Testing the Kinesis Advantage Pro

Published at: 2017-01-23

I recently started to observe some minor discomfort while coding with the Microsoft Wired Keyboard 600 which I started typing with 10 months ago.

This was when I decided to give more ergonomic keyboards a try.

Just recently I noticed the wide variety of options when martin fowler posted something about him trying out the Kinesis Advantage Pro (KAP). After reading Avdi Grimms Post Why you should spend $350 on a computer keyboard I decided to give the Kinesis a try.

Adapting to the Kinesis

While I see the problem (e.g. Vendor lock-in) of learning and therefore investing and relying on a manufacturer-specific piece of hardware, especially for something as profound as typing, I also think that re-learning basic skills help to deepen understanding of fundamental concepts, e.g. typing.

Well, lets see about that!

To make my learning process somewhat more quantifiable I decided to use 10FastFingers.com to measure my current typing speed with the Microsoft Keyboard and compare it daily with my achieved typing speed with the KAP.

I dont consider pure typing speed as a sole success factor but its the easiest measurable metric and its sole purpose is to allow a somewhat comparable metric.

The baseline speed with the Microsoft Keyboard is around 80 WPM.

Words per Minute with the Microsoft Keyboard

Day 1

The first day was pretty brutal and displayed shortcomings regarding my current typing technique.

Words per Minute on day 1

Day 2

Day 2 I introduced the foot pedal. More on that later. I mapped it to shift but after using it for 3-4 hours my leg started aching. The progress in terms of WPM was not huge.

Three reasons. First: I did not train a lot, just 3-4 hours overall. Second: I started properly coding, resulting in slowly re-learning all those precious muscle-memory dependant shortcuts and commands. Third: I realized that a lot of my typing is not writing words but commanding the computer to switch contexts, navigate the filesystem, search for text in files or eventually on the screen.

I excited to see whats happening in the next 5-10 days.

Words per Minute on day 2

Day 3

I ditched the foot pedal. Also I started to invest some time to think about different ways of key-remapping.

Over the day I spent about 3-4 hours typing, partially coding, partially writing text. Overall I mildly improved my WPM from 14 to 22.

Words per Minute on day 3

I definately dont want to change existing key-mappings since I will keep on using the not-ergonomic Microsoft keyboard and dont want to relearn two things at once.

Therefore will investigate a software-solution to keep the same key-mappings but having an additional layer of meta-mapping when working with the kinesis.

Day 4 & 5

I am starting to gain some typing speed back (current WPM ~ 37) and I observed several problematic keys and key-combinations which I am still struggling with a lot.

Words per Minute on day 4 & 5

The most problematic keys are the parentheses ([, {, < …) other special chars e.g. the pipe |, the backtick \` and tilde ~ which I actually use pretty frequently. Many of those mentioned keys are only reachable with the pinky or ring finger. I don't know if this is just a matter of proper training. Let's see.

Otherwise most of my keyboard mappings seem to somehow be persisted into my brain.

I wouldn't say that I feel completely comfortable with the KAP but it feels like getting closer to a somewhat "better place".