Desktop Keyboards Stuck in Design Limbo


Keyboards are terrific examples of how bad design can get stuck in a rut, unable to overcome inertia. Everyone says qwerty is a bad idea, yet I couldn't imagine using anything else now since it's use is so ingrained.

But another aspect of keyboard design that has me really grumpy is the whole numeric keypad appendage on desktop keyboards. It is a holdover from the days when users were "data entry clerks". But we are stuck with it (Microsoft only have two keyboard models without it, while ALL Logitech models are saddled with this cancer Postscript: Dean Chu corrected me here; Logitech's diNovo models don't have the numeric keyboard).

This started to really annoy me of late, because I've been switching between a laptop during the day, and a desktop at night.

Working with a desktop keyboard again was feeling really strange and difficult, but after some reflection I realised the problem. My right-hand is used to shifting all the time between jkl; and the mouse. On the laptop, this is a subtle and effortless gesture. On the desktop, its like playing table tennis.

The fact that virtually all laptop designs eschew the separate numeric keypad should be proof that it is evolutionary dead wood.

So this is my grumpy call for all keyboard manufacturers to wake up their snoozing product managers/designers and actually innovate for once. Fix this ergonomic nightmare! At least give us some choice ... integrate it with function keys like laptops; use separate USB numeric keypads; even consider sticking it on the left-hand side of the keyboard.

And for all those poor souls who really are still data entry clerks, I'm sure there will be no-brand outfits from China knocking out standard 102-key designs for years to come.

Is it just me? Did I get up on the wrong side of the bed today, or do others feel this way too?

Postscript 9-Feb-2009 ... hat tip to mqt for linking Trevor Blackwell's solution: just chop it off! If you gotta take a bandsaw to a product to make it fit-for-use, then something's wrong, right?!!