CNET to the Rescue: Rafe and Josh talk keyboards

You probably spend more time with keyboards than you do with your significant other. We explore some of the more innovative keyboards, as well as our personal faves.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
5 min read

If you're going to spend more time touching your keyboard than your spouse, you might want to put some time into picking a good one (keyboard, that is). Here are our tips for keyboards. Plus, of course, your questions answered. And the obligatory Evernote tip.

Watch this: CNET to the Rescue Ep. 8: Rafe and Josh talk keyboards


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Episode 8: Keyboards!

The best desktop keyboard?
Rafe: Das Keyboard Ultimate, or an old IBM Model M
Josh: Dell (Seriously?)

How about laptops?
The boys agree: Lenovo Thinkpads

Worst keyboards:
Macbooks (or anything with chiclet keys.) The Macbooks are missing keys like forward delete! (Yes, you can Fn it, but not the same)

Fun keyboards:
Optimus Maximus.
Optimus Minimus (keyboard stickers for when your OLED keys go out.)
Upcoming Optimus Popularis (sub-$1,000 version of the $2,000 Maximus).
The gBoard (a keyboard for Gmail).

Talk about ergo keyboards... (with a phone call)

New trend in Mobile:
Swype (Android).
Thickbuttons (Android) video.
Shapewriter (iPhone app).

Memory lane: The Half keyboard, Palm foldout keyboards, the MicroBAT

Sharing keyboards.
1. KVMs. Recommend IOgear Miniview.
2. SynergyKM.

Ryan from Cincinnati: I have a Windows 7 PC at home currently using a regular Windows keyboard and I would like to switch and use to the Apple 'Flat' style keyboard. Will this keyboard work with my PC and is there a way to re-program the Mac specific keys to work as Windows keys?

Josh: Yes, the keyboard will work with your PC, you just need to grab the keyboard drivers from Apple.

As for setting the keys to do different things, you can use a neat, and simple little program called Sharpkeys. It edits your Windows registry, which is a little scary--but it gives you complete control over remapping your keyboard at a very deep OS level, meaning you don't need to run some separate piece of software all the time for it to work. John Robbins over at Wintellect has a good how-to on how to use it with an Apple keyboard.


Is there a keyboard you would recommend for kitchen use?

Rafe: Sure. A roll-up keyboard like this one from ThinkGeek.


Steve Eli: For some time now, my family has been using facebook to publish their photos from miscellaneous events. While this works, it requires me to be monitoring my facebook news feeds for events that are of interest to me. For example, if 3 families meet up for the 4th of july, and each family member takes pictures, they upload them to facebook for everyone to see and lets say each family takes 50 photos. Thats 100 photos (excluding my own) that i would need to be looking for on facebook. And i dont know about your wall, but mine is very active and i miss some of these photo events. Are you aware of a photo sharing service (preferably online), that would allow my family to upload photos to an area so that all members could see them and be notified in some fashion?

Josh: Well, the easiest thing to do while still using Facebook is just to have your other family members share that album with you as soon as they've uploaded it. If you want to jump off to another service, Google's Picasa is very good at this. You can set up an album that's shared with other people who can contribute their own photos, add tags (including geotags), and it has built-in facial recognition. Just keep in mind you only get a gig of free space with Picasa Web Albums, unlike Facebook which is unlimited.


Teri: I was looking at SugarSync or Carbonite, but I'm not sure.

Rafe: Carbonite or Mozy for backup. $54.95 a year for unlimited storage. More complex answer: Sugarsync, since it does so much more, like sync, Web access, and device access. But it's expensive, and there's no unlimited plan.


Clay from Bama: I was wondering if y'all knew of a way to log ALL the traffic going through my home router for accountability's sake. Ideally this log would be password protected and always on.

Rafe: That's a lot of data. You can probably enable some form of logging on the router itself. Or use OpenDNS, which logs all DNS lookups and provides reports.


Jeremiah: Is there an easy way to check my AT&T 3G data usage on my iPad? It seems that if I'm not on the unlimited plan, I can easily check it through the Settings app, but if I'm on the unlimited, there's no easy way. I can't even seem to sign up on AT&T's website to check. I'm seeing if I should downgrade my plan to one of the smaller ones to save money.

Josh: Ah yes--this according to the AT&T rep I spoke to is a very popular question with a sad answer. You cannot see this metric from the usage info in the cellular data tab in settings, or by trying to log-in to your account page on ATT's wireless Website (which is impossible). I was told AT&T has simply not been keeping track of it, and has no plans to. You can check this metric from the iPhone on the newer 200MB and 2GB plans, and even get updates on when you're running low--but the now extinct unlimited plan was not being tallied at all by AT&T who was treating that data use like a pre-paid plan.

The easiest way for you to do this is to reset the iPad's usage counter in the general section of the settings menu the very same day your new month of unlimited service begins. Write that number down the next time you do it, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what it's doing. On the iPhone I found this plenty accurate compared to the numbers AT&T was giving me on its site.


Obligatory Evernote question:

Mark: I am trying to help my wife get more organized by using Evernote. She gets frustrated with the many emails she has on her iPhone/iPad in gmail and would like to be able to save selected emails into Evernote. I know how to copy and paste the body of the email using iPhone gestures but cannot figure out how to copy the "entire" email, in other words she would like to copy the address, subject and dates as well as the body of the email into Evernote. I have searched the web without success on this topic.

Rafe: Easy! All Evernote accounts have private email addresses. Just forward the e-mails you want to this address. Full info.