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  1. ReproveTheCurlew

    ReproveTheCurlew Active Member

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    What is the best keyboard for writing?

    Discussion in 'Software' started by ReproveTheCurlew, Aug 31, 2018.

    After long considerations and the imminent breakdown of my laptop, I have decided, at long last, to replace my six-year-old machine with something new - but a desktop, rather than a laptop!

    Why?

    Because it's cheaper, mainly. I can get away with paying merely £400 for a really good computer (provided I get the right parts), whereas for a decent laptop I'd have to pay around £1000 or more. I don't do much writing when I'm on the go anyway, and my old laptop should still be okay for that. And, lastly, upgrading desktops is much easier, so rather than buying a new machine in six years, I could just replace individual parts.

    Anyway, that brings me to the point of this thread: Considering I'm going desktop now, are there any keyboards you would recommend? Since all work I do is mainly writing-focused, it's one aspect I wouldn't cut down on.
     
  2. Vandor76

    Vandor76 Senior Member

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    A £1000 laptop is overkill if you use it only for writing, email and browsing the internet. I have a £300 Acer laptop that is slim, lightweight and for the tasks listed, it is doing its job pretty well (plastic case, no premium metals).

    A desktop also needs a good display (especially if you plan to stare at it for longer periods) and that is somewhere around £200. If your estimated £400 contains that and leaves £200 for the PC parts, I would not call the resulting machine a "really good computer", but an average one that is still good for what you plan to use it.
    Buy one that can be rotated so you can read longer texts with less scrolling and less distraction.

    I also have a £400 desktop (just the machine, I use an older display with it) and as I do not play games I can use its full power only when I start multiple virtual machines to model some IT environments. You do not need such a workhorse, do you?

    To answer your question on keyboards: I am easily distracted by the sound of the keyboard, but some love the clicking sound as they type. Normal keyboards are more silent, mechanical ones are more durable but noisy. I used a very nice curvy "designer" keyboard in the past, but I hated it because the distance between the keys were not equal and I always missed the letters in the upper row. Unfortunately it did not improve over time so I swapped it with a normal "bar type" keyboard and I'm happy with it.
    The only thing you should worry about is to have some support for your hand, so you don't need to hold it in the air.

    Searching for "keyboard for writers" in Google brings up many pages on this topic and I have quickly looked at the first few, but I was not that impressed, except maybe the Dell 104 Quiet Key.
     
    ReproveTheCurlew likes this.
  3. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I work on a MacMini desktop computer (the latest model, but new in 2016). For a monitor I use a VERY OLD but still FANTASTIC Formac Oxygen flat monitor. By old, I mean I bought this back around 2000 ...and it's still going strong. (And I have a new unused one waiting in the wings, in case this one dies before I do.)

    My keyboard is an old clackity clack Apple model (stepped keys, set up like a typewriter.) It's white, but I couldn't tell you when I acquired it. I've been using it for years and years. (And I have a couple of spares hanging around as well, in case this one dies.)

    The selling point for me, regarding this keyboard, is that both the left and right shift keys are double-sized. I absolutely DETEST the keyboard on my husband's newer iMac and the keyboard on our MacBook Air, because—for reasons best known to themselves—the designers of said keyboards have reduced the size of the left shift key. That means every time I try to type certain capital letters (u, i, o, p, h, j, k, l, b, n or m) that are dependent on me being able to hit the shift key with my left hand, I keep hitting between keys or the wrong key ...and getting a tilde symbol ~ instead. Aaargh. These flat keyboards were NOT designed for ten-fingered typists!

    So, I suppose if you're not a 10-finger typist, you'll probably be looking for other things. But if you do use ten fingers when keying in your magnus opus, I'd suggest a stepped keyboard with a good-sized shift key on both sides of the board!

    Another good thing about a stepped keyboard is that you can easily remove the keys for cleaning the gunge that collects underneath them and affects performance, as well as cleaning the tops of the keys as well. I do that fairly often.

    I'm glad to have our laptop for emergencies. If I needed to go somewhere overnight or something, it would be nice to be able to take it with me. But I love a desktop computer. I have a comfortable place to sit to use it, and it never needs 'recharging.' And I can place the monitor as close or as far away as is comfortable for my eyesight.

    As far as I remember, laptops were never intended, originally, to replace desktops. They were an adjunct to them, allowing you to work away from home. For that purpose, they are unbeatable. But if you DO work at home most of the time, you really don't need one. Desktops are better in so many ways, and are more ergonomic to use as well. You just can't carry them around with you.

    .............

    By the way, when it comes to keyboards (and a mouse) to go with desktops, don't overlook eBay. They sell perfectly good used desktop keyboards really inexpensively, usually because they've switched to laptops! And most old keyboards work well with up to date systems. So maybe try one from eBay?
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
    ReproveTheCurlew likes this.
  4. ReproveTheCurlew

    ReproveTheCurlew Active Member

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    Thanks for your response, @Vandor76 ! Yes, you're quite right, £1000 is a lot for a writing-only machine, but I do use it for a whole range of things other than just every-day tasks. I do need a good machine, but it doesn't need to be a good portable machine - and that's where the desktop is just cheaper. Also, the keyboard quality of laptops in the £300 range just isn't that good (at least in my experience). I was calculating £400 before the display, but that can also be in the £100 range (from what I've seen there are good ones around that price). Possibly £400 is too much of a workhorse, esp. since I don't do gaming either, but the prices for gaming pcs do seem to go into the thousands, so I'm really not sure... perhaps I can get away with £300 for the body without the display.

    Thanks for your thoughts on keyboards; I'll have a google around. Trouble is a lot of people recommend ergonomic keyboards - but I find them dreadful

    Edit: and thank you @jannert :D lovely anecdote about your stepped keyboard - that's actually something I hadn't considered. I had one when I was a kid and enjoyed typing on it immensely... but haven't used anything like that for years. The shift-key problem isn't really an issue for me; I'm quite comfortable with my current one (which has two very narrow shift keys). But the ability to clean them is a great point! Mine are filthy :(
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
  5. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    The keyboard I'm using right now is the Redragon K552 which I chose because it has mechanical keys, is built like a beast, and cost only around 40$. So far I'm really impressed at it's durability. I've put enough words through it to have killed at least one normal membrane keyboard and it just keeps ticking and the backlit keys are a really nice feature when typing after dark. One feature I've found surprisingly great about it is that, like most other mechanical keyboards, the keycaps can be switched out to give the keyboard, not only a different aesthetic, but a different typing feel as well that I can take with me to a new keyboard if and when this one eventually fails. I found a set of DSA profile keycaps that makes it feel more like an old Commodore or PET.
     
  6. kriti

    kriti New Member

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    There are lots of good options available in the market for Professional writers. Some of the best keyboards are given here, Have a look at them:

    • Filco Majestouch-2
    • Logitech Craft
    • Microsoft Modern Keyboard
    • Leopold Fc660c
    • Unicomp Classic 104
    • Das Keyboard Prime 13
    • Logitech K780
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I’d say, at home and at a desk/table. I write at home—on the couch, on the chaise, at the dining table, in the den, in the kitchen while waiting for the noodles to boil, in the bedroom while folding laundry, etc.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    That's true enough, if you don't have a dedicated space for a desktop computer. I concede that.
     
  9. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Active Member

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    Dell SK-8135 keyboard

    I've beaten the crap out of mine almost every day for 10 years, every year or so I unscrew the back and knock out all the biscuit crumbs and spider nests. I stripped it down and cleaned it properly this year,
    When I reassembled it I put the keys back in humorous locations. I really wish I hadn't done that now though.
    Good solid keys with nice positive feedback, very heavy (compared to much lighter keyboards) so it doesn't move. the little 'pips' on the F and J keys wore off long ago so I replaced them with little dobs of epoxy.
    I expect it to outlast me by a lot and I hope I never have to use a different keyboard.
    Currently available on ebay from about £/$10
    It even has 2 usb ports on the back - not that I ever use them.
     
  10. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    So, an acquaintance of mine who does computer security an I were talking keyboards the other day and he swears that the IBM Model M keyboard it the best in the world for typing. Unfortunately they're not manufactured anymore and they need an adapter to work on modern machines, but apparently they have a specific 'spring buckling' switch that makes them perfect for typing on. Fortunately for now, there's a company called Unicomp that's started making ones remarkably similar and with the same style switches. I couldn't find anyone that't used one of theirs, however so I couldn't tell you how good they actually are for typing.
     
  11. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Supporter Contributor

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    Looks like some Model M versions use a PS/2 connection, which still exist on modern motherboards (at least on some of them). I bought a new one just a few weeks ago (ASUS ROG Strix X470-F Gaming) and it has one.
    And apparently a company called Unicomp has taken over the rights to the "buckling spring" design, and they still make keyboards using it today. ;)
     
  12. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Senior Member

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    Since I just bought the current Apple Bluetooth keyboard (without the number block; bought it because I was tired of buying batteries for the 1st-gen version of it with three AA batteries, which for some reason would not work with rechargeables), I thought I revive this thread. For anyone asking, I just love the thing. I detest the big clunky mechanical beasts, and love these flat low-travel thingies. But to each their own. Whatever keeps the word flowing.

    Re. the layout: Apple here in Germany offers all kinds of layouts, including three different layouts for English. They name them US, UK, and International. The UK and International layouts have the smaller left shift. The US version has a full-size left shift. The main difference is that for the UK, the "` ~" is located beside the left shift (and takes up the space of the full-size), and there's a "§ ±" key in the top-left. The US version has the "` ~" in the top-left position, and no "§ ±" (I have no idea why that is there anyway. Must be a British thing ;) ) – the characters can be reached easily in macOS with modifier keys (I am German, and, with macOS, can type German umlauts on an English keyboard as fast as with a German keyboard with dedicated umlaut keys. However, there was a time I was writing code and LaTeX, and the []{}\| etc. are hideously hidden on the German layout. Linux has similar typing tools. Windows hasn't – typing German with a non-German keyboard is a pain.)

    So you may make sure to get a US layout next time. (I was living in the USA for a time, and there Apple only stocked the US, French and Spanish layouts, thanks to the unified market with Canada and Mexico, but strangely, not the International English, which is similar to the UK. Here in Germany, Apple usually has all the European layouts available for online order – yay EU – plus the US [except for the iPad Pro keyboard/cover thing, which is US only]. Other computer dealers are far less accommodating.)
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    There really isn't one. There is only one that is best for you, and that's individual preference. I know people who do a lot of writing on Macbooks and love the new Apple keyboards with the miniscule travel distance (despite some of their reported problems). Others like keys with a much longer travel distance. Some want a mechanical keyboard. Some like to hear the loud clicking as they type. There is no 'best' answer to a question like this.
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    a number of full time writers i know recomend the qwerky writer - but it is way too expensive for me to try - personally i write on a bog standard logitech keyboard although i may try a mechanical in the fullness of time
     
  15. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I tried it and didn't appreciate it. It's built to work fast, but the round keytops make it hard to type accurately if you're not a precise typist.
     

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