I type faster than I can write using a pen. I know this because I recently found myself without a computer handy and I had to compose a...

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I type faster than I can write using a pen. I know this because I recently found myself without a computer handy and I had to compose a quick letter.

Oh, I still write the occasional check and frequently sign my name, but I discovered that’s not the same as actually sitting there with a sheet of paper and a pen.

Now while I can type fairly quickly, I know I could type even faster if I took the time to learn how to touch type. I know how it works in theory, using the home keys, placing all eight fingers on them, etc.

Sipping some coffee at the local hot spot the other day, I spotted at least six laptops and all of their owners were typing quickly, but not as touch typists. Like me, they were using their thumbs and the first three fingers of each hand. And also like me, they had to look at the keyboard.

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Which brings me to an interesting solution I recently discovered. What would happen if the keyboard didn’t have the letters printed on the key caps? That’s the idea behind the very cool looking Das Keyboard from Metadot (www.daskeyboard.com, $79.95).The Das Keyboard is a jet black, matte-finish 104-enhanced-key keyboard that looks like something that came from a totally neutral, colorless and alien dimension. Its nonreflective finish gives it an eerie kind of effect that I found strangely attractive. But that’s only the beginning.

What makes it look so bizarre is the lack of lettering on the key caps. All of them are totally blank. The idea, according to the company, is there is no key identification to look at while typing and so your brain will quickly adapt and memorize the key positions. Supposedly if you keep doing that, you’ll find yourself typing a lot faster and with a lot more accuracy. Metadot says that slow-typing people almost double their speed and those who type quickly become blazing fast. It’s an interesting concept and I can see how consistent usage of the Das Keyboard just might do the trick.

In addition to the blank keys, the Das Keyboard has an additional feature that again, according to the company, will help increase your typing speed and accuracy. The keys are individually weighted and placed into groups. Most keyboards require about 55 grams of force to depress any key.

The Das Keyboard has five different levels of force, each of which is located in its own cluster of keys in different areas on the keyboard. Each grouping ranges from 35 to 80 grams. These correspond to the strength of the finger that touches the keys.

The result is more comfort for your hands. The outer keys that fall under the weaker pinky and fourth or ring fingers only require 35 grams of pressure to type. The stronger third and index fingers that reach the numeric keypad keys get 45 grams assigned to their keys. The Shift, Caps Lock, Tab, Escape, Function and cursor cluster keys require a stronger 55 grams. And to depress the Space Bar and all the other keys on its row plus the Num Lock key, you’ll need a whopping 80 grams of pressure.

The Das Keyboard connects via a USB port and works with all computer operating systems including Windows, Linux and Macintosh. It comes with a matching black cable and according to the Metadot Web site is “Darth Vader approved.” Funny, I never thought of him as a touch typist, but, then again, you never know.