I want to describe my migration from the Kinesis Advantage 2 keyboard to the TextBlade. This will include my second impression of the TextBlade after about six weeks of use.
My keyboard of choice for the last 15 plus years has been the Kinesis Advantage 2.
The design idea behind the Kinesis was to remove or mitigate the problems inherent in a standard QWERTY keyboard. Sound familiar? The Kinesis changes the shape of the keyboard and moves a number of keys from the outside (requiring a pinky tap) to the inside (to be used by the stronger thumb). The keyboard moves the keys into two bowls and two areas for use by the thumb. The bowls are designed to position each key the same distance from one’s fingers. In practice, that means that there is no stretching for keys. When coupled with not needing the pinky for return, delete, and other oft used keys, it is a very comfortable keyboard and got rid of a developing repetitive stress injury problem. Overall, an excellent keyboard, though clearly not portable and not Bluetooth friendly. It should be noted that the Kinesis came with four distinct warnings to not start using the keyboard if you had a deadline in the next 72 hours. Two were printed in the small manual, one was a sticker on the keyboard, and one was a slip of paper designed to fall out of the manual when it was opened - they did not want the user to miss this information! When i started with the keyboard, my typing speed plummeted, and then after three days, it was back, and even faster.
Enter the TextBlade. I set up jumps on four devices and started to type. As has been said abundantly before, the key feel is outstanding. The overall build seems to be likewise excellent. So i started right away using it as a replacement for my Kinesis. I found as i started typing on it, I had a real issue with accuracy. As this continued through the day, i decided to use a typing program to relearn touch on the TextBlade. I figured i would be able to move through it quickly. When I took the placement test, it showed my speed at 3 wpm when corrected for errors. I’m usually in the 45 wpm range on the Kinesis, but haven’t tested it for years. My typing is a mix of shorter prose, quick responses to emails, coding, and spreadsheets. So I started on the training. On the first couple lessons, I learned a lot. First, the TextBlade doesn’t have a “;” key! Somehow i missed this in looking at all the pictures of the TB. I don’t recall others mentioning this. I think it is a good choice as I typically use the apostrophe key more in daily typing. And the semi-colon is nearby on the green layer. But touch typing programs spend considerable time drilling in the proper use of the semicolon key. This was the first source of my errors on the testing. With this sorted out, I quickly sorted out my second source of error. While the Kinesis keyboard does angle one’s hands relative to each other, it is only a few degrees. There is a range that is still effective, but it’s never very steep.
The TextBlade, on the other hand, has a much steeper angling - quite apparent when you look at the top two blades that contain the alphabet. So I adjusted my hand position and started the typing training again. I got to 20 wpm almost immediately, as i removed most of the errors. I continued on for about 45 min and was up to 35. I was pleased that despite a lot of typing, I felt no discomfort. I worked for about a half hour the next day and hit 50 wpm consistently. And this is including having to use the green layer for the ever present semi-colon key. My speed with number keys and characters associated with them (!.@,#, etc.) is dramatically faster than before, as is my accuracy with them. We’re, of course, hearing this part from a number of TREGgers.
I’ve not measured typing speed on glass, but I’m sure I’m nowhere near as fast there, and it’s annoying.
As I continue using the TB, I find that I still have to stop and readjust the angle of my hands, particularly if I used another keyboard in the meantime, though this is becoming less frequent. I’ve also noticed that where I need to enter just a few characters, say to put in a password, I’ve developed bad habits where to enter passwords, I do something between hunt and peck and touch typing. This is not as effective on the TB as there aren’t discrete keys that compensate for my sloppiness. I’ve addressing this by trying to get into touch typing position every time I interact with the TB. I’m also putting certain passwords into macros. I think this should be reasonably secure, but I won’t use this for high value passwords.
I haven’t measured typing speed in a while, but i can tell it’s even faster. It is quite a feeling to open up on a long passage. Finger movement when typing is minimal. The movement that is evident has given me a physical understanding for why Colemak or others would be a better choice for layout. I’m not sure I’m willing to make the switch. I still have other layers to learn and have to keep working on the hand angles. Having a single keyboard for all entry certainly makes it worth the effort to learn.