The first netbooks sported all manner of bizarre keyboard layouts in an attempt to replicate all the necessary keys from a regular keyboard in an amount of space much smaller than even reduced-sized laptop keyboard take up. The results were mixed, to say the least.
One of the worst moves made in netbook keyboard design is the tiny and slightly out of place, Right Shift Key. One reviewer noted that he, “…didn’t use the right shift key very often anyway." Statements like these make professionals nervous about netbooks.
My first thought was to wonder what kind of person goes through life not having to capitalize words that start with letters on the left side of the keyboard. Sentences always start with capital letters and you type a capital T by pressing the right shift key with the pinky finger on your right hand. As a professional writer, the thought of having to go without starting sentences with “The" makes me break out in sweats. Never mind not being able to use “A" or “An" either. (Nor be able to type my name with a capital B, but I suppose sacrifices must be made.)
While teenage texters and freshmen updating their Facebook pages may find no need to type quickly, many pros in need of mobile computing are proficient touch typists. Giving up that speed typically does not make sense.
Fortunately, many keyboard designs offer better options. Some netbooks offer an additional row of keys, placing computing keys above the numbers based on the concept that while touch typing is important, touch Caps Lock or Control isn’t.
Unfortunately, being able to use a keyboard is not just about having the keys in the right place. Size and spacing of keys make a big difference as well. Consider that ergonomic keyboards are specifically designed to move your arms out away from your body. Now, imagine a keyboard without the ergonomic angles that is narrower than a full-sized keyboard. Guess which way your arms move to type on it?