05:39 PM
Mike Elgan
Mike Elgan

Blank Keyboard Fad Will Fade

Generic keyboards are being made into geek status symbols by the removal of letter on the keys? Gimme a break!

The current rage among touch-typing geeks: Keyboards without writing on the keys.

A few weeks ago, Das Keyboard came out with its $80 blank keyboard.

Not to be out-geeked, PFU is offering the Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHK) Professional with blank keys. As usual, the HHK comes with a minimum of keys -- just 60.

These provide out-of-the-box what you used to be able to achieve only with stick-ons.

The benefits of this keyboard could be:

1. Boosting of touch typing, as you're forced to rely on muscle memory rather than peeking at the keys.

2. Improved appearance of keyboards. The printed lettering on keyboards of heavy users tends to wear down unevenly.

3. Better security. Non-touch typists trying to log onto your system will be slowed down by the lack of key letters.

Despite these admittedly questionable benefits, both keyboards are marketed as a way to communicate to others that you are an uber-geek -- not someone to be trifled with. The Das Keyboard, according to the company's Web site, "says who you are." The HHK Web site says using their blank keyboard "will amaze your peers - adding to your already formidable reputation!"

To borrow a phrase from my friends in New York: C'mon, gimme a break! Real geeks tend to be unconcerned about status or image and buy keyboards for performance and "feel." And the wanna-be geeks won't be able to use these blank keyboards. I don't think this will catch on.

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