Thoughts about Interface Design in General
I have been in several situations where a variety of people claim the gamepad is superior for gaming because that is what it was designed for. No elaboration or further justification is given. The controller is designed for gaming and is therefore clearly better. End of – despite often being start to – discussion in their minds.
Really it is a compromise between the needs of popular games and the environment of a couch.
Interface design is complicated. When you design an interface you need to consider: the expected types of applications; the environment of the user; what you are permitted to use; what tolerances are allowed; what your audience is used to; and so on, so forth. There is a lot to consider when you design an application for a user and I could make an educated guess that it is at least as hard to design the input device itself.
The history of keyboard design is a great example of tradeoffs in input devices.
Sometimes it is better to be worse...
The first wave of keyboards were interfaces to the mechanical typewriter. These keyboards were laid out in alphabetical order because as long as each key is accessible and the user could find the letter they wanted – who cares, right? We already have an order for the alphabet that people understands so the users should not have too much difficulty in finding the letter they need.
Another constraint quickly game to light: typists were too fast and the machines jammed.
The engineers now needed to design an input method which could keep up with the typist. Correcting the machine itself was somewhat futile so the solution was to make the typist as slow as possible. The most common letters in the English language were spread all over the place and – while possibly by fluke – the left hand is favored, as in made do more work, over the often dominant right hand.
The problem required making the most aggravating keyboard layout engineers could imagine. QWERTY was born.
Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2012 - 04:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, logitech, keyboard, washable, K310
Some of you may remember keyboard covers, similar to the plastic covers that batty old relatives place on their couches and chairs and every bit as attractive. They've gone out of style which is part of the reason why there are keyboards out there growing moss and with enough crumbs inside for a decent emergency snack during a MMORPG raid if you flip it upside down. Logitech realized that not everyone wants goop, crud and worse hiding below their keys and so they've released a washable keyboard called the K310. Legit Reviews tried it out and liked it, as far as they could like a membrane keyboard with just the basics but they are hoping for a model targeted at gamers in the near future.
"Most of us spend many hours every week typing at a computer, but when was the last time you cleaned it? How dirty and nasty is your keyboard that you are using right now? Last month, Logitech unveiled the Washable Keyboard K310 that grabbed our attention as you could easily was it and the keyboard costs just $39.99 shipped. Using disinfectant wipes gets expensive over the years, so a washable keyboard like the Logitech K310 could make life easier for germaphobes or anyone that hates dirty keyboards..."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gigabyte Aivia Osmium Gaming Keyboard @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte Aivia Osmium Keyboard Review @ Hardware Secrets
- TT eSports Challenger Ultimate @ XSReviews
- Thrustmaster T-Wireless PS3 and PC Analogue Controller Review @ eTeknix
- Logitech G27 Racing Wheel PC/PS3 Review @ eTeknix
- Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse Review @ Techgage
- Razer Naga 2012 MMO Gaming Mouse Review @ Legit Reviews
- CM Storm Sentinel Advance II Gaming Mouse Review @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte Aivia Krypton Mouse and Mouse Pad @ Bjorn3D
- Razer SW:TOR Edition Wireless Gaming Mouse Review @ eTeknix
- SteelSeries Sensei [RAW] Gaming Mouse Review @ Techgage
- Genius DeathTaker Gaming Mouse @ TechwareLabs
- Logitech G600 MMO Gaming mouse @ Hardware.info
- SteelSeries Sensei MLG Pro Grade Laser Mouse Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Mobile | August 22, 2012 - 12:51 AM | Matt Smith
Tagged: touchpad, synaptics, notebook, laptop, keyboard
The march towards thinner laptops has challenged computer manufacturers in a number of ways. When designing a laptop that’s just three-quarters of an inch thin or thinner, everything matters. Even the size of thickness of a keyboard or touchpad makes a big difference.
Synaptics is responding to these design realities with the introduction of new user interfaces. One is the ForcePad, a new type of touchpad that is capable of measuring the precise amount of force the user inputs. This makes it possible to drop physical left/right mouse buttons entirely, reducing maximum thickness from 5mm to 3mm. It also provides additional input which can be harnessed by software for precise control.
The company is also introducing a new keyboard design called ThinTouch. This keyboard redesigns (or rather, eliminates) the keyboard switch to reduce overall thickness by 30 to 50 percent without sacrificing an optional backlight. The keyboard is also force sensitive, which means that users can activate alternate characters by pressing harder instead of using the Shift key.
Both new technologies are interesting, though also potentially problematic. Of concern is the lack of key travel in the ThinTouch design, which is evident in the picture above. There’s little movement in the key, which makes me wonder what typing on this keyboard is like. I’d wager it’s not the best experience. I find it very odd that a company responsible for designing user interface elements for a laptop would seek to reduce one of the laptop’s most noticeable advantages over a tablet – a tactile keyboard.
With that said, I'm sure these devices will make their way to ultrabooks in short order. Reducing the size of the keyboard and touchpad will allow for a larger battery and/or better cooling. The battery life increase will be of particular use to OEMs, who see battery life as a nice, easy figure that can be used in marketing materials. A better battery can be explained with a handful of words. Explaining a better keyboard takes more time.
No release dates or launch products have been detailed yet. We'll probably hear more at CES 2013.
Introduction, Design And Features
The gaming keyboard market seems to rigorously follow a common rule of consumer products - more is more. If a keyboard is for gamers it should include lots of fancy gaming related features, and the more that are included, the more hardcore the keyboard. Macro buttons, customizable back-lighting and LCD screens are all features of modern gaming keyboards–and you don’t see many companies going the other direction.
But there are products that buck the trend. One of them is the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid, a mechanical gaming keyboard that became available in North America earlier this year. Unlike most competitors, the QuickFire rapid cuts features instead of adding them. Back-lighting? Macro keys? You’re kidding me, right? This keyboard doesn’t even include a numpad.
Cooler Master (the company behind CMStorm) has not cut out the features that matter, however. This keyboard comes with Cherry MX keys (the blue variant, in this case) and also supports PS/2 connections for full NKRO. For those who’ve seen the light of day recently, this gobbly gook means the QuickFire Rapid scans key activation individually and therefore can detect new key activations even when other keys are still depressed. It’s a feature hardcore gamers love because of their tendency to press multiple keys simultaneously.
Cutting back on unneeded features has a notable side effect–it reduces price. Currently this keyboard is available for $79.99 at retail or as low as $65 on Amazon.com. Only Razor’s bare-bones version of the BlackWidow keyboard sells for less, and it only beats the QuickFire by $5 dollars.
So can you really buy a decent gaming keyboard for $65, and will you miss the numpad? Let’s find out.
Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 03:51 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rosewill, mechanical keyboard, keyboard
Rosewill, a PC peripheral company popular for its lineup of mechanical keyboards has announced a new model. Following in the success of Rosewill’s second generation RK series (which we reviewed here) is the Limited Edition Elite Ivory RK-9000I. The new mechanical keyboard features the same form factor and black keys as the existing RK-series, but has a white color keyboard color.
The Elite Ivory mechanical keyboard will be available with either Cherry MX Blue or Cherry MX Brown switches. The Blue variants are tailored towards typists while the Brown keys are made as a compromise between typing feel and the ability to press the key multiple types rapidly–a feature highly sought after by gamers.
Key press animations. On the left: a Cherry MX Blue. On the right: a Cherry MX Brown
Further, the keyboard will come equipped with both gold-plated USB and PS/2 connectors. The PS/2 connector will give you the full performance and allow many more keys to be depressed at the same time than is possible over USB. When Scott reviewed the RK-series keyboards, he generally liked them. As this Limited Edition Elite Ivory RK-9000I is based off of those keyboards, it should offer very similar performance.
Unfortunately, pricing and availability have not yet been released by Rosewill, but I would expect that it is coming soon.
Introduction and Design
Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2012 - 04:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, corsair, gaming mouse, keyboard, vengeance, cherry mx red, k60, k90, m60, m90
LAN OC have been busily working their way through Corsair's Vengeance series of gaming peripherals, both the line of keyboards and mice. They start off with the K60 and K90, both mechanical keyboards using Cherry MX Red switches and sporting customizable red rubber WASD buttons with a slant on them to make your fingers more comfortable for long nights of FPS action. Only the K90 sports a three rows of six programmable buttons on the left hand side for use in MMOs, the K60 is more regularly sized.
From there they move to the gaming mice, specifically the Vengeance M60 and M90 which bear many similarities. The software suite which accompanies both mice gives you impressive control over the button programming and sensitivity of the mice and goes further with tools such as one that lets you rate the performance of the surface you are mousing on. Read on to see the physical differences between these two mice.
"Every once in a while you find a company that is able to take a normal product that everyone has and change it in a way that makes everyone wonder why it was never done before. As much as it pains me to say this, Apple was one of those companies. In the pc components business there are a few as well, but the company that stands out the most to me would be Corsair. Every time corsair enters a new market, I find myself impressed with what they have to offer. Even though it seems like they are always jumping into random markets, they take their time and research what everyone has to offer and what people would really want to see. This week we are going to take a look at their new Vengeance lineup of mice and keyboards to see if they have done the same in these new markets. Today we are going to start with their new keyboards, let’s dig in and see what they are all about."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Corsair Vengeance K90 Gaming Keyboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Corsair Vengeance M90 MMO Gaming Mouse Review @ Techgage
- Gigabyte Aivia Krypton Gaming Mouse @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte Osmium mechanical keyboard @ Guru of 3D
- Manhattan Stealth Touch Mouse review: too much touch, too little action? @ Hardware.info
- Xebec Tech HTPC Mini Bluetooth Keyboard @ Kitguru
- Razer Taipan Gaming Mouse Review @ HardwareHeaven
- TT eSports White Ra Special Tactics Mousepad @ XSReviews
- Thrustmaster T500 RS Racing Wheel & Pedals + Ferrari F1 Wheel Attachment PS3/PC Review @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 06:46 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vengeance, mouse, m90, m60, keyboard, k90, k60, just delivered, hid, corsair
Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.
Corsair does just about everything now - memory modules, power supplies, cases, SSDs, headphones, speakers, water coolers, functional LED umbrellas and now keyboards and mice. And just like we have seen when Corsair entered new markets previously, they took their time to do it right. The Vengeance line of keyboards and mice offer two dedicated series for gamers of different persuasions: the K90 and M90 for MMO players and the K60 and M60 for predominantly FPS users.
The new keyboards consist MOSTLY of Cherry MX Red switches (which you can read more about here in our recent Rosewill keyboard roundup) and are generally very well built. The mice have adjustable DPIs, lights and lots of button. What follows is a pictorial preview of these gorgeous devices before our review sometime in the near future! Enjoy!!
The K60 comes with a removable left hand rest for your frequent gaming as well as replaceable WASD keys that have a rubber texture to them and are slightly angled to keep your fingers from slipping out during those INTENSE gaming moments.
Corsair tends to think of the customer first so they were sure to include a tool to remove the keys rather than telling you to use a flat head screwdriver from your garage.
One of my favorite features is the Windows button disable key up there to prevent you from accidently hitting that during gameplay.
Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2012 - 06:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: keyboard, input, cherry mx red, Vengeance K90, corsair
Corsair's Vengeance K90 has a refreshingly minimilistic and industrial design to it for a current high end keyboard. A plain aluminium facing with a mix of mechanical and rubber dome switches, though they did include LEDs which can be activated for those who desire such things or perhaps prefer typing in utter darkness. The lesser used keys like the function keys and ALT key are the lesser rubber dome switches while the common keys and the 18 macro keys all have mechanical switches. Check out the full review at XSReviews.
"This keyboard, the Vengeance K90, is being marketed as being ideal for RTS and MMO gamers. With a heavy complement of macro keys and Cherry MX Red switches they’ve already made a good start, but will Corsair’s debut keyboard stand up to the competition? With Razer’s BlackWidow and numerous other mechanical keyboards beginning to flow from Western peripheral makers it’ll be a hard fight."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Arctic K481 Wireless Mini Keyboard @ Funky Kit
- Xebec Tech HTPC Mini Wireless Keyboard @ kitguru
- Enermax Aurora Lite Wireless Keyboard Review @ Real World Labs
- Arctic Cooling K481 Keyboard @ Rbmods
- Epic Gear Meduza Gaming Mouse Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Genius Navigator 905 Vogue Wireless Mouse Review @ Tweaknews
- SteelSeries Kana Mouse Review @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 05:02 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: tablet, razer, mouse, laptop, keyboard, gaming, CES
Gaming peripheral company Razer is already well known for its gaming mice, keyboards, headsets and other gadgets. But if CES 2012 is any indication, they’re far from content making products that go along with gaming devices.
You’ve probably already heard of the Project Fiona gaming tablet. It made quite a splash at CES when it was announced last night, and today I had a chance to inspect it up close and personal.
Unfortunately they’re keeping the prototype in a glass case to protect it, but handling it would not reveal much information anyway. Razer has made it clear that the device is only a prototype and will be revised significantly before release. Everything from the display resolution to the controllers could change, and the company is encouraging feedback to help them refine the final concept.
The only thing that seems concrete is the pricing. Razer is very confident that the final product will be sold for under $1000. I doubt it will provide amazing hardware at that price, but this was never going to be the system of choice for playing Battlefield 3 regardless of what’s inside. The finalized version of Project Fiona is targeted for release this year.
Another system being built by Razer is the Blade laptop, a product that was announced several months ago but is now finalized and should be on store shelves in February. The Blade is a thin and portable 17-inch laptop built for mobile gaming. Despite the large display it weighs about 6.5 pounds and is less than an inch thick.
Unlike a normal laptop, the blade doesn’t have a touchpad below the keyboard. Instead the Blade replaces the numpad with a multi-touch display and ten programmable LCD keys. Mouse navigation takes place using the multi-touch display, but if you’d like it can also be used for other tasks including web browsing and recording macros. Razer is also working with game developers to make it possible for games to display customized information and controls.
The Blade comes equipped with a Core i7 dual-core processor, Nvidia GeForce GT555M graphics and 8GB of RAM. These specifications are disappointing in light of the $2799 price tag. Razer tried to play down the hardware, insisting that hardcore gamers looking for a mobile machine will be more concerned with the laptop’s portability and customizable mutli-touch display than raw power.
Also shown was a full set of new Star Wars: The Old Republic peripherals. Of these the most notable is the keyboard, which features Star Wars design ques and a multi-touch display identical to the one on the Razer Blade laptop. Players will be able to bind abilities to the customizable LCD keys and see game information via the display. There’s a lot of possibility here, but it doesn’t come cheap – you’ll have to part with $249 to snag this keyboard.
Last is Razer’s new Hex mouse. It is similar to the Razer Naga, but six larger buttons in a hex format have replaced the columns of programmable buttons. Razer says that this design works better with action-RPGs and specifically referenced Diablo 3 as a game they had in mind when designing the mouse. The Hex will use Synapse 2.0, Razer’s cloud device profile service. An unlimited number of custom profiles can be stored on remote servers (hosted by Amazon) and they are automatically downloaded to the Hex when it is plugged in to a new computer. Pricing is set at $79.99 with availability expected in February.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!