*Switch Type*: Silent Rubber Dome
*Cost*: $32.99 off of “buy.com”:http://www.buy.com
*Connector Type*: USB
A co-worker of mine swears by the PS/2 version of the Belkin Ergoboard, so I decided to try out the USB version. I used it for a good two months or so, and here are my impressions.
The first thing I noticed when I opened up the box, is that this keyboard looks different from every advertised picture of the Ergoboard Pro I’ve seen on the web, including the one on the Belkin site. The main differences being that mine has a split space bar, and the Scroll Lock / Print Screen / Break set were shifted downwards in a group of 9 keys above the arrow keys.
h3. Size and Layout
As far as keyboards go, this one is pretty big. It’s size feels somewhat big and clumsy, and it’s overly round. It almost feels unecessarily fat and ovular. The layout is mostly standard, except for the slight differences from the advertised pictures mentioned above. It’s got the standard set of keys for a US keyboard including GUI keys. Nothing special to report about the layout. It’s just a standard split keyboard, and each half has a standard spacing and shaping of keys. No different sized keys like the MS Natural.
h3. Key Feel
The keyboard has somewhat of a unique feel that I had not experienced on any of the other keyboards that I had tried. Most rubber dome keyboards have switches that give your more resistance at the beginning of the stroke than at the end. It’s getting over the ‘hump’ of resistance that gives you some inidication that you’ve pressed a key in.
With this keyboard, it seems entirely backwards. The initial resistance is very light, but as you progress, you’re met with a very soft landing. It almost feels “squishy.”
For a long time I was conflicted about how I felt about this keyboard. On the one hand, the initial light resistance of the keys was something that I really liked. It gave the impression that you could really lightly touch type. On the other hand, because of the squishy landing, it was very difficult to tell when you actually registered a key. The most annoying key was the left shift key. I had so much trouble with this key, that I eventually gave up the keyboard.
It’s bizarre that it would happen with the shift key, since this is not a key that you press and then let go right away. Rather, you hold it down, and then press some other key, and it should be fairly easy to feel that you’re pressing a key down and holding it there. But surprisingly, I miss typed capitalized letters like a fiend. Much more so than any other keyboard I’ve ever used.
I didn’t have any problem with any of the other modifier keys, even caps lock (mapped as control). Perhaps it was something to do with the key mechanism on that key (it is the largest/widest of the modifier keys). Either way, missing capital letters can get really annoying, expecially when coding.
h3. Overall Impression
I’d give this maybe a 5 or 6 out of 10. It’s one of the few ergonomic keyboards that has a really standard layout. The key feel was interesting, but it in the end, it didn’t help me. And the shifting problems really drove me crazy.