Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Search for a Quiet Keyboard

A problem arose when my laptop was replaced with a thin-client computer [1]with a detached keyboard. I found that keyboards that are not part of laptops tend to be enormously noisy in the courtroom. They are distracting and impaired my ability to hear on the bench. And this is especially a problem for me because I've taken notes via a keyboard since first taking the bench.
The IT department's first answer to the noise problem from the clerk's keyboard was to slap a mushy vinyl splash guard over it. This “solution” in my opinion makes for a terrible keyboard feel and hampers fast typing.

So I then started looking for a quiet keyboard for my bench. I've used a small keyboard with a short stroke that is pretty quiet at home and in chambers but couldn't duplicate it because it has been discontinued. In addition, this older keyboard is not compatible with my new thin-client workstation since it has a PS/2 style keyboard connector instead of the newer USB connector – and adapter/converters are hit and miss..

So having tried all the versions our IT department had to offer and having bought a few reasonably priced but ultimately unsatisfactory keyboards, I finally discovered one designed for the medical industry. This line of keyboards includes several versions; small and large, with and without function keys, numeric pads, touch-pads, and so on. All versions are available in black and white colors, and are waterproof or, more importantly, coffee-proof. What I bought was a "Slimcool model," which is small (about 12" wide) without separate number pad, touch pad, or function keys that I don’t use. My requirement was that I needed the additional space on my bench and that I liked the quiet, short stroke as well as the feel. The keyboard is absolutely horizontal, so I added some stick-on small vinyl bumpers to the back to elevate it to the incline I've become accustomed to with other keyboards. I find that it is fast and quiet, and the touch suits my requirements (though preferences on the feel of keyboards vary tremendously).

While I have absolutely no interest in this company, or in anyone buying keyboards from them, I just thought others might find theirs to be as welcome and rare a solution as I have. The website is http://www.man-machine.com/

The Hon. Michael Marcus is a Judge in the Circuit Court of Multnomah County, Oregon.
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1] For more regarding thin-client computers see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin-client

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