A Professional keyboard with an Ubuntu Logo on the super key
Today I got a new keyboard, nothing unusual and particularly blogworthy in that you might think, but look a little closer, especially at the two little keys on the bottom row that traditionally host two little adverts for a legacy operating system – they are gone! The little flags (previously discussed in the context of Google ChromeOS) are replaced with the Circle of Friends, the Ubuntu Logo that symbolises friendship and freedom. So where, I hear you ask, did I get such a marvel of modern clavicula engineering? Well the answer to that is from our friends at the Keyboard Company where they distribute and customise high end and specialist keyboards. This one is a Filco Majestouch which they modified by replacing the super keys with custom printed ones with the Circle of Friends on. Now you might note the price tag for this keyboard is £95 ex VAT, and yes this is a high end keyboard. It has a solid quality feel to it and the key action is superb. In fact when ordering you can specify one of three different key actions, tactile action, click action or linear action. I got the tactile one, which is not clicky, but has a point of resistance to push past in the travel at the actuation point. Kind of like pushing the accelerator on an automatic car past the bump to get it to kick down a gear.
It also does N Key rollover, which is great. Most cheap keyboards have a matrix of wires and switches that link keys into groups and when pressing multiple keys together this can lead to ambiguous signals that cause ghosting (keys being signalled as pressed which were not) and jamming (keys pressed, but not signaled). This keyboard has each key individually addressable, you can press a whole bunch of keys at once and it will know exactly which ones you have got pressed. This helps for the rapid typist and in gameplay where you might be holding down a bunch of keys to move a character whilst jumping, turning and firing. A missed keypress in this scenario could lead to an almost tragic loss of virtual life.
I am not really a gamer, but the N-Key rollover does interest me for a completely different reason, it means I can try out the chorded keyboard typing with Plover. This allows you to write instead of one key at a time by pressing a chord of multiple keys like a court reporter would do on a stenotype machine, this can in theory allow you to communicate at a blistering 250wpm. This open source software reads what you are typing using the steno chords and maps it from a kind of syllable level shorthand into what you intended to say.
If you would like to have one of these fine keyboards you can order them from the keyboard company, at the same price as the version with the flag key, just specify in the additional information box on the order form that you would like the Ubuntu Circle of Friends on the super key. They can ship anywhere and do them in pretty much any international layout, so if you want AZERTY or whatever then they can oblige. I would love to see them listed as a product in the Ubuntu store but as yet I have been unable to contact a human there, if anyone knows how to do that then do leave a comment.