How my PS/2 to USB conversion issues have shaken out
In this entry, I covered my problems with trying to find a good PS/2 to USB converter so that I could keep using my favorite keyboard and mice. Since then I have more or less come up with a solution, although it's not a complete one.
Based on Chris Wage's recommendation, we got a PS/2 to USB converter that's specifically beloved by the IBM Model M fans. Specifically, the ZioTek 'PS2 Keyboard & Mouse to USB Adapter'; here is its Amazon listing (which is where we got it). This appears to do an excellent job of converting PS/2 keyboards to USB; I used it for several days on my office machine without noticing anything different or experiencing any problems. Unfortunately it's not as good with my PS/2 mouse. Oh, the mouse works, but it's kind of jerky and stuttery compared to the smooth pointer movement I get through the PS/2 port. The result is usable but not pleasant. Fortunately the ZioTek converter can be used with the keyboard alone.
(As always, one never knows if these things are going to stay in production and remain unchanged over the long term. Since this model's cheap, I intend to buy several so I have spares.)
This is not an ideal situation, of course, but I have at least three options. First, now I only really need a single PS/2 port on any new machines, for the mouse (although I'd still like two). Second, I can try to find a PS/2 to USB converter that handles the mouse smoothly even if it mangles keyboard input and just use it for my mouse. And third, I can explore USB mice, either the Contour Mouse or (as suggested by a commentator here) a mouse with a side thumb button that I can repurpose as the middle mouse button. And who knows; by the time I exhaust the first two options, perhaps someone will be making a genuine three button USB mouse.
(The tempting crazy option is to sail off into the uncertain waters of mechanical USB keyboards, or even that and a Contour Mouse. In a way, it feels like I have computer chair reluctance here; it's quite possible that the results would be clearly better than my current setup.)
PS: The one thing I haven't tested is how well the ZioTek converter works in the BIOS during early boot (apparently some USB keyboards and converters have issues here). On the other hand, Amazon reviewers seem to have had this work.