Keyboards: Through Thick and Thin


written on July 20, 2019

Born in the eighties, growing up in the nineties, the craze and nostalgic feeling I get from re-living the popularity of the nineties trends really made me smile. I feel like a kid again, looking back at the cool gadgets and growing technologies that emerged during that decade. Remember phone beepers? Portable computers by Palm®? Cassette players, then transitioning to CD players? Yo-yos and pogs? What about 100 MB zip drives? I could keep going, but like any other "old" man, I had the experience in computing with thick-buttoned keyboards.

Often taken for granted, keyboards have come a long way, be it the QWERTY, DVORAK, ergonomic, typewriter, cyclops....the list goes on. As computing slowly got more portable, a lot of us have looked to convenient devices to handle our work: laptops. Because of this love and admiration of doing work, eventually, then, socializing online, on a simple but sleek laptop computer, our typing/writing inadvertently went from thick keys to flat keys. Not very many people batted a concern and grew used to the quickness and quiet nature of typing on a flat-buttoned keyboard, thanks to laptops.

My used, dusty Dell Precision M6400 laptop keyboard.

The consumer obsession with Apple®'s line of computers brought my attention into wondering whether I enjoyed typing on thick or thin keyboards. Owning my very first Mac in 2008, a Macbook Pro to extend my learning and video editing work on Final Cut Pro [5.1] that time, I grew used to loving the quickness of typing on a flat keyboard. As my video projects went through an upgrade, from Standard Definition to High Definition, a more powerful computer was needed. I then got a decent offer on a Power Mac G5 which included two 4:3 monitors but passed off as a lousy Avid Media Composer editing workstation, leading me to install and edit back on Final Cut Pro instead. Here I was typing and using the thick-buttoned, USB keyboard. Took a bit of time, and effort, to type on an 'old-school' style keyboard but the feeling of pressing a key made me sure that that was the key I wanted to push. This led to lesser mistakes, lowering the risk of accidently typing a wrong key.

My 2008 15-inch Macbook Pro keyboard.

I'm currently writing this post on a Dell business laptop computer and am back to the traditional flat keyboard. Again, it sounds less noisy but I feel like I can type much faster when I'm processing all the words and thoughts in writing, and being able to write them out knowing which keys to hit with my fingers instantaneously. Going back to that nostalgic feeling, I feel like I come off as a "professional typist" working on a thick-buttoned keyboard. While I don't type as fast as I do with a flat keyboard, I make less misspellings/mistakes with such keyboard.

"But Kris, what about keyboards on cell phones? Lol!"

I'll just say it: I'm not a fan of on-screen/touchscreen keyboards. Now, yes, I sound very old school wanting to jump back when cell phones had a physical keyboard (hello, Sidekick users). It's all about convenience and reducing the bulkiness of the phone's body in one's pockets/purse. There's nothing worse than being able to type out a text message, or email, using the touchscreen keyboard then experiencing slow loading of the keys when I'm trying to finish a sentence in a finite period of time, like when I'm in a hurry. There were times when I experienced that very same slow-down with a physical cell phone keyboard but not as frequent. Also, for the messaging app to load simultaneously with the keyboard really delayed a lot of my response time to text messages. Why, of course, I've grown used to it but there's a perfect reason I still own, use and treasure laptop and desktop computers when browsing online, doing [website] programming, listen to music, watch YouTube/streaming videos, play computer games, and editing photos/videos. Nowadays, you can do all that on a cell phone and/or a tablet, but for my personal convenience, the breathable real estate and the horsepower served by a traditional computer is unparalleled. (Not to say that what I've said here is the preference everyone should follow, but more of my own take when working.)

My old Samsung Propel phone with physical keyboard.

There isn't much debate about the kind of keyboard(s) that serves the user a better experience when typing and writing, but each of them have their own preferences and "type." Now that you've rolled your eyes over that silly pun of a joke, what kind of keyboard do you prefer? Before you answer, I must admit that programming (coding) has made me a better typist, though I'm trying to be able to type looking at the screen and not down on the keyboard (it's harder than I thought). Different types of keyboard struck my mind typing on a laptop keyboard and formerly on the old-style Mac keyboard.

Tell me about your favorite style of keyboard you enjoy working with on the comments below!

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