Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A writer and her keyboard: A love story

I guess I'm hard on keyboards, which shouldn't come as a surprise, given my occupation.  My keyboard has been slowly getting more problematic over the year and nine months that I've owned the computer.  I love the feeling of typing on these modern laptop keyboards, with their flat backlit button-style keys, but they don't appear to hold up as well as the older-style laptop keyboards.  My keys have been slowly getting looser, especially keys that I use a lot, such as A, S, T, and now U as well.

And then, last summer, my A key came off for the first time.

I about had a meltdown, especially after I discovered that these keys aren't as easy to put back on as the old keys were.  I was working, and after trying to put the key back on myself (and failing spectacularly -- in trying I bent the little metal tabs that held the key on), I packed up the kid I was with and drove right over to my favorite repair shop.  They put it back on, but mentioned it was getting loose, as were a couple of others.

Then, a couple weeks ago, the A key came off again.  This time I didn't panic (as much), knowing it could be fixed.  The shop put it back on.  It came off again a week later.

The final time I managed to get it back on myself, but it was clear that the keyboard was wearing out.  Other letters were getting almost as loose or not typing as reliably (I'm looking at you, T and U), and the A key felt like it was perpetually ready to come off again.  So I found a gently used keyboard for my computer, ordered it with priority shipping, and drove it and my laptop straight over to the repair shop as soon as it arrived yesterday.  A few hours and a minor panic later (they couldn't get my computer to start back up at first after putting it all back together again, but it turned out to be that the cord they had on hand didn't work with my computer), I was back in business.

Already I can feel the difference.  My keyboard must have gotten looser than I realized, because this one is much tighter, to the point that I'm having to relearn how much pressure to use when I type.  But I love the feel of it, and I'm happy to have prolonged the life of my little laptop.  The shop was duly impressed with my sexy little machine, which has a touchscreen, an SSD, only weighs 1.9 pounds, and starts up in just 6 seconds.

But most importantly, I love this laptop's keyboard.  It was one of the biggest reasons I bought it.  The keys are slightly smaller and spaced slightly closer together than most laptops, which enables me to type faster.  It also has the slightly clicky feeling that I love in a keyboard, without requiring so much of a downstroke as a mechanical keyboard (which slows me down).

People don't realize how important a keyboard is to a writer, but it's possibly the very first thing I look at.  I've bought a laptop online twice without trying the keyboard first, and won't do it ever again -- the first time the keyboard had a funky quirk about it, and the second time it was too big for my hands (although the second computer had a lot of other problems too that caused me not to keep it).

What about you?  What do you like in a keyboard?

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