Kinesis Keyboards – I wish I could quit you

I’m stuck in an abusive relationship with my keyboard. The Kinesis model I use is an RSI sufferers dream, and I’ve been using one for the last 4 years. Unfortunately, I’ve just had to order my fourth, since they’re built to shop class project standards.

The design is perfect, with an amazing amount of programmability and a QWERTY layout where you never need to stretch or strain your fingers from their home positions. There’s even a programmable foot switch, which I have mapped to shift, control and command, since pressing my little fingers for the modifiers seemed to be at the root of a lot of my pain.

They’re pricey, starting at around $300, but look and feel cheap. The silver paint rubs off pretty easily, the cut plastic is uneven and they use a telephone connector to join up the pedal with the main unit. More seriously the lack of quality shows up in the number of times they go wrong. I’ve had to open up and fiddle with all of my keyboards and footswitches. They’re surprisingly low-tech inside, with a small PCB and chips for the keyboard and old-school analog sensors for the foot switch. Because of this I’ve sometimes had luck when the problem turned out to be a loose connector or dirty contacts, but I’ve never had one last more than 18 months before it’s declared dead. Before you blame the victim, I’m pretty careful with my equipment, so I don’t think I’m putting them through anything unusual. They have a 2 year warranty, but I’ve not wanted to lose my keyboard
for the time that would take, and have usually hacked mine so much by
the time I give up that I don’t feel like I could return it.

I still recommend them to anyone who wants a hand-friendly keyboard, Liz now has two, but go into the relationship with your eyes open. I’d love to hear alternative suggestions too from anyone who’s found something better.

2 responses

  1. I used a kinesis keyboard for some time, but eventually moved to a simpler design made by Goldtouch:
    No foot pedals and the layout is not nearly so radically good. But they are bomp-proof, and after much experimentation I learned how to type (and live) carefully enough that the Goldtouch split/tent shape is enough to keep me functional.

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