, I'm using a 75% Matias board, since this desk predates personal computers and has no keyboard tray. The smaller the better in my case since I have laptop parts strewn about everywhere.

There are very real pros and cons for and against any relatively popular form factor, depending on the application. I don't see making keyboards smaller as an innovation/advancement/progression of any kind, just a popular trend in an otherwise previously stale market. It gives people options. I think those 75% TG3 "cop keyboards" they mount in squad cars are a good example. You need X to fit Y, for Z? Alright, here you go.

If you were to make an argument for a combination of 60-75% board with a separate numberpad for configurability/flexibility, etc, you would have more of a point, but even then, that's not something everybody wants or needs either. I know some parallels that I actually loathe are the obsession with constantly making phones and laptops thinner at the expense of functionality, and making phone screens as large as possible while still just barely, hopefully ... maybe fitting in a pocket.

TKL is my go to, I use it almost purely for aesthetics though. 60% would be my go to for functionality, as most of the keys I need are macro'd to keep me on the homerow.

I was baffled about the whole mouse thing too. Clearly anybody who thinks a mouse is a good stand-in for a lot of the keyboard's navigational tricks must not do a lot of data entry.

I'd say this is true, the norm these days seems to be to learn with the mouse, and I think you have to have a specific need to delve into them (or perhaps friends who guide you). I only really moved to using keyboard shortcuts in the past few years, because I pushed myself to learn VIM. Once I was in the swing of that it sort of pushed me more towards more and more keyboard shortcuts.

Although, in my case vim specifically pushed me towards using smaller keyboards as well. It got me in the habit of wanting to stay on my home row for everything haha.

I used to do a lot of data entry for the website of a local adhesives company myself. When you're copying and pasting some of the same data from/into fields, tables, etc, thousands of times in a given day, and doing the same thing again tomorrow, you start wondering how you can be more efficient at it. Some of the hotkeys associated with the arrow keys in a spreadsheet are really helpful too for quick tweaks and jumping around from start to finish of the non-empty cells that would take much longer with a mouse.

I imagine that all needs, of any kind, could be fulfilled with any keyboard of any size with the right macros, layering, etc. I don't want to stray into the realm of proprietary layout though myself, both because of all of the cool old boards I have, and the hundreds of laptop keyboards I may have to use in a given month.

Yup. How much of that is because there are no alternatives though either? Once something is a trend, it has its own gravity. If there are no good alternatives, then that's what you're going to get if you want any options, regardless of whether or not it was your first choice.

That might contribute but it isn't the reason.  If there was enough demand someone would've made it.  It isn't like this hasn't been tried...simply do an interest check, if there is enough demand someone will do it.  Be vocal about it, polls, etc, etc...

A few years ago there were a number of complaints from a few people about GMK scoops/bars...which was basically there are a number of people who actually prefer bars and adding 2 keys to an overall set wasn't a big ask compared to the number of users that wanted it...vs. all of this other support for 1800, 75%, etc, etc, that actually applied to fewer people...polls started confirming that was at least the general feeling.  Now you don't see too many GMK sets that don't include FJ barred as part of the core set. 

Given the number of polls on this, I don't think Full is in that much demand...I mean, there is definitely enough for some GBs..but enough to be a common GB?  Not so sure.  I think the people that actually need a numberpad is relatively small and in the mech community, a good number would've tried 1800 as a good in between or a dedicated numberpad.  Even if my role was primarily to crunch numbers I'd seriously consider 1800 or dedicated first...feels excessive but the whole hobby is a bit excessive..

Sure, I'm just curious how much of it comes down to that though. Not so much about full-sized boards. Those will always be the least popular for people who aren't crunching numbers all day, but I would say that demand for 65%-75% boards is much higher than the options available would suggest, and that 60% is just good enough, so it will have to do.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #65 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 14:18:01 »
If anything, I would try a TKL or something to see what everybody is saying about moving your hands closer together for gaming. I can't imagine they need to get any closer than that, if I would notice any ergonomic benefit to begin with.
I agree, the difference in ergonomics once you've gone to TKL is minimal....you won't be using that extra space going to 60% provides. 

That said...you can get pretty efficient with 60% if you lay it out correctly..For me, using left thumb for FN + IJKL for arrow keys is really fast if you get used to it...the problem is it doesn't translate to other devices very well and that's where this is a bit of a pain... I had the same problem w/ the HHKB where switching back and forth between the normal backspace and the \ location for HHKB backspace was really bothersome (although CTRL seemed incredibly natural) and I almost sold my board as a result.  Eventually your brain lets you switch back and forth...

If you're constantly requiring the FN layer, 60% can be a pain...F keys, pg up/down, etc, etc..but if you're not using those keys a lot, it is quite nice having that bit of extra space. 

I was baffled about the whole mouse thing too. Clearly anybody who thinks a mouse is a good stand-in for a lot of the keyboard's navigational tricks must not do a lot of data entry.

Proper shortcuts are definitely better..but hopefully the reason isn't because the person has a lot of data entry. 

Sure, I'm just curious how much of it comes down to that though. Not so much about full-sized boards. Those will always be the least popular for people who aren't crunching numbers all day, but I would say that demand for 65%-75% boards is much higher than the options available would suggest, and that 60% is just good enough, so it will have to do.

You're probably right on that..simply because TKL can be had from all over the place..which is why the demand for them is not as high relative to its usage when it comes to customs..

« Last Edit: Tue, 02 June 2020, 08:56:03 by Polymer »

Offline Sup

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #66 on: Mon, 01 June 2020, 16:28:50 »
The Boomers here grew up using full size keyboards, and thus prefer them.

The Zoomers here did not grow up using full size keyboards and thus do not prefer them.

OBJECTION I grew up with full size boards but dislike them since i switched to 60% years ago.
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Offline Tinman39

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #67 on: Tue, 02 June 2020, 10:03:22 »
For me, it all depends on what I am doing. I have a TKL for a music program that I use that uses Function keys to navitgate. I have a couple 60% boards for gaming because I really don't need anything more. Heck, for one I could probably get away with a 40% if I wanted to. That being said, for work where I am constantly typing in numbers, I have to have a full size. I could probably use something like a 65% (need those delete, home and end keys) and a separate number pad, but at that point I might as well get a full size. I cant wait until I head back into work with a mechanical board and confuse everyone.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #68 on: Tue, 02 June 2020, 11:29:42 »
If anything, I would try a TKL or something to see what everybody is saying about moving your hands closer together for gaming. I can't imagine they need to get any closer than that, if I would notice any ergonomic benefit to begin with.
I agree, the difference in ergonomics once you've gone to TKL is minimal....you won't be using that extra space going to 60% provides. 

That said...you can get pretty efficient with 60% if you lay it out correctly..For me, using left thumb for FN + IJKL for arrow keys is really fast if you get used to it...the problem is it doesn't translate to other devices very well and that's where this is a bit of a pain... I had the same problem w/ the HHKB where switching back and forth between the normal backspace and the \ location for HHKB backspace was really bothersome (although CTRL seemed incredibly natural) and I almost sold my board as a result.  Eventually your brain lets you switch back and forth...

I think I would have no problem with 60%, with the right configuration, and certainly haven't had any the few times that I have used my 60% board (It has crappy Ajazz/Zorro switches in it).

HHKB I don't even want to touch, personally. It reminds me of some of those weird late 70s and early 80s terminal boards. I don't personally understand the the preference for control up where caps lock is. Caps lock is a key that I never use, and I have never had any problem pressing ctrl where it is normally, although my fingers are very long so contorting them in strange ways may be easier for me than others. This positioning of ctrl is actually the single most jarring thing to me about using an AT layout keyboard, although I have adapted reasonably well to that.


For me, it all depends on what I am doing. I have a TKL for a music program that I use that uses Function keys to navitgate. I have a couple 60% boards for gaming because I really don't need anything more. Heck, for one I could probably get away with a 40% if I wanted to. That being said, for work where I am constantly typing in numbers, I have to have a full size. I could probably use something like a 65% (need those delete, home and end keys) and a separate number pad, but at that point I might as well get a full size. I cant wait until I head back into work with a mechanical board and confuse everyone.

You don't have a mechanical keyboard at work yet? I have ... 4 currently spread across two buildings, after having brought a few home recently. All different sizes and switches to boot, now that I think of it. lol. I'm using a Matias Mini Tactile Pro, which is basically 75%. I have a full-sized K70 with Cherry blues that was my workhorse for years, now sitting abandoned on a desk, I have a TKL K65 I put box navies into that I used for a month or two, and the other building has an IBM Model F AT at the desk. I evacuated the F77 recently, which is TKL ... ish, since they usually shut off the climate control during the summer and things start to rust. I should probably do the same with the F AT.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #69 on: Tue, 02 June 2020, 14:19:16 »
HHKB I don't even want to touch, personally. It reminds me of some of those weird late 70s and early 80s terminal boards. I don't personally understand the the preference for control up where caps lock is. Caps lock is a key that I never use, and I have never had any problem pressing ctrl where it is normally, although my fingers are very long so contorting them in strange ways may be easier for me than others. This positioning of ctrl is actually the single most jarring thing to me about using an AT layout keyboard, although I have adapted reasonably well to that.

Using CTRL where capslock is, is so much easier...Keyboard that allow you to swap that, I do that immediately.  The \\\ as a backspace is also really convenient I quite like it when it is there but it takes a bit of time to get used to going back and forth...for others it is the arrow keys which also take a bit of time.   For sure the layout isn't for everyone and personally I'd reconfigure a good portion of if it were up to me but I enjoy the board so much I'm ok with that. 
I don't think people have a problem w/ the original CTRL position either but it just feels more logical and easier on the hands putting something useful where capslock is, because like you said, you never use it so why give it prime position on the keyboard?  Outside of CTRL the only other key you might consider putting there is backspace...

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #70 on: Tue, 02 June 2020, 15:10:06 »
HHKB I don't even want to touch, personally. It reminds me of some of those weird late 70s and early 80s terminal boards. I don't personally understand the the preference for control up where caps lock is. Caps lock is a key that I never use, and I have never had any problem pressing ctrl where it is normally, although my fingers are very long so contorting them in strange ways may be easier for me than others. This positioning of ctrl is actually the single most jarring thing to me about using an AT layout keyboard, although I have adapted reasonably well to that.

Using CTRL where capslock is, is so much easier...Keyboard that allow you to swap that, I do that immediately.  The \\\ as a backspace is also really convenient I quite like it when it is there but it takes a bit of time to get used to going back and forth...for others it is the arrow keys which also take a bit of time.   For sure the layout isn't for everyone and personally I'd reconfigure a good portion of if it were up to me but I enjoy the board so much I'm ok with that. 
I don't think people have a problem w/ the original CTRL position either but it just feels more logical and easier on the hands putting something useful where capslock is, because like you said, you never use it so why give it prime position on the keyboard?  Outside of CTRL the only other key you might consider putting there is backspace...

I want my ctrl right where it is. I have spent way too many years using it heavily the way it is. I have been able to somewhat adjust to it being where caps lock normally is though. I don't know that I'll ever like it, and my muscle memory keeps reverting, but I can make it work. ctrl + alt + delete becomes pretty disorienting too though. Backspace being as high as it is makes no difference to me, probably another long finger thing, just like how I prefer just using the alphanumeric block for typing numbers to a number pad. The arrow keys I absolutely need. I'm not doing proprietary macros to make up for having to press modifier keys just to access them when I already use them in 2-3 key hotkeys as it is. I also want my Windows key where the alt/option key is on the HHKB, and for command to be alt.

I wouldn't mind removing caps lock entirely (though it is a default mapping in some games for sneak,etc). You're right though, it isn't easy to say what should replace it. Maybe escape, in my case, since I actually use that key a lot. Even delete would be nice there, for an easy one-handed ctrl + alt + delete. On my F77, ctrl, delete, printscreen, and the arrow keys are literally all I salvaged from outside of the alphanumeric block. Everything else is reserved for media control keys, or omitted, since I have two blank keys I haven't even mapped.
« Last Edit: Tue, 02 June 2020, 15:38:20 by Maledicted »

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #71 on: Tue, 02 June 2020, 22:52:44 »
I don't personally understand the the preference for control up where caps lock is. Caps lock is a key that I never use, and I have never had any problem pressing ctrl where it is normally, although my fingers are very long so contorting them in strange ways may be easier for me than others. This positioning of ctrl is actually the single most jarring thing to me about using an AT layout keyboard, although I have adapted reasonably well to that.

Switching Control and CapsLock is the single biggest comfort factor for me. Moreso than having the mouse closer to my centreline (which is also pretty noticeable). All of my boards have it enabled. I have pretty average sized hands, and the only way I could stop my wrist from twinging with control in the normal place is by rotating my entire left shoulder back to shift my entire arm lower on the keyboard for control key combinations.

I've mentioned this key swap to others over the years. A couple of people have tried it and had an 'aha' moment, and adopted it. Most others seem fine with the usual place though.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #72 on: Wed, 03 June 2020, 14:29:52 »
I don't personally understand the the preference for control up where caps lock is. Caps lock is a key that I never use, and I have never had any problem pressing ctrl where it is normally, although my fingers are very long so contorting them in strange ways may be easier for me than others. This positioning of ctrl is actually the single most jarring thing to me about using an AT layout keyboard, although I have adapted reasonably well to that.

Switching Control and CapsLock is the single biggest comfort factor for me. Moreso than having the mouse closer to my centreline (which is also pretty noticeable). All of my boards have it enabled. I have pretty average sized hands, and the only way I could stop my wrist from twinging with control in the normal place is by rotating my entire left shoulder back to shift my entire arm lower on the keyboard for control key combinations.

I've mentioned this key swap to others over the years. A couple of people have tried it and had an 'aha' moment, and adopted it. Most others seem fine with the usual place though.

The way you describe that makes it sound absolutely torturous. It makes me wonder if the modern qwerty keyboard, as it came to be, was practically designed for a relatively specific size of hands/length of fingers.

Offline mode

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #73 on: Thu, 04 June 2020, 00:53:57 »
swapping ctrl and cmd for ergo reasons doesn’t hold up when you’re used to cmd on macs. having your main mod next to the space bar and on both sides is significantly more comfortable.

if I used windows I’d probably run ctrl-alt-ctrl as a winkeyless mapping.

Offline Vargr

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #74 on: Thu, 04 June 2020, 11:19:03 »
I just prefer the way they look and they take up less space on my desk.

Plus, as a writer, my first 40% board forced me to create layers with keys like quotes on the second layer in home row. Once I got used to it I wished I had done it a long time ago. Without a small board I never would have tried layers and alternate mappings.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #75 on: Thu, 04 June 2020, 12:27:54 »
swapping ctrl and cmd for ergo reasons doesn’t hold up when you’re used to cmd on macs. having your main mod next to the space bar and on both sides is significantly more comfortable.

if I used windows I’d probably run ctrl-alt-ctrl as a winkeyless mapping.

The discussion is on CTRL and Capslock but either way..

Doesn't hold up for you.  For others it does.  That's why it is good to have the option.  If someone finds a key placement easier for them, it doesn't really matter what other think. 

But specifically around CTRL/Caps, it is a pretty popular switch enough to make it relatively popular within this niche market.  A lot of keyboards support the swap, even include keycaps for it.  Keycap sets often have this support.  So in the least, a good portion of people who have tried it actually like it. 

For others that want it as is...there is still that option and if that works better for you, that's great. 

Offline Learis

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #76 on: Thu, 04 June 2020, 23:33:41 »
I'll say that as a programmer, a 60% keyboard is actually better for me, but this is very subjective. I never use the bottom right shift or the buttons below it. I always use the bottom left for that stuff. Therefore I remapped them to be arrow buttons. So now the arrow buttons are actually closer to me than they normally would be in a regular keyboard. Then I remap function plus those arrow keys to be pg up, pg down, home, and end. Now I have excellent navigation through my code that is much more accessible than where it would normally be on a bigger keyboard! In other words, 60% rocks! No tradeoffs, only benefits for me.

I am absolutely itching though to try out 40%. The main idea is just literally never having to lift your hands to press a button while still having the most fluid experience with typing. Honestly a 60% does that nearly perfectly and I doubt it's worth the trouble of experimenting with a 40%. But it's just fun :P

Offline ideus

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #77 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 08:53:42 »
I'll say that as a programmer, a 60% keyboard is actually better for me, but this is very subjective. I never use the bottom right shift or the buttons below it. I always use the bottom left for that stuff. Therefore I remapped them to be arrow buttons. So now the arrow buttons are actually closer to me than they normally would be in a regular keyboard. Then I remap function plus those arrow keys to be pg up, pg down, home, and end. Now I have excellent navigation through my code that is much more accessible than where it would normally be on a bigger keyboard! In other words, 60% rocks! No tradeoffs, only benefits for me.

I am absolutely itching though to try out 40%. The main idea is just literally never having to lift your hands to press a button while still having the most fluid experience with typing. Honestly a 60% does that nearly perfectly and I doubt it's worth the trouble of experimenting with a 40%. But it's just fun :p




I have a very similar experience. I really do not need all those keys out of the sixty area, when having the navigational and function keys in a layer. I ventured under sixty percent and I was dissapointed by the complexity of frequent keys that need to be layered. In the other hand, there is no significant space saving while using anything under sixty. But, as you pointed is fun and some under sixty boards are just so cute. As a piece of art, they may worth for some. Functionality aside.

Offline frydaja

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #78 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 09:07:55 »
Using my mouse is way more comfortable. Also less hand movements, as everything is really close.  The only keys I kinda miss are arrows. Surprisingly I didn't miss the numpad much, even though I do use the calculator often.

Having other navigation keys doesn't bother me much, as I rarely use them.
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Offline mobileb

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #79 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 13:39:35 »
I do find the smaller formats help with coding efficiency. I do also happen to use Vim as well, but depending on what I'm working on, I don't always have Vim at my disposal. At least on the Mac, depending on the SW, there are also other hotkeys one can use to move around quickly as well.

I actually do not run across a lot of other devs which use the 60/65% or smaller. Most tend to use what their company issues, which tend to be the Apple keyboard which I despise.

I'm the guy that brings their KB to and from the office, when I have to go in. It raises some eyebrows. The other mechanicals (which is very few) I've noticed tend to be ergonomic keyboards and they tend to keep them in office.


Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #80 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 14:09:17 »
I'm participating in this discussion so that I can learn too.

From what I've read, it seems as if the largest factors among people here are space/mousing concerns and ease-of-use.

The 75% and smaller boards give more space for mousing, which is very important for a lot of people. People also seem intent on having more desk-space.

The other thing is that many people work better on a smaller layout, both in terms of speed and ergonomics. You have to train yourself, but you get better results than with 'standard' form-factors.

An opposing view seems to come from people who have both large desks, and keyboard trays. In those arrangements, there is plenty of room for a full-size keyboard. And if your software uses a lot of dedicated keyboard shortcuts, a larger keyboard can be incredibly powerful.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #81 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 16:03:19 »
Using my mouse is way more comfortable. Also less hand movements, as everything is really close.  The only keys I kinda miss are arrows. Surprisingly I didn't miss the numpad much, even though I do use the calculator often.

Having other navigation keys doesn't bother me much, as I rarely use them.

That depends on what you're doing, if you're just talking about slamming tab 30 times to try to highlight a very specific thing on-screen, sure, that would be the case. If you're talking about hitting ctrl + shift + arrow keys to quickly highlight an entire range of hundreds or thousands of cells in a spreadsheet ... not so much. shift + arrow keys/ctrl + shift + arrow keys for precise text highlighting can be more efficient in some situations as well. Just a few examples. If all you're ever going to use again for the rest of your life is a specific 60% with a specific proprietary mapping of your choosing, you can make that work with macros, if not, you can't.

I'm also seeing an interesting dichotomy here where people say they optimize the use of their keyboard by preventing the need to ever move their hands away from the home row, but also that the navigational hotkeys potentially lost as a result don't matter because using a mouse is easier anyway and/or a smaller size has some profound effect on ease-of-use of the mouse ... which requires taking one hand off of the keyboard entirely, negating the previous point. Even if that were not a factor, I can't say that I understand the rigid focus on never diverting from the home row, and I'm the sort of person who doesn't often do so either besides for the arrow keys.

I'm not saying that any specific form factor sucks, of course, everybody has their own preferences and use cases.

Offline mobileb

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #82 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 16:45:46 »

That depends on what you're doing, if you're just talking about slamming tab 30 times to try to highlight a very specific thing on-screen, sure, that would be the case. If you're talking about hitting ctrl + shift + arrow keys to quickly highlight an entire range of hundreds or thousands of cells in a spreadsheet ... not so much. shift + arrow keys/ctrl + shift + arrow keys for precise text highlighting can be more efficient in some situations as well. Just a few examples. If all you're ever going to use again for the rest of your life is a specific 60% with a specific proprietary mapping of your choosing, you can make that work with macros, if not, you can't.

I'm also seeing an interesting dichotomy here where people say they optimize the use of their keyboard by preventing the need to ever move their hands away from the home row, but also that the navigational hotkeys potentially lost as a result don't matter because using a mouse is easier anyway and/or a smaller size has some profound effect on ease-of-use of the mouse ... which requires taking one hand off of the keyboard entirely, negating the previous point. Even if that were not a factor, I can't say that I understand the rigid focus on never diverting from the home row, and I'm the sort of person who doesn't often do so either besides for the arrow keys.

I'm not saying that any specific form factor sucks, of course, everybody has their own preferences and use cases.

Think you hit the nail on the head with usage case. I wouldn't say I'm fanatical about staying locked on the home row. I do touch type, but I don't really think about it. My main use case is typing out code. Most editors devs use are built to help make navigation around the code, windows, etc super easy to do with the keys. So depending on the editor, I really don't need the mouse that often. I also happen to be a fast typer. So there may be some feeling that being able to manage navigation through key strokes is "more efficient" than using a mouse.

This isn't to say I don't use the mouse. When I'm not coding ... I use it quite a bit.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #83 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 17:10:00 »

That depends on what you're doing, if you're just talking about slamming tab 30 times to try to highlight a very specific thing on-screen, sure, that would be the case. If you're talking about hitting ctrl + shift + arrow keys to quickly highlight an entire range of hundreds or thousands of cells in a spreadsheet ... not so much. shift + arrow keys/ctrl + shift + arrow keys for precise text highlighting can be more efficient in some situations as well. Just a few examples. If all you're ever going to use again for the rest of your life is a specific 60% with a specific proprietary mapping of your choosing, you can make that work with macros, if not, you can't.

I'm also seeing an interesting dichotomy here where people say they optimize the use of their keyboard by preventing the need to ever move their hands away from the home row, but also that the navigational hotkeys potentially lost as a result don't matter because using a mouse is easier anyway and/or a smaller size has some profound effect on ease-of-use of the mouse ... which requires taking one hand off of the keyboard entirely, negating the previous point. Even if that were not a factor, I can't say that I understand the rigid focus on never diverting from the home row, and I'm the sort of person who doesn't often do so either besides for the arrow keys.

I'm not saying that any specific form factor sucks, of course, everybody has their own preferences and use cases.

Think you hit the nail on the head with usage case. I wouldn't say I'm fanatical about staying locked on the home row. I do touch type, but I don't really think about it. My main use case is typing out code. Most editors devs use are built to help make navigation around the code, windows, etc super easy to do with the keys. So depending on the editor, I really don't need the mouse that often. I also happen to be a fast typer. So there may be some feeling that being able to manage navigation through key strokes is "more efficient" than using a mouse.

This isn't to say I don't use the mouse. When I'm not coding ... I use it quite a bit.

All good points. I don't think anybody can avoid using a mouse unless they're literally using Unix/Linux with no window manager. lol. I had a math professor who did that. He said the IT department basically just left him alone. I forget what flavor of Linux he was running.

Offline noisyturtle

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #84 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 20:15:20 »
I'm gonna tackle this question less from a practicality or functionality point and more from a mental point.

Some people prefer cute things. If they can get an everyday object that is smaller and cuter, they will. If you go to Japan the entire idea of 'kawaii' is like a national aesthetic.
I also think unconsciously some people think smaller tech means it is more advanced, even though that is objectively not the case across the board.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #85 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 21:14:53 »
I'm gonna tackle this question less from a practicality or functionality point and more from a mental point.

Some people prefer cute things. If they can get an everyday object that is smaller and cuter, they will. If you go to Japan the entire idea of 'kawaii' is like a national aesthetic.
I also think unconsciously some people think smaller tech means it is more advanced, even though that is objectively not the case across the board.

My understanding is that, at least when it comes to computing, the idea is to continually make circuits smaller, decreasing power and thermal requirements at a given level of performance and size. The clincher, however, is that the natural logical conclusion of it all is that at any given technological potential for transistor density ... something larger will always have space for more transistors than something that is smaller, so things that are larger will always have a greater potential for performance than something that is smaller. For that reason, I don't think that desktop computers will ever go away, and the thought of somebody settling for a phone, with inferior performance ... and a tiny, crappy touchscreen as its only main peripheral, is baffling to me.

Pretty irrelevant to keyboards, really, either way.

Offline glazeds0n

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #86 on: Fri, 05 June 2020, 21:46:56 »
Less switches to lube =  :thumb:

Offline funkmon

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #87 on: Sat, 06 June 2020, 03:07:48 »
An opposing view seems to come from people who have both large desks, and keyboard trays. In those arrangements, there is plenty of room for a full-size keyboard. And if your software uses a lot of dedicated keyboard shortcuts, a larger keyboard can be incredibly powerful.

I do not have a large desk, personally. Indeed, I took this photo earlier.



I actually came back to this thread to say something. I switched over to my Model F to make a point to myself, but I also discovered that it's a space saver for me. I typically use a full size Model M, and with that, I sacrifice all spare desk space. Indeed, with my monitors, I already have one hanging off the side of the desk to the right and it's taking up a solid 25% of the mousepad as well. I just don't have the space people seem to.

If I had 3 more inches in any direction, a full size would be great with no compromises. I don't, so I'm really enjoying the fact that I'm not shoving my keyboard into a corner and I'm not cramping my mouse style right now. However, I highly, highly, highly doubt that most of the people with the 75% or smaller keyboards are using a desk smaller than my own. So, to me, unless your monitor is hanging off the desk and sitting on your mousepad, you don't need the extra space from a smaller keyboard.

Anyway, again, I have been enjoying this keyboard, which has been the ideal space saving model for me lately. Here are some reasons:

1. It's got long feet so it goes over my monitor stand in the middle, freeing up desk space.

2. It doesn't have the numpad and nav cluster separated, so I save horizontal space that way.

3. The function keys are on the left, so I can type out in front of me and not smash the mouse.

4. Uh...

Anyway, I've discovered that I've had to make a few compromises that the compact form factor people have to, that is, having a "function layer" for certain keys. I mean I have to press numlock in order to type on the numpad, which is easy, since I typically use it for longish bursts infrequently, that corresponds to my usage. And, considering that was its original design, it's probably fairly normal for it to work like that for people.

I like it.

Now, someone said that people like things small and cute. I think that's true. It's a fashion choice. Look at the mechanical keyboards subreddit. It's essentially a keyboard photography forum where people make their keyboards look as small and as cutesy as possible. That, to me, is what is driving this, not function. They're just rationalizing it to themselves. I mean, come on. You bought a pink keyboard with apple blossoms and a $100 ****ing cable with a pink aviator connection to put on your anime deskmat because you think it looks cool, not because it "saves space."

Offline ideus

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #88 on: Sat, 06 June 2020, 08:44:06 »
It is an interesting reading so far. But, I think that recent posts have been missing the point. It is not really about space available on the desktop; but, about ergonomy. Repetitive movements out of natural resting positions can cause severe pains. So, anything that contributes to have the arms, wrists and hands as close as posible to neutral positions may save most of the stress to the joints and muscles. In this context the battleship style boards and full size ones cannot be centered at their main writing area while allowing a natural position for the pointing device at the same time, making the layout non-ergonomic. Also the main display should be centered to your eyes sight to allow the head a natural position and not cause stress to your neck and backbone. Again, it is not a matter of space, but about relative positions to your body.
« Last Edit: Sat, 06 June 2020, 08:47:03 by ideus »

Offline evilpp

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #89 on: Sun, 07 June 2020, 00:26:41 »
Given that most custom MK are made of material that has some heft...
Would people be interested in these high end MK to be made of exotic lightweight materials for mobility/portability?

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #90 on: Sun, 07 June 2020, 00:48:07 »
Given that most custom MK are made of material that has some heft...
Would people be interested in these high end MK to be made of exotic lightweight materials for mobility/portability?

If this thread is anything to go by, most people are not really using the supposed portability factor of small boards.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #91 on: Sun, 07 June 2020, 21:44:59 »
It is an interesting reading so far. But, I think that recent posts have been missing the point. It is not really about space available on the desktop; but, about ergonomy. Repetitive movements out of natural resting positions can cause severe pains. So, anything that contributes to have the arms, wrists and hands as close as posible to neutral positions may save most of the stress to the joints and muscles. In this context the battleship style boards and full size ones cannot be centered at their main writing area while allowing a natural position for the pointing device at the same time, making the layout non-ergonomic. Also the main display should be centered to your eyes sight to allow the head a natural position and not cause stress to your neck and backbone. Again, it is not a matter of space, but about relative positions to your body.

I have used full-sized boards at work, I have used TKLs at work, and until I brought the old Nan Tan to work, I was using that 75% Matias for two weeks or so. I can't say that I have noticed any difference in ergonomics. I think I still naturally kept my mouse further from the keyboard as the keyboard's relative width decreased though as well. I imagine that one's shoulder width may factor into whether or not this matters, if it does.

Given that most custom MK are made of material that has some heft...
Would people be interested in these high end MK to be made of exotic lightweight materials for mobility/portability?

If this thread is anything to go by, most people are not really using the supposed portability factor of small boards.

They say that Matias keyboards are made out of polycarbonate, which is relatively light and can actually stop bullets with enough thickness. I can't say that even my mini tactile pro is light overall though. There are polycarbonate enthusiast cases for the kit/LEGO boards, right? There are polycarbonate plates as well.

Offline ideus

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #92 on: Sun, 07 June 2020, 22:34:05 »
I admire this guy that does not care much about the "quality" of the legends but their functionality.



Offline JianYang

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #93 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 01:19:45 »
I only have 10 fingers.

Since switching to 50 keys, I have not missed having more keys...

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #94 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 01:36:49 »
I only have 10 fingers.

Since switching to 50 keys, I have not missed having more keys...

Ortho or staggered?

I never managed to get the hang of alpha numpads on a staggered layout. Moved to TKL and still miss the old numpad.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #95 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 13:12:16 »
I have used full-sized boards at work, I have used TKLs at work, and until I brought the old Nan Tan to work, I was using that 75% Matias for two weeks or so. I can't say that I have noticed any difference in ergonomics. I think I still naturally kept my mouse further from the keyboard as the keyboard's relative width decreased though as well. I imagine that one's shoulder width may factor into whether or not this matters, if it does.

You are probably on the less common side then because I think that's what most people notice when they move to TKL, that their mouse position is so much better for them than it was with a full sized keyboard.

Have you tried moving the mouse closer?  Does it feel weird because you're not used to it or is it actually restricting movements? 

Either way, you're definitely in the minority here...even if you like to have your mouse further away, there is no doubt TKL gives you options you don't have when using full. 

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #96 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 13:22:30 »
I have used full-sized boards at work, I have used TKLs at work, and until I brought the old Nan Tan to work, I was using that 75% Matias for two weeks or so. I can't say that I have noticed any difference in ergonomics. I think I still naturally kept my mouse further from the keyboard as the keyboard's relative width decreased though as well. I imagine that one's shoulder width may factor into whether or not this matters, if it does.

You are probably on the less common side then because I think that's what most people notice when they move to TKL, that their mouse position is so much better for them than it was with a full sized keyboard.

Have you tried moving the mouse closer?  Does it feel weird because you're not used to it or is it actually restricting movements? 

Either way, you're definitely in the minority here...even if you like to have your mouse further away, there is no doubt TKL gives you options you don't have when using full.

I have not, but I could try once I move the Matias back into rotation. I wanted to get some time in with perfect condition SKCM white Alps. The reason I bring up shoulder width is I have noticed that, even with a full-sized keyboard, my hands are roughly the same distance from each other as my shoulders are when mousing with my left hand still on the home row. I suppose this may even be another one of those paradoxical situations, in my estimation, seeing as your hands are already very close together on the home row when typing, regardless of the type of keyboard used. I can't say I have noticed any difference in ergonomics when just typing vs when mousing. I can't imagine that people commonly do in this scenario either? I wonder what it was that could be so drastically different about mousing with both hands closer together then ... more similar to just typing normally.

Sure, tiny keyboards give you the benefit of space, sometimes weight, and sometimes maybe efficiency in very specific scenarios. I'm still not sold on most of the rest of it.

Offline ideus

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #97 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 15:05:06 »
I have used full-sized boards at work, I have used TKLs at work, and until I brought the old Nan Tan to work, I was using that 75% Matias for two weeks or so. I can't say that I have noticed any difference in ergonomics. I think I still naturally kept my mouse further from the keyboard as the keyboard's relative width decreased though as well. I imagine that one's shoulder width may factor into whether or not this matters, if it does.

You are probably on the less common side then because I think that's what most people notice when they move to TKL, that their mouse position is so much better for them than it was with a full sized keyboard.

Have you tried moving the mouse closer?  Does it feel weird because you're not used to it or is it actually restricting movements? 

Either way, you're definitely in the minority here...even if you like to have your mouse further away, there is no doubt TKL gives you options you don't have when using full.

I have not, but I could try once I move the Matias back into rotation. I wanted to get some time in with perfect condition SKCM white Alps. The reason I bring up shoulder width is I have noticed that, even with a full-sized keyboard, my hands are roughly the same distance from each other as my shoulders are when mousing with my left hand still on the home row. I suppose this may even be another one of those paradoxical situations, in my estimation, seeing as your hands are already very close together on the home row when typing, regardless of the type of keyboard used. I can't say I have noticed any difference in ergonomics when just typing vs when mousing. I can't imagine that people commonly do in this scenario either? I wonder what it was that could be so drastically different about mousing with both hands closer together then ... more similar to just typing normally.

Sure, tiny keyboards give you the benefit of space, sometimes weight, and sometimes maybe efficiency in very specific scenarios. I'm still not sold on most of the rest of it.


Ah. The explanation is simple your are a lefty. The main ergonomics issue is for right handed. Where the nav pad and num pad of a full size keyboard overlap with the proper area for a mouse.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #98 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 15:13:26 »
I have used full-sized boards at work, I have used TKLs at work, and until I brought the old Nan Tan to work, I was using that 75% Matias for two weeks or so. I can't say that I have noticed any difference in ergonomics. I think I still naturally kept my mouse further from the keyboard as the keyboard's relative width decreased though as well. I imagine that one's shoulder width may factor into whether or not this matters, if it does.

You are probably on the less common side then because I think that's what most people notice when they move to TKL, that their mouse position is so much better for them than it was with a full sized keyboard.

Have you tried moving the mouse closer?  Does it feel weird because you're not used to it or is it actually restricting movements? 

Either way, you're definitely in the minority here...even if you like to have your mouse further away, there is no doubt TKL gives you options you don't have when using full.

I have not, but I could try once I move the Matias back into rotation. I wanted to get some time in with perfect condition SKCM white Alps. The reason I bring up shoulder width is I have noticed that, even with a full-sized keyboard, my hands are roughly the same distance from each other as my shoulders are when mousing with my left hand still on the home row. I suppose this may even be another one of those paradoxical situations, in my estimation, seeing as your hands are already very close together on the home row when typing, regardless of the type of keyboard used. I can't say I have noticed any difference in ergonomics when just typing vs when mousing. I can't imagine that people commonly do in this scenario either? I wonder what it was that could be so drastically different about mousing with both hands closer together then ... more similar to just typing normally.

Sure, tiny keyboards give you the benefit of space, sometimes weight, and sometimes maybe efficiency in very specific scenarios. I'm still not sold on most of the rest of it.


Ah. The explanation is simple your are a lefty. The main ergonomics issue is for right handed. Where the nav pad and num pad of a full size keyboard overlap with the proper area for a mouse.

I am not a lefty. I believe I said that my left hand is on the keyboard's home row when mousing. Maybe it could have been worded better though.

Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #99 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 17:54:03 »
I have not, but I could try once I move the Matias back into rotation. I wanted to get some time in with perfect condition SKCM white Alps. The reason I bring up shoulder width is I have noticed that, even with a full-sized keyboard, my hands are roughly the same distance from each other as my shoulders are when mousing with my left hand still on the home row. I suppose this may even be another one of those paradoxical situations, in my estimation, seeing as your hands are already very close together on the home row when typing, regardless of the type of keyboard used. I can't say I have noticed any difference in ergonomics when just typing vs when mousing. I can't imagine that people commonly do in this scenario either? I wonder what it was that could be so drastically different about mousing with both hands closer together then ... more similar to just typing normally.

It is more comfortable..considerably more comfortable..that's why people go that way. 

Obviously for you, it makes no difference...fair enough, if it made no difference to me I'd probably have Full sized keyboards because, well, why not?

I basically refuse to use a full size board now....at least not for any period of time..

Offline _rubik

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #100 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 18:12:15 »
I jumped into the hobby with a 60% and hated it.

I'm a developer, and layering tilde + arrow keys felt like necessary key strokes. I eventually jumped to a TKL.

Recently though I've been trying to use hjkl etc etc, so I've been considering going back in the smaller direction.

I understand the aesthetic argument, but for me at this point it's all about comfort / ease of use when writing code. Maybe other have a similar experience?

Offline funkmon

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #101 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 21:30:39 »

Ah. The explanation is simple your are a lefty. The main ergonomics issue is for right handed. Where the nav pad and num pad of a full size keyboard overlap with the proper area for a mouse.

I am of the same opinion as Maledicted and I am also not a lefty. My mousepad doesn't move no matter what size keyboard I'm using, and the keyboard doesn't move closer to the mouse either. My mouse is about 3 inches from the side of the full sized Matias I'm using, and about 5 inches from the side of the smaller keyboards I use. It never moved because it's a high DPI, presumably.

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #102 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 21:52:44 »
Mouse position is a big deal for me (right handed) which is why I moved to TKL.

I've just looked down at my desk, and realised I've shoved the keyboard further away from me, towards the monitors, and my mouse range now overlaps my keyboard space by about an inch. I've done this completely without thinking about it, my desk has been like this for days now. The keyboard tends to moves forward and back depending on whether I am writing with a pen and paper, and this is the position my peripherals have ended up in without conscious effort.



So looking at this, I'm figuring there might be some small benefit to using something like a 65% board, but I am simply not willing to forgo separated arrow keys. Just dropping the numbad was a big enough loss in functionality. Also, I like the feeling of 55g unsilenced Topre too much to be tempted by much else out there.

When I am gaming, the mouse moves around a lot further, so what ends up happening is the keyboard is shifted drastically to the left (and tilted) for use purely with my left hand.

I've got a big trackball arriving in the next couple of days, so hopefully this becomes a total non-issue shortly.
« Last Edit: Mon, 08 June 2020, 22:27:49 by jamster »

Offline mobileb

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #103 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 23:52:11 »
I jumped into the hobby with a 60% and hated it.

I'm a developer, and layering tilde + arrow keys felt like necessary key strokes. I eventually jumped to a TKL.

Recently though I've been trying to use hjkl etc etc, so I've been considering going back in the smaller direction.

I understand the aesthetic argument, but for me at this point it's all about comfort / ease of use when writing code. Maybe other have a similar experience?

I progressed from a TKL Ducky to a FC660C to a HHKB. Much of this was in pursuit of faster more efficient typing and navigate while coding. I was skeptical of the HHKB at first, but after using it for a few weeks, I was sold. Although I like the feel of the FC660C better, I prefer the layout of the HHKB. Plus FC660C seems to have a weird quirk where if you convert Caps Lock to Control, there is a hotkey of the small lower left Ctrl+Caps Lock (or small left Ctrl+large Ctrl) which toggle Caps Lock on and off. I keep inadvertently triggering that, which is pretty annoying.

I use the HHKB and FC660C daily but the HHKB is on my main machine. I think the only keys I never really use are keys like Home, End, PgUp, PgDown ... although I have alternates for these with the editors I use, so I never would have used them anyways.

I think coding is a bit of a special case because it typically requires a lot of jumping around as well as high usage of other characters such as numbers and symbols.


Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #104 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 08:33:11 »
Mouse position is a big deal for me (right handed) which is why I moved to TKL.

I've just looked down at my desk, and realised I've shoved the keyboard further away from me, towards the monitors, and my mouse range now overlaps my keyboard space by about an inch. I've done this completely without thinking about it, my desk has been like this for days now. The keyboard tends to moves forward and back depending on whether I am writing with a pen and paper, and this is the position my peripherals have ended up in without conscious effort.

So looking at this, I'm figuring there might be some small benefit to using something like a 65% board, but I am simply not willing to forgo separated arrow keys. Just dropping the numbad was a big enough loss in functionality. Also, I like the feeling of 55g unsilenced Topre too much to be tempted by much else out there.

When I am gaming, the mouse moves around a lot further, so what ends up happening is the keyboard is shifted drastically to the left (and tilted) for use purely with my left hand.

I've got a big trackball arriving in the next couple of days, so hopefully this becomes a total non-issue shortly.

I have that same exact board in black as my first Topre board. I would have preferred something smaller, but that's what was (relatively) cheap at that moment. You do some gaming with 55g Topre? I find them maybe just a bit too stiff/tactile for that purpose. I'm still sticking with MX reds, which brings me to another funny ergonomic quirk. In order to get time in with the Topre board, I have it on top of my desk. I have my mouse, and K70 on a sliding keyboard tray just beneath the surface of the desk. I have been mousing entirely from this tray, using the K70 for in-game movement, and using the Realforce for conversing with people, Google searches, etc. Other than the Topre board maybe being a little high for my chair's most comfortable setting for the mouse and K70, I don't even mind that configuration.

Side note: I currently put Topre 55g above most anything MX as a typist's switch, but it still feels wonderful going from that back to Alps, Matias, capacitive buckling spring, and Kailh thick clicks. I even wonder why I keep making myself go back to the Realforce when I prefer my clickies so definitively, but I want more than just a first impression. I do hope you  branch out and try more of the things available out there if you get the chance.

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #105 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 08:49:54 »
I have that same exact board in black as my first Topre board. I would have preferred something smaller, but that's what was (relatively) cheap at that moment. You do some gaming with 55g Topre? I find them maybe just a bit too stiff/tactile for that purpose. I'm still sticking with MX reds, which brings me to another funny ergonomic quirk. In order to get time in with the Topre board, I have it on top of my desk. I have my mouse, and K70 on a sliding keyboard tray just beneath the surface of the desk. I have been mousing entirely from this tray, using the K70 for in-game movement, and using the Realforce for conversing with people, Google searches, etc. Other than the Topre board maybe being a little high for my chair's most comfortable setting for the mouse and K70, I don't even mind that configuration.

Side note: I currently put Topre 55g above most anything MX as a typist's switch, but it still feels wonderful going from that back to Alps, Matias, capacitive buckling spring, and Kailh thick clicks. I even wonder why I keep making myself go back to the Realforce when I prefer my clickies so definitively, but I want more than just a first impression. I do hope you  branch out and try more of the things available out there if you get the chance.

I am not particularly picky about switches for gaming. So long as it's not too light (Reds) or heavy and mushy (Blacks).

I come from a buckling spring background (used them for gaming too), I've had a couple of Ms for over twenty years, but these days prefer slightly quieter boards. I've also used Alps (Northgate), but have not tried Matias. I've not tried Kailh clickies, but found the clicks of MX switches to high pitched, kind of 'fake' sounding compared to buckling spring. I'd be interested to know whether any of the clones have a deeper click than Cherry.

Edit: bringing it back to topic, I'd say another reason I moved away from Model Ms and an Omnikey is that they were simply too wide for mouse usage comfort. The Model Ms were my most portable boards though. I took them to LAN parties and they've been moved to three continents.
« Last Edit: Tue, 09 June 2020, 09:40:05 by jamster »

Offline geewiz

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #106 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 16:02:14 »
The Boomers here grew up using full size keyboards, and thus prefer them.
The Zoomers here did not grow up using full size keyboards and thus do not prefer them.

Well, that's awkward. I grew up with full-size keyboards, and my favourite layout is HHKB.

(I have a Model M, too, of course.)

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #107 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 16:15:33 »
The Boomers here grew up using full size keyboards, and thus prefer them.
The Zoomers here did not grow up using full size keyboards and thus do not prefer them.

Well, that's awkward. I grew up with full-size keyboards, and my favourite layout is HHKB.

(I have a Model M, too, of course.)

Well, yeah. I imagine that that generalization may apply to some people, but not many. That's one of the things I have actually seen about people in this hobby. Everybody has their biases, and may come to different conclusions, but people do seem to tend to consider other angles when they're presented with them in this community. I very much like that about it. It isn't all just trends and what's in and what's out, you've got different camps based on what they're looking for in a board, and there's healthy discussion between them.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #108 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 17:06:15 »

Show Image



Jesus christ. I have never seen someone's desk that has made me physically recoil before. I'm absolutely shocked. That's amazing. Like, wow. I've never seen anything like that before. It just goes to show different strokes for different folks!


Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #109 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 12:40:54 »
Coming back to this topic after some experimentation.

I've remapped the nav keys into the alphas for a couple weeks now. I like it and have adapted reasonably well, but still prefer to have them physically discreet and separated as on a TKL. I'm finding that even though I can use a function layer nav cluster, I have to pay too much attention to making sure my fingers are homed, and it turns out that for web browsing or excel work, my hands are not over the home row already. Another downside is that it's been hard to adapt control-arrow for moving entire words, as this suddenly involved hitting a three button combination.

So a layered nav cluster has made my crappy ThinkPad keyboard more usable, but I still prefer a larger than 65% board.

I've also started using a custom layout on a Dumang DK6 split. In around the same real estate as a TKL, I've managed to arrange a dedicated number pad and nav clusters. The layout is definitely a work in progress (it's also ortho with thumb clusters)

So, overall, I can appreciate the ideas behind smaller for factors, but personally they are not for me. If I had to stick with one standard layout and not my current weird Lego-block  DK6, I would go back to TKL.

As a side note, I wish I'd had the DK6 a couple months back. Experimenting with layouts and realising that might work, and what definitely will not work, had made me realise that the 44 key Kickstarter Atreus I have incoming is going to be a hundred dollar paperweight.
« Last Edit: Fri, 24 July 2020, 12:45:52 by jamster »

Offline ddot

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #110 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 13:02:01 »
I'm finding that even though I can use a function layer nav cluster, I have to pay too much attention to making sure my fingers are homed, and it turns out that for web browsing or excel work, my hands are not over the home row already.

Totally agree on that point.  Homing my hands to use the arrow keys as I was bouncing from my keyboard to my trackball and macroboard and back again just didn't work for me either.  Dedicated arrow keys just worked better.  For me, a 60% with arrow keys, a HHKB style backspace and a split backspace key would be perfect.  Maybe one day.  My 65% will have to do for now.  (The other 4 keys above the right arrow never really get used).

I also find a 65% + separate numpad to be better than a TKL as I can put the numpad on the other side of my trackball.  As I use the trackball far more than the numpad, my hand gets to use the more comfortable spot more often.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #111 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 14:47:34 »
I'm finding that even though I can use a function layer nav cluster, I have to pay too much attention to making sure my fingers are homed, and it turns out that for web browsing or excel work, my hands are not over the home row already.

Totally agree on that point.  Homing my hands to use the arrow keys as I was bouncing from my keyboard to my trackball and macroboard and back again just didn't work for me either.  Dedicated arrow keys just worked better.  For me, a 60% with arrow keys, a HHKB style backspace and a split backspace key would be perfect.  Maybe one day.  My 65% will have to do for now.  (The other 4 keys above the right arrow never really get used).

I also find a 65% + separate numpad to be better than a TKL as I can put the numpad on the other side of my trackball.  As I use the trackball far more than the numpad, my hand gets to use the more comfortable spot more often.

I think that 60% + dedicated arrow keys, 65%, and 75% are all grossly-ignored potential markets. I too find them to be just about the sweet spot for size and function if I really needed something tiny. some day, maybe.

Online BrickParade

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #112 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 16:10:06 »
just thought i'd weigh in since i've recently moved to a smaller board (65% mech down from a full size membrane) and have been really enjoying it.

I like the saved desk space and, imo slightly cleaner look that a smaller board provides. I also just don't need the extra keys. I work in a library so while I use my keyboard often I'm generally preforming very simple operations. Since I personally don't lose any functionality with a smaller board I felt it just made more sense to downsize. Recently I've also been working from home in a very small apartment, so that saved space is even more useful right now.

Offline Rob27shred

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #113 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 16:48:26 »
I'm finding that even though I can use a function layer nav cluster, I have to pay too much attention to making sure my fingers are homed, and it turns out that for web browsing or excel work, my hands are not over the home row already.

Totally agree on that point.  Homing my hands to use the arrow keys as I was bouncing from my keyboard to my trackball and macroboard and back again just didn't work for me either.  Dedicated arrow keys just worked better.  For me, a 60% with arrow keys, a HHKB style backspace and a split backspace key would be perfect.  Maybe one day.  My 65% will have to do for now.  (The other 4 keys above the right arrow never really get used).

I also find a 65% + separate numpad to be better than a TKL as I can put the numpad on the other side of my trackball.  As I use the trackball far more than the numpad, my hand gets to use the more comfortable spot more often.

I think that 60% + dedicated arrow keys, 65%, and 75% are all grossly-ignored potential markets. I too find them to be just about the sweet spot for size and function if I really needed something tiny. some day, maybe.

65% is where it's at with smaller boards IMO. Just enough extra keys to get the arrow cluster & your most used keys beyond the 60% form factor, while staying small enough to really save on desk space (well most 65% boards at least, there are outliers like the Extent or M65A with their BEZELS). That said this is coming from someone who can happily use a 60% given it has split backspace & split R shift. Also there definitely is some use cases that need full size, TKL, or 75% to get those F keys on the board instead of a function layer. Really I think it depends on your main use case for your KBs as to whether sub 75% is useful for someone or not. That's not taking having a macro or numpad in to the equation to though. A 60% with at least a 9 key macro pad that is programmable is a pretty good combo for getting the physical keys you need while still saving as much desk space as possible also.
« Last Edit: Fri, 24 July 2020, 16:50:07 by Rob27shred »

Offline -Jerry-

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #114 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 18:12:30 »
As many others have said, for me it's just nice having the space saving on my desk and it all being a little tidier. I don't actually find the mouse closer to the keyboard thing a big factor as I have relatively broad shoulders and therefore keep my mouse about three inches from the right edge of my 60%, so I could easily have a bigger board and I will in fact soon, when I move up to a TKL, because I've been wanting F keys back for gaming and find a 75% a bit too cramped.

I often prefer having a numpad on the left side rather than the right so I can enter data without removing my hand from the mouse, so using a little pad off to the left of a smaller board suits me fine. I know I could get a southpaw and maybe one day, haha, but for now it suits me.



The Boomers here grew up using full size keyboards, and thus prefer them.

The Zoomers here did not grow up using full size keyboards and thus do not prefer them.

Problem with the generalisation here is Boomers were up until the mid 60s and Zoomers start at the late 90s. There are a bunch of us 30-40 year olds that grew up with full size but probably spread across the whole spectrum of keyboard sizes.
« Last Edit: Fri, 24 July 2020, 18:15:49 by -Jerry- »
     
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Offline funkmon

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #115 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 19:00:28 »
Man I hate looking at guys with a tenkeyless and a separate numberpad. I understand on your end since you like it on the left and it's easier to apprehend one of those than a nice lefty layout, but man, it still striked me as wrong, you know what I mean?

Offline snarfbot

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #116 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 19:05:52 »
i think the smallest usable sized boards are the 75%. A 96 key board is ideal, as much space saving as practical while still retaining all the necessary keys.

These days I appreciate a little extra room to maneuver the mouse. I tried going back to the full size 104 and it gets in the way and you really have to reach for the wasd. So I get why people are into the really tiny boards to maximize the desk space, but anything to the left of or above the alphas might as well have keys on them imo within reason.

those left side numpads seem like a good idea too if you can train your left hand into doing it.

Offline rgleas

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #117 on: Fri, 24 July 2020, 23:22:35 »
I can share my personal experience in developing a new found love for 60% setups.

I always preferred full size myself, and when I ordered my New Model F62 and F77, I barely touched the F62 and favored the F77, my full size Dell AT101 with Alps SKCL Black switches, or the good old Unicomp Model M. I really used it maybe 2-3 times over a 2 month period, and because of how much I really did like how smooth and tight the New Model F keycaps were on it, I forced myself to just go with it for a little while.I wrote down the FN combinations for stuff like the arrow keys, insert, delete, etc., and just started referencing or even googling where/what to press as my keycaps are also blank(The IBM Capsense software did help with that).

After about 2 weeks ( I am a software developer so I'm typing all day ) I didn't even have to think about it and kinda forgot I was even using a 60% board at all. Then, this week I finally recieved a new blank set of New Model F keycaps to put on my F77 ( I had been waiting months ). I was super excited and first chance I had I put the keycaps on, and then....

OH NO... I had to literally move my hand a few inches to hit the arrow keys... *gasp* and goodness gracious, I had to stretch my pinky down low to hit control... and another stretch to hit backspace.. All of the sudden, my desk had less space, and it was just uncomfortable. So, while those new keycaps sure look nice, I only typed on them about 5 minutes before going back to my F62.

So yes it's painful to start, and I essentially despised these smaller keyboards myself for a long time. However, I don't think I'll ever go back to a full size keyboard again. My productivity has increased, my typing speed has increased (yes I do think that's relatable given how easy it is to hit backspace and truck on), and my overall desk comfort has increased. I'm not sure if that's why "everyone else" is using them, or why they are popular, or even if an F62 fits into that category since it weighs about 9 pounds and is a bit clunky, but that is why I love them.


Cheers!

(Here is my daily driver.)
« Last Edit: Fri, 24 July 2020, 23:33:17 by rgleas »

Offline jamster

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #118 on: Sat, 25 July 2020, 01:19:51 »
I tried a separate numpad for a while. I like the idea (especially the idea of placing it on the other side of a trackball), but as it turns out, my reliance on muscle memory makes an external numpad useless. I shift my input devices around constantly (single keyboard, dual half keyboards, mouse space) so an external pad means I have to look for keypad positioning rather than go by feel of distance and direction from the enter key.

Offline -Jerry-

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #119 on: Sat, 25 July 2020, 04:21:18 »
Man I hate looking at guys with a tenkeyless and a separate numberpad. I understand on your end since you like it on the left and it's easier to apprehend one of those than a nice lefty layout, but man, it still striked me as wrong, you know what I mean?

Sure, I get you. It doesn’t look quite right in the same way just having a southpaw or full size would, but I’ve gotten used to having macro pads on the left, so it suits me. I had a little Pimoroni Keybow there for a while, when I was using Iris’, I had a RoMac in the middle, then a BDN9 because I wanted encoders and finally I’ve reached the near perfect thing for my use; dual encoders and almost a full numpad. If I could find a board that had both a southpaw numpad and dual encoders, I might consider it, but for the time being it suits me, haha.
     
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Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #120 on: Sat, 25 July 2020, 12:16:05 »
Man I hate looking at guys with a tenkeyless and a separate numberpad. I understand on your end since you like it on the left and it's easier to apprehend one of those than a nice lefty layout, but man, it still striked me as wrong, you know what I mean?

You just have to get used to it..

Separate number pads are not that common..but if you're someone that needs to have one for certain tasks (spreadsheets for example) but don't want a Full sized as your normal keyboard, that would be a preference.  Or you can always have a completely separate keyboard I suppose...Personally, I'm glad I don't have to work on spreadsheets on a regular basis but if I did I'd definitely go dedicated numberpad...

Offline funkmon

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #121 on: Sun, 26 July 2020, 23:13:19 »
But the point is why bother when you can just get a full sized?

Offline -Jerry-

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #122 on: Mon, 27 July 2020, 02:49:04 »
But the point is why bother when you can just get a full sized?

... that the distance from your home row to your mouse is reduced and therefore you don't tax your right arm moving back and forth between the mouse?
     
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Offline Polymer

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Re: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?
« Reply #123 on: Mon, 27 July 2020, 02:56:52 »
But the point is why bother when you can just get a full sized?


Because I wouldn't have the dedicated pad next to the keyboard at all times..I'd only pull it out when needed...or learn to use it left handed as someone else did above (which is what I'd probably decide to do). 

Obviously this costs more...but no way would I ever go back to using a full sized keyboard...