Author Topic: Non-staggered but overall standard layout  (Read 12967 times)

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Offline doub

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Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« on: Mon, 14 October 2013, 20:04:16 »
I just joined the forum because my current keyboard is slowly dying, and I'm looking for a replacement, and maybe you can help me find the perfect keyboard.

My current keyboard looks exactly like that (except it's not a Cherry Stream XT but a Logitech UltraX Premium):



What I like (and would like to keep) is the overall 105-key layout, with keypad, navigation keys, F keys, winkeys and the big double-row Enter key. I like thin laptop-like keys, but I can do without.

What I don't care about is color, key labels (I'm mostly touch-typing), the key "feel" (I'm comfortable on my Logitech cheap keyboard, and I assume it got the worst feel you can get), whether it's a commercial product or a hobbyist/hacker kit, and to some extent the price.

What I really don't like, and absolutely want to avoid, is the staggered rows. If I'm here and not just buying another one of these cheap Logitech or Cherry keyboards is that I would like to go to a non-staggered layout. Here is a mockup of my ideal layout:



I browsed the forum a bit looking for non-staggered keyboards, but all I found was ergonomic or matrix like keyboards, while I'd really like to keep the overall layout of the 105-key standard keyboard.

So do you know of any keyboard, be it a commercial product or a geekhack-er experiment, with a layout close to the second picture?

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 14 October 2013, 20:25:53 »
Lots of people complain about staggered layouts. I understand that it started as a mechanical necessity with typewriters, but I think that it is very good at keeping the centers of your targets discreetly separated from each other, and allowing for accurate touch typing.

Personally, I despise keyboards where the keys are lined up in straight columns.

But no, I have never bought or owned one.
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Offline dorkvader

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 14 October 2013, 20:34:24 »
I think you will have to make your own, unless you want a typematrix. Your idea reminds me of the symmetric stagger filco. I wonder if implementing the same idea as his with your layout will be the best option.

Offline Hyde

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 14 October 2013, 21:04:09 »
Like fohat.digs said that staggering layout stems from mechanical necessity from type writer.  But I think it should be a cool idea to have all the keys lined up and it shouldn't be too hard to do I believe.

I guess the hard part is to reinvent something, it will cost a lot to re-create all the parts needed.  For example you'll need new PCB and new keycap spacing.  In terms for enthusiasts that's a lot of existing keycap set that will not fit.

However I think your photoshop work is very well done.  Couldn't see any flaws.  Only thing I'd complain is that the bottom row should actually move 1 units left, because typically B is directly under G, and N is directly under H.  But I guess then the left shift wouldn't fit in this ISO layout.  Won't be a problem for ANSI layout though.

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Offline Oobly

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 03:55:05 »
... Only thing I'd complain is that the bottom row should actually move 1 units left, because typically B is directly under G, and N is directly under H.  But I guess then the left shift wouldn't fit in this ISO layout.  Won't be a problem for ANSI layout though.

Actually, it's precisely halfway between G and H, same as the difference between the number row and top alpha row, since the stagger goes rows 2,3,1,4 in 1/4 key divisions. In other words, the original levers would be in this order from left to right for the 3rd column: W,S,3,X. So actually Z (or Y for a QWERTZ) is more in line with W than X is.

Most wouldn't dispute that G is under T, but is V or B more in line with the "same" row letter T? The whole layout is a mess and I think his version of a vertical column layout is just fine, even though it would take some time for a touch-typist to relearn the bottom row.

As for the original question, AFAIK there aren't any that keep the full standard size and layout for the extra keys. Most would reason that if you're changing layout for better ergonomics, why go halfway? Closest would probably be the Typematrix and Truly Ergonomic. They at least have dedicated arrow clusters. The one I like the most (other than my own custom) is the ErgoGP / Nexus being developed by AcidFire: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=44940.msg935191#msg935191
« Last Edit: Tue, 15 October 2013, 04:02:11 by Oobly »
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Offline The_Beast

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 03:57:58 »
Look into a Tipro board:


They're programmable so you can have pretty much any key arrangement you want. However, you're not going to be able to get a large ISO enter
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Offline genkidama

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 04:05:32 »
Wouldn't be this linear design too much of a change in typing/thinking? I would think that after relearning to type on your desired keyboard you cannot type on any other keyboard as the layout is different to yours you've learned.

Can someone point out why this is good? I'm not here to judge badly about this, I'm just curious as I never saw something like that other than pads to make music or stuff like that.

But still, the layout looks very neat.
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Offline BlueBär

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 05:15:45 »
I would recommend a Tipro, too, they are ususally quite cheap as well. If you want a big enter you can use one of those 2x2 keys that come with some Tipros, if you can't find one I'm sure somebody has one from the Signature Plastics crap bags or from a different POS board.

Wouldn't be this linear design too much of a change in typing/thinking?
Can someone point out why this is good?

This is a lot about habit and preference. The standard staggered layout isn't exactly natural, to go from one row to a different one your hand doesn't move straight up, it moves diagonally or depending on how you type, in a curve, and both hands move in the same direction (when going up the hands also go to the left). With a non-staggered layout the hands just move up and down in a straight line.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 07:44:58 »
Perhaps my fingers are unusually large, blunt, or clumsy, but I need some leeway.

Touchscreens, such as my Android phone, make me insane. If I can successfully type half a dozen letters without a mistake, it is a triumph. A full dozen is a miracle. And that is when I turn the phone sideways (always) so that the targets are perhaps half again as large as they are the other way, which is all but unusable.

If the tiny rectangles were sophisticated enough to sense areas of greatest pressure as "warm and fuzzy" quantum clouds rather than discreet points, it might be a lot better for people like me. Or to have a good dead zone around each sensor.

Staggered arrangements allow for the epicenters of each actuation zone to get some "elbow room" and be more forgiving of the incoming motion.

At least that is how I see it.

And if I ever get to the point where I am typing mostly for non-work, not assisting multiple other people on normal keyboards, and can give up the numpad, I will probably switch over to Colemak. But keep my keys large, tall, separated, and staggered, please.
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Offline 0100010

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 08:09:34 »


That hurts my fingers just thinking about typing on it.

As others have said - you will probably need to design a new PCB with the switch positions you want, while ensuring spacing works for the keycap sizes.

Also brings to mind boards like these :

http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=49680.0
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=36064.0
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Offline Thimplum

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 08:18:30 »
You'll have to make your own.
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 08:39:14 »
Found some pictures of the Cherry G86 63400 series online: http://www.cherrycorp.com/english/downloads/CID/G86/G86-63/G86-63400/300%20dpi/G86-63400%20AV%20300%20dpi.jpg

Looks like it could fit the bill, but you will probably have to either settle for an arrow cluster and edit keys OR a numpad at the right hand end. Could just use an external numpad next to it I guess. Who knows, maybe there is an even bigger POS keyboard out there for you.... Also, not sure what type of switches it has.
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Offline dorkvader

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 08:45:47 »
Show Image


That hurts my fingers just thinking about typing on it.

As others have said - you will probably need to design a new PCB with the switch positions you want, while ensuring spacing works for the keycap sizes.

Also brings to mind boards like these :

http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=49680.0
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=36064.0
I was thinking of this mod as well:
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=19613.0

Found some pictures of the Cherry G86 63400 series online: http://www.cherrycorp.com/english/downloads/CID/G86/G86-63/G86-63400/300%20dpi/G86-63400%20AV%20300%20dpi.jpg

Looks like it could fit the bill, but you will probably have to either settle for an arrow cluster and edit keys OR a numpad at the right hand end. Could just use an external numpad next to it I guess. Who knows, maybe there is an even bigger POS keyboard out there for you.... Also, not sure what type of switches it has.

If you are going to go with a full matrix keyboard (which isn't really what the OP wants) a mechanical one like access, tipro or the cherry G80-1950 is probably better.

Perhaps the best way is to go direct wire?
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=40567.0
« Last Edit: Tue, 15 October 2013, 08:58:18 by dorkvader »

Offline IvanIvanovich

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 11:14:45 »
I made a mini keyboard like this once, by modding an Access-IS

Offline Parak

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 11:23:03 »
IMHO, XY matrix layout doesn't work well in the width of a regular keyboard. There needs to be quite a bit of separation between the two hands in order to not have to twist wrists to compensate, as otherwise fingers tend to hit each other more than in a staggered layout. Ideally, one would use two separate XY modules to do this, sort of like an ergodox.

Offline doub

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 04:56:52 »
Thanks for all the suggestions, especially the link to "The Symmetric Stagger Board" project, which I missed in my search. It's staggered, but at least it is in a smart way.

My post was as much about finding an existing keyboard as about taking the temperature about such a non-staggered but otherwise classic layout. I feel like it's not very appealing to most people, which explains why it hasn't been done before.

I was considering rolling my own board, I can do some electronics, but a full size keyboard PCB is quite large. Can anyone recommend a cheap PCB fab house that can do a full 105 keyboard (I believe it's around 20x45cm) at a reasonnable price?

Offline BlueBär

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 07:49:11 »
I was considering rolling my own board, I can do some electronics, but a full size keyboard PCB is quite large. Can anyone recommend a cheap PCB fab house that can do a full 105 keyboard (I believe it's around 20x45cm) at a reasonnable price?

What you could do is getting a plate out of steel or aluminium cut and use the direct wiring technique.

Offline Hyde

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 08:32:07 »
... Only thing I'd complain is that the bottom row should actually move 1 units left, because typically B is directly under G, and N is directly under H.  But I guess then the left shift wouldn't fit in this ISO layout.  Won't be a problem for ANSI layout though.

Actually, it's precisely halfway between G and H, same as the difference between the number row and top alpha row, since the stagger goes rows 2,3,1,4 in 1/4 key divisions. In other words, the original levers would be in this order from left to right for the 3rd column: W,S,3,X. So actually Z (or Y for a QWERTZ) is more in line with W than X is.

Most wouldn't dispute that G is under T, but is V or B more in line with the "same" row letter T? The whole layout is a mess and I think his version of a vertical column layout is just fine, even though it would take some time for a touch-typist to relearn the bottom row.

Oh I say B is under G because it's how you type, you type that entire column with index finger.  So I'd assume we should align all the letters based on how you type.  :D

Refer to this:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Touch_typing.svg

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Offline terran5992

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 09:08:44 »
... Only thing I'd complain is that the bottom row should actually move 1 units left, because typically B is directly under G, and N is directly under H.  But I guess then the left shift wouldn't fit in this ISO layout.  Won't be a problem for ANSI layout though.

Actually, it's precisely halfway between G and H, same as the difference between the number row and top alpha row, since the stagger goes rows 2,3,1,4 in 1/4 key divisions. In other words, the original levers would be in this order from left to right for the 3rd column: W,S,3,X. So actually Z (or Y for a QWERTZ) is more in line with W than X is.

Most wouldn't dispute that G is under T, but is V or B more in line with the "same" row letter T? The whole layout is a mess and I think his version of a vertical column layout is just fine, even though it would take some time for a touch-typist to relearn the bottom row.

Oh I say B is under G because it's how you type, you type that entire column with index finger.  So I'd assume we should align all the letters based on how you type.  :D

Refer to this:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Touch_typing.svg

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Offline Parak

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 09:25:45 »
I was considering rolling my own board, I can do some electronics, but a full size keyboard PCB is quite large. Can anyone recommend a cheap PCB fab house that can do a full 105 keyboard (I believe it's around 20x45cm) at a reasonnable price?

Try sitopway.

Offline davkol

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #20 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 16:18:37 »
There's one flaw in this idea. Hand separation. Angle on the right side of standard staggered layout reduces thtat need a bit, but you lose that with a grid layout. Thus, you'd be better of with a wide mod just like DreymaR's one.

... Only thing I'd complain is that the bottom row should actually move 1 units left, because typically B is directly under G, and N is directly under H.  But I guess then the left shift wouldn't fit in this ISO layout.  Won't be a problem for ANSI layout though.

Actually, it's precisely halfway between G and H, same as the difference between the number row and top alpha row, since the stagger goes rows 2,3,1,4 in 1/4 key divisions. In other words, the original levers would be in this order from left to right for the 3rd column: W,S,3,X. So actually Z (or Y for a QWERTZ) is more in line with W than X is.

Most wouldn't dispute that G is under T, but is V or B more in line with the "same" row letter T? The whole layout is a mess and I think his version of a vertical column layout is just fine, even though it would take some time for a touch-typist to relearn the bottom row.

Oh I say B is under G because it's how you type, you type that entire column with index finger.  So I'd assume we should align all the letters based on how you type.  :D

Refer to this:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Touch_typing.svg

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WTF has bottoming out to do with this?

Offline davkol

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #21 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 16:27:08 »
Wouldn't be this linear design too much of a change in typing/thinking? I would think that after relearning to type on your desired keyboard you cannot type on any other keyboard as the layout is different to yours you've learned.

Not really. In fact, good columnar layout is completely natural, unlike the usual staggered one. In the end, you just learn two ways to type. It's just like with handwriting or anything else. If you learn kanji, you don't forget latin (I had to relearn writing technique in a way, because Asian scripts usually don't work well for left-handed people.)

Can someone point out why this is good? I'm not here to judge badly about this, I'm just curious as I never saw something like that other than pads to make music or stuff like that.

Human body is symmetric, hence symmetric layout.
Human fingers have different length, hence columnar layout (e.g. ErgoDox, someone has to mention it ^.^).
The usual staggering isn't exactly intuitive, hence grid even on some keyboards for hunt'n'peckers.

Offline doub

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #22 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 16:53:10 »
There's one flaw in this idea. Hand separation. Angle on the right side of standard staggered layout reduces thtat need a bit, but you lose that with a grid layout. Thus, you'd be better of with a wide mod just like DreymaR's one.

I'm not looking for an ergonomic pattern, I'm pretty sure split keyboards with non-straight rows like the ErgoDox and others are much more capable in that area.

I use my keyboard not to enter lots of text, but as a control device for my computer. Sometimes it involves typing text, most of the time it's navigation in a GUI or a command line, or hitting specific keys used as commands in Vim. Sometimes I need to keep my right hand on the mouse, and I use only the left one on the whole keyboard. Sometimes I have only the right hand on the keyboard, and my left one is fiddling with the device I'm currently working on. So going to a split keyboard is not going to make it for me.

A POS-style keyboard might sound appropriate, but I think I would quickly get lost on it for several reasons. I like having several key clusters for different things (arrows for small range navigation, the home/end/pgup/pgdown for large range navigation, the numpad when I need to enter large series of numbers), and having big keys for functions I use most often (mostly enter, backspace, space and tab). Also when I enter text, I don't use my pinkies to type, but to align my hands on the main keyboard area: they just reach for the left and right edge. I never managed to use the bumps on F and J for that. So to keep my pinkies permanently on the edge of the main text cluster, it cannot be too large.

Offline davkol

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #23 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 17:45:17 »
I don't see what's the point then...

Offline doub

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #24 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 18:36:07 »
I don't see what's the point then...

I explained my reasons in my previous posts. I'm not a native english speaker, so maybe I'm not communicating my intentions properly. Please tell me what's not clear.

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Offline Oobly

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #26 on: Thu, 17 October 2013, 03:27:17 »
....
A POS-style keyboard might sound appropriate, but I think I would quickly get lost on it for several reasons. I like having several key clusters for different things (arrows for small range navigation, the home/end/pgup/pgdown for large range navigation, the numpad when I need to enter large series of numbers), and having big keys for functions I use most often (mostly enter, backspace, space and tab). Also when I enter text, I don't use my pinkies to type, but to align my hands on the main keyboard area: they just reach for the left and right edge. I never managed to use the bumps on F and J for that. So to keep my pinkies permanently on the edge of the main text cluster, it cannot be too large.

You can remove keys to create clusters. Also, you can use double or quad keycaps for larger keys. Can use contoured MX caps to give you more tactile references, etc.. And they're programmable. Best option so far other than building your own, IMO.
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Offline davkol

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #27 on: Thu, 17 October 2013, 03:40:34 »
I don't see what's the point then...

I explained my reasons in my previous posts. I'm not a native english speaker, so maybe I'm not communicating my intentions properly. Please tell me what's not clear.

I've read your posts once again, more carefully, but I still fail to understand why you insist on grid layout, if you don't really care about typing comfort.

Offline doub

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #28 on: Thu, 17 October 2013, 05:30:08 »
I've read your posts once again, more carefully, but I still fail to understand why you insist on grid layout, if you don't really care about typing comfort.

Well, there are two reasons.

One is about accessing a single key quickly. Like I explained, I spend a lot of time with the keyboard, without typing lots. I'm reading for a while, and when I want to do my edit, I press a few keys. And I feel like sometimes I'm missing the first key by half a width or so. For the next few ones my hand realigns quickly, but as my typing flow is made of lots of short bursts rather than fewer long sequences of text typing, the first key access is important.

The other reason is mostly philosophical. The only reason we have the current staggered layout is because of a long gone mechanical design. I'm a modernist and I don't like perpetuating flawed things just because they are traditional. I'm not saying a grid design is better than a staggered one, but at the very least the staggered design should be regular (from one inter-row offset to the next) and symmetrical.

Why I posted is because I'd like to try a letter grid design with otherwise identical space/enter/tab keys, to see if I like it or not. Maybe it's a rubbish idea and I'll hate it. Maybe it's exactly what I need.

Offline davkol

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #29 on: Thu, 17 October 2013, 08:41:11 »
Have you seen those "accessible" keyboards for kids and elderly people? Those often have grid layout.

The first thing I've found is Chester Creek Visionboard2, but there are better looking ones, some even mechanical.

Offline doub

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #30 on: Thu, 17 October 2013, 10:14:01 »
Have you seen those "accessible" keyboards for kids and elderly people? Those often have grid layout.

The first thing I've found is Chester Creek Visionboard2, but there are better looking ones, some even mechanical.

Yes, I've stumbled upon them during my quest, but they all suffer from a reduced key count, and most (if not all) have over-sized keys.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #31 on: Thu, 17 October 2013, 10:27:30 »
The matrix layout is surely an "improvement" upon staggered Qwerty..

However, two other major problems with the traditional plank-keyboard remain..

No ability to "tent the keyboard in the center for striaght-wrist comfort.

AND the major keys are still too close together.. (left to right) such that we have to scrunch our shoulders/elbows together to comfortably reach them..

This is especially true of the Y and T key...

People with narrow shoulders (women) and Super star Shawn Wrona have a significant advantage on standard keyboards because they can comfortably rest their shoulders.


Offline davkol

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #32 on: Thu, 17 October 2013, 11:08:49 »
However, two other major problems with the traditional plank-keyboard remain..

No ability to "tent the keyboard in the center for striaght-wrist comfort.

Tented design isn't the best thing for one-handed typing or pressing hotkeys without mirrored layout.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #33 on: Thu, 17 October 2013, 11:12:32 »
However, two other major problems with the traditional plank-keyboard remain..

No ability to "tent the keyboard in the center for striaght-wrist comfort.

Tented design isn't the best thing for one-handed typing or pressing hotkeys without mirrored layout.

What? The OP only has 1 hand?  I didn't know this..

Well. if you got 1 hand I think keyboarding would still be good if you had 2x of the same side tented ergodoxes, put both on the same side.

There would be more shoulder movement than only using 1 ergodox.. but well you got 1 hand.. something has to give.

Offline doub

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #34 on: Fri, 18 October 2013, 05:45:38 »
What? The OP only has 1 hand?  I didn't know this..

I have 2 hands, but I use my keyboard to control my computer, not typing text, and a lot of the time one of my hands is busy on another device (be it the mouse or the thingy I'm currently working on).

Offline Hellmark

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #35 on: Fri, 18 October 2013, 13:04:19 »
While it may sound good to you in theory, you may find that in practice you hate it. Part of the reason why, is angle of your hands. with a grid like layout, your hands are best suited to be not angled on the keyboard, and that can make things be a bit cramped when doing your home keys. My hands are too big to even let me do that. When you angle things, you can fit in a little better. Not only that, but as you move around the keyboard, you it is difficult to not angle them, without moving your arms.

Offline rowdy

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #36 on: Sat, 19 October 2013, 00:55:06 »
What? The OP only has 1 hand?  I didn't know this..

I have 2 hands, but I use my keyboard to control my computer, not typing text, and a lot of the time one of my hands is busy on another device (be it the mouse or the thingy I'm currently working on).

You want to be careful around here admitting that you type with one hand while your other hand is on your thingy.  People might get the wrong idea.
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Non-staggered but overall standard layout
« Reply #37 on: Sat, 19 October 2013, 00:58:06 »
While it may sound good to you in theory, you may find that in practice you hate it. Part of the reason why, is angle of your hands. with a grid like layout, your hands are best suited to be not angled on the keyboard, and that can make things be a bit cramped when doing your home keys. My hands are too big to even let me do that. When you angle things, you can fit in a little better. Not only that, but as you move around the keyboard, you it is difficult to not angle them, without moving your arms.

Yes. you are correct..

There is a "reason" that staggered qwerty is staggered.

It is because on a flat board, your hands angle towards each other. 

But this causes it's own problems, because most people do not learn the proper technique for typing..

and they bend the hands up at an angle to match the board's vertical orientation.