If you are here, you are probably wondering what an Ortholinear keyboard even is and why one might choose to use one. You might be surprised to discover that this type of keyboard is becoming more commonplace in office settings. It isn’t for everyone, of course, but many people find them to be far more comfortable and easy to use. It will take time and patience while you are relearning how to type, once you do though you may see your speed and accuracy improve drastically. This short article will answer all the questions you might have about what is and why someone might choose to use an Ortholinaer keyboard.
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What Does Ortholinear Mean?
Ortholinear doesn’t technically mean anything. This word was essentially made up just so it can be used as a name for this keyboard. Its name is supposed to mean “straight straight” which is an accurate description of how this keyboard is laid out. The prefix “ortho” means straight or upright. Linear, of course, also just means straight. The name is unimportant and is only used to differentiate this keyboard from an ordinary one. The name Ortholinear is important because no one is likely to buy a keyboard that’s called a “straight straight” keyboard. It sounds goofy otherwise.
What is an Ortholinear Keyboard?
An Ortholinear keyboard is one that is straight in every regard. All of its keys are raised and are perfectly horizontal. It is also laid out in a perfect grid fashion. The keys are all in perfect columns, unlike an ordinary keyboard where the keys are staggered. If you look at your keyboard now, each row is slightly staggered to the right. The top row of keys is slightly offset to the right-hand side from the row below. Additionally, on the right-hand side of your keyboard, there is likely a three by three grid of numbers surrounded by various functions. At the bottom of your keyboard, there is a space key that is very long and takes up the space of about five other keys.
You might also notice if you are using a proper keyboard, that your keys are all slightly different heights and marginally tilted towards you. The top row is slightly higher than the one below it and so on. Ortholinear keyboards keys are all exactly equal heights, the space bar and enter key are all the same size as any other key and are just part of the grid. This is why it can take so long to adjust to this new type of keyboard, there are so many extra keys and things are in a weird place. The keys are also much higher than a standard keyboard they are between two and three times the height. The differences between these two keyboards are huge. Not just in look and style but practicality.
What are the Advantages of Using an Ortholinear Keyboard?
There are some advantages of using an Ortholinear keyboard. For example, some of the larger keys have now been replaced by regular single letter keys. This means there are now several extra keys on your keyboard. These extra keys can have additional functions or be bound to a specific command on your computer. Like, opening a new tab without having to hold the control key at the same time. The raised keys can also be more comfortable for some people. Especially if they are working at a stand-up desk. Not only are the keys higher typically, but they can also be adjusted. Ortholinear keyboards have two extra keys, raise and lower, that adjust its height. This is to combat things like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Because of all the extra keys, it offers a lot of customization. If you are someone who works on a keyboard all day you may find great use in having all of these extra buttons. If you are good at programming, you can bind each key to run scripts that can take care of a lot of the work for you. Even if you aren’t the most technically gifted, having these extra keys can come in handy. It can reduce the need for holding complex combinations of keys for specific commands. If you imagine having to press control, alt, and delete every time you want to access task manager it is an annoying waste of time. You could bind all of that to one key.
What are the Disadvantages of Using an Ortholinear Keyboard?
As someone who has used one of these keyboards, I can tell you that they are so strange to use. All of the keys are in the wrong place, they feel too close together and the flatness is honestly quite uncomfortable. Sure, the extra keys are great but how often are you going to use them? If you type hundreds or thousands of words a day, comfort and speed when typing is more important. If you put the time in to teach yourself how to use this new keyboard you may find your comfort and speed increases eventually but in the meantime, your work is going to be slacking.
The biggest problem you might find is that the space key is bound to one tiny key. You have grown used to hitting it with your finger or thumb casually between each word. It takes no thought, your muscle memory takes care of it. With an Ortholinear keyboard, you will have to stop and look at the keyboard to find the space key each time. This may not sound like too much of a problem, however, if you find yourself having to look 500 times a day while you learn to type it can become painfully tedious.
A “programmers” Thoughts on the Ortholinear Keyboard
Should I use an Ortholinear Keyboard?
In my personal opinion, no, I wouldn’t recommend using an Ortholinear keyboard. The payoff is minimal for a massive inconvenience factor. Eventually, you may adapt and find it more comfortable, or, you may find you wasted months learning how to use a worse keyboard. There is the reason that the standard keyboard is exactly that, standard. It works well, is easy to use, and doesn’t particularly need changing.