Wears the keys

c: | f: /

Despite the title of this post being an homage to that old joke about two nuns in a bath, it isn’t ecclesiastical in nature. Keyboards just aren’t what they used to be.

The lettering on the admittedly plasticky and lacklustre keyboard that came with this HP machine we bought at work wore off after a couple of years. Regardless that this state of affairs improved my touch typing skills no end, the blank sea of keys before me began to grate.

Ever keen to eke the most life out of stuff I grabbed an indelible marker pen and scrawled the inscriptions back on in shaky ink. Within a month they were blank again. So much for indelible.

With a heavy sigh I admitted it was time for a new keyboard.

Softly softly

I like a good tactile experience as much as the next person. It means I know from the sound that the right keys have been pressed and can tell immediately if I’ve hit more than one by mistake. But I don’t care for those old clackety noisy buggers from IBM because the high action does nothing for RSI. Plus the rate at which I type means that anyone nearby could close their eyes and be forgiven for saying they were standing at a station when an express train hurtled through.

So the search was on for something hard wearing, mid-priced, with fairly low profile keys and a good feel to it. After some research we settled on a black Microsoft branded keyboard. Despite my misgivings of the software company, their hardware ought to be trustworthy, right?

Wrong.

It has a reasonable action and a no-frills layout — ignoring the fact that the PHIDE group are vertically arranged so I keep hitting the wrong one. But after less than three months the keys are wearing off. Just a shiny white ‘Q’ and half a ‘J’ are the only remaining bright spots on the main block. I don’t know how much longer I have before they start to wear completely: I suspect not long.

If it wasn’t for the fact I have an awesome Compaq keyboard at home that’s still going strong after eight years of almost daily use with pristine lettering on it, and a laptop of similar age that is only just beginning to show signs of wear, I might have considered that I had fingertips made of acid. Since that’s clearly not the case, I can only conclude that this Microsoft offering is cheap crap: indicative of the general decline in quality of merchandise these days. I know they’d cite “wear and tear” as an excuse not to replace it, otherwise I’d send it back.

Throughly unimpressed. I did some research and it appears I’m not alone when it comes to worn out keys across a broad spectrum of models and manufacturers. There doesn’t seem to be much correlation between price paid and quality either, so for the next one I’m going to look for laser etched keys as a starting point and work back.

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