Jul 052010

I use a Kinesis ergonomic keyboard. I use a mouse as well; but I like having a touchpad handy. They’re especially convenient for scrolling without going to the mouse.

Considering how widespread touchpads are on laptops, they’re rather scarce as desktop accessories. Aside from Cirque’s Smart Cat line (also rebranded by Adesso), there’s really not much out there.

I tried perching a Smart Cat in the (rather abundant) space between the Kinesis keyboards key wells. I had to replace the rubber feet with thicker ones to raise it up a tad; this surface of the keyboard where it sits is slightly convex. But it was never as convenient to use as I’d hoped. I thought this was because, between the rubber feet and the thickness of the device, it just wound up being raised up too much.

I came across ErgonomicTouchpad.com a few months back. This site looks like it could have been adapted from a television infomercial; so someone capable of firing a synapse will naturally feel somewhat embarassed while looking at it. What they’re selling is simply a touchpad with the same characteristics as the Cirque GlidePoint (i.e., tap-click, secondary tap-click in the upper right corner, vertical scroll on the right) with no bezel or housing to speak of—just a velcro backing. Two sizes are available. The larger one fits comfortably in the same spot where I had the Smart Cat; and I figured it would resolve the height issue I had with the Smart Cat.

And I suppose it did. But rather than be easy to use, it just pointed out that the device height wasn’t really the problem. The problem was that I still had to pick my hand up off the keyboard to use it. And if I was going to do that, I might as well use the mouse.

So now I’ve got the little one positioned between the thumb keys on the keyboard. This works pretty well. I can just slight my right hand over a bit to work the scroll area; and if I pivot my hand, I can work the touchpad with my index finger.

Kinesis keyboard with touchpad

Kinesis keyboard with touchpad

  4 Responses to “Touched”

  1. I agree with you that touchpads make our life easier when using laptops. Indeed they are “especially convenient for scrolling without going to the mouse.” Likewise, I am also wondering what would be the next innovation that would come after this. But why is it that touchpads are not available to desktops? I wonder why.

    And you also mentioned that you are using Kinesis as keyboard, judging the picture that you have here, it looks so cool. Very much like ones that we see in science fiction movies. Are you not having hard time using that kind of keyboard? Can you please tell other perks about this kind of keyboard.

    • I’ve been using (some variant of) the Kinesis contoured keyboard for more than a decade now. Obviously, it’s been a while since I grew accustomed to it; but I think it took me about a month to acclimate to it completely. It is a very comfortable keyboard once you get to know it.

      Aside from the placement of a few keys (most notably Space and Enter), it’s basically a standard QWERTY layout; so in that respect it’s really not all that different from a conventional keyboard.

      I am told this is not a good keyboard for people with small hands.

      And, yes, you can see this keyboard used as a prop in the movie Contact.

  2. I haven’t tried one of these yet. I’d probably buy one someday (out of curiosity) if I have enough space in my office table. By the way, how long were you able to adjust to this? It looks a bit complicated to me.

  3. Funnily enough, I didn’t happen upon this post DIRECTLY due to the fact that I use the same keyboard, but I also am trying to find a good pointing device solution to use with my Kinesis. I just got a Cirque Easy Cat which is pretty tiny. Somehow it never occurred to me to put it at the BOTTOM, first of all (I couldn’t find any other touchpad that would even fit in the TOP, is I guess why), so thanks for that Idea. That looks like that might just work.

    But what I was actually searching for was driver/feature information. Are you just using the regular “synaptics” Linux driver for your touchpad? Is that working well for you? Does multitouch work?

    Thanks for any info!

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