Author Topic: Why the popularity of small form factor keyboards?  (Read 5786 times)

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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 doesnít look quite right in the same way just having a southpaw or full size would, but Iíve 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 Irisí, I had a RoMac in the middle, then a BDN9 because I wanted encoders and finally Iíve 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...