In 2008 the Russian design firm Art.Lebedev Studio released a groundbreaking product: The Optimus Maximus keyboard. It’s a keyboard in which every key is a display that changes according to its function – for example, it shows “QWERTY” if the Shift key is pressed and “qwerty” otherwise. Of course, it also shows completely different letters if a different language is selected, for example “ןוטארק” for Hebrew.
The Optimus was quite hot in the gadget lovers’ circles, which is rather strange, because gadget lovers think that they are too cool for any languages except English, and i can hardly imagine this keyboard being really useful to anybody except linguists. Unfortunately, it costs over $2,000, and that’s the kind of money that linguists usually don’t have.
I thought that since the tablet computers with on-screen keyboards are the hottest thing in the world now, there won’t be a new version of the Optimus keyboard. Apparently, i was wrong: Art.Lebedev is taking pre-orders for the “Optimus Popularis“, a cheaper version of “Optimus Maximus”. It is cheaper, because it has less display keys.
Relatively cheaper – it still costs over a thousand dollars, for which one could buy two good tablets or three netbooks. But what’s much worse is that it doesn’t have PageUp, PageDown, Home and End keys.
Quite possibly the designers of Optimus Popularis conducted a research and found that few people actually use these keys. Quite possibly it’s even true. But i use them all the time, and will be absolutely unable to use a keyboard that doesn’t have them for more than a minute.
That’s because these keys are an essential part of my writing experience. I need quick ways to go back and forth, to the beginning and to the end of the document and of the line. Otherwise i am unable to write.
So no, i don’t want an Optimus Popularis keyboard, even for much less money. I just won’t use it. I can hardly imagine anyone who will use it seriously.
This was the first in a series of posts about writing in computers.