My feelings about my mechanical mini keyboard

November 29, 2015

I wrote a while back about my temptation to find a good USB mini keyboard to replace my old PS/2 mini keyboard. Well, I recently gave in to that temptation and got a mechanical mini keyboard, specifically the Matias Mini Quiet Pro, which seemed like close to the best candidate I could find. Although I've only been using it for a few weeks, I want to write my initial feelings down now before my memories of what it was like to use my old keyboard fade too much.

In general, well, the keyboard works (including in the BIOS of my machine when it boots up). It's slightly bigger than my old keyboard (which set off some other changes that are another entry) and it's significantly heavier. It is indeed quiet, just as claimed; it's probably slightly louder than my old keyboard, but not by very much. Certainly it doesn't sound like a clacky mechanical keyboard.

This is effectively my first mechanical keyboard, so I can't say anything about how it feels as compared to other mechanical keyboards. Compared to my old rubber-dome keyboard it feels subtly nicer. On my old rubber-dome keyboard, typing away for long enough could leave me with a low-level feeling that I was slamming my fingers against something hard, probably from bottoming out the keys against their hard stop (I felt it most acutely in the outer fingers of my left hand, which could spend a bunch of time banging on the control and shift keys). This was never painful or anything but it was something that I was definitely aware of. I don't really feel that with my new keyboard, and it's definitely something that I've looked for.

Because the new keyboard's a bit different in size, the actual physical keycaps are in slightly different positions from my old keyboard. This has given me a great demonstration of just how acclimatized my reflexes were (and are) to the exact position of the old keyboard's keys; although I've been getting better over time, I still keep missing keys every so often, usually when I'm just starting to type something. I've also apparently been extremely attuned to just how much pressure I needed to lift from things like the shift and control keys in order to un-shift and un-control things. This is different on the new keyboard, and as a result, well, I've been fixing a certain amount of surprise capital letters and so on. This too has been improving with time. In a few months I'll probably be just as finely tuned to the new keyboard.

(I gave that a helping hand by persuading work to get me one of them too, so I don't have to go back and forth between different keyboards at home and at work.)

The different relative locations of the various function keys has revealed that a number of my window manager key assignments are quite sensitive to the physical location of the function keys I was using. The different key positions on the Matias has moved several function keys further away from my regular hand position than they were before, making it comparatively less convenient to invoke those window manager bindings. I'm still considering how (and if) I want to shuffle key bindings around, but I'll probably wind up making changes sooner or later. Right now I'm being conservative, because I may find that I get used to it in the long run and they're not really any different than before.

(I've already added one adaptation to my environment, but that's another entry.)

Written on 29 November 2015.
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Last modified: Sun Nov 29 00:52:32 2015
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