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For many people, the trend in desk décor recently has been to reclaim the desk space. Flat panel monitors and small form factor cases or the placement of the system unit down off the desk top has given us room to spread all the paper computers were intended to eliminate.

But it seems the change might have come at a cost. We seek to express our individuality, after all, and when the PC isn’t there to show off out classy taste in design there’s not much left to work with. Never fear, hardware manufacturers are intent on helping out. Recent designs in computer keyboards seem to be seeking the ‘WOW!’ factor


We’ve had all sorts of keyboards in the past, of course. We’ve seen reduced keyset models, expanded keyset models, keysets for internet use, keysets for office use and keysets for multimedia use. We’ve seen keys placed in funny positions designed to eliminate RSI and even rubberized roll-uppable keypads that we can put in our pocket and take with us!


But, as always, it seems that gamers have started the rot!


First there was Z-Board which introduced a modular keyboard with replaceable keysets designed for use with specific game titles. Doom3 anyone, or perhaps World of Warcraft?

[img] http://www.zboard.com/us/products/local_assets/wow1_board.gif[/img][img] http://www.zboard.com/us/products/local_assets/doom3_board.jpg[/img]

More recently, an outfit called Wolfclaw have released a new design in keyboards which is intended to make life easier for those who use their keyboard for actions rather than words! The number pad, it seems, has become redundant and a touch-sensitive helipad added instead!

[img] http://wolfclaw-europe.com/Site/images/stories/food/Wolfclaw%20type%20II.gif[/img]


Not to be outdone, stalwarts Logitech have jumped into the fray, and released their own version of a Gaming keyboard. The Logitech G15 presents you with an LCD panel for game stats and system information, illuminated keys for use in the dark, and macro programmability! (At least it doesn’t look as silly as those first two!

[img] http://www.logitech.com/lang/images/0/7682.jpg[/img]


As always, however, the gamers simply get things started for the rest of the computing world, and hi-tech keyboards are making a move on the office and even beyond.

On the Optimus keyboard every key is a unique display unit. Retaining the same stylish keyboard, the individual key displays can be changed to reflect the system language in use, the currently chosen character set, or even the commands for a game currently being played or an applications program in use. An additional keypad at left of keyboard allows fast switching between programs or modes.

[img]http://www.artlebedev.com/portfolio/optimus/keyb_left.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.artlebedev.com/portfolio/optimus/psd.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.artlebedev.com/portfolio/optimus/keyb_002.jpg[/img]

Interesting stuff? Got your interest aroused? The next couple of designs have really left me gasping incredulously!


A Texas based outfit calling themselves DasKeyboard have released an all-black, character free keyboard for ‘uber-geeks’! Why slow yourself down peeking at the keys? DasKeyboard will eliminate the pesky peeks for you by removing the characters from the keys!

[img] http://www.daskeyboard.com/images/daskwork.jpg[/img]

If that one doesn’t rock your socks, why not try the all stainless steel industrial keyboards Japanese firm Interworld electronics have to offer? Wouldn’t one of these go well embedded into the benchtop of that trendy new stainless steel kitchen, and interacting with the internet-ready refrigerator?

[img] http://www.ieci.com.au/productimages/SS-KB-CM.jpg[/img][img] http://www.ieci.com.au/productimages/SS-KB-ETPsmall.jpg[/img][img] http://www.ieci.com.au/productimages/SS-KB-T392x110mm.jpg[/img]


Time to forget about case modding I reckon. The keyboard is the new medium for expressing yourself!

I'm left with only one question to ask. If you really wanted an all-black, character free keyboard, why on earth wouldn't you simply buy a spray can of black vinyl dye?

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Last Post by Ancient Dragon
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These all look sorta cool at first but I would bet anyone who would waste money on one would forget about it within a week. After that they would forget it isn't just a regular keyboard. My two favorite keyboards are about how it feels to actually type something.

The keyboard I am typing this on right now is an older wireless ergonomic split keyboarde from logitech. They don't really make keybaords like this anymore but I think split keyboards are alot easier to type on than not split keyboards. When I type on it I feel as if it is an extention of my body. I type on it as fluently as I talk.

My other favorite kind of keyboard which I haven't used in some time but used to love are the old IBM keyboards which were not padded and made a loud clicking sound when you typed on them. They were extremly solid feeling and when you hit a key you knew you hit it. I think there is a company around still making them, but they are expensive, and they don't make one in my favorite split form.

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I've the same one I think benna, the Cordless desktop Pro (I don't use the horrible mouse that comes with it but the keyboard is brilliant).
At home I now use a Microsoft Natural Keyboard, also good though I find the decision to remove the insert key as a separate key very weird (am I the only one who uses that key regularly?).

Split ones for me are now a must, I may buy me some spares as indeed they seem to be getting rarer again as the trend towards ever cheaper keyboards as long as they have flashy colours (and preferably lights and transparent stuff) continues.

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I've been typing since before HS, in about 1958, and I've always used the original flat style keyboards. I hate those ergonomic split keyboards that benna loves -- I tried one at work once and couldn't type on it. The typewriters we learned to use in school had no letters on the keys either, but they were manual typewrites (not electric) and much simpler. I dobt the Dash keyboard pictured above will sell very well, except for maybe some schools.

Also, I don't even use the keyboard for games -- I use the mouse almost exclusively.

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