Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Keyboard Manufacturers Are All Slackers

Have you ever tried to press more than 3 buttons at once on your keyboard?
Modern keyboards ... [block] the 3rd key in certain key combinations, [which] means that when two keys are depressed simultaneously, many of the other keys on the keyboard will not respond until one of the two depressed keys is lifted. With better keyboards designs, this seldom happens in office programs, but it remains a problem in games even on expensive keyboards, due to wildly different and/or configurable key/command layouts in different games

-wikipedia
Am I missing something here? Why is it so hard to design a keyboard that actually does what it's supposed to do. It's 2009 and I can't play Metroid III on my snes emulator because I have to choose between charging my gun and jumping while pressing the run button.

11 comments:

devin said...

n-key rollover is something all keyboards should have. on that note, there are a tremendous number of terrible keyswitches that people use their whole life (mainly the rubber dome type), that are absolutely terrible to type on. Topre capacitive switches and Cherry MX Brown switches all the way, baby.

Aaron said...

This is often called "ghosting" and is a side-effect of keys sharing traces on the wired grid of switches. Many gaming keyboards, and some that are simply designed better allow for a large number of simultaneous key presses without ghosting. Search for "anti-ghosting" and "keyboard" to find some.

Good luck.

AJ said...

My Razer Tarantula (gaming) and built-in keyboard on Macbook 13" (non gaming) do not have ghosting issues at all =)

Michiel Trimpe said...

Just get a decent keyboard! ;)

Try Das Keyboard. It has 12 key rollover and great mechanical switches.

unwind.se said...

You're maybe missing a basic grasp of electronics (I mean this in a very friendly way, of course).

As has been mentioned, the ghosting phenomenon is caused by multiple keys sharing the same physical wires (traces on the circuit board). The sharing makes it impossible to separate certain keypresses from other, so the keyboard controller filters them out so it doesn't mis-report a press.

This page: shows graphically the wire matrix and what happens when e.g. tree keys are held down.

The alternative would be to do more wiring, make the matrix less ambiguous, but that of course adds to the cost.

I do agree it sucks. Perhaps you can get a USB gamepad or something for the retro kicks?

Moshe said...

Michiel Trimpe: About Das Keyboard: http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?t=7593

Douglas said...

Well, the answer is obvious. Keyboard manufacturers make keyboards that people buy, and if people buy shitty keyboards, then that's what they will make.

Fact is, most people don't care enough to pay more. Also, since it is easier to complain about having a cheap keyboard than going out and buying a good one, statistically you'd expect people to exist who care enough to complain but not to upgrade.

Adrian said...

Buy a gamepad.

niten said...

To all the people suggesting that he get a gamepad:

While the game he mentioned is afaik a platformer, my games of choice are first person shooters and I don't think I'll ever want to get a gamepad for that. I've tried playing games like Halo on the Xbox and in the admittedly short time I played the game I found it incredibly unresponsive compared to a keyboard mouse setup.

Maht said...

And how much did you pay for your keyboard ?

thejoshwolfe said...

I should mention I'm using a builtin laptop keyboard. I know that I can buy another keyboard (USB/PS2) but that would be a significant physical drawback. The reason I'm complaining instead of buying a better keyboard is that there simply is no better keyboard in existence that suits my needs.