The campaign for real keyboards

When I read reviews complaining that Netbooks are "toys," regardless of their operating system, it's the keyboard they are really talking about. What CompuTex needs is a campaign for real keyboards.

The latest Netbook rumor is out, this one straight out of Goangzhou and involving a unit running Google's Android operating system.

Once again, there is something important missing.

A keyboard. (The picture is from an excellent review of keyboards at our Australia affiliate, CNET Australia.)

Westerners need keyboards. Real keyboards. Keyboards you use 10 fingers on, the 8 main digits held up like you're about to play the piano, the thumbs resting comfortably on the space bar.

I want my index fingers to feel a line or at least a bump beneath them, so they know they're properly placed on the f and j keys. And I want enough real estate on that keyboard so my fingers aren't bumping into one another on their appointed rounds.

And I want enough travel when I press down the key so I know I pressed it, and don't have to guess.

I want a real keyboard.

This should not be hard to do on a Netbook. It should not be that expensive. OK, so you make the case bigger, and maybe the screen bigger. But the case width can be wider than the screen if screen cost is the issue.

I have a theory as to why we are having this problem. I have yet to meet a Chinese or Japanese business associate who types the way I do.

Typing an ideogram means a multi-step process to get something on the screen, but each ideogram is a word. The languages are saved using two bytes, not one. You keep your head down and work out the formula for each ideogram. It's a different process, more mental than physical.

Not so with English, or similar alphabetic languages. For me each keystroke just gets me a letter, it takes several to make a word, so a Chinese hunt-and-pecker may be a faster typist than an American 10-finger dude, assuming he or she has some practice.

Whatever the cause of the problem it is becoming something of a personal cause for me. When I read reviews complaining that Netbooks are "toys," regardless of their operating system, it's the keyboard they are really talking about.

What CompuTex needs is a campaign for real keyboards.