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I noticed that, with different keyboards, my typing speed varies greatly. However, I don't know what, exactly, in the keyboard, affects the typing speed?

My current keyboard makes me type very slow. I need to exert a lot of force for pressing a key.

I want to buy a new keyboard with which I can type faster. However, the dealer won't let me open the package and try. Is there any way I can tell, in advance, what keyboard will make me type faster?

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closed as not constructive by Journeyman Geek, akira, Mike Fitzpatrick, Nifle, Mokubai May 4 '12 at 20:19

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The Dvorak Keyboard workawesome.com/productivity/dvorak-keyboard-layout –  Aki May 3 '12 at 8:53
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without knowing what it is, and what keyboards have worked for you, its impossible to tell. Keyboards are a hugely personal thing. More information - was it a layout thing, or did the keyboard somehow feel different? Was it loud or quiet? What was the keyboard travel like? –  Journeyman Geek May 3 '12 at 8:56
    
I edited the question: the keyboard feels different. I need to exert more force to press each key. It is also quite noisy but this does not disturb me. What is "keyboard travel"? –  Erel Segal Halevi May 3 '12 at 9:06
    
the fast one or the slow one? Key travel is how far you need to push the keys to actually activate the key –  Journeyman Geek May 3 '12 at 9:14
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Our very own Jeff Atwood has written many articles about keyboards and choosing keyboards. Have a look :) –  Oliver Salzburg May 3 '12 at 9:31

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

What is really important is the force and consistency of the force necessary to push a key, and the way it pushes back. They keys have to slide, without friction, which excludes most cheap keyboards which have a high friction mechanism for positioning each key. Yes, in most keyboards you can't check that until you try them. And usually low profile keyboards are better at providing a faster typing rate because they lack that mechanism, if we're talking low cost. Such low profile keys rely on rubber (or whatever) to hold the keys in position, and use classic plastic nest only for securing less common movements. Logitech UltraX keyboard has a different plastic mechanism which offers less friction and better stability.

Too low profile is also bad, when it comes to flattening the keys. Some laptops today provide a totally flat keyboard, which doesn't offer much tactile feedback. It's harder to feel the keys shape and position, thus it is necessary for each key to have relief (high edges, lowered center).

When you talk about very fast typing, faster than 6 characters per second, you might want to take a look at mechanical keys offered in high end keyboards such as Das Keyboard.

So what you need is:

  • Less friction
  • Key relief
  • Stability (stable key position, no wobbling)
  • *Might also take a look at keyboards that claim to be ergonomic. They usually offer more comfort, and you may type faster on them.
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+1 mechanical keyboards are the way to go for fast typing - I never thought there would be much of a difference, until I actually used one! I like the Rosewill RK-9000, a Cherry MX Blue like Das Keyboard. Though slightly cheaper (I got mine on sale for $80), it's of at least the same quality - in fact, according to Amazon reviews, it's the same (down to the circuit board) as the more expensive Filco Majestouch, the most highly-praised mechanical keyboard there is! –  BlueRaja May 3 '12 at 17:32
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See here for a fantastic guide on mechanical-keyboard types. –  BlueRaja May 3 '12 at 17:33
    
Thank you very much. Too bad I cannot find the exact technical data regarding low profile, friction etc. on the keyboard package. –  Erel Segal Halevi May 4 '12 at 12:08

Sounds like you might want to consider a mechanical keyboard. Pressing keys is generally lighter, and the recognizable 'click' you hear when the key is pressed will allow you to stop pushing the keys further.

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If you want to go all-in, consider the Model S Ultimate Keyboard. Not only is this a very solid, durable mechanical keyboard, but it also has no letters printed on it. Harder at first, but on the long term it forces you to touch-type and will improve typing speed (on this and on future keyboards).

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Das keyboards are hardly 'all-in'. Consider this keyboard with topre keys. elitekeyboards.com/… –  user606723 May 3 '12 at 16:00
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First thing I thought of when I saw this question. @user606723 Looking at reviews for Realforce (never heard of em before), I'd still suggest staying with Das. Das is better known and highly reviewed. Realforce might be more expensive, but they are unknown and seem to have 3/5 reviews. –  WernerCD May 3 '12 at 20:42
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@WernerCD, I actually don't know much about realforce in particular, but the topre keyswitches are typically considered superior to the cherry switches in the Das. Further, there are about a dozen other choices in a similar price point to the Das that provide the same or better quality. My point wasn't "you should buy the realforce", it was more "Das keyboard isn't consider top of the line and there are other manufactures to choose from." I suppose I could've made that clearer. –  user606723 May 3 '12 at 20:51

You should clarify what fast and what slow means. According to this article an average computer user does above 30WPM. Typing fast on a keyboard is at least a two part thing. I'll try to explain myself:

Keyboard layout

The layout of the letters you're using is important. Almost everyone uses QWERTY layout, but It's not designed for speed. You could consider switching to a faster layout like DVORAK. It should take a month or two. Personally I decided it's too much for me and I'm sticked with QWERTY.

Keyboard build

Not all keyboards are equal - I personally prefer notebook (or laptop) like keyboards. Why? - They have short key travel and all keys are near. My favorite one is the Apple wireless keyboard (Yes I'm a mac user) and a very nice one is one of the IBM ThinkPad USB Keyboards (now Lenovo). ThinkPads used to have a great keyboard, and with a few exceptions the external USB keyboards are almost like them.

ps. Visit an Apple store - you should be able to try the keyboards.

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I feel this post is slightly biased towards Apple. –  joar May 3 '12 at 13:49
    
I'm also sticking to QWERTY as I'm worried it would be too much of a pain using other keyboards than my own. Often have to use the computers of other people or clients, and I've never experienced anything else than QWERTY keyboards. –  Svish May 3 '12 at 14:06
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@joar I'm an Apple user, but I'm trying to be objective. –  mspasov May 3 '12 at 16:22

Choose something with low keys jump, like in laptop, then your can move your finger less in order to press button.

Also try to find specification and search for keyboards with keys attached like in laptops (not too many available, once Logitech had something like that). This method of attachment guarantees smooth work even after a few months after you buy it.

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What do you mean by "low keys jump"? And by "keys attached like in laptops"? How exactly can I check this when I look for new keyboards in the store? –  Erel Segal Halevi May 3 '12 at 8:57
    
There was the name of this type of the attachment ... which I currently do not remember, but there might be information that it is attached like in the laptop on the keyboard box. Key jump, how far you need to push the key in order to activate its function. –  Darqer May 3 '12 at 9:21
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Laptop keys are normally scissor switch. They might also be called 'low profile' on packaging, but that's a bit ambiguous with how many types of keyboards there are. –  Bob May 3 '12 at 9:58
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"Low profile" keys is much more common naming. I agree though, this is one of the main things for me I used to have to modify keyboards to have a shorter key travel back in the day for gaming. Less far to push, quicker you can type. –  Amicable May 3 '12 at 14:52

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