Kinesis Advantage Review #1, or “How to relearn to tysppe”

Keeping this terser than usual. Got a new keyboard three days ago and want to record initial thoughts. Follow up to come in a few weeks. For now: Freakin’ HATE it! Space on one thumb, backspace on another. Alt-tab requires same hand stretching exercises I did during piano lessons. Common coding symbols (e.g. /}{][=) hard to reach. No Insert key without activating keypad. Enter right next to Space.

Things that have helped:

  • Dumping Launchy in favour of Executor (Better handling of file paths, can use space instead of tab for google searches)
  • Mapping CapsLock to Esc with SharpKeys
  • Mapping LCtrl+RCtrl to Alt-Tab and LCtrl and RWin to Shift-Alt-Tab through AutoHotKey
  • Mapping F1 to Esc with SharpKeys (Is this key useful for anything?)

Review unfair as still learning. Hope to return to sentences that don’t sound like written by Rorschach soon. Point in favour: no more pain in arm and wrist already.

Kyle the Fruistrrwated

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  • http://blog.seliger.com Jake

    I wrote a somewhat long review too—see here for more—and was impressed with it, although not quite $300 impressed, at least yet. But I am keeping an eye on eBay and Craigslist: going back to my Unicomp Customizer makes my hands feel cramped.

  • Dave

    In college I started to get tendinitis in my fingers. Even with a two week typing hiatus the pains kept coming back. At a friends recommendation I decided to take the plunge on the monstrosity that is the Kinesis Advantage. Took me a week to get a handle of the thing. Looking back at a year of typing with it, it is definitely one of the best purchases I have made. My tendinities is near gone (clicky mouses tend to bring it back) and I am very comfortable typing on it.

    Keep at it.

  • Per Erik Stendahl

    The keyboard is so different that you almost have to expect to hate it in the beginning. I assume it’s like learning to use dvorak or something.

    A tool I’ve used to make the swedish layout more programmer friendly is Microsoft’s Keyboard Layout Creator: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=FB7B3DCD-D4C1-4943-9C74-D8DF57EF19D7&displaylang=en

  • Kyle Baley

    Lots of love for Microsoft hardware. Which is nice to see because I’m a fan of it myself. I still have the keyboard I reviewed way back when (http://kyle.baley.org/ProductReviewsOrHowToEaseBuyersRemorse.aspx) but alas, it is in one of my relatives’ basements in Canada. I do recommend it though.

  • Phillip

    http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/productdetails.aspx?pid=089

    This is my keyboard of choice.

    Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 7000.

    It’s so nice to type on, i NEVER look at the keyboard and rarely miss type stuff. Not like other keyboards i’ve used.

    No wrist pain (unless i slouch)

  • mrybacki

    Very cool posts of yours… With each post I pick up a few handy tips, thanks :)

  • http://primedigit.com/ Will Shaver

    The MS 4000 is my recommended daily driver if this one gives you too much trouble. Fixed my wrist pain.
    http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=043

  • Kyle Baley

    Ben: That’s not a bad idea. May get odd when I accidentally hit some but it’s worth trying.

    Bryan: I did the same Alt/Win remapping but switched it back as it didn’t help much. I have a whole lot of Win keys mapped with AutoHotKey so it doesn’t matter where I put it in that regard. I have Alt-Space mapped to Executor now and it isn’t bad. I want to keep it near my thumbs and that’s a good a combination as any. A better one would be Backspace+Space but that would cause too many conflicts. Even sweeter would have been to map the foot pedal to it…if I’d bought it. As for the exercises, I’m going through them but typing words isn’t the sticking point so far. A better exercise I think would be to print out a page of code from some OSS project, then retype it in the way I’d normally do it, with ReSharper shortcuts. That would help discover which ones I need to remap most. Off the top of my head, Alt-Insert will certainly be one of them.

    Nolan: What have you mapped those to? I can’t think where I’d put them that isn’t already taken.

  • http://www.josheinstein.com Josh Einstein

    I guess these crazy keyboards make people feel l33t. I have enough trouble adjusting to the differences between my external and laptop keyboard.

  • http://nolan.eakins.net/ Nolan Eakins

    I hope you got a programmable model. I had to remap a number of keys just to put them in comfortable spots. Braces and curlies being one. Having Return under a thumb also helped my hand a ton.

  • Bryan

    I bought the same keyboard back in January, and I’m still getting better with it week by week. The keys are easy to press, and it didnt take me long to hit exactly the keys that I want and not type out gibberish.

    I used the keyboard to remap the left thumb Alt/Option key to the Windows key so all of my Win+E, Win+D shortcuts work with my left hand. Win+Space opens up Launchy.

    I still have not gotten the hang of the directional arrow keys and the brackets, but its a work in progress. Just dont give up, and the typing tutorials that come with the keyboard do help during those first few weeks.

  • Ben

    Try turning on Sticky Keys. That will help a lot with the multi-key shortcuts.