Much as the popular view is that palaeontologists spend their days out in the dusty desert digging up fossils, the fact is most of us spend more time at a computer than anything else, and that goes doubly so when your research revolves around computer simulations.
As such, a keyboard is probably one of the most used, and possibly most underappreciated, pieces of kit a scientist (or any academic) will use. It’s imperative to me that a keyboard be decent then.
Until recently, I’d be using my Microsoft Designer Bluetooth keyboard, and loving it. There were a couple of niggles – no backlighting made it difficult to use at night, and the lack of separation between arrow keys and numpad meant it was difficult to tell by touch where you were (which compounded the lack-of-backlight issue). Still, I loved the typing experience on it, and it served me for several years until the G and tab keys mysteriously stopped working.
So away I went to find a replacement. I settled on the Logitech Craft wireless keyboard:
Overall, the Logitech is pretty heavy, which I’m not sure is a plus or not. It doesn’t move at all when I’m typing, which my Microsoft keyboard occasionally did. But now small adjustments to position feel a lot more onerous (I didn’t realise how many times I altered my keyboard position when writing until I got the Logitech).
The layout of the Logitech is definately better than the Microsoft keyboard, with distinct space around the arrow keys, separating the numpad from the rest of the keyboard, and I like that a lot. The keys themselves have a comfortable level of throw. I’m not convinced by the scalloping of the key tops. I know some people really like that, but I think I prefer the flat tops of the Microsoft keyboard (which are also like the surface keyboards). There’s not much in it though – it doesn’t bother me that much.
The standout feature of the Logitech Craft is that it has a little dial at the top left. This can be configured to do all sorts of things on a per-app basis, such as changing the brush size in photoshop, changing the font in word, advancing slides in PowerPoint, and so on. It’s touch sensitive, so you can tap it to change function, and it also has a smooth or discrete turning feel depending on the function (much like the wheel on the Logitech MX Master mouse, which is my favourite mouse). This all sounds great, in theory, but I’ve ended up using it almost exclusively for changing the volume (which is actually super useful, because my monitor doesn’t have dedicated volume buttons).
The keyboard is backlit, and in a very cool way will activate the backlight when your hands move over the keyboard, just short of touching it. It’s really neat, but is also important as a battery saver. The Logitech craft is charged via USB-C, and a full charge lasts me a couple of weeks, which is significantly less than the Microsoft keyboard which would last a couple of months on a pair of rechargeable AAA batteries.
I really like it. It’s comfortable to type on, and the overall layout is ideal. The Dial has been used an awful lot, but not, I think, to the level it was really designed for.
Summary: Highly recommend. It’s a solid keyboard, with a great feature set. Importantly, it’s comfortable to use and feels well built.
Do you find it’s an advantage having a wireless keyboard ( and presumably mouse ) with a desktop machine? I must admit to not having tried them for a few years now but I found that the batteries would run out or connection would be lost at the most inopportune moments. I suspect that technology’s moved on a bit since then. I like the The Dial though, I could find a few uses for that.
( I thought palaeontologists also spent a lot of their time on remote islands doing dodgy genetic experiments on dinosaurs. Or maybe that wasn’t a documentary that I was watching … )
I’m a big fan of clutter-free workspaces, and once I made the move to wireless peripherals I never looked back. The Microsoft keyboard lasted _ages_ on rechargeable batteries (like, months). This is a bit worse, needing a top up every few weeks, but it’s just a USB-C cable so when the red light comes on, I’ll plug it in that evening and by morning I’ve a full charge for another few weeks. There’s also a physical on/off button but I don’t bother with that. The dial has lots of potential, and I’m fantastically under-using it at the moment.
It’s the geneticists that do the experiments, the palaeontologists just do the running away!