Question: We have thought of making a separate number pad and cursor group but have not felt that there would be enough demand to make it worth while. Perhaps group members would like to comment on this point? What price would we have to aim at to be acceptable ? I’ll be glad to have comments.
Answer 1: I think a separate number pad and cursor key group is a very good idea. I did get hold of a separate pad once and tried to run it in parallel with the Maltron, but I failed to get it to work. If it could be done, this sort of arrangement would suit me very well. The difficulty I had was that I was continually switching back and forth between the Maltron and my ordinary keyboard depending upon whether I was doing text or spreadsheets/databases (i.e. numbers and moving around a lot). I found the numeric keypad on the Maltron far less convenient for numbers than a conventional keypad. The prime reason for this is that you are forced to use both hands and are continually having to relocate your hands between the typing position and using the keypad. I guess the solution is to touch type numbers using the number line above the keyboard, but there must be many users like me who find using the number pad far quicker and more convenient. This is particularly the case because the cursor movement keys are readily accessible with your thumb.
I expect you will tell me that I have picked up one-handed bad habits. But it is a bit like others sticking to QWERTY rather than learning the Maltron alternative layout. Having once learned to rely on the keypad it is difficult to adjust. I think there may be a market for a separate pad.
Answer 2: Thank you all for comments about a separate number pad we will certainly look at this again. For Maltron keyboard users there is another option. This is, that instead of the alternative Maltron letter layout, we have made an embedded number pad as the option on either hand as preferred. Pressing the M/Q key toggles between the letters and numbers. The chip can be changed fairly easily on most models though the keys would not have the numbers on them, some DIY paper labels would cope with this problem. Some more user comments please. By the way Cherry has a variable split keyboard with a separate number pad but it can not be used with any other keyboard.
Answer 3: I like the idea of having a separate numeric keypad available. One reason why is that I do a fair amount of editing and formatting, and it allows me to mouse with the right hand and have a Del and Enter key under my left hand. This may not be much of an issue with the Maltron, but it’s a killer on a standard keyboard. There are still some resellers selling the Lexmark Select Ease/IBM Options here in the US and they have adapted a different numeric pad to it than the original one, but I’m not sure who’s model they are using. Also, are the Maltron keyboard variations described or pictured on the Maltron website? If not, it would be nice to update the TIFAQ and reference back to these enhancements.