Praises,comments and wishlist about the TypeMatrix 2030
  • shtrom October 2010

    (This is an email I initially sent to info@typematrix.com, but I thought it would be worthy of repeating and extending it here)

    About two years ago, I bought a TypeMatrix 2030 USB with a Dvorak mapping. I got a B├ępo skin with it, but never really bothered trying to use it. I have to say I'm very satisfied with this keyboard (I'm typing this email with it), and I am considering buying some more for home.

    That said, I have a couple of comments which, I hope, can help you improve this keyboard for the next iterations (2040?).

    I find that a couple of keys are located in an non optimal way.
    - The fn key should be relocated more towards the middle of the keyboard to be accessible by both hands, and leave room for a full size left Control key (it is too small on the 2030 and should match the size of the right one, which is good).
    - The page up/down keys may be more easily accessible as fn+up, fn+down. I have to admit I like the Macintosh iBook mapping, which I find is very logical:
    * fn+up = page up,
    * fn+right = home,
    * fn+left = end,
    * fn+down = page down.
    This would break the current numpad layout, though, so it may require a bit more thought. I don't have much use for this keypad myself.
    - More generally the rightmost column of keys can sometimes be annoying as it breaks the axial symmetry of the keyboard and they are often hit by mistake. Most of these functions could be relocated as fn functions of other keys. I'd also prefer the www and mail key a bit less in reach (maybe higher on the keyboard).
    - I find all keys which emulate keyboard shortcuts *combinations* (ctrl+x, ctrl+c, ctrl+d, ...) useless. They'd be better replaced by standard multimedia keys (like the play, mute and volume ones) which can easily be remapped in software (rather than hard-wired to an arbitrary OS's defaults) if need be, or free room to relocate the rightmost column (:.
    - Finally, an embedded USB 2.0 hub would be great.

    In addition to those comments I made in this email, a new feature I think would be also great is a SmartCard reader. Something like the chip in the SCM SCR335 would do (and extra PIN-typing mode which doesn't go through the computer at all, maybe signalled to the user with a LED, would be *awesome*). This way, I could have a perfect and easily transportable keyboard/smartcard reader for all my input and OpenPGP-related needs.

    Anyway. Great keyboard!

  • TypeMatrix_admin November 2010

    @shtrom: Thanks for your input. I think many of your ideas could easily be implemented on a programmable keyboard - and luckily we're already working on that. The USB hub idea is definitely something we're considering but haven't made a decision on just yet. We're not sure if we're ready for a SmartCard (or any card reader) in this next version, but we definitely appreciate the ideas. Keep 'em coming! Thanks again.

  • shtrom November 2010

    @TypeMatrix_admin: I'm not sure what you mean about a programmable keyboard. Would it need to be reprogrammed everytime it's plugged in? In any case, I hope you are also working on an open source configuration tool for Unix and or an Xorg driver.

  • Naugrim November 2010

    If TypeMatrix is not able/motivate to make the tool for Unix but but give the protocol to speek to it i can make the tool.

  • TypeMatrix_admin December 2010

    @shtrom: The programmable keyboard will essentially allow you to reprogram the function of any key and yes the keyboard will remember these once loaded into it. The software that will compile the keyboard layout to be loaded into the keyboard is likely going to be java based, and we're trying hard to make things cross-platform compatible. Please keep in mind though that is all preliminary information subject to change as we continue to develop the product. It's not even in a beta stage yet.

    @Naugrim
    : we may well need all the help we can get when we get closer to launching and the hardware specs are a bit more firm. Thanks for the offer and we may contact you in the future.

  • mogh345 May 2011

    @TypeMatrix_admin: Does this reprogramming only move around the scancodes for each key, or might you be implementing some way of transmitting ASCII/Unicode so that we can program in characters not normally found in our country's standard layout?

  • shtrom May 2011

    @mogh345: I'd say it's more the role of your operating system's keymap to do this.

  • @mogh345
    Unfortunately we've lost the main contributor to the hardware side of this project, so at the moment this project is completely stalled. We haven't given up on it completely, but we definitely don't have any time-line, so we can't even speculate on features anymore. The idea was to change the programming of the scan codes.

    -TypeMatrix

  • shtrom March 2012

    The previous comment is spam...

  • Azerty April 2012

    Personally i'd like shift keys to be smaller to put control higher. At on the left side, since shift us closer from pinky, there's no need for an oversized key on this side.

    This way, it would be easier to reach control with pinky.

  • sexyshape October 2012

    Yes, would you have a wish list and/or polls for the next generation ?
    I've received 2030 last day and very good keyboard.
    Still one big failure the control key. I use to have the left control and caps lock reversed on standard keyboards. I use emacs and I need it very often because all shortcuts need it. So first thing I do is going in 106 mode and replacing the Alt+Tab key with Control.
    Also it's not very important but if you mind to boot on 106 mode, maybe a little jumper somewhere could do the trick.
    Thank you anyway for this piece of art.

  • rajn October 2012

    I've been using the 2030 for about a week now, and I'm a java programmer who uses Intellij Idea mostly. I agree with most of the comments in the initial post. Overall I find the main alphanumeric keys to be great, but the function/additional keys can be very awkward for day to day coding and use with an IDE. My comments regarding the suggestions:

    - The fn key should be relocated more towards the middle of the keyboard to be accessible by both hands, and leave room for a full size left Control key (it is too small on the 2030 and should match the size of the right one, which is good).

    I agree. Further I think the shift and ctrl keys need more horizontal space. I find it quite hard to locate them sometimes because they are almost the same width as the regular keys - especially the left ctrl key which is the same height too. I realise that there are vertical bars on the edges but my fingers don't feel for those when they're in mid air. I'm expecting an impulse response that my finger has hit a non-alpha key but I'm not getting it.

    The location of the alt and ctrl keys is also a problem. I expect them to be on the lower edge of the keyboard so I can hit them with a flattened finger like a piano key. I'm also looking for the edge of the keyboard as a guide to to where the alt and ctrl keys are, and I'm not finding that with my fingers. the right hand directional keypad really gets in the way of this too. Finally, on a regular keyboard the length and direction of ctrl and alt keys is a lot more symmetric from the home row on both hands, and this confuses me too.

    The right hand directional keypad is probably my single greatest annoyance with this keyboard. I really expect it to be seperated from the main keyboard so that it's easy for my fingers to scan for its shape and perimeter. I am mistyping direction arrows all the time, and since I do a lot of shift-select of text using the keyboard for cut/copy/paste this is a real annoyance to me. And while you're at it move the home and end keys away from the directional keypad cause I hit those by mistake and lose my selection.

    - More generally the rightmost column of keys can sometimes be annoying as it breaks the axial symmetry of the keyboard and they are often hit by mistake. Most of these functions could be relocated as fn functions of other keys.

    I agree. I think they should be seperated from the main keypad, if not omitted altogether. Do we really need dedicated keys for launching an email app or a web browser? I would much prefer a dedicated insert key, because I do alt + insert all the time, and alt + fn + insert is that much harder.

    - I find all keys which emulate keyboard shortcuts *combinations* (ctrl+x, ctrl+c, ctrl+d, ...) useless. They'd be better replaced by standard multimedia keys (like the play, mute and volume ones) which can easily be remapped in software (rather than hard-wired to an arbitrary OS's defaults) if need be, or free room to relocate the rightmost column (:.

    Yeah the shortcut combos are useless to me too. And I think they actually get in the way of trying to find ctrl and alt. I would prefer they were moved away or eliminated altogether.

    - Finally, an embedded USB 2.0 hub would be great.

    Nice idea!

    As I said at the top, I find plain alphanumeric typing to be very pleasant on the 2030, but the auxiliary keys need to conform to more conventional sizes and locations in my opinion. There is some purpose to splitting out the directional, auxiliary and other keys from the main keypad - it makes it far easier for my fingers to find them because they are distinct groups with distinct shapes and perimeters that I can feel for. The current arrangement leads to off-by-one keying errors far too easily in my opinion because everything is jammed in together.

    My greatest annoyances are the ctrl, alt, insert and directional keypad. If you fixed those I would be one happy camper ;)

    Raj.

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