Hi, new user here. I have two (one at work, one at home) 14+ year old Kinesis contoured keyboards that I manage to keep operating, cleaning them out periodically and putting Deoxit on connectors to deal with connector flakiness/oxidation issues. Some coworkers see the yellowed plastic and laugh at what they perceive to be ancient hardware. But it gets the job done.
I may be switching to Macs soon and am concerned that these old keyboards may not be compatible with them. (These have the original IBM PC keyboard DIN connector, plugged into a PS/2 adapter, plugged into a flaky PS/2 to USB adapter.)
I'm excited to read that Kinesis plans to be coming out with an improved keyboard soon. It's a given (I hope) that they'll be PC/Mac compatible and have USB connectors, but I hope for some additional improvements:
1. Higher quality keycaps, preferably dyesub PBT, or failing that, double-shot or engraved ABS. At least make these available as an option for users willing to pay a premium for this -- although the keyboard already commands a premium price, so it'd be nice not to be nickeled and dimed too much here. I've worn off some of the surface-applied legends on my keycaps, and it just does not seem right for the Kinesis to have these cheap-seeming keycaps.
2. Replace the rubber keys with real keyswitches. I can understand that they were cheap and easy to squeeze in a large number of them in a tight area, but everybody hates them, and they cheapen the overall feel of the keyboard.
3. Open firmware, or at least easily updated firmware. Many companies see the wisdom of open source nowadays. This blog and others like it are clear evidence of an enthusiast community that a wise manufacturer can leverage to help improve its product at little to no cost. I worked on firmware in computer terminals for over 5 years, and would love the opportunity to dig in and help fix and improve it. When I read about keystrokes getting lost when too many macros are defined, because of having to linearly scan through the entire list with each keystroke, it makes me want to pull my hair out because there's many better ways to do this that would avoid this issue. Also when I read recent accounts of people experiencing the same issues with "stuck shift" state that I experience, it makes it seem like the firmware has been relatively neglected, that bugs like this have been allowed to persist for over 10 years. You are primarily in the hardware business, and would have little to lose by open sourcing your firmware, and potentially much to gain. For one thing, you'll never again find yourself in a situation where you are stuck with firmware you cannot update because some third party wrote it and went out of business.
If you are looking for beta testers, for either new keyboards, replacements electronics, or replacement firmware, I'd love to volunteer. Though I mostly do software nowadays, I'm still quite comfortable taking things apart, pulling chips, soldering/unsoldering, etc. I have removed & sent in keywells that had flaky solder joints (I offered to touch up the solder joint myself but was advised to send it in instead.)
Any news on when the new keyboard will be available?