Best keyboard and monitor?

So
Soundnfury
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:40 am Post

I'd give another vote for the Dell 2407. I love mine. And as for the price, at least in the U.S., you absolutely have to buy one with a coupon. They regularly have 20% off Electronics and Accessories coupons. (And you can always get a coupon on eBay for a couple of dollars, if you can't wait to get one directly from Dell.)

I'd also suggest a set-up where you can use the laptop monitor and the desktop simultaneously. Two monitors makes me at least twice as productive.

--rob

al
alb
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:04 am Post

I have the 23" Apple Cinema HD display and find it to be an excellent monitor. It's bright, crisp, and beautifully designed.

One nice but not immediately obvious feature of this display is the 2 USB and 2 firewire ports concealed on the back; I find these to be perfectly positioned, as I've got the display connected to a Mac Pro and would otherwise be grunging around in the dust under my desk for ports.

I recommend taking a look at the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard. I've found it to be extremely comfortable; here in the US it's also quite affordable. I've done a short writeup on my experience with it here.

I'm intrigued by your Ikea desk. I've been searching for a new desk, but my local vendors seem to provide either disposable desks composed entirely of sawdust and glue, or high-end items that won't pass my wife's laugh test. A midrange, sturdy, comfortable, and reasonably priced desk has proved to be elusive.

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Siren
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:07 am Post

Soundnfury wrote:I'd also suggest a set-up where you can use the laptop monitor and the desktop simultaneously. Two monitors makes me at least twice as productive.

And that solution gives you two keyboards as well (laptop and external), so you can write two novels at the same time, one with each hand! ;-)

Seriously, though, I am intrigued. Having only ever used one monitor at a time, and sometimes not even looking at that very often but just hammering away at the keyboard, how does having two monitors increase productivity? I can see why I might want a bigger screen, but what would I do with two screens at once? I've seen quite a few people suggesting it, but I have never been able to work out why this works so well for them.

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kewms
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:57 am Post

Two screens are good for the same reason a bigger screen is good: you can work with multiple windows without burying your writing window under your reference window (or vice versa). Two screens = more space than either one by itself, and more is better.

Combining a laptop screen with a larger monitor also gives you a convenient low priority parking area. You can stick iTunes, a chat window, a newsfeed, a clock, and whatever else over on the smaller screen, freeing up the main screen for whatever you're actually working on. The smaller screen can also be handy for quick notes and other things that you want to capture and then forget about.

Programmers like multiple screens because they tend to have truly huge numbers of windows open at once, and many of them need to be big to be useful: several code windows, documentation, debugging, and live execution, possibly on several machines at once, plus all the usual mail/browser/random screen clutter. The more space you have, the easier it is to maintain some semblance of order.

Katherine

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Siren
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:29 am Post

kewms wrote:Two screens are good for the same reason a bigger screen is good: you can work with multiple windows without burying your writing window under your reference window (or vice versa). Two screens = more space than either one by itself, and more is better.

Ah, I see. Thinking about it after my second coffee has woken me up, I used to run two machines and a mainframe terminal side by side (for documenting software), so I should have realised. And of course the benefits for programming are obvious now that you remind me of them! Thank you.

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AmberV
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 11:05 am Post

Plus, two smaller monitors are often cheaper than one big monitor. When I worked in video, I had a work station with four screens, an output reference television, and some scopes. Now that was a lot of desk space. :)
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
“Whole sight, or all the rest is desolation.” —John Fowles

Ah
Ahab
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 11:09 am Post

Let me put in a vote for a trackball versus the mouse. When I used mice exclusively, I had terrible troubles with RSI. I switched to a trackball--a very nice Kensington, which couldn't survive the ambient clouds of cat hair, and a butt-ugly Microsoft, which (so far, over the past three years) has. Trackballs, like trackpads, are manipulated with finger tips, not shoulders and elbows. Finger tips seem to survive constant fiddly movement much better than elbows and shoulders.

I'm upgrading, too, from a Luxo-lamp iMac to a new MacBook Pro with an external monitor and keyboard. The monitor that caught my eye in the big-box stores, and on various on-line reviews, was the Samsung 22-inch, for around 300 USD. I found the off-angle views better than the Apple 23-inch and the text clarity equal, for a third the price.

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AmberV
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:24 pm Post

Does anyone still make a good sized trackball? I could never stand those tiny thumb sized ones, nor understood why they made the switch. How can one digit more suited for gripping and stabilising than manipulating be better than three highly dexterous digits?

Oh, and cordless trackballs. Why, why, why!
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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F451
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:38 pm Post

AmberV wrote:Does anyone still make a good sized trackball?

Expert Mouse is all that remains.

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lenf
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:58 pm Post

AmberV wrote: I don't like ultra-light mice like the MM. I also never found much use for the MM's side buttons, which seem to trigger no matter how I hold it. And as spiffy as the roller-ball is, it seems vaguely... I don't know, odd on a laser/optical mouse? Like trading one problem for another.


Laughing...ya, I forgot that early on I disabled the side buttons. Heck, I also made both sides of the top the primary button, no left and right click here!

As to the roller-ball, I've read that the new design will replace the little ball with sensors under the plastic. That would be great!

Re: the old school look (and feel) of the Avant Prime, I'd say it's almost more like reaching for the 8" floppies than those wimpy 5 1/4" jobs. :D

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ptram
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:26 pm Post

Someone I know is happy with this compact, Cherry-based keyboard:

http://www.notestation.com/smk-88.htm

Paolo

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Sean Coffee
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Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:33 pm Post

Paolo:

Oh, sure. Where was this information before I doled out $150US for the Tactile Pro? =-)

Mechanical switches rule, and the keyboard you linked to has more USB ports than the TP2. It's not an "extended" keyboard though, so the TP2 has the advantage there.

And I'd also like to get in on the Mighty Mouse conversation. I have mixed emotions. Never had a problem with the side buttons -- I use them to call up Dashboard -- and I like the whole buttonless thing on top. To that extent, it feels very Apple-like.

The scroll wheel (button? blob?) is annoying though. Great for the 65% of the time that it's not all gummed up, and a pain in the arse for the other 35%.

SC

P.S. (OT): Just downloaded the new Safari and all the boxes around the buttons on this page are dark and cool looking. That's kind of neat.

Ah
Ahab
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Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:22 am Post

[quote="AmberV"]Does anyone still make a good sized trackball? I could never stand those tiny thumb sized ones, nor understood why they made the switch. How can one digit more suited for gripping and stabilising than manipulating be better than three highly dexterous digits?

Apparently the Kensington cat-hair collector I used to use has been replaced by an optical version, which should in theory be easier to keep clean than its mechanical predecessor. That's the only full-size 'ball I could find. Logitech, Microsoft, and Kensington make various versions of compact trackballs. The one I use (which I'll probably replace with a full-size Kensington) rolls its 2-inch ball with a finger or three while the scroll wheel and left and right mouse buttons belong to the thumb.

As for how this system can be "better?" Don't know; not a doctor. But since I replaced my mouse with a trackball 12 years ago, I no longer need a doctor, nor a physical therapist, nor cortisone shots, nor constant painkillers, nor wrist braces, nor plaintive cries to my wife to come help me get the lid off the pickle jar. Now I'm back using lifty tools like chainsaws in my non-keyboarding time, and the only thing I changed in my work day was replacing a mouse with a trackball.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

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AmberV
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Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:15 am Post

Oh, I didn't make myself clear. I fully understand how a trackball can save your arm. What I meant is that I didn't understand why the industry moved from a large ball, with a great deal of fine control and the ability to use multiple fingers (decreasing finger strain), to a small one digit ball. Then I looked at the designs and realised why: buttons. They probably figured they could get more sales from potential mouse converts if the buttons looked remotely normal.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
“Whole sight, or all the rest is desolation.” —John Fowles

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Sean Coffee
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Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:22 pm Post

An undoubtedly stupid technical question:

I was reading a blog entry about the Tactile Pro 2, in which the author laments that the single USB 2 port is only good for a mouse.

While his complaint is a little overstated, it did get me wondering: If I plug my Mighty Mouse into the USB 2.0 port, will I get better performance? So I did. And I think I am getting smoother scrolling and more precise response out of the MM.

So to the techies in this forum: Is that my imagination? Can a USB 2 connection improve mouse performance?