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Keying it right

Keying it right
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First Published: Tue, Dec 14 2010. 08 26 PM IST

Clunky: Most keyboards are noisy and have a heavy touch.
Clunky: Most keyboards are noisy and have a heavy touch.
Updated: Tue, Dec 14 2010. 08 26 PM IST
In my experience, if you are one of those people who spend a fair amount of time on their computers—doesn’t matter whether it is to earn a living or to browse and check emails—there are four basic things you require to make life easy: a decent but not necessarily a high-end computer, a fast Internet connection, a mouse that fits snugly in your palm and a good wireless keyboard.
Clunky: Most keyboards are noisy and have a heavy touch.
All four are inter-related: A slow Net connection can be as frustrating as a sluggish computer. And if these two work to your satisfaction, a bad keyboard can still ruin your happiness. It’s happening to me.
We had a beautiful desktop keyboard that we used for over four years. It was a Logitech diNovo Edge, and if I remember correct, we paid about $160 (Rs7,230) for it. It’s a lot of money to spend on a keyboard but it was worth every extra rupee.
In terms of design, it had that “wow” factor—ultra-slim, semi-translucent black body with a brushed metallic edge and a built-in round touchpad. It was Bluetooth-enabled, came with a charging dock and was plug and play. In short, it was sleek and sexy.
In terms of utility, it matched the design: soft and soundless. It also had a long range (not that I ever needed to use it from the other end of the room, but it was fun testing it). In every which way I look at it, it was the best keyboard we have ever used.
Over the years, a combination of heavy use and my obsessive cleaning took its toll on the gadget and the letters began to fade. First the T, then H followed by M and so on. So I ordered matching stickers from an online store that specializes in such things. Then, a few months ago, one of the keys came off. I tried to stick it back but without luck. The company in Delhi said they would not be able to fix it. Fortunately, I had an old keyboard lying in my “ICE” (in case of emergency) box.
People who enjoy technology normally have a large drawer full of plugs, sockets, cables, adapters and batteries of all shapes and sizes. They also keep a spare keyboard and mouse. Most often it is the one you discarded when you upgraded to a newer model.
The one I retrieved from the box is huge, ugly, wired and loud. It makes quite a racket. I am using it to type this article and I have to move my hands in the motion of pistons in a steam engine—up, down, up, down. My fingers, wrists and even elbows ache. In comparison, even the dilapidated mechanical typewriter that I had in my office in the mid-80s was a dream.
I am, of course, talking only about PC keyboards. Apple keyboards are in a different league. I am floored by their minimalist design. I asked a Mac dealer if the Apple keyboard was compatible with a PC and he said, “Yes. It costs Rs2,700. But why do you want to spend so much money on a keyboard?” I know people who spend a fair amount on their PCs but when it comes to a keyboard they will buy any ordinary one so long as it’s cordless.
I find that most keyboards in the market are clunky and noisy. No doubt many are inexpensive and popular, but a lot of them are bad looking and have a heavy touch.
I am looking for a keyboard that is elegant in design, silent and sensitive to touch. I don’t want the extra functions that serious gamers look for, and I dislike keyboards that resemble the control panel of a spaceship. I have also not looked at the ergonomic ones because I am told their split keyboards require getting used to, and frankly I don’t like the design either.
The problem is every model I look at pales in comparison to the diNovo Edge that I used for four years. Maybe I will check out the recently launched Logitech Wireless Illuminated Keyboard. It’s not as sleek as the one I had but it’s also a few thousand rupees cheaper. If not, I guess I will order another of the same.
Shekhar Bhatia is a former editor, Hindustan Times, a science buff and a geek at heart.
Write to Shekhar at thesmartlife@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Dec 14 2010. 08 26 PM IST