My review of an alternative -- the TypeMatrix 2030.

Comments specifically about the keyboard devices.

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My review of an alternative -- the TypeMatrix 2030.

Postby Shawn_Milo » 06 Oct 2005, 15:34

I made a short post in another thread about this keyboard recently, but I've finished my formal review and wanted to share it here.

--Shawn




I have long held the opinion that the aspect of computing which is most in need of improvement is input devices. The keyboard which is the current standard is a perfect example of something which would never exist if it weren't for inertia. The evolution of the keyboard has been basically unchanged for over 80 years, since the days of the mechanical typewriter. Various attempts have been made to correct this, but all have fallen by the wayside, doomed to be a marginal player at best due to low adoption rates. These rates are most likely due to the high cost of these keyboards, owing to the high cost of production for small companies with a vision. Most keyboards praised by geeks and those suffering from RSI injuries cost in the hundreds of dollars.

The TypeMatrix EZ-Reach 2030 caught my attention because of the non-staggered keys and small size. I decided to try it out in my continuing quest for a keyboard which is actually designed for the human hands and wrists. Over the past three weeks I've used the 2030 for writing, coding, and generic keyboarding tasks. I'm sharing my findings in the hopes that I might help others who are looking for a replacement for the dinosaur droppings on their desks.

At first glance, the EZ-Reach 2030 is a sleek, nice-looking board. Its small form factor leaves more room on the desk for your pointing device, and fits well in a lap. The keys are full-sized, but there are fewer of them than on standard keyboards. This is partially due to the fact that the dedicated number pad is accessed by using the Num Lock and the gray number section of the keyboard. However, dedicated Home, End, and arrow keys are available full-time. The color-scheme of the board is attention-getting, with some gray keys, one red key (Delete), and blue labels for the dual-labeled keys, such as the number pad and special functions. However, the colorful board isn't distracting once you start typing, because it's so easy to use that you don't have to look at it.

TypeMatrix has introduced a unique feature among keyboards -- the centrally-located Enter and Backspace keys. Suprisingly, within a day it felt natural to reach for them instead of extending my smallest finger and I kept reaching for them after I took my unplugged laptop into another room. The idea is simple -- use the stronger fingers to reach for commonly used keys rather than the weaker ones. It is one of the central ideas used by August Dvorak when he developed the Simplified Keyboard Layout in the 1930s, and I think it's a good one.

Now my favorite feature -- the non-staggered keys. The earliest typewriters were designed with the keys staggered to make room for the mechanics underneath. For some reason, in 2005 most people still reach at angles to hit the keys outside the home row. With the 2030, the hands basically stay in one place without twisting around reaching, while the fingers travel straight up and down in a straight line. I am especially excited about this because, for the first time in over 14 years of touch-typing, I am touch-typing numbers! I can't say enough about the non-staggered layout, and I hope that all keyboard manufacturers will eventually adopt this as a standard.

Of course, the non-staggered keys and central Enter and Backspace keys took some getting used to. But not much. In my case, it was about a half-day of normal cubicle dwelling before I wasn't thinking about it anymore. In fact, after using the squared-off grid of keys, I now have trouble finding the bottom two keys at each end of a "normal" keyboard -- they're in such weird positions!

Now for the stuff I didn't love. The Alt key is no longer immediately to the side of the space bar. I use the Alt+Space combination all the time for a great app called AppRocket, which finds files, folders, and programs with a couple of keystrokes, so I never have to use desktop icons or the Windows "Start" menu. I use a similar application for the Mac, called LaunchBar. The Ctrl key is on the lower left of the board, with the Alt next, then a small Shift key. There are also double-height Shift keys on each end of the keyboard, just outside the letter keys. The odd position of the Alt key also makes Alt+Tab less convenient, causing me to pick up my hand to use it. TypeMatrix added a "Shuffle" key to the left of the Space bar which is the equivalent of Alt+Tab. This may make up for the inconvenience for people using PS/2 connections, but with a USB adapter (which comes free with the keyboard), the scrolling through applications is too fast to be usable. I've tested with another PS/2 to USB adapter I had lying around, and it's definitely related to using a USB adapter.

The keyboard comes with a PS/2 cable attached, and there is no USB-only model. However, a high-quality PS/2 to USB adapter is included which includes two PS/2 inputs so both the keyboard and a mouse can be attached. While I would prefer a USB model, especially because it's 2005 and I'm also a Mac user, I can understand that the need to be compatible with 100% of people outweighed being on the cutting edge of hardware. And the free adapter (which is probably worth about 20 bucks), shows that TypeMatrix is aware of the situation and doing everything they can to make their product a good choice for people other than geeks.

The Caps Lock key is at the top center of the keyboard. The Ins key is to the far right. I love this, because I never hit those keys intentionally, and the further away from my hands they are (preferably off of the keyboard entirely) the better. Despite the center Backspace key, there is a second Backspace key right about where you expect it with your right little-finger. I still hit it maybe once or twice a day, and it's nice to have it. However, I expect to stop using it entirely sooner or later.

The keys surrounding the central Enter and Backspace keys have a very tiny ridge along the edge of the key closest to the center, presumably to help your fingers avoid reaching too far for a letter and hitting one of the center keys. Personally, I didn't find this too useful, because I type either too quickly or too lightly to notice them. But they don't bother me either, so I think it's probably a nice touch that some people will find very helpful.

The Fn key allows special features to be used, including shortcuts for Cut, Copy, and Paste. Also, an additional Home, End, and set of arrow keys are available within the normal letter-typing area. However, I didn't find either Fn key to be in a convenient spot which would allow me to take advantage of the special editing keys while touch-typing. If this key were moved or maybe programmable, then this keyboard could rival the Happy Hacking Keyboard in terms of keeping the fingers over the home keys instead of lifting them to another position or a pointing device.

My 2030 is the Dvorak model, which is labeled in Dvorak but switchable by the function key to be able to be used in either the Simplified Keyboard Layout (Dvorak) or QWERTY. Oddly, the keyboard is QWERTY by default. Even more oddly, I like it that way. The reason is that the two machines I use most often are laptops. So I have the OS set to Dvorak, allowing me to use the built-in keyboards if I have to. And the ability to take advantage of the hard-wired layout change helps when it comes to typing my password to log into a Windows machine, or when using a DOS utility or a simple command-line Linux interface to fix a problem on another machine.

My overall impression of this keyboard is that it's small, nice-looking, and I love typing on it. There are a few things I'm not in love with, such as the odd placement of the Alt and Fn keys, and the fact that -- for the Mac -- the Cmd (Apple) key is in a weird place. But the non-staggered layout really has me held fast. I'm hoping they'll come out with a Mac version or -- even better -- a version with jumpers to allow re-mapping of a handful of important keys, like the Happy Hacking keyboard had. At the moment, this keyboard is entirely plug & play -- there are no special drivers required, nor does the company even produce any.

I recommend this keyboard to anyone who isn't happy with the norm, and with a $110 pricetag, it's pretty cheap compared to the other "alternative" keyboards out there. The manufacturer's website is TypeMatrix.com.
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Postby ivanw » 06 Oct 2005, 19:50

Thank you Shawn, this is a real peace of informative review :)

Dealing with a TouchStream makes you realize how weird normal keyboard can be. You can be afraid of having to go back using this junk tool. It looks like the TypeMatrix is there for the rescue.
From your review, I can see that it is also a smart device. All the many details you considered here display the sensible observing you made. Your post gives valuable inputs when making this kind of decision where you are about to face either hundreds of painful training hours or a painful fiasco.

I am still having difficulties to be proficient with my TS as it sucks much of my brain resources. This is OK while training but not when I need them to do my programming job. I still have to choose between working and using my powerful input device. I am mid-way on the learning curve where you still need to control hands drift.
I still think that I am able to reach the mastering level but sometimes I wonder :roll: - It can also be seen as a pain in the ass some days... As for the TypeMatrix, I am sure you can get comfortable at it very quickly!
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My experience with the 2030

Postby barbara » 07 Oct 2005, 01:22

I've been using the TypeMatrix 2030 Dvorak for some months now (after missing the boat wth the TS). I concur with most (just about all) of Shawn's extensive review.

I couldn't imagine going back to a standard keyboard and I am also waiting for the day when mainstream manufacturer's realise the improvements in using a non staggered key layout. My touch-typing (and I am only an intermediate typist) is better in a few months on the 2030 than it ever got with years on a standard qwerty keyboard.

The only thing that I have had trouble getting used to is a non separate numpad. I type number values a lot and keep forgetting to turn the numlock back off, and end up typing gibberish or I forget to turn it on when entering a few numbers and end up with gibberish again. I automatically go for the numpad rather than the numbers across the top of the keyboard because I think my brain has been hard-wired from doing it this way for years. This being said, I still think switching to the 2030 was a good15 move I made and have no regrets. To overcome my number troubles, I have just changed my standard iGesture to the numpad version (I was lucky enough to find one a couple of weeks ago on eBay) and this has solved my number entering problem to a large degree. ... I type letters on the 2030 and enter numbers on the iGesture. I do miss the double 00 key on the 2030 - wish the guys had FW had thought of adding one.

The only other thing that I would have liked different (and its minor) - is for the Dvorak 2030 to be Dvorak by default. I have to remember to change it to Dvorak whenever I start up my computer, like Shawn said, it is qwerty by default and has to be switched to Dvorak if rebooting.

Other than that the price is good, the grid layout keys are great, the look, feel and quality are great - well worth buying for those wanting something better than a standard keyboard.
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Re: My experience with the 2030

Postby ivanw » 07 Oct 2005, 10:05

barbara wrote:I do miss the double 00 key on the 2030 ... adding one.

Why don't you add it yourself with MyGesture Editor? I don't have an iGesture numpad but I think that you should be able to mimic the 2030's layout. Let us know if this would do the trick. Should you be just missing something about TapArea adjustment, just say so. This subject has been dealt with already.

BTW - Should you be ready to get your hands dirty, iGesture customization has been addressed in this thread: Typing and Layouts-typing. If you'd prefer not to, some can try it for you :wink:
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00 key

Postby barbara » 07 Oct 2005, 23:47

Thanks for the thought ivanw,

But is a bit beyond my capabilities....I don't really want to remap any of the existing keys as I use them all....but if it was possible I would like to map the blank space between 'up arrow' and '1' as a double 00 key (similar to the factory mapping of the blank space between the 'delete key' and 'left arrow' as a backspace).

If anyone knows if this can be done, a little help (a lot would be more accurate :wink: )would be appreciated.
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Postby Rqyteqto » 08 Oct 2005, 00:19

Aloha Barbara,

There's no question it can be done. You need to modify your XML file for the board. There's the beginnings of a manual and tutorial for such at:
bin/view/Main/XmlManual
Many thanks to Torben and ivanw for their efforts. Now that I have a spare TS, plus two iGesture Pads, I hope to start experimenting and maybe contribute some.

What you want looks to be quite simple, but that's from one who has yet to do anything at all so it may be you will want to get some direction from those two.
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Postby ivanw » 03 Dec 2005, 14:04

That's it, I am going to buy the TypeMatrix EZ-Reach 2030.

Sometimes, as I said, I have to switch back to my "standard" keyboard while struggling with some sucking issue. When I get mad at something (my job does that to me now and then), I just can't use the FW keyboard! My 20-80 error rate becomes 80-20 :evil: This is where I revert to my old worn out MS-Natural KB... How weird it feels! Working with this thing is like beeing punished for something I'm not guilty of :x

Nah, this is why I deserve a TypeMatrix :!: It's just fair... And, should my TS kill itself from some disease of its kind, I'll be less desperate as TP Diffenbach must be right now :? We all must have a plan B.

That wont be easy to get a Qwerty TypeMatrix from France but among all the keyboards I've seen, based on what is said about it, here as well as in several other reviews, it looks like it is the one to have -- after FW's.

May be Barbara and Shawn could send some updates... How does it goes since your last review?
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My own TypeMatrix 2030 review, and more...

Postby bradheintz » 07 Dec 2005, 02:50

I've posted a three-way review of the TypeMatrix 2030, the Kensington Expert trackball mouse, and Macro Express - these being the tools I've chosen to replace my TouchStream at work. (It has become too fragile to transport.) Interested parties are welcome to come get my perspective (the enthusiast of a TouchStream enthusiast forced back into the HCI ghetto) on these products.

This was a set of off-the-cuff impressions of these products after a few days' use, so please feel free to leave comments, ask questions about any features that I missed, etc.
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Postby ivanw » 07 Dec 2005, 12:34

OK, I've got the idea and I am glad to see that the Typematrix could come through your harsh report.

Before sending my Oder, I scrutinized the whole Typematrix site. I had the same sceptic frame of mind while reading. After all, I agree when you say that we have something that comes from the future on our desk :roll:

But I have some really good feelings to report here: First the spirit, you can get it from looking at this TV Techlink interview with Henry Webber ...there is a man behind this keyboard.

There is a woman too because, after reading THE WHOLE site, I reported some (thousand times read) typos someone had to signal them. While I was there, I told them where I came from (I mean from here, from the Multitouch enlightened guild). Then I received a nice reply from Mary Webber the next day (last Sunday) telling me she had noticed my order and that my keyboard would be sent on Monday. Was it a favor? I would not know but she said they have heard about the "TouchStream disappearance". My mention of the Fingerfans site was meant to let them know that things happens here they could be interested in. Who knows, they could - and we could - benefit from an even better alternative solution in the future.

Your review seems to be a neutral appreciation as long as you cannot be easily satisfied having traveled back in time. :shock:
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Postby bradheintz » 07 Dec 2005, 14:33

Well, I didn't mean to be harsh about it - but I did try to show both what I liked and what I didn't. And I stand by my evaluation of the Shift key placement.

Did you order directly from the company? You can get 2030 much cheaper at Amazon, at least in the U.S.
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Postby ivanw » 07 Dec 2005, 15:18

I did notice the positive aspects of you review. What I was pointing out was the fact that mentioning some flaws gives more meaning to them. An unconditional praise would not have the same touch of reality.
bradheintz wrote:Did you order directly from the company? You can get 2030 much cheaper at Amazon, at least in the U.S.
Yea, too late! Never mind, money is far from getting its share of my brain :wink: I spend most of the time I have being alive at things that money can't buy. Beautiful saying isn't it?
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Postby Rqyteqto » 08 Dec 2005, 01:22

Uhm, ivanw, could I buy that saying from you?
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Postby ivanw » 08 Dec 2005, 13:24

Sure, just make a bid!
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 13 Dec 2005, 18:33

ivanw wrote:May be Barbara and Shawn could send some updates... How does it goes since your last review?


I still use mine every day, and it's got to be the best keyboard available on the planet, at least for me. Obviously I miss the gestures at my fingertips, but I have my iGesture only inches away.

Largely due to the non-staggered keys I would never switch to any other keyboard. It's madness that most keyboard are still staggered! Switch and find out for yourself...

The reason I like it better than the TouchStream (which I sold) is that it is easier to type when I can feel the keys.

It's not 100% perfect (it's still annoying getting some key combinations), but it's better than anything else out there. Now, if they would just add some of the functionality of the Happy Hacking keyboard so I could do all my editing without taking my hands out of typing position, I'd be thrilled.

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Postby ivanw » 13 Dec 2005, 21:44

Thanks Shawn, its good to know what can be accomplished in the long run when you have to invest as much as it takes to get comfortable with a work tool.

I received mine last Friday as expected -- less than one week and 26$ to reach France. I like it alright! Non-staggered, silent, small, transportable, ...but I still like my TS though :wink:

Here I am once again! Re-learning to touch type :x As for the letters, I make it about 330cpm already. As I started touch-typing only six months ago, I can say that I did transpose the knowledge thanks to the keys layout.

But I do miss the TS's programmability. :!: Numbers, braces, brackets and all these alien symbols escaped the home row once more! I was so happy living with these at my fingertips after customization.

Anyway I would say it is a nice object. It looks like it needs some getting used to work with. I will report about milestones on my dealing with this survival substitute for my beloved TS.

:idea: We may suggest Henry Webber to embed some software under these keys :?:
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 13 Dec 2005, 21:58

ivanw wrote:Thanks Shawn, its good to know what can be accomplished in the long run when you have to invest as much as it takes to get comfortable with a work tool.


Glad you joined me!


ivanw wrote:
:idea: We may suggest Henry Webber to embed some software under these keys :?:


It might be nice to have some kind of configuration utility, but I think it is great that it doesn't need any drivers or software to work in any OS. In future models, I'd like to see an option to customize the layout slightly, but I'm afraid having something which can be saved to flash memory on the board would increase the price quite a bit. I'd be happy with a software utility or jumpers on the back of the board to switch among a handful of settings.

In the meantime, it's a real, legitimate, standard keyboard (as far as your OS knows), so I bet there are plenty of freeware keymapping tools available. I'll take a look today. If anyone else finds any, please post. We'll probably be wanting suggestions for at least OS X, Linux, and Windows if anyone wants to help.

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Postby ivanw » 19 Dec 2005, 23:00

Just escaped from Lee Griggs's Members' introduction thread where we've been caught completely off-topic :shock:

Msquared wrote:I still use the same style of typing on a mechanical keyboard as I always did (which is like touch typing but not using the right fingers), because the layout is different enough that otherwise I might confuse which device I'm using and end up slowing down again.

I currently have 3 keyboards plugged in :!: and each time I switch, it feels like I forgot how to type :cry: This means that I must make a choice sooner or later.

Oh well... It's a fair tradeoff... Perhaps one day I might try to pick up touch typing properly on a mechanical kb, but for now I'm happy with my typing speed on both mechanical and TS keyboards...

In my case, the only difference between the Touchstream and a standard keyboard, as far as touch-typing is concerned, appears to be that my old habits are more related to one than to the other :wink: And I can say that for an old hunt and peck typist like me, touch-typing felt as out of reach on both! As a result, learning on the TS got me knowing to make it on both as well. I even noticed the often reported offset making me type faster on the standard thing :o
But, as Msquared said, the old method still works, and that's really bad because even if I can train at 330cmp, when I must type all the programming symbols, old habits strike back and win!!!

Next strategic move will be an investment into training with non alphanumeric symbols with the free TypeMatrix MasterMind Typing Tutor. I've already spent a few hours with this one. It is as EXASPERATING as this kind of method should be to train your fingers behave by themselves while you have your thoughts occupied with something else... :x

Oh my! why did I ever looked for a change with my keyboard! :twisted:
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Postby ivanw » 27 Jan 2006, 16:17

Well, I’ve been using a TypeMatrix 2030 since four months now. I must say that my TouchStream still works fine, thank you. I bought the 2030 so I can take it along when I have to move because the TouchStream is not allowed to leave my desk ;) (…as chances are that it would break its leg should someone slam a door too hard)

This TypeMatrix thing is very small and the feeling is good while typing, it has a soft touch and it is pretty silent. But!
1. It looks like you have been held a bunch of keys, placed in a box, waiting for you to pick them out... The problem is that you will have to use them right where they are!
2. Your hands are oddly too close from each other, and that hurts!
This is already enough to disqualify it from the ergonomic domain.

This said, I don’t dislike the TypeMatrix. It has unique traits: First, keys are very close to each other and that’s nice. Then the non staggered keys, quite like the TouchStream. This is a combination you can use while typing large documents as your fingers travel really fast! Conclusion, although it is not the perfect device of my dreams, I do like the TypeMatrix :!:

My point here is about justifying another alternative. Yes it has become a sort of infatuation. It looks like I take keyboards like if they were toys to play with. In fact, a TouchStream is just that! You can do magic with it… Just twist your fingers and its like if someone did something with a real mouse and keyboard from under the table ;)

I have something in mind but I can’t tell yet whether it makes sense or not. I use to have a MS Natural ergonomic keyboard, the huge kind they made more than five years ago. I liked it, I still consider it to be closer to what a keyboard should be than any cutting edge wireless with embedded LCD you find all around.

I have some very specific criteria which qualifies my expectations. I have developed a very efficient feeling of where my hands use to rest when I am editing some program file with my favorite – and only – editor which is gvim. This is a wildly tunable tool that has become sort of third arm. The MS has become a kind of mediator in this process and I miss it when I use another keyboard whatsoever.

If I try to understand what I get from the MS that I miss with any other keyboard I’ve tried, it turns out to be simply that my fingers have something to recognize! Indeed, which other keyboard has anything more than a bunch of little squared shapes, all alike, all aligned, surely they want to confuse me while I am looking for one of them in particular. Oh, that’s mean!

That’s it! I want to give my finger something they can play with, they can recognize and feel comfortable with. No plastic: fur, leather… I know, I’m dreaming but this is the general idea. Anyway, thanks to USB, I can plug as many keyboards as I want at the same time. Currently I have only three of them, who knows where this will lead?

It looks like the MS 4000 is trying to hypnotize me… I will surrender soon if I can’t find better. I am also considering some gaming input device but I feel that I risk ending up with some more unused junk on my desk... :cry: ... Did someone considered some of these aspects?
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Postby ivanw » 05 Feb 2006, 19:50

The MS 4000 got me! I could not resist to the urge to pick one from eBay... Image I use to grumble against M$, but I am still able to admit they can do great things too.
I must say that I have never seen it for real but I am sure that it will make a great replacement for my old MS Natural.
I will get that for 72 Euros with shipping but this is less than I would have to pay for an AZERTY + mouse around here! -- I hate AZERTY!

BTW, nobody payed me to spam here like this :wink:
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Re: My review of an alternative -- the TypeMatrix 2030.

Postby Msquared » 19 Apr 2006, 01:55

Shawn_Milo wrote:I made a short post in another thread about this keyboard recently, but I've finished my formal review and wanted to share it here.


I've returned to this thread because I'm gaining interest in using a narrow mechanical keyboard between the halves of my TS in order to improve typing speed. I bought a small form factor keyboard that's based on a laptop keyboard, but I just hate the feel of it for some reason. I think it has less travel than a regular keyboard, and it feels small and dinky, even though I measured it and the key spacing is the same as a regular keyboard.

The keyboard I used prior to my TouchStream was an el-cheapo BTC keyboard, but it was the nicest mechanical keyboard I have ever used: just the right amount of resistance (not so much that it hurt to use, like the awesinely-reliable but painful-to-use-for-long-period Cherry keyboards, and not so little that it felt spongy or you accidentally hit neighbouring keys), just the right amount of "ping" feel at the bottom of the stroke that you knew for sure you hit the key but without the keyboard being too noisy. The laptop-style keyboard wasn't even close to this keyboard.

Anyway, I thought I'd get a keyboard more like a "real" keyboard, but without the numpad etc. My first choice so far is the Happy Hacking keyboard, as I suspect it would be a similar feel to my BTC keyboard. However, the TypeMatrix looks like a suitable narrow keyboard to use between the halves of my TS for one main reason: similar layout to my TS. I can now actually touch-type on my TS with some degree of accuracy, as opposed to my hybrid touch-type/hunt-peck whenever I switch back to a mechanical keyboard. I suspect that the TM's layout being similar to the TS would allow me to continue improving my touch typing.

I do have one main reservation with the TM keyboard, though: it looks very similar to a laptop-style keyboard (only matrix rather than offset alignment), which brings me to the main question I have:

How does the TypeMatrix's keys compare to that of a nice mid-low resistance good quality regular keyboard?

Shawn_Milo wrote:Of course, the non-staggered keys and central Enter and Backspace keys took some getting used to.


I suspect that I would get used to that very quickly, as it wouldn't be significantly different from the TouchStream...

ivanw wrote:
Oh well... It's a fair tradeoff... Perhaps one day I might try to pick up touch typing properly on a mechanical kb, but for now I'm happy with my typing speed on both mechanical and TS keyboards...

In my case, the only difference between the Touchstream and a standard keyboard, as far as touch-typing is concerned, appears to be that my old habits are more related to one than to the other :wink:


Hehe, I know what you mean. I'm glad that I use the TS most of the time, since that's the one that I can now touch-type on. :D Hey, I'm even toying with the idea of dvorak... :shock:

ivanw wrote:Well, I’ve been using a TypeMatrix 2030 since four months now. I must say that my TouchStream still works fine, thank you. I bought the 2030 so I can take it along when I have to move because the TouchStream is not allowed to leave my desk ;)


Hehe. I used to take mine to client sites with me because it was so nice to use, took up little desk space, and triggered questioning looks and even curiosity in others. :D Of course now that FW have stopped producing, I no longer do this. :(

By the way: while you're doing your best to protect your TS from damage, keep your mobile phone away from your MultiTouch device(s): mine was 5cm away from the top edge of the left panel when a received SMS caused it to go haywire temporarily (that was expected), and apparently the two top rows of sensors on the left panel to go semi-permanently noisy (that was NOT expected). :cry: About a foot or more away from the device and its USB cable appears to be safe...

Anyway, back to the question at hand!

ivanw wrote:2. Your hands are oddly too close from each other, and that hurts!
This is already enough to disqualify it from the ergonomic domain.


Hmmm, that's a bummer. Perhaps the 2020 is better in this regard. Perhaps they'll address this with a configuration similar to all the ergonomic split keyboards?
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Re: My review of an alternative -- the TypeMatrix 2030.

Postby ivanw » 19 Apr 2006, 18:04

Msquared wrote:I do have one main reservation with the TM keyboard, though: it looks very similar to a laptop-style keyboard (only matrix rather than offset alignment), which brings me to the main question I have:

How does the Typematrix keys compare to that of a nice mid-low resistance good quality regular keyboard?

As a TouchStream addicted geek, my opinion of the TypeMatrix is rather mixed.

8) It is a non-staggered keyboard
:idea: With some thoughts about where to put some of the wild keys that make your hands wriggle all the time on a standard keyboard
:) It is small

:lol: I like typing on the TM because of the silence and the good feeling at fingertips... I just stop when it hurts though, quite like chocolate.

:!: Made for aliens, with square hands
:!: Those kind of aliens which have their shoulders where we have our stomach
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 05 May 2006, 20:15

I'm now over seven months into my TypeMatrix 2030 experience, and I still think it's the best keyboard available at this time. My main reason is the non-staggered layout.

I disagree about the size or shape being for misshapen aliens. I'm not sure how this is a problem for the previous poster -- I have a large build and large hands. My previous love (in keyboards) was the Happy Hacking Keyboard, which was a similar size.

I purchased a second 2030 so I could have one at work and home, and I'll dismiss any keyboard that comes along with that incredibly asinine staggered layout, no matter how it's shaped or what lights up.

My RSI symptoms now only show up when I do a lot of mousing with my right hand. No amount of typing brings discomfort. At work I have my 2030 and an iGesture which I've taken to using with my left hand. At home I have my 2030 and a small USB mouse which I still use with my right. I really should change that, come to think of it, but I have so much junk on my desk that I'd have to clean for an hour to make room for it...

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Postby Cerin » 07 Sep 2006, 23:10

Shawn_Milo wrote:I'm now over seven months into my TypeMatrix 2030 experience, and I still think it's the best keyboard available at this time. My main reason is the non-staggered layout.


No one's explained *why* this matters. Personally, I don't see staggering having any impact at all. If anything, a non-staggered layout may actually hurt more, since you'd have to bend your wrist more to get your fingers aligned with the strict ros/column placement.
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Postby ivanw » 08 Sep 2006, 10:40

I would say that the staggering subject is pending mainly because there is no justification for it whatsoever... Does anyone here has one that would not be related to the urban legend that tells us it was to minimize mechanical jamming brought up by archeology?

My own appreciation is that with non-staggered keys, I am more confident about which key I will get when I stretch or bend a finger, ...but this is only when I think that I am typing - which is wrong!

The important thing here is that this comes into place when confidence has something to do with touch-typing...

I am a newcomer to the discipline, I used to huntpeck for 20 years. Last year, I bought a TS and I had to challenge myself badly about getting proficient at touch-typing. I looked for documentation on all aspects of the subject. Since then, I am having everyday training, like a musician would.

The result is that it turned me into an addict of the matter.
I'm not through with my training yet, it will never end. But I get more and more insight into the process of touch-typing with time.

I like any attempt to understand what is really important about what would be the perfect keyboard. The FingerWorks job is so a great technical achievement, through hard thinking and hard work, that it can serve as a great inspiration emblem.

Back to the topic, I would say that the conscious comfort of non-staggered layout means one trap less during the learning process.

Anyway, as long as the real thing about touch-typing is NOT on the conscious level, all these keys could as well be organized at random. Your muscle memory would achieve the same sort of miracle to reach them where they are... after a very long training effort.

Still, I prefer getting rid of the insanity of staggered keys layout. Conformism and historical justification are not good assets for geeks like us anyway :wink:
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Postby TorbenGB » 11 Sep 2006, 10:57

ivanw wrote:... the staggering subject ... there is no justification for it ...
Does anyone here has one that would not be related to the urban legend that tells us it was to minimize mechanical jamming brought up by archeology?


The staggering and the jamming are two entirely separate issues, and neither are myths. These two issues are only related in so far as coming from the same product: the early typewriters, when they were mechanic. Let's just see one of them at a time:

:idea: Warning: this is a detailed story. Sorry about that.

STAGGERING
The staggering is purely because in mechanics, you need to put hinges next to each other since they can't share a space, and you don't want the keyboard to be like a piano with one row only. In fact, look at a piano: the black keys are also staggered! They are in between the white keys just like the staggering on a typewriter.

Consider how mechanical typewriters are built: levers and types are arranged in a row next to each other, just like in a piano, but in a typewriter they're sitting in a curve, not in a straight line. (The curve is there so that each type hits in the same spot in the machine, while the paper moves sideways.) So everything is arranged next to each other. You couldn't make two keys exactly arranged on top of each other, because they would be hinged on the same spot - impossible. So every key is slightly next to the other one. Take a look: if you hold a ruler or a piece of paper over your computer keyboard, it's easy to see that no keys are exactly on top of each other. Going from left to right, the order actually is: qa2zws3xed4crf5vtg6b... There is a pattern here: The Q key is on the second row from the top, the A key is on the third row, the 2 key on the top row, the Z on the bottom: the keys are placed in rows 2314 2314 2314...

JAMMING
The jamming is not about the staggering but about the QWERTY layout. The mechanical keyboards would often jam if you press that are close to each other too quickly. If you were to write "alalala" on an old mechanical QWERTY typewriter, you could do so quickly because the types are spaced apart and only come into the same space for a very short time. If you were to write "asasas" or "klklkl", then the keys would travel almost exactly the same route and hit each other very easily, and thereby often locking up. Obviously, this jamming problem relates to the actual words you're writing, and which letters the words consist of. So the early typewriter designs tried to place commonly-used letter pairs apart from each other to the locking wouldn't happen so often. This is of course horrible from an ergonomic perspective, and that's exactly what Dvorak changed! But a Dvorak layout in the olden days would have been just as bad, because the keys would have locked up too often because it's easy to hit the keys in quick succession.
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