Keyboards and mice

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Christine
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Keyboards and mice

Postby Christine » Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:35 pm

I was just thinking about this subject because, well, I'm reading a forum about keyboards: they're more interesting than you think! Well, I think they are, anyway.

But the motivation for bringing this up is that keyboards and mice really are the neglected bits of most people's computer set up. I've seen so many people who think nothing of spending 400 quid on the latest graphics card to replace a similarly priced one that's only 18 months old, and who'll also think nothing of spending the same on a screen, and again on a second screen, and a fortune on cooling their overclocked rig and so on; but the idea of spending more than a tenner on the cheapest, nastiest keyboard really makes them baulk.

I guess I find this surprising considering the keyboard and mouse are the bits of the computer that you actually physically interact with, so why would anyone really want to go for the cheapest option that just about works but that's all?

I remember back in my earliest days of computing, in the home computer boom of the early '80s, keyboards were seen as a really big deal at the time. Partly because of the gulf between the ZX81's bloody awful membrane keyboard and the Spectrum's infamously bad "dead flesh" example, with more upmarket microcomputers such as the BBC Micro whose keyboard seemed to be referred to in almost revered tones. My Dragon 32 had a proper keyboard too but attitudes seemed rather sniffy; re-examining the two today (of course I have both of the latter lying around!) I can't actually tell much difference, though one computer that trounced them all was the original IBM PC, whose keyboard is astonishingly good (even if they layout is frankly insane). Though as the computer magazines of the time pointed out, it bloody well should be good considering it allegedly cost half the price of an entire BBC Micro, in other words 200 quid in early '80s money, which would be a hefty sum today.

Keyboards have got a lot cheaper since then. They've also got a lot nastier for the most part, being little more than the ZX Spectrum's keyboard with hard key-caps stuck on top. Decent keyboards are still available though, companies like Unicomp still producing the old IBM Model M (not quite as good as that Model F that came with the original PC, but still very good nonetheless) which is what I'm using now. Lovely to type on, though it takes a bit of getting used to as the keystrokes are quite heavy and it makes enough noise to wake the dead. Here's a picture:

Image

It's slightly grubby because I often eat at my computer!

There's a lot of other types of nice keyboard out there, those using Cherry switches being particularly popular with keyboard aficionados, doing noisy, tactile and smooth switch types, though I suspect all are probably too light for my clumsy, bashy fingers. :D A good keyboard typically costs about 50-100 quid, though it's possible to spend much more, but personally I think it's money well spent: not only does it help avoid RSI, it just makes the computer more pleasant to use altogether.

A related matter regards mice. Once upon a time, Logitech used to be the name in mice, but I think their halo has slipped slightly. Recent mice of theirs aren't that good, and their flagship MX Revolution gave me such awful cramps thanks to its thumb-rest that I was barely able to use that hand for everyday tasks, though fortunately it recovered soon after I stopped using it. I bought an older Logitech G5 mouse which was much better... until it broke: turns out they have a reputation for their cable breaking, which is what seems to have happened to mine.

Alternatives are hard to find. Gamers seem to be especially keen on the Razer brand, though I've heard that they tend to have a fairly limited (ie short) lifespan. I've eventually settled on a Steelseries mouse, which is good, but it's early days yet. Still, at least today's laser mice are much less troublesome than the old mechanical ones of the olden days...

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Casaluna
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Postby Casaluna » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:42 am

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Last edited by Casaluna on Wed May 13, 2015 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Christine
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Re: Keyboards and mice

Postby Christine » Sat Nov 30, 2013 4:35 am

Casaluna wrote:I had to laugh at this. Once in a while a certain key on this now aging laptop refuses to work. It's usually resolved with a touch of vacume therapy to remove the offending crumbs. The last but one occurrence involved a piece of dried chilli pepper. Then in the summer being proactive the left shift key vanished down the hose and was eventually retrieved from the dust canister hours later. Despite screwdrivers, tweezers, and many hours of fidling I've never been able to reattach it. Eventually gave up and reassigned the super windows key to left shift. Still eating my lunch over it though..

I'm quite amused by the stray piece of chilli! I remember you saying that chilli features quite prominently in your household. :D Laptop keys can be notoriously difficult to reattach, from what I understand. Michele pulled one of hers off to see how it works (she tends to do that sort of thing) and did manage to reattach it, but only after a fight.

My keyboard's had the indignity of having all manner of stuff dropped and spilt on it over the years. I took it to bits a while back to clean it and the amount of accumulated debris was surprising. It also revealed that I seem to moult.

Casaluna
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Postby Casaluna » Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:35 am

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Last edited by Casaluna on Wed May 13, 2015 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Keyboards and mice

Postby Christine » Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:20 am

:D

I certainly don't miss those "good old days" of computing. Well, the mice may have been worse, but that was a time when you could still get really good keyboards as standard from the likes of IBM and Dell, instead of awful mushy rubber-dome switches.



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