Kinesis Contoured Keyboard
I finally purchased the Kinesis Contoured Keyboard, and I thought it prudent to write a brief review.
When I got this keyboard, I immediately noticed how little my fingers have to travel. The bowl shape makes it easy to reach keys that are relatively far away—so easy, in fact, that I kept accidentally hitting the number row instead of the top row. The fact that the rows are symmetric is a serious advantage, because it makes the B and Y keys (QWERTY positions) far easier to reach.
The thumb pads prove themselves to be very useful. I remapped the thumb pads to put space and enter on the right thumb, and shift and backspace on the left thumb. This greatly reduces the workload on my right pinky, because it doesn’t have to keep stretching to hit backspace. But there are two issues with the thumb pads. First, they are placed too high up, so my thumbs have to sit above the rest of my hand. Second, I have trouble reaching the smaller keys on the outer edges of the thumb pads—ctrl, alt, and command (on a Mac). I would prefer if the pads were shifted outward more so that the thumb could rest in the center of the thumb pad, instead of on the edge, and then reach all the keys more easily.
It has taken me some time to adjust to the keyboard. When I first got it, my speed was only at about two-thirds of my speed on a standard keyboard, and I am improving by about 5 wpm per day. I have kept practicing on a standard keyboard, and my speed there has not decreased at all.
Now that I have some experience with a Kinesis, I plan on modifying my keyboard layout optimizer for contoured keyboards.