What Is the Best Keyboard for Professional Writers?

Great keyboard for professional writers. HP Probook

The HP ProBook series has the nicest keyboard I’ve ever used. I write somewhere around a million words per year and so my fingers, my hands, are sensitive about how much I push a key, how keys are spaced on the keyboard, and how fast I can type comfortably on the keyboard.

Before I buy a notebook the first thing I do is try the keyboard and type a few paragraphs on it to see what the feel of it is and how many errors I make. For a professional writer it doesn’t much matter how fast your processor is. Only a couple things matter to me – and probably the one that matters most – is keyboard feel.

I have tested many keyboards over the years – owning 20 notebooks and maybe a dozen desktop computers. Prior to finding this gem I preferred an IBM notebook keyboard, and it didn’t matter all that much which one because they were all very good. It took me about six separate visits to the HP store to finally decide this keyboard on my 13″ ProBook  is The One.

The HP ProBooks – though mine has a wickedly weird battery charging problem with it – have very easy to type on keyboards and I recommend you try one to see whether it fits you as well as it does me.

Have you tried any any chiclet style keyboards that you really enjoy?

Which is your favorite keyboard, and why?

Want to see the latest keyboard from Apple? The MacBook Pro used to be my favorite keyboard, but now I have to really consider whether to get this new MacBook with this revolutionary keyboard because I’m typing very well on it.


  • J N

    You’ve probably heard this a lot, but did you ever use the old IBM Model M’s? Loud and with the great tactile feel of an IBM Selectric Typewriter.

    • MikeFook

      Not sure about the model M’s… maybe I’ve used them. I’ve been using computers since 1984. The IBM Selectrics were great in high school – back then. Today – they are dinosaurs and I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to use one over the new chicklet style keyboards – like the one on my HP ProBook. It’s amazing. It’s quiet. It’s exceptionally easy to type on. It does not tire your fingers out. I rarely make missstakkkkes compared to a flat desktop keyboard. I’ve had IBM notebook computers since 1993 or 1994 – can’t quite remember what year it was, but I think i was a Junior at university when I got it. It was probably stolen. These guys were selling them for $1,000. I gave them $900. It was a 25mhz I think. 4MB RAM I think. It took a couple of minutes to boot up. Had a floppy drive… solid as a brick.

      Anyway – the IBM keyboards on notebooks – ThinkPads are REALLY nice too. In fact, since I’m starting to despise my ProBook I’m considering a ThinkPad and maybe even with their new Chiclet keyboard – which feels much like this HP.

      Which one do you use? Why?

      Cheers, MF

  • Don A

    I found this blog entry after searching for over an hour while failing to find a suggestion for a good desktop keyboard to purchase. Perhaps it is because most people have stopped writing today and instead forward jokes and urban legends instead of writing? Is that all there is left in our world for creativity? It seems eerily strange there are so few real or extended online reviews of keyboards. It does seem that they as the primary human interface to our computers do deserve more than the sparse lack of attention they receive.

    And what is the deal with wireless keyboards? To me a wireless keyboard says simply “I am a pig who believes that tossing batteries in the trash every couple of months is irrelevant when I can make a fashion statement”. A wireless mouse, I can reluctantly tolerate but still cringe at the thought of using one. God save the environment, as no one else seems interested!

    But where are all those writers out there and where are all the keyboards they use and why? For sale online I see blue ones and back-lighted ones and noise making ones and silent ones and dinosaur shaped ones and twisted ones and split ones. Ergonomic ones make sense but as much as I stay on a keyboard (sometimes 14 hours per day), using an ergonomic leaves me only blindly able to stare at my friend’s or associate’s desk after I have “gone ergonomic” and get called over to lend assistance with a technical problem at his or her machine.

    I’ve been in the IT profession for over 40 years, now retired and I have seen hundreds of types of keyboards. Some I can use at full speed for only a few days without having to stop for a week to recover from another carpal tunnel attack and some (like my last “Lexmark”) I used for 5 years until I literally wore the keys down to nubs. Price and quality for some strange reason seem mostly unrelated when thinking substance and not fluff. But I still yearn to find a reasonably priced keyboard that provides the longest duration without being forced to take a week off to heal my tendons. I no longer have access to a large hardware pool to make that choice and the retailers in my area don’t stock stand alone keyboards.

    Surely there is someone else out there who has suffered my same dilemma and has an affordable suggestion. Longevity on the keyboard with the least amount of pain is my main objective. Ideas? And thanks.

    • MikeFook

      I have yet to use a great desktop standalone keyboard… so I only have used notebooks for long writing projects. We sold our last desktop a couple years back. Why not get a great notebook computer and add an external monitor to it if you crave the large screens?

  • Don A

    Thanks! Oh my desktop machine looks like a science project with the inside lined with cards supporting peripherals from the early 90’s through today. I have multiple displays on top of each other, and extra drives and burners on every shelf of my desk, looking ugly as an octopus. I use all this strange conglomeration for HD video editing among other tasks and I am afraid I would feel crippled trying to do it all on a laptop. But I do see your point on how the laptop would be better for someone who writes exclusively.

    I’ll keep looking for that elusive keyboard. I have found some leads in the hours past landing here and will report back should I find something impressive. Thanks again for your article here as well as your rapid response.

    • MikeFook

      Hi Don,

      I’m always looking for the ultimate keyboard myself. This HP ProBook 4310s – all the probooks have the same keyboard – with slightly different spacing between keys depending on size of screen. This keyboard is amazing. After about a million words – it is ready to be replaced though.

      I’ll be looking at the newer ProBooks, newer Macbook Air 13.3″, and some of the IBMs (Lenovo). Traditionally IBM has had amazing keyboards for writers on their ThinkPads and I’ve used and loved them in the past. Recently they created some chicklet style keys that feel amazing in the store – but i’ve not typed on them long-term, so cannot say definitively whether they’re the bees’ knees.

      Good luck, and sure, feel free to let us know if there is a great keyboard out there for writers… we all must be looking for the ultimate in comfort.

  • Brian Kearsey

    Great blog. I’ve always been a teacher/writer but the noxious combo of our political choices (gov’t monopoly over the 1st round of education dollars) and the economy (both parties colluding with the Federal Reserve and a plethora of special interests to drown us in fiat money and debt) forced us to close our phenomenal little private school. I refuse to contribute to the current duopoly controlled society in any way or to join the Occupy Wall St mob in pushing us off the cliff completely by concentrating even more power and money in DC (I agree 100% with them about Wall St greed; I just know that it’s NOT the result of a free market, and that the democrats are even deeper under the incestuous silk sheets than the very culpable republicans in the economic and political manipulation). My only choice is to write and get the vision burning in heart and soul out into the universal mind to heal the divide. (I’ll be running for Congress in NY as a fierce independent on a no-money, grassroots campaign.) We must return to the fundamental spiritual (not religious) principles that this nation was founded upon and restore the strict limits of the Constitution, returning most social issues to the states, where we have at least a chance to fight the greed, lust for power, and ignorance that pervades the human spirit, allowing the higher, angel nature of man to rise above the material din that deafens our souls. Obama was elected because we needed hope and change, but the hope and change we need is decidedly NOT the top down, federally imposed version that he pushes – it must start in your heart and mine and radiate out through our family, friends, and neighbors to be reflected back in our political institutions. It is towards this end that I write, and my keyboard is my rifle – I need a good one. For me, that includes maximizing the space the keypad takes up, so I always screen for ones that do not have the numeric keypad on the right.

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