Thursday, December 12, 2019

TinyMod Review

TinyMod in red and green pencil case with USB cable

Last week I did my Georgi review, focusing on its utility as my daily driver for the past several months as I waited for my new Infinity to be built. I've switched back to the Infinity full time since it arrived and I'm definitely appreciating the silent key action after so many months of clacking, though I've had some growing pains adjusting to its idiosyncrasies. Unlike the old model Infinity Ergonomic that I had before, this one won't let me tilt the two halves of the machine up as far as I like, which means I have to tilt the tripod itself, and that often involves me keeping my arms too close to my body, which has resulted in some elbow pain. Plus I seem to have a different stray keystroke issue each time I take the machine out of my backpack. I can configure multiple sensitivities of each key, but if the machine is gonna demonstrate different behavior each session even if I haven't adjusted anything in between, I'm not sure where to start. I'm sure I'll find my way into loving it at some point, but I must admit that the past week and change has made me wistful not for the Georgi, my trusty workhorse for all these many months, but the TinyMod, whose utter simplicity is its greatest strength.

Several times in my Infinity-free period I'd look at my Georgi case and grumble. I didn't feel like taking it out and setting it up and tenting it and taping it and readjusting it until it was just right. I wanted to take a machine out of my case, plug it in, and start writing. When that sort of mood struck me, I'd reach for my TinyMod. Its extreme elegance and portability were invaluable one night when I went out to sushi with two friends, one deaf and one hearing. I was able to put my Surface Pro 4 on the table in between the platters and soup bowls and caption the conversation with a minimum of fuss and disruption. I admit it took me a while to get used to using the middle key for numbers, but between the Georgi and the TinyMod I eventually got so used to it that even after 11 years of standard steno number bar usage I find that thumb drifting centerwards on my new Infinity. It's a really elegant little workaround that only requires a bit of practice to master.

In many ways, the feel of writing on the TinyMod is more comfortable -- or possibly the word I'm looking for is "luxurious" -- than on the Georgi. The key action is more pillowy. The keytoppers themselves are rounded and pleasantly textured, compared to the crisp, shallow angles on the Georgi's keytoppers. Even the sound is less clacky, though oddly the one time I was actually called out for making too much typing noise in a class (it only happened once this semester!) I was on my TinyMod rather than my Georgi, which surprised me. It's such a discreet and unpretentious little machine. It doesn't require any fiddling or adjustment to make it work; it just works. The only flaw I can see in it is probably more of a flaw in me than in the machine: I can't write on it for more than an hour or two without getting wrist pain. I'm not sure exactly why; probably a combination of things, such as the lack of tenting, the short distance between the hands, possibly even the fact that it rests easier on a lap than below the level of the knees on a dedicated tripod. Everything simple and unfiddly about it, sadly. So even though I wanted so many times to avoid the five-minute setup time of the Georgi when I got to a class with little time to spare, I usually bit the bullet and went through with it rather than using the TinyMod because I was afraid of hurting my moneymakers. Sigh. But see above: Even a $2,000 proprietary ergonomic machine is not immune to this sort of complaint from me. Even on the Georgi I was getting a weird pain in one of my wrists until I realized that I could put it on the diagonal of my laptop tripod's platform instead of aligning it with the edges. For whatever reason, that made the difference, and the pain went away. Perhaps if I keep experimenting, I can find a way to make the TinyMod work for me without pain as well.

If this isn't a problem you have, I can recommend the TinyMod wholeheartedly. I'm able to write on it at high speeds with a minimum of effort, enjoying the feel of every stroke, and I still keep it in my bag every day. It's sturdy, reliable, aesthetically attractive, and flexible in a huge variety of circumstances. Fantastic as a starter machine and delicate enough for professionals, plus Charley, its inventor, uses one every day for all his coding and general computer work. If a split/tented machine is not an absolute must have for you, the TinyMod is highly recommended!

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