Everybody has their own favorites and their own personal style, and even though many of us will use whatever keyboard is in front of us at the moment, there are plenty of interesting options out there for those who want something a little more unique.
There are hundreds of different keyboards on the market and many of them are not much different than the others. These however, are ten of the most creative keyboards around, although also possible some of the strangest as well:
The DataHand Ergonomic Keyboard
The DataHand Ergonomic Keyboard was created to help reduce pain and fatigue, while improving the comfort of typing. It contains 132 keys which is more than most of the usual standard conventional keyboards. There are four different modes you type in, in order to activate all of the different keys. You can adjust it quickly with your thumb and not miss a beat. Think of it as four shift keys if you have a problem picturing the key combinations. This can also act as the mouse, so you will put an end to switching back and forth between the mouse and the keyboard. You can purchase one of these directly from the DataHand site for $505.
The orbiTouch Keyboard
The orbiTouch Keyboard has no actual keys to press. It was designed more for people who have a disability or limited hand movements. To type the different strokes, you simply move the domes into one of their eight different positions. Although it looks challenging, it includes a tutoring program to go with it that will have you “typing” at a reasonable speed in just a few hours of typing. It has a built in mouse so you never have to take your hands out of this. You can buy it from the Blue Orb site for $400 with a free two year warranty.
The Kinesis Contoured Keyboard
The Kinesis Contoured Keyboard is meant to relieve the stress put on the fingers by removing the long reaches you sometimes use when using a normal keyboard. Essentially it removes the ability to cheat when typing. By cheat I mean that some, not all, people will reach for keys that are designed to be struck by different fingers. An example would be the “y” button. Typing classes and programs teach that it is to be hit with the right index finger, but some people will stretch the left index finger over to reach it. This keyboard also includes the separate keypads for just the thumbs. It helps make the thumb more effective instead of just hitting the space bar with it. The keys here are arranged in a vertical alignment. Instead of the normally angled rows like most keyboards, these keys are aligned to match up with the one below it. You can pick one of these up for about $325.
The SenseBoard KeyboardRead more in Web Talk
This keyboard is much like the Virtual Keyboard, only that this one doesn’t have any illuminated keys. This wireless keyboard will conveniently connect to your computer, phone, or PDA through Bluetooth technology. The SenseBoard has yet to go into production, however you can sign up to test one on their site. The price has not yet been released on their site, but a good prediction would be one similar to the Virtual Keyboard that uses similar technology. Expect this midway through 2008 for about $150-200.
The FrogPad is the smallest keyboard you can buy. It is perhaps the most user friendly one handed typing pad on the market, but it will take a little time to learn the technique. After a few months you should be able to hit about 40 wpm. After that, do not expect to get all that much faster on it because it just wasn’t meant for people needing to type 60+ wpm. It uses Bluetooth wireless capabilities to connect with your PDA, computer, or Bluetooth compatible phone. This model will cost you $130.
The TypeMatrix uses straight vertical columns of keys to help increase your typing accuracy. The larger shift key, tab key, and space bars are used to decrease the stress of the wrist motions. It includes a typing program to help you learn how to type correctly with it. They retail for $90 for just one, but if you buy two or more you get a discounted price of $75.
The Twiddler2 is a pocket sized mouse pointer that also includes a keyboard. It can easily enter all 101 keys on a keyboard as well as a few more programmable ones by using combinations of the 16 on the pad. It is a universal model (fits all sizes) and unlike most of the single handed keyboards, this one doesn’t need to be purchased for a particular handed user. You can purchase one of these for $200.
The BAT Keyboard
The BAT Keyboard is a one handed keyboard that was created to relieve the stress put on ones hands and wrists while typing. It has shown to increase productivity when using graphic or desktop publishing software, although it is not OS X compatible. You can purchase one of these from a giant website that has numerous different keyboards, including some there interesting keyboards that didn’t make the list. It will cost you about $230 for a single handed one, or $380 for a dual handed set.
The Das Keyboard II
The Das Keyboard II was created without any writing on the keys. If you wanted to change the keys around, it would be one of the cheaper keyboards that allow you to customize the keys writing – instead of changing the keys and have them labeled wrong on the keyboard. The main innovation in this keyboard is the actual keys themselves. They are made in such a way that they don’t make as much noise when they are pressed down. This will reduce the sound you make while typing and let you hear your music, or television without any distracting key strokes. It retails for $80, which makes it not much more than a Dell keyboard.
Optimus Tactus Keyboard
The Optimus Tactus Keyboard is definitely something that you shouldn’t even consider if you have to look down at your keyboard when you type. This is an artistically designed computer keyboard and is just something cool to look at, but you will have major troubles using this if you cannot memorize where the keys are on a keyboard. There are always times when you miss a key by accident, and you could get by guessing for a few keys, but it would only slow your typing down. This should only be purchased by an expert typist. Not yet released but expect it to be around $500+ when it is finally released sometime in mid 2008.
To see another set of ten strange keyboards, check out the first article in this series strange keyboards.