Why is finding the right keyboard impossible?

In a world where every product you could possibly think of wanting is made, and a huge number of orders of magnitude more products exist that shouldn’t be made at all, why is it impossible for me to find the keyboard I want?

When I started using PCs, the IBM PC and AT keyboards had function keys on the left-hand side, the keyswitches were loud and mechanical, and took a fair amount of force to depress. We cared a lot about keyboards in the days before graphical user interfaces were invented because they were the user interface.

I liked those keyboards. In the intervening 25 years have come a whole variety of input devices but I’ve remained wedded to the Northgate Omnikey keyboard I bought back in 1988. I must have written millions of words on that 23-year-old keyboard and nothing has ever gone wrong. I can disassemble it to clean it every now and again, but it’s had no other maintenance. It’s a marvellous piece of kit.

Incidentally, Northgate as a company is now, sadly, long gone, but you can still buy very similar keyboards from Creative Vision Technologies.

But I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to give up the loud forceful and clicky keyboard for a quieter device with keys that are easier to press and which, after a heavy day’s typing, don’t make my hands feel like they been through an assault course. But I’m not ready to give up the F keys down the left-hand side of the keyboard.

I use the keyboard a lot, even though I could use a mouse. It takes me a few milliseconds hit Ctrl-S or Alt-F4 to save a file or close a program, compared to the seconds it takes to move my hand over to the mouse, schlepp the cursor to the right icon and click it. It’s what my hands are used to doing.

And you need only one hand to do it when the the F keys are in the right place: on the left. Try Alt-F4 with the F keys on the top of the main keyboard layout and it feels really clunky and awkward — the result being that very few people ever use those keys.

So why can’t I find a quiet, easy-action keyboard with F keys on the left? Advice gratefully received….