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That damned keyboard January 13, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Hardware, Ramblings.

You guys have probably noticed that my big peeve about the Eeep is how tiny the keyboard is, even for people with normal digits. True, I hate it. Hate it. Then again, I realize I’m being unreasonable; it is after all a UMPC; what exactly did I expect? So I stopped griping and started trying to live with it. That’s why I’ve been mum since.

Some of you’ve been wondering about this, I guess, especially after my very first post. If you’ve been reading the few comments on this blog, someone’s already asked if I’ve learned to like it, since I’m dedicating the Eeep to writing my stuff on.


I still hate it hate it hate it.

But we’re slowly getting to know each other. In the fullness of time we might actually become reluctant friends. I don’t think I’d be happy lugging an external keyboard around, no matter how compact and foldable it was (not to mention being able to actually find such a creature – right, Art?). I think adding a keyboard to my load misses the whole point of a UMPC. Even the little wireless mouse is already an imposition; only my extreme dislike for trackpads makes me bring it.

A mouse is one thing. But bringing a keyboard is like bringing along a plank. (Oddly enough, the converse is just as bad; if it’s too compact, then might as well use the built-in keyboard, right?)

Since my Eeepboard and I can’t get divorced, we’re learning to get along. Slow going, but we’re getting somewhere.

Typing on an EeePC is really hell for a big guy like me. Imagine trying to put all the fingers of each hand as close together as you can, like you’re trying to fit the bunch in a little hole in the wall, then in that pinched claw configuration, using them to tap on little keys. No fun.

You keep missing the right keys, or you accidentally hit Caps Lock AND END UP SHOUTING YOUR SENTENCE LIKE THIS. (Which brings me to another niggle – no Caps Lock indicator light. You never know you’ve hit Caps Lock until your text shows up loud and clear.) Or you sometimes hit an arrow key instead of the shift key and bump up the cursor to a place where it shouldn’t be, and you don’t realize it until your fingers have gone ahead and messed something up.

Stuff like that.

I’m just glad it isn’t worse, like for most people who touch-type. For the first time in my life I’m glad I never really learned. My fast hunt-and-peck is loads easier since there are less fingers to get in the way of each other when typing, and the crude system is actually a bit easier to do since there is less distance for my hands and fingers to travel per keystroke.

But even so, the targets my index fingers need to hit are tinier, so I need to pay attention and keep at it until muscle memory can eventually take over. Like I said, determination is the operative word.

We really should get over it. A tiny keyboard is par for the course. Unless Asus can design something like the small Thinkpad that had that great, expanding aircraft-carrier-deck of a keyboard when you opened the lid, the Eeepboard is the one of major trade-offs, a non-negotiable. Tiny laptop, tiny keyboard. You learn to live with it.

Not like the screen size, which should have been remedied at the drawing board. Heck, look at that ginormously wide, unused frame around the LCD. Speakers or screen space? No contest.

But that’s a whole other post.



1. talkintech - January 15, 2008

I was able to adjust to the teensie-weensie keyboard by virtually ignoring my MacBook for almost a month and working/playing/surfing on the Eee exclusively during that duration.

One drawback: I had to readjust my hands’ muscle memory each time I use a full-sized keyboard which resulted in a lower WPM typing speed 😦

2. José - February 10, 2008

“You keep missing the right keys, or you accidentally hit Caps Lock AND END UP SHOUTING YOUR SENTENCE LIKE THIS. (Which brings me to another niggle – no Caps Lock indicator light. You never know you’ve hit Caps Lock until your text shows up loud and clear.) ”

– That’s not true. There’s a CapsLock indicator icon on the taskbar. It will go green if CapsLock is on

3. reverseengineer - February 10, 2008

Yes, Jose, you’re right – there is a Capslock indicator icon in the taskbar – in Easy Mode (are you still there, dude?) That’s a software thing.

But in Xandros Advanced Mode there isn’t. And neither is there any for Windows XP or EeeXubuntu as far as I can tell.

Which I reiterate – There. Is. No. Caps. Lock. Indicator. Light. What the heck would it have cost Asus to add another itty-bitty hardware light to the four already on the lower right edge – the Power/Charge/Disk Activity/Wifi lights? So that even if the OS doesn’t support it like Xandros Easy Mode does, there will always be a hard-wired CapsLock Indicator Light that works regardless.

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