Matias Optimizer keyboard

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Matias tout this as the keyboard for accountants, writers and engineers. I’ve been testing the Matias Optimizer for a couple of weeks now and I’ve got the verdict as to whether this keyboard is going to save you time or if it’s going to cost you time and money.

The tag line for this product is “a second saved is a second earned”, and although that maybe true, the Optimizer keyboard promises to try and do just that.

Some stats from Matias

Matias believe that you can save up as much as 10-15 minutes per day or 1 working week per year just by using the Optimizer keyboard. Heck, offices around the world should be clambering over this product since one working week per employee multiplied by the many hundreds and thousands of employees means big bucks saved.

Designed with the assortment of Mac keys (e.g. volume up/down/mute, eject, etc), this keyboard will work with both Mac and Windows and requires no drivers to work. It simply plugs in to your USB port and away you go.

How does it work?

On the face of it all, the Optimizer is a standard keyboard, but the secret ingredient that makes this one different is cleverly designed ‘Optimize keys’. Imagine your standard QWERTY keyboard with your letters laid out in the same fashion as it always has done, and now imagine that same key set with an added layer of functionality on top which is easily accessible by both hands without having to move too far from its original position. So it’s a bit like a shift key for the entire keyboard. The Optimize key allows for second functionality to be activated for nearly all of the keys on the keyboard itself. So in effect, your hands don’t have to move away from the normal typing position as often as it would normally do.

For example, I can highlight a word with my mouse and then push Optimize + Q and that would copy that word to the memory. Pushing Optimize + Z will invoke the Paste function. The Copy and Paste buttons occupy 5 keys each on the left hand side (where your left hand is most used to using Ctrl + Copy or Cmd + Copy). Other examples include shortcuts for Select All, Word Backspace, Arrow keys, Home buttons, Pg up/down, Delete and even the Space Bar can double as an Enter key.

It’s difficult to actually test or benchmark whether there are any noticeable time savings in using this keyboard but I can believe using the Optimizer would be handy in terms of workflow and ease of use as a tool rather than a time saving or efficiency tool.

Did it work for me?

It took some getting used to. You have to really try and stop yourself from using the usual shortcut keys that you’ve practiced and honed over years of useage and change your ways to take advantage of the shortcut keys built in to the keyboard itself.

I’ve tried to use the Copy and Paste keys but personally, I don’t feel any productivity improvements when using them. The standard Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V are imprinted in my fingers and my mind so much that it’s almost like trying to walk backwards for a day. It just won’t work.

I will however applaud the number pad on the left side of the keyboard. A handy tab key is now in place of the Num Lock button. So when I’m typing in a spreadsheet or any application or form where I am using mainly numbers, it frees up the other hand to rest and I find it much more productive to use the same hand that is pressing the numbers to tab also. Perhaps its just me but my left and right hands sometimes don’t gel together so well when operating the keyboard.

Who would this product ideally suit?

The Optimizer keyboard is aimed at those who sit behind a desk all day and every day of their lives and I can imagine this product being a god send for some people who can afford to spend a bit of time to adjust their keyboard habits. When I say afford to spend some time I also mean patience because it’s not something you pick up straight away. Keyboard habits are one of the worst habits to ever try and break out of and sometimes just impossible for some people (e.g. me). I would question as to whether you would save 1 working week per year just through these shortcut keys, but I have no doubt that there are time savings and work flow efficiencies to be gained from using this keyboard.

I would suggest that the people that Matias advertise this keyboard to are the exact type of people that will want to use it. I would also add to that list, secretaries and anyone else who types a lot or edits documents (e.g. copywriters, lawyers, proof readers, teachers and editors).

Overall

The Optimizer keyboard receives the TechCast Recommended Award for its well designed key layout system and for coming up with such a clever idea and innovating in a way that no one else thought to. Although I do have qualms about plugging a keyboard with a Windows key on it in to a Mac, the Optimizer has a nice touch and allows for quick and accurate typing with a response that is just right. I’ve just typed my 4000th word tonight and my hands barely feel it. Matias could work on the noise levels that this keyboard produces, but other than that let’s just say I know what I’ll be typing my articles on from now on.

2006-12-04 Onwah Tsang

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