At the beginning of the year I called one of my best men, Gag, and started discussing my keyboard woes. I had just broken my 3rd Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard & Mouse in about 9 months. I pointed out that before this run of bad luck that previously I went through 4 Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 USB Keyboards before I got one to last more than 6 months. It went 4 years until five of the keys on the right side went out.
I just figured it was the name of the game.
I was frustrated, irritated, and in a hurry to see if I could break my personal best record time to return yet another
piece-of-shit defective keyboard to Best Buy. Gag started calming me down while I was waiting in the Geek Squad line, again, by describing the keyboard he’s been using for years: the Kinesis Advantage MPC USB / QD keyboard.
The Kinesis Advantage MPC USB / QD keyboard looks futuristic, but it’s actually based on original typewriter layouts from the beginning of the 20th century.
The Kinesis Advantage is designed with the keys directly above each other, instead of slanted as found in every other common keyboard. This original design allowed typists to type so fast that the teeth would chronically lock up. So I’m told.
With computer keyboards, this teethy problem doesn’t exist. Kinesis brought back the speed. And this difference is all the difference.
They’re not cheap, but they’re an incredible investment.
The right and left hand key areas are separated so you don’t have to bend the wrists to type, thus delaying the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. It also has incredibly padded areas for the palms. The combination of design and speed makes typing a breeze.
Gag said he had a second Kinesis Advantage at his house I could have for a, “wedding present.”
To quote The Curator, Gag acquired the keyboard “in remarkable circumstances.” He said he’d send it right out. Well, of course it sat by his doorway for weeks. In fact, I picked it up when I snuck out to North Carolina in March to surprise him for a visit.
To be fair, his daughter’s birthday card is sitting by the door as well…pinky promise we’ll remedy that one this week, Alex!
But, I didn’t use it right away after I returned home.
It wasn’t until my hard drive died on my Samsung Chronos 7 in June that I tried it.
At this point I was on my 5th Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard & Mouse. It stopped working when I switched over to the ‘14 MacBook Pro. It worked for about 20 minutes and died.
I wanted to throw the Sculpt out the window, but like the previous 4 times, it was free to return. Except, this time, instead of returning it right away, I pulled out the Kinesis and my old trusty Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 – with the broken wheel button and hyperextended left click – and started giving the Kinesis Advantage a baptism by fire.
Gag was right. It takes about a day and a half to get used to typing on it.
There are a couple keys that are in unfamiliar places.
+/=sign is in the top left corner of the board. It seems weird at first, but when one is coding, it actually is pretty beneficial because it allows one to hit
="to set up a string quickly.
- I’m a chronic left-thumb spacebar user so it took awhile to get used to having the spacebar transformed into a button next to the right thumb. Now, I’m a right-thumb spacebar user.
- It took me 7 weeks to figure out the left & right arrow keys are on the left side of the keyboard, split from the up and down arrow keys that still sit on the right side.
- The backspace, ctrl, alt, home, end, and delete all sit by the left thumb. Once you get used to it the locations become time savers.
- There are two windows keys, page up, page down, enter and space by the right thumb. A little time for adjustment but, once again, when you train yourself to remember it, it’s a time saver.
- There are custom keys, shortcuts, places for macros and extra special buttons to turn keys on the right side into number pads.
- And, yes, it takes time to get used to going straight up the keyboard to reach instead of going to the side. Once you get that sorted out, you’re great.
Get to the afternoon on the second day, you’ll start flying through emails and writing assignments.
The issues I have with the keyboard
When you turn the right keys into a keypad, the p becomes the subtraction key. The problem is that p is often used in coding to set pixel widths. This means a chronic back & forth if you want to use the keyboard’s number pad setting. We’re currently shopping for a left-hand number pad instead. While we’re at it, we’re going to either get a high-end gaming pad or a Wacom Intuos pen tablet, like the one Katie uses to fly through work.
Other than the adjustment period and the lack of a number pad, I fly when using the thing. And those adjustments made me come up with solutions that enhanced my work day. When even the weaknesses of a product provide ample opportunity for improvement, you’ve got a good product on your hands. Or, in this case, under your hands.
Final thoughts on the Kinesis Advantage MPC USB / QD keyboard
I’m using a second-hand, 8-year-ish-old Kinesis Advantage MPC USB / QD keyboard, and it’s held up better than the last 10 Microsoft Keyboards I’ve used. It feels like I’m just breaking it in. And if anything ever really does happen to it, Kinesis has an incredible care policy for their machines.
I hope I, too, continue to use it for 10 years, and more:
And I hope to remember to never buy another keyboard under $100 ever, again.
You were right, Gag. I only wish I would have started using it the moment I got home.
What it is like when you need to go back to ‘normal’ keyboards we often encounter in life (especially since the keyboard does not fit in your pocket 😉 )? I find as I use ‘better’ keyboards, using standard keyboards becomes more of an issue. I wonder what your experience has been on the normal keyboards of life, after getting used to Kinesis?
It’s funny because I’m now all over the place with keyboard types when I’m on the road. My Samsung Chronos 7 has a number pad in it so the keys are tighter, whereas when using my wife’s MacBook Pro (because AdWords loads so much quicker on it), there keys are more centered. Then I come back to my coveted Kinesis Advantage MPC and I have to adjust to a third set. Then there’s mobile devices and tablets. And, sometimes, for fun, I throw in my (now 5th) Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboard that I have for a backup, just for practice.
I’ve used them all enough that I adjust soon enough, but when I’m working on the road, I’ll dream at night of coming back to my farmer’s table next to my lime tree where sits this beauty that I’m tying on.
Luckily, I still work most of the time at home. Only a couple trips left this year and then next year, I pray, is the year where I don’t travel anywhere unless my wife and I want to travel for fun.
To your thought, the feeling of “normal” keyboards never really goes away. If you are away from them for a period a time, it takes a little while to readjust when you’re back on them. But, all in all, it’s that “like riding a bike,” metaphor.
What do you use most of the time?