UHKv3 Wish List: The Curious Case of Keyboard Excess

Hi, UHK team. Thank you for the Beast. At least, that’s what my wife calls it. For four years, this keyboard has changed my approach to typing, healed my tunnel syndrome, completely revamped the way I use a computer, and taught me how to ferment cucumbers. This is a great piece of design and engineering, worth double the price I paid for it. But I’m human, so there is always more to wish for. So, here’s my list, in case anyone in the UHK team wants to hear from a loyal customer.

  1. Let’s cut the wires. It would be cool to have an option to connect the keyboard via the latest Bluetooth standard and over radio.

  2. Let’s cut the wires, again. The cable that connects the two halves of the keyboard also feels unnecessary.

  3. If you grant me the freedom of movement as described in 0 and 1, you would have to devise a clever way to charge these. Hustling with cables for each of the halves would be uncool, so a dock and/or wireless charging support will earn me a record amount of eye-rolling from my colleagues.

  4. Now let’s get to the realm of fantasy. What if you could add a mini display into every keycap? Each keycap could display the current layout from the agent or a custom picture. It could also show available options as soon as you press a modifier button. 640KB 256x256 pixels ought to be enough for everyone.

  5. A built-in fingerprint scanner compatible with Windows Hello and the ability to perform forensic matching against the FBI database (Ultimate Hacking Keyboard).

  6. Bonus points if you make a good case accessory, especially if it can make me more attractive to the opposite sex. Charged extra, of course.

For this, I would easily shell out 3-4x what I paid.

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I gladly left my previous keyboard because of its battery and wireless functionality giving me problems after a year of regular use. I’m personally happy to be back on a wire.

However the positioning of the USB-C connector gives me concern as I have to plug/unplug it a lot for travelling. I am concerned about the stress put on that connectors solder joints as I have to work the cable in and out every time I need to move the board.

#3 would be pretty amazing and. For #5, this case I found on this forum works well, though I wish it had just a little more space to hold the touchpoint and key cluster better

I just have one wish. An ergonomic layout, which is symmetrical, but still is close enough to a standard keyboard, to be able to easily switch. That will likely be a sort of columnar staggered, but I hope not with forcing you to use thumb keys or home-row mods. That means it has to have the option to use standard (more or less) modifiers as well as arrow keys.

I personally use the keyboard on my desk and prefer cables over having to charge devices.

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Thank you very much for sharing your ideas!

We’ll implement most of your suggestions, but we don’t ever plan to implement per-keycap displays. The Optimus Maximus keyboard has already done that. It costs a fortune, and I read that the lifetime of the per-key OLEDs is rather short, maybe 1-2 years, and they emit a buzzing sound.

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Every BT-keyboard I used was slower than I type.

No big deal if you type occasionally - for me a big plus point of the UHK 2!

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This is how I solved the bluetooth issue: https://handheldsci.com/kb/
It’s unpowered, so you need to give it either a big battery bank or plug it into a charging hub for power. For me this wasn’t an issue because I have a big 8-port charging hub that’s more convenient for cable routing than up to my laptop.

I also take advantage of the dual-use mode. I can toggle between sending the keyboard to bluetooth or sending it down the wire. Which means, I can easily toggle between my work laptop over bluetooth, or my personal PC over USB.

Edited to add: This adapter allows for some really robust key mapping and layers. That’s not an issue for the UHK, but if you have another keyboard (at work?) or a location where you can’t use the UHK and want to replicate some of the functionality/combo-keys for convenience, this little guy can help with that, too.

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Coming from someone who bought a UHK1 a few years ago, I admittedly have concerns about the positioning of the USB connector and longevity of USB cables. Having it recessed and bending the cable is good for space, but I genuinely feel like bending the USB cable so much in a single point may damage the cable long-term, I think either having a 90 degree cable or having the cable come straight from the back would be better than bending it at a 90 degree angle in the middle of the cable. That’s the one gripe I have with it that I don’t think can be solved by buying a UHKv2, at least that I’ve run into.

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My biggest wish for a potential V3 would be to change the two mouse-like thumb key buttons to real switch sockets in order to make using additional layers more enjoyable. Also one extra row of keys could be incorporated into the left- and right-side modules without making them too difficult to reach (I have small hands and am pretty sure to be able to comfortably use them).
Besides that I am pretty satisfied with the product as it is.

As much as I want a wireless keyboard (because wires add extra mess on my desk), after using a fully wireless split I must admit, I underestimated how difficult it might be to implement a good split wireless keyboard. And the saddest thing is that you still need to have the wires, because you need to charge it eventually.

The USB-C port placement is, indeed, an issue that needs to be solved as it doesn’t only put extra strain on the cable, it also makes it more difficult to source an extra cable due to the fact that the connector has to be very slim to fit.

This would increase the footprint and would mean you can not put the halves close together. I have mine pretty close, because that is more similar to a standard keyboard and the angle is IMO most important. At least with a row staggered keyboard I find the left half can not be too far from the center, because then you get problems reaching the upper row.

That would indeed be a plus!

I would like having the function row, or at least three keys on the top row. That could open more posibilities to direct access to some macros for more fun.

  1. I would like to see the touchpoint mouse built directly into the right side of the keyboard. Eraser head center between UJIK - ala IBM style. Split the frame key at the bottom into two and allow them to be configured as left and right click.

I am fully aware from an engineering perspective this doesnt make a lot of sense as it ties the design down to something specific. But this is a whish list…

  1. I often forget which keys are mapped to what - especially when it’s something I don’t use often. Would love an option where if I am holding a mod key, I can see the keyboard layout on screen. TBH, I would prefer the per-keycap displays as mentioned above, but an on screen display facilitied by the UHK Agent would be a welcomed addition.

  2. UHK branded and sized keyboard covers isn’t really a UHKv3 thing but is a product I would buy from you. Wink wink nudge nudge.

  3. I am sure this has been discussed elsewhere but USB-C ports on the keyboard for connecting other devices (Charge phone, headset, thumb drives, etc.)

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I would like to see a module for the left side that is an analog thumbstick similar to a razer tartarus. Would be great for gaming and and video editing!

As a heavy user of advanced keyboard features I also have what to say.

First, I would expect a big revamp of keyboard design. Not like enhancement, but as a new model on lineup.

  1. Ortolinear keyboard.

With current macro features you could squeeze a maximum of standard staggered design by programming it and customizing layouts (I use Carpalx QGMLWBYUV layout, by far the best one!). It’s time to take one step more.

  1. Make a portable design.

a. That means bluetooth connectivity of two halves and with laptop.
b. Default low-profile keycaps I can buy officially
c. Default case to carry keyboard (with places for clusters and cables)
d. Still have wire connection option

  1. New clusters design

I have frankly say I barely use clusters at all. They are just not usable. I tried hard.
a. Top key is absolutely unusable
b. To use bottom keys you have to significantly shift wrist. And because space is used very heavily I get uncomfortable move where all positions for blind typing lost. Especially in alternation between space and cluster key.
c. Need key cluster for right side too. It might be looks funny, considering infinite combinations you could use with macroses, but it didn’t work.
d. Barely use right trackpoint - it is too far, never use it’s keys.

The main problem that I need literally one key only for cluster keys! But it should be at distance I can type with maximum comfort (like space) and it should be big like space. All other keys will be mapped to it (additional layer).

  1. Remove top row as unneeded.

It just wastes a lot of space and with macros capabilities is absolutely unusable.

The same applies to most bottom keys like far left ctrl, key under right shift, etc. All bottom keys except two amazing spaces are hard to reach and uncomfortable. I think that keyboard can consists only of 3 rows! and additional rigid cluster with spaces.

  1. Allow to have both tolt and backward slope.
    a. More tilt angles
    b. Tilt clamps (feet) from metal!
    c. Fast set up of feets and removal, now it doesn’t looks like portability suitable

  2. Additional long cable between halves

  3. Rich LED display that can show more information than now it is

  4. Sound speaker!

There’s always some situations where you came to some unintended layer and doesn’t understand where you are and what you typing is not what you expect. Having customizable sound speaker which shows at which layer you are (when layer is changed or typing key at different layer) would be awesome as feedback. While it might be solved with customizing key lights, didn’t test that option.

Well, I think that’s it! Kind of my the best imaginable keyboard.

I used to own one of those laptop computers. Not bad at all, so yep, I like the idea.

I do something similar already: A hotkey brings up a screenshot that I took from Agent. Every time I change something, I make a screenshot that overwrites the existing one. Thus, my hotkey always brings up the latest configuration.

I am all for it. Provided it works flawless. Which is not the case the other way round, i.e. when connecting my UHK via an USB-Hub. I have tried different hubs, but always ended up plugging it directly into the PC.

++ top priority
And also a carrying case and LED in blue instead of red, and there you have it: my best imaginable dream keyboard.

Interesting post. On some points I would agree, but others I see exactly the opposite. That makes clear that there is no perfect keyboard for everyone.

BTW, I think you could buy a Voyager and have relevant wishes fulfilled already.

Not to critique your wishes as such, they are of course valid, but to try to understand better or point to other options here my comments and finally to also give a different view. In the end that could mean, we will prefer a different keyboard.

100%, but still the question is what is a good ortholinear layout. There are many options, each with different pro’s and con’s.

I find the UHK already relatively portable. Note that I think that palm rests are normally more harmful than beneficial. I like the Voyager from the portability standpoint. Would be nice to have such a small option. I have no experience if I would prefer low travel or standard keys.

What you describe is a wish, but not something which can be built.

You have that key already. It is labeled Mod. And when you say this in not what you want than tell us where exactly you could place a new key to satisfy you wishes.

How do you use the keys? For the function you named (Ctrl, …)? Do you try to use those from a home row position? I use them for shortcuts, besides the most used (copy, paste,…) which I have extra mappings for. The right bottom ones are my arrow keys and I would not want to miss those. For typing? No, but for one-handed navigation while browsing and for occasional keyboard shortcuts.

How would you use or do you implement those keys? I have not found a good working solution for other mappings, but surely am interested to learn.

Btw, do you need accents and non-english characters? Non-english languages often impose more needs on a keyboard!

You do not use it? Others might argue they are missing the function row. I used to think the same, but do not miss the function row after a short while. But I can assume use cases where you would miss it.

I find the number row useful for two reasons. First I type all numbers blind (touch typing) and also the symbols on that row, allow to stay compatible with a standard keyboard, if you prefer that.

What would you gain from the missing row? Just that bit of portability? You can assign media keys, or functions like debug to the number row, when you do not want to use if for the numbers, but still get fast and easy access to some functions you find worthwhile…

What tenting and slope do you use? What is the distance of the halves? How far on the table do you place the keyboard? The optimal tilt very much depends on those parameters.

What information would you like to see there?

I am the opposite. I do not need a bad sounding speaker. I have two speakers with 20 liter volume (60 cm high) on my desktop. :wink: I can see that for a few use cases a built in speaker could be useful, but because the sound will not be great and you can pick many options of portable speakers nowadays, that is the last thing I would add to make a keyboard bulkier and heavier.

Most of my “complains” relates to point you just don’t need all these keys. Am going to show my config later to prove my point. I never touch top row, nobody should. Right and left column can be get rid of too (mostly). Bottom row too mostly unusable, I never touch those keys.

And I mean get rid of…without losing functionality or convenience. It’s still 100% functional 104-key keyboard.

I would prefer low travel

That’s not a big problem, with hot-swap switches you can choose which keycaps and switches to use.
That part is already solved in UHK.

You have that key already. It is labeled Mod

Unfortunately it can’t be see as a replacement to normal key, because it isn’t. You can’t tap it fast or a lot of times comparing with whitespace. Might be it still Okey, I’m not sure. It’s suitable for heavy usecases, where you toggle to layer, but not for fast switches like for oneshot keys. Also these Mod keys are quite stiff to press.

How do you use the keys?

I couldn’t get rid of these keys. Because there is no good way to remap them to home row, no matter what options I tried to use. Long press, double tap, tap combinations etc. nothing is working - it’s additional mental thought and always somehow get interleaved with normal key presses. The only way that’s working it to have additional key (that’s why I want to get two more keys like spaces).

Btw, do you need accents and non-english characters? Non-english languages often impose more needs on a keyboard!

I’m about to show the best my config so far. It’s not yet finished. Until this point I mostly cared about special keys for programming and numbers. Later I will get rid of bottom row.

I find the number row useful for two reasons
I need to show my config :))

What would you gain from the missing row? Just that bit of portability?

Yes, mostly portability and aestetics. I mean I can live with that totally unused row. But we already have that UHK v2, what’s the reason to get just minor little updates? It’s already in general good enough. Anyone could buy it right now and forever.

What tenting and slope do you use? What is the distance of the halves? How far on the table do you place the keyboard? The optimal tilt very much depends on those parameters.

That’s the whole point of my speech. Have more options to customize to suit everyone needs. If I can’t test more tilt means I can’t know does it fit for me or not. Now I have to choose - I chose to use tilt over backward slope. My halves are far enough, but cable length is enough, though if I would have option to buy keyboard with additional longer cable I would choose it, just for testing.

Rich LED display
Key codes of pressed keys might be very useful. Especially combinations to being able to conveniently debug keyboard. More text for custom layer names - “base”, “mouse”, “num”, etc.

I am the opposite. I do not need a bad sounding speaker.
You didn’t get the point. It meant exclusively as keyboard feedback on at which level you are. It’s not possible with usual PC speakers. It should be integrated with keyboard, know it’s macros capabilities.

You can have different sounds for switching to different layers of keyboard. If USB somehow supports these sound key codes and UHK can send these key codes directly to PC (say to headphones) it would be even better. In this case no need to sound speaker. But I’m pretty sure this is not possible.

Relatively. It’s portable in terms I can travel with it with a strong desire. But it is not easy to take it out of case (no case first of all). I have to connect halves, connect with laptop by wire. For devoted workplace it it Ok, but for small table in, say, Starbucks it is just huge.

I never touch top row, nobody should.

Here I strongly disagree, despite having my keymap designed to be 40% compatible.

I have workspace switches bound on Super+Numbers. Normally, I switch them via homerow chords (Super+fn+letter), but It is super convenient to use the top row for when I want to switch the workspace with a single hand (Super+number). (E.g., when practicing violin - I use a 4k screen to view sheet music. )

For the right hand, I have 7890 bound to mouse buttons, so with a subtle shift of my hand, my UHK right half becomes a regular thumb trackball.

I would prefer low travel

That’s not a big problem, with hot-swap switches you can choose which keycaps and switches to use.

Please do recommend a silent short-travel switch that fits the standard socket.

Hello! I shared my config, you can look at it here. While I didn’t consider Super + Fn + Number or Super + Number, I think there is a lots of ways how to type then without top row.

Using top row you have to shift whole hand or you would get strain trying to reach that row with only one finger, while others are on their home row positions.

Please do recommend a silent short-travel switch that fits the standard socket.

I can’t recommend because I didn’t take keyboard on vacations or travel. I imagined there should be no problem while having hot-swaps, but never faced it. I might be wrong.

Which is only a relevant argument when you are typing texts/code and have both hands on the keyboard.

My point is that the keyboard can be used for a variety of different things where the assumption that both hands are placed on the home row and all ten fingers are available for typing is just wrong.