There are many, many types of PC keyboards, and even if we put aside the different layouts (like es_ES or en_US for example) and variations (QWERTY, AZERTY, etc.), we will find many different models when it comes to design. concerned. The ortolinear keyboard has been very popular with enthusiasts lately, but why is it? We’ll start at the beginning and then get down to business.
What is an ortholinear keyboard and why is it called that?
The word “Ortho” or “Ortho” is a Greek word which means straight or rigid. It’s the same word we use as the basis for orthodontics, the medical practice of straightening people’s teeth. Now combine that with “linear” which obviously means line and you have ortholinear: an adjective which means something has a lot of straight lines.
And what’s the point of a keyboard that looks so strange, or at least atypical for what we’re used to? To answer this, you must first ask yourself why a normal keyboard is normal. The practice of flipping keys started with the old ones mechanical typewriters, because each key was connected to a bar that literally hit an ink ribbon that printed the letter on the paper. To accommodate multiple rows of keys, the keys were alternated with each other.
This design decision lasted long after these physical bars were replaced by electrical signals, as the keys of both electric and electronic typewriters adopted the same layout as those early, outdated models. This, in turn, has carried over to most PC keyboard designs; Because there is no obvious downside to using stepping keys once you build muscle memory for typing, there is no reason to change the layout and more when people are there. were already used to it.
It sounds a lot like how the “Save” button is still represented by a floppy disk, even decades after it has stopped completely. Designs made over a century ago still include how we interact with everyday objects, and this should be taken into account when making small, seemingly unimportant decisions.
What is an ortho linear keyboard better than the others?
An ortho linear keyboard does not use a different key layout than standard keyboards, like the difference between QWERTY and DVORAK for example. No, they have the same key mapping you’re used to, just perfectly straight and linear. To do this, the special side keys such as Control, ENTER, Shift, etc. are generally small in size. (or sometimes they are duplicated to maintain consistency).
So, is an ortho-linear keyboard better? Honestly, it depends on the user. Some users say that switching to a simple layout makes them faster to write because “everything makes more sense“. But, of course, if you’ve been typing your entire life on a keyboard that’s considered “standard” and they’ve put an ortho-linear keyboard in front of you, not only will you type very slowly but you’ll make a lot more mistakes, and this is because your brain has already established muscle memory of where the keys are. If you want to use any of these keyboards, you will need to learn how to do it.
This learning period should never be particularly long, because the layout of the keys is the same after all. This seems to be about the same as the time it takes to fit a split ergonomic keyboard like Microsoft’s, but of course the process will be different for each user. The point is that many also claim that an ortho linear keyboard it’s more ergonomic than a standard.
Likewise, you don’t know the benefit that using any of these keyboards will bring you as a user until you try it out and learn how to use it, and at the end of it. this may not be of benefit to you because, as we said before, it depends on each user.
These keyboards, moreover, are not a new invention even if it is only now that they have become fashionable: there are examples which go back to the beginnings of computing. But the new designs seem to be based on the fact that you can make smaller designs precisely because of the space taken up by the keys. It is worth considering if you are looking for a small keyboard.
Where can you buy one?
If you are eager to try out an ortho linear keyboard, you are not alone, but you are not in a business abundant enough that you can find these keyboards in any computer store, and in fact there is. quite difficult to find them.
Because it’s a trend that started in the mechanical keyboard community, the vast majority of ortho-linear keyboards are actually homemade: users buy a printed circuit board, a compatible case, switches, and assemble it. themselves with a soldering iron. Then they have to plug in the keyboard and program or adjust the layout of the keys to their liking.
However, there are commercial versions as well. For example, the Planck EZ design you can see above is usually the starting point; It is a 40% keyboard that has all the letter keys but does not have a number line or function keys. You have to use virtual layers to use the numbers, pressing the Fn button and the top row. This keyboard is pre-assembled but is very expensive: it costs $ 230.
Drop.com (formerly Massdrop) also sells a version of this design but it does require some assembly. You’ll need to find your own compatible mechanical switches (which isn’t difficult, said it all) and assemble them yourself. The kit costs $ 110 and the switches will cost you around $ 30 more.
There is a much easier option to find, and it’s the one you can see in the image above. This is from Koolertron, a company that sells one-handed keyboards also known as “Macro Pads” in ortho-linear designs. Combine two and program them for both sides of the keyboard and voila, you will have a functional ortho-linear keyboard and also with an “ergonomic” central partition.