Question: I’m using a standard Win95 keyboard and separate trackball mouse, and have been suffering with RSI in my right shoulder, forearm, hand etc. I’ve been offered an ALPS keyboard, with the ‘glide point’ touchpad, which is integrated on the keyboard. Has anyone had any experience with one of these, or similar? They aren’t particularly expensive, but I would like to hear any feedback before I get the techy guy to order one for me.
Answer 1: I am using a thing called a SmartCat (“more intelligent than the most intelligent mouse”, it says on the box!) which I am pretty impressed with. It’s a touchpad that plugs into the mouse port… I think I prefer this option to a built-in one in the keyboard, since I can move it around, place it on my lap etc. It’s a little larger that the built-in keyboard ones, and software allows customization of mouse movement speed. It has 3 programmable buttons too. A bit “plasticky” though. Cost 50 quid from PCWorld.
Answer 2: People at work have bought the following: – curved ALPS keyboard with Win95 support build in – ALPS glidepoint (separate from keyboard) I just went and tried the keyboard again. The feel is horrible – far too much resistance and, more to the point, the amount of resistance seems inconsistent between strokes. Whilst keyboard feel is a personal matter, the consensus here seems to be that this particular one is not good. This is not to say that other ALPS keyboards have the same problem, but I would advise trying the one you are planning to buy first.
My own experience is that all keyboards can vary, even between two examples of the same make and model; when I find one that I like I hang on to it. The Glidepoint device has been much more successful. The programmer who bought it did so in the face of early RSI symptoms (more preventative at this stage – his is, very sensibly, sensitively aware of the issues and dangers, and would like to be able to keep his job). He has continued to use it, so I guess he prefers it to a mouse. On the subject of mice, these can vary a lot too.
I still use an old Microsoft 2 button mouse, because it still has the best feel I have come across. When I first got (fairly severe) RSI symptoms I switched to using a Wacom Artpad for a while. I have stopped using it now (getting better) because it is not really a mouse substitute, but at the time it was extremely helpful as it provided an alternative way of moving the cursor around.