“Let your fingers do the walking”.
That old Yellow Pages slogan applies good to us that are on the keyboard often. We learn pretty quickly that a good tool makes all the difference. I learned this previously when I got a bargain keyboard that had broken keys originally, and later one had a shift key that quickly became very picky on how it was to be pressed, and then failed resume from sleep (which was a killer to debug). Since I am on the keyboard quite a bit, this was something I began to think about over and over.
The Kensington Slimtype keyboard has a laptop-like keyboard feel. There are two types of keyboards: low-profile, and those that have the high key presses. The best keyboard I use is on an old iBook G3 clamshell. It allows quick keypresses with a soft response that never bunch or conflict. When I saw Brians’ keyboard, I was a bit surprised people still used them. Seemed like a lot of extra work to press the key another half inch. I’m guessing a lot of this is about what a person is used to. People that use the Happy Hacking Keyboard have told me that they have a less likely chance of accidental keypresses using these keyboards. This isn’t true to me, but can accept that each has their own. If you like low profile keyboards, the SlimType does very well.
On the SlimType, the keypresses are nice and responsive. Not quite as low profile as on most laptops but actually the difference provides a good feel. The keys provide obvious click feedback and there is no doubt to when the key has been pressed. However, the bounce response a little too obvious. When I first started typing it felt like it was fighting me – the clicks a little too pronounced and bounces too springy. I found I had to run my hands over the keys a several hundred times (might be a bit of an exaggeration) and I got the feel I like. After I did this I found the typing to be fast and could closely replicate the speed I do on the iBook.
The gripping on the keys is subtle and useful. Kensington puts a nice texture on the keys that prevents slidding and it gives it a good tactile feel. This is my favorite feature on the keyboard but that perspective may be a bit skewed because I never had it before.
The keyboard layout makes the SlimType considerably narrower than a normal keyboard. This is very useful for desktops that have limited space. The reduced width mainly comes from how the keys are laid out, but the keys are a bit slimmer too (about a 1/16th of an inch from A to ;). This isn’t a big difference but I do find myself doing an awkward keypress on a rare occasion. The rest of the keyboard layout does take a bit of time to get used to. The numbers are layered a bit different and the function keys are slim. The Home, PgUp, PgDn are the most difficult to get used to and are on a single column right next the the Enter, Backspace… keys. And when I say right next to them, I mean it. There is no gap between them and I am still trying to get use to them after two weeks – old habits die hard :). If you were pretty loose about the space on the right side of the keyboard before (i.e. the gap between the Enter, Backspace.. and Home, PgUp…) you might find yourself accidentally pushing these keys from time to time. Also the arrow keys are taking some re-learning too being shifted to the left as well.
There are seven multi-media keys on the keyboard that cover the basic uses, unfortunately they don’t have the same quality as the other keys (they click awkwardly and and roll a little). Since they don’t get used often I don’t consider them a huge minus.
The keyboard profile is thin, not even a half-inch high. And allows those of us that rest our wrists on the desktops a lot more comfort. Not the proper position, I know :).
The footing grips very good and the keyboard is a bit heavier than other keyboards I’ve used that helps typing by keeping the keyboard in place.
- Low profile keys, can type fast
- Textured keys
- Weight and footing
- 5 year warranty from a company that are good about their warranties
- Thin and narrow
- All the keys work in Linux and suspend! (ok, haven’t tried the Windows key)
- Keypositions take some getting used to.
- Arrow keys to the left of what you usually expect.
- Chrome border – ugly and takes up extra space.
Absolutely great for normal typing after the spring had been taken out of them. If you like the laptop keyboard profile, you will very probably like this keyboard. It’s quick, responsive, and has a good tactile feel. For $30 I can’t really be too rough, without the Chrome border and no space between the Enter,Backspace… and Home, PgUp… it would have gotten a 4.5.