If you are an old-timer in the computer industry, you no-doubt remember how awesome those old IBM Model-M mechanical keyboards were. They were super-loud, had a lot of key travel, and they weighed like 10lbs!
Well, after that, the era of disposable plastic keyboards rolled in. They switched to using plastic contact sheets, and the keyboard-action was all-plastic. So, after several months of use, keys would start to stick. Worse, you’d have to hit some keys straight down in order to get them to press. For me, this meant just getting a new keyboard once a year or so just to freshen things up and take the frustration out of my life.
Next, I ran across the Logitech Backlight Keyboard. These were (are still) a game-changer, for me. These feel pretty good, have backlit keys, and have very little key travel. As it turns out, not feeling the edges of the keys and not having a lot of travel made me slower on the keyboard, for sure – but it was better, on paper. If you are a casual computer user, I still highly recommend it. I also thought having the backlight helped, because I would look down at my keyboard. It turns out for me, a person who types most of his waking hours, that only hurts me!
If you are on your computer all the time, like me, I wanted to try something different. I ran across the Das Keyboard. This is a mechanical keyboard, very similar to the old IBM ones from the olden days. You can feel each key, the keys have a lot of travel, it’s pretty loud, and this one – doesn’t have any letters or markings on it. Check it out here:
I got this in today, and I am so very, very pleased with this so far. Yes, there is a geek factor to getting the keyboard with no letters, but there is much more to this. Let me try to explain…
You know when you are trying to train someone and they tend to not “try”, because they can just go to you for the answer? You are their crutch. But, if you are out sick one day, then they are amazed at how much they actually were capable of doing on their own! If you’re a decent typist, that is most likely what is going on with you. You are capable of typing so much faster if you just trust your hands, instead of second-guessing them and using your eyes to verify. Trust me, your brain knows where the “Y” and “K” keys are!
OK – so back to today. I plugged in my new Das Keyboard. My first challenge, typing my password. My password is kind of long, and I usually type it based off the pattern on the keyboard (looking at reference keys) – and then my fingers go on auto-pilot. This was the first time I just had to “trust” my fingers, and after 2 times, I got it. I then wrote some e-mails. I would look down at the keyboard a few times, realize that it didn’t help, and just kept typing. My accuracy was the same, if not better. In fact, even as I type this, I would say my accuracy is actually much better!
So what’s going on? I think that when we stop and question our fingers, that slows us down. It interrupts our flow. Whereas now, looking at the keys does me no good, so instead my fingers just type – they definitely already know where all the keys are, I just need have some faith that my fingers have been paying attention all these years!
Bottom line? I’ve been using the new Das Keyboard (with no keyboard letters) for about 7 hours now, and it hasn’t slowed me down in the slightest. In fact, I think it’s definitely improving my typing speed and accuracy.
In addition to all of that, for those that are familiar – it’s a real pleasure to type on these sorts of keyboards. You can almost get a wave of action and sounds going with the clitter-clatter that is kind of addictive and that makes you want to keep typing more.
Bottom line? If you are looking to change things up – I am highly recommending the Das Keyboard Ultimate. If you are not ready to go with no-letters just yet, they have these WITH letters too. Either way, these are pretty great keyboards!