back to article Reg reader lost for words over blank HP keyboard

PC buyers have become used to having to do most of the donkey work when it comes to setting up their machines, but Hewlett Packard has gone one better by supplying keyboards that are not just wireless, but letter-less and digit-less too. Just look at these pics from Reg reader Ian who said he has just received this pristine, …


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  1. Richard 31
    Paris Hilton


    I used to have a Compaq keyboard with nothing written on it. It was useful for learning to touch type. :)

    1. Blue eyed boy
      Paris Hilton

      Me too

      so as long as it's got the two little humps on what are supposed to be the F and J keys I should be able to find my way around.

      Paris for having, by contrast, two big humps. (No, don't ask which one is F and

      1. Equitas
        Paris Hilton

        Surely you're wrong ......

        those belonging to Paris aren't at all large.

        Paris, because everyone knows what she has and hasn't.

      2. Mike Flugennock

        two big humps?

        P'wah. Those aren't breasts; they're mosquito bites.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I recently received a damaged keyboard with a french layout.... in a UK box mind.

    1. Blue eyed boy

      AZERTY tricks

      A Franglais-speaking dealer once asked me if we could supply him a keyboard with French letters on the keys. Could we have used this one?

      1. CT

        French letters

        "with French letters on the keys" - that's not where they're usually most useful.

        1. Blue eyed boy

          This was for the point-of-sale business

          Think computers on the bars in pubs. The biggest hazard facing a mechanical keyboard is getting a pint of beer spilt over it. Waterproof keyboards are essential in the hospitality environment. Here, before flat membrane type keyboards came out we used to have plastic films which covered the entire keyboard, but evidently they did it differently over there.

          (The whole hospitality universe has gone touch-screen since.)

  3. SuperTim
    Thumb Up


    Some of us used to take ages making amusingly laid out keyboards to fool/annoy clumsy-fingered colleagues, but never got a blank one like that. I want one!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I can foresee

      a new business for ebay "businessmen" ...

      1. SuperTim

        A short eBay search later!

        Get 'em while they're 'ot

        1. The Unexpected Bill

          Blank Keyboards

          It's a pity that the seller doesn't ship to the US. Probably wouldn't be cheap even if they did.

          (Yes, there probably is someone in the US with similar keyboards. I can't be really be bothered to look--they're no Model M. Yes, I've got a couple of similar ones with letters on.)

          Now if someone's got a letter-less Model M... (and no, I don't mean "pull all the keycaps off" - it doesn't feel the same if you do)

          1. Elex

            Like M minus letters

            I found this:


          2. bhtooefr

            Letterless Model Ms...

            Might talk to Unicomp about that. They at least had blank black keycaps for their keyboards, and Unicomp keyboards are Model Ms.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            Blank Keyboards

            I got several keyboards from, they have in the past had blank black keys available as an option. They will program the PS/2 models to order within reason as well (dvorak, un*x specific layouts, etc.).

        2. JRS


          I bought one of those a few years back. Good for touch typing, but the strangest thing was the double space bar as you can see in the pic. The left side is backspace, the right side is forward space. Takes a bit of getting used to...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            "Good for touch typing, but the strangest thing was the double space bar as you can see in the pic. The left side is backspace, the right side is forward space. Takes a bit of getting used to..."

            That keyboard would be rubbish for PC gamers.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Managers Keyboard

    At one of this countries "national" banks, we produced a new keyboard secifically for IT Team Leaders and Managers.

    It only had F Y I and Return, given all they ever did was forward on the email's from their boss.

    (anonymous, just in case I ever end up back there)

  5. Peter Simpson 1

    Was it well packaged?

    We all know HP is known for its copious packaging materials. So what if it's missing a few letters, at least it's not damaged.

    1. Oliver Mayes

      Maybe that's it

      Maybe they're ensuring a steady supply of extra packaging by sending the letters seperately, each in it's own well padded box?

      1. Synonymous Howard

        I bet they are still in the box

        Look near the bottom of the box, they settled in transit.

        My work keyboard has half the letters rubbed off (£3 keyboard 8-) and at least it stops other people nicking it.

      2. bubba-bear

        padded boxes

        I have received many sets of three sheet documentation stuck into zip lock bags and shipped in padded boxes. They ship power cords that way too. Of course neither the docs nor power cords were needed

  6. hplasm
    Gates Horns


    Only two marked keys, and they are the most useless of all...

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: only two marked keys

      Actually, I thought that was a nice touch. A completely blank keyboard smacks of carelessness, but one marked up with Windows keys is clearly someone taking the piss.

    2. Lockwood

      My sarcasm detector is malfunctioning

      I thought someone would go all zomg on that.

      Notice the different manufacturing between those keys and the other ones.

  7. SW

    Quality Control

    If this gets past QC then what's the reckoning on less easily spotted problems getting through.

    Looks like their QC checkers need checkers of their own.

  8. Code Monkey

    A long, long time ago

    Working at a reseller, we got sent some Danish-localised PCs. I told our marketing manager they were the new EU-approved Pan-European keyboards. Next thing I know our company newsletter has an article about them!

    Dumb much?

  9. Mike Peachey



  10. John Styles


    I used to have a French keyboard. It was very useful for getting people who couldn't touch type to leave my PC alone.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge


      Don't remind me of that. I worked in IT maintenance at a place which had a mix of French (AZERTY) and English (QWERTY) keyboards. The consequence was that I had to type blind in both AZERTY and QWERTY mode because sometimes the keyboards would end up on the wrong machines.


      1. Another One


        don't even go there with the problems of troubleshooting password problems and other such things when keyboard mappings don't match the keyboards.

    2. Marvin the Martian

      France, and Belgium.

      Belgium is infested with the Azerty affliction too... At my Uni different pc rooms had different keyboard layouts, very annoying as it didn't let you change layout for obvious vandalism reasons.

      1. Peter Mc Aulay

        Re: France, and Belgium.

        For bonus points, the Belgian azerty layout is not the same as the French one.

  11. Loyal Commenter

    Maybe they're trying to outdo these guys?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    It's just HP's new International keyboard, designed to work in any Region.

    1. MrT


      ... it's HP's attempt at a budget keyboard with dynamic OLED keytops. It needs to be plugged in.

      And then fitted with OLED keytops at a rumoured $10 a pop (but only if there's any OLED bits left after Samsung and Apple have finished hogging them). For now they'll be shipping a set of stickers of what the OLED screens will show to complete the item. It's a bit awkward changing them all to the CAPS stickers every time someone presses shift, and then back again...

      They do have budget pricing on their side though - Art Lebedev's Optimus Maximus keyboard costs a tiny bit more ...

      1. Andus McCoatover

        OLED keytops??

        So THAT's what Nokia is doing with its unsaleable symbian^3 smartphones...Chopping them up.

        Oh, as for Optimus Maximus keyboard (Life of brian??) "Hold down SHIFT and all keys go uppercase.". Yep. My Nokia N8 does that...

    2. Dick Pountain


      I bet the non-existent £ is still in the wrong place...

  13. big_D Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Want 2

    I type on several different layouts (mainly English, American and German keyboard layouts). Swapping between them in software isn't a problem, but there is still something irrational about pressing the "Z" key and having a "Y" to appear for example...

  14. /dev/null

    Don't see the problem...

    Piano keys have always been blank, nobody complains about that, do they?

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Piano keys

      Yeah, but with piano keys, the same key always make the same sound.

      With keyboards, you notice how the different keys jump around all over the place depending on who's PC you use, and which keyboard they have. I especially hate having to hunt around for the @ and \ symbols and then give up and type their ASCII codes instead.

      Also the collection of ´ different ` apostrophe ' symbols that you get from different keyboards and the fact that nothing appears until you press another key makes me extra happy.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        You ain't seen nothin' yet -- try switching between Russian Cyrillic and Mongolian Cyrillic layouts!

      2. Andus McCoatover

        the fact that nothing appears until you press another key

        Yeah, hated that with Finnish keyboards, until I discovered Ubuntu's option in KB selection:

        "Finnish - eliminate dead keys"

  15. Anton Channing



  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    for them that want one

    Cherry make some models of keyboards with blank keys (I think).

  17. Ian Ferguson

    I'm keeping it

    My colleague was going to return it to Misco, but I'm clinging on to it. Too unique. I was tempted to stick it on eBay but now it's on my desk I'm never letting it go again :D

    USB blank Das Keyboard: £125

    2.4GHz wireless HP blank keyboard and mouse: £29.99

    Geek love: Priceless

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Good on you

      Now THAT I call the right attitude. Well done, Sir, I'll drink to that.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      I dunno...

      I rather fancy the e-bay idea... Who knows you could be up 500 squid or so...

  18. stupormundi


    you can type ROFLOL, maybe it's intentional?

  19. Spiracle

    Unmarked keys


    1. OffBeatMammal


      Dixie? Is that you?

  20. Neil Dawson


  21. Ol'Peculier
    Thumb Up

    Commodore PET

    `Had one at school where all the decals had come off the keyboard, a very good way of learing to type...

    1. Alien Doctor 1.1

      I used to...

      "lear" at school as well - not for keyboards though.

  22. Miek


    I want a blank keyboard too.

  23. John Savard


    While some computer users are inclined to pay a premium for keyboards with blank keys - Fujitsu's Happy Hacking Keyboard is an example - it certainly is true that the typical computer user would find the absence of legends on the keys to be an unpleasant surprise.

    If HP can get their deliveries sorted out, though, offering blank keyboards as an option would be a way to make extra money.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    Reminds me of some of the aftermarket keyboards that were sold for the ZX Spectrum and the ZX81. The keyboard ribbon connectors were the same for both machines - so some manufacturers used to ship keyboards with blank keys and two sets of key-cap stickers in the box for the user to apply (to suit the different ZX-Basic keyword layouts of the two machines).

  25. Danny 4
    Thumb Up

    Happy Hacker

    PFU do a Happy Hacking keyboard with blank keytops. The idea being that you learn touch typing quicker and can spend your time looking at the screen rather than the keyboard. It also makes switching keymaps a breeze.

    I love my hhkb. Sadly I have to say I bottled out at the thought of blank keytops...

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Great to see HP has made an 'Otaku' version.

    Now just get rid of the number pad.

  27. Steve Evans
    Thumb Up


    Most of the vowels have rubbed off my trusty laptop, but it'll take me decades to get it to conform to this new standard!

    On a plus side, this new keyboard will be great for stopping those over shoulder password watchers :)

  28. JaitcH

    First Apple and now HP, must be a industry trend ...

    letting purchasers do the QC for them. Doesn't seem to improve pricing in our favour though.

    Next we'll have keyboards and sheets of stickies so we can really have custom keyboards.

  29. hillsy

    Reminds me of...


  30. 100113.1537

    Old fogey remembers...

    Back in the gold old days of DOS, corruptions in the autoexec.bat and config.sys files were always re-setting the keyboard to the default US layout. Trying to recover was not easy as the : and / keys were those which shifted between US and UK keyboards (and Norway - where I happened to be working at the time). I got quite good at closing my eyes and finding them again.

    I still hate traveling to West Africa though where all the pubic keyboards have french layout - I have even seen these in supposedly anglophone countries - maybe they are cheaper?

    (can we have an old fogey icon please?)

    1. iMacThere4iAm


      I would think the layout would be the least of your worries on a pubic keyboard.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        I guess it would be..

        .. a bit hairy to type on?

        Yes, yes, I'm going..

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Diff'rent strokes

      For the problem you describe I actually memorized most of the non-graphic alt codes. At one point in the 80's I had a keyboard without some essential characters (<|>) and playing Hack was next to impossible without the "stairway keys"... (and the scandinavian letters åöä could only be typed thru alt codes as well when working with US layout to which DOS always defaults and keyb.exe wasn't always there)

  31. Delboy

    Could be useful

    I could give one to many of the people who email me. They are totally incapable of typing English, so I would get exactly the same emails if they didn't know which key was which.

  32. Dan Likes Spoons

    HP Fun

    I received a keyboard (with a HP LC2000) many yrs ago where the letters were printed half a cm too high. Fun, but no where near as fun as a completely blank one!

    1. bubba-bear

      QC at its finest

      QC at its finest

  33. Darryl
    Thumb Down

    Don't get me started on HP and their keyboards

    Here in Canada, HP only sells their PCs and laptops with their new "Canadian" keyboard, which is a mix-n-match of Euro and French Canadian... I'm sure someone likes it, but here in the English speaking part of Canada, most of us are used to US keyboards, because that's what every mfg has shipped forever. Very hard to get used to. Had to order a US keyboard for my laptop off eBay.

  34. DelM
    Thumb Up

    Das Keyboard

    Think Geek's version of this is/was so popular it's out of stock:

    1. Martin 50


      My guess is HP ran out of ink during the manufacturing process and couldn't afford a new cartridge. If only they hadn't installed that micro-chip in the print head...

      Or maybe an employee was given the objective to drive down email customer complaints for new builds.

      PS Where's the I, T, <, etc ? Oh, I see.

  35. Quidam

    Secure, PGP enhanced!!!!

    This keyboard's perfect for all those security based tasks...PGP enhanced - I want one....

    If the operator can't make out the keys, then imagine the jumble a keylogger will get at the other end. I'm sure the average BOFH would love to deploy these in the enterprise

  36. Head
    Thumb Up


    ROFL *carriage return*

  37. Adrian Esdaile
    Thumb Up

    Now go see 'Avalon' by Mamoru Oshii....

    and you will suddenly see why this is such a cool keyboard.

    It's also a great film too.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin keyboard?

    Some people pay a lot of money for that.

  39. Purlieu

    re: Piano Keys

    "Yeah, but with piano keys, the same key always make the same sound."

    Erm, no they don't, it depends how you've got it tuned, which is akin to keyboard mapping on the PC-kbd

    1. Cameron Colley

      It's not the same at all.

      On a Piano the "D" key is always next to the "C#" key -- regardless of intonation and if you drop-tune a semitone, for example, you would probably still use the same key for the same note on the stave as would the rest of the musicians.

      The only way it could be the same is if you made the black keys a full tone after the white ones, made a note appear to the right of a lower one or deliberately tuned the whole piano up or down a tone or so to change the range of notes available -- but the last would still cause almost anyone to be a little confused and is hardly "normal", though it's still just playing one note to the right rather than hitting a key in a completely different location every so often during a piece.

  40. Nigel 11

    I know someone who'd have wanted to buy one of those

    Ever tried to buy a Ukrainian keyboard in the UK?

    He carefully painted the tops of all the letter keys black. Then he equally carefully relabelled them in Ukrainian.

    Someone should sell a blank keyboard with stick-on labelling for every known keyboard variant in the world. Also Klingon and Elvish.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      I downloaded a Helgan font

      that would be VERY cruel

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      they used to do that.

      they did that in the 70's, but the glue wouldn't last and the labels would come off, so the way you knew that you just pressed (for example) the 'u', was that tacky feeling of the key.

  41. Leona A
    Thumb Up

    send it to me

    as I can touch type and am blind, so I do not look at the keyboard anyway lol :) (then no one else can use my machine, as they're all 2 fingered typists!).

  42. D. M
    IT Angle

    shame the key layout is crap

    Otherwise this is very cool keyboard. Only logitech makes decent keyboard with good layout anymore. I seriously hate those over sized return key and extremely small "less used keys".

    I don't need to look at the keyboard, so I have no problem with or without the print.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    biug kjeygs

    asnyionbew kjno2w 2wh3e4r3e I cqan tge3t ma kweyhbopatrfsd qwirthb hbugwe kweys?

    I dsonrt hasvew fdingweras asnds bassh rtujhew klewuyws mweiotyh ,muy srtumpws.

    olnly t5hye4 sepace4 basrt ius goode.

  44. Anonymous Coward


    That should be QWOP that are on the board ;)

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the packaging?

    How big a box did it take for that baby?

    How many boxes inside?

  46. Anonymous Coward

    wouldnt complain!

    i wouldnt complain about getting a 'blank keyboard' - as the ones you can buy online

    are stupidly expensive for what is a bare keyboard with less work done on it!

    i would, however, complain about those 'windows keys' hat have been decorated ;-)

  47. madclarinet

    That reminds me...

    I set up a new computer once which had two 'e' keys. It was where the 't' key was. I never noticed it until a student pointed it out to me.

    Been touch typing for so long I never noticed it.......

    Still, shame I couldn't have found a few of those and put them in the computer lab for April 1st.... Would have confused more than a few students (I admit, that isn't exactly hard).....

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be useful on my Work PC

    as Eclipse sometimes decides (after a few hours of use) that it is actually USA layout (I think) and I get a '@' when I type shift + 2 (fairly common with strings) - every other application seems happy it is a UK keyboard :s

  49. Ian Ferguson


    I talked about this on twitter too, and HP customer service got in contact offering a replacement if I return it.

    Uh... NO. MY PRECIOUS. *hugs keyboard*

  50. Diogenes

    Probably the keyboard

    my local council used when they replied to an email.

    The touch typist missed by 1 (ie was letter out to the right) eg if they wanted an 'r' they typed 't' - when I realised that I decoded it quick smart - but was still mystified as the reply was in bureaucratese instead of english

  51. JCB


    The old DEC VAX system teletype came with a bag of spare keytops (funny accents and stuff) for you to customise the keyboard to your own locality

  52. JCB


    As I needed a USB keyboard and the only one I had at that time was a Dutch layout one I had been given, I fould that a quick slap of snopake let me write in the 'correct' letters with felt pen. The re-topping survived much more wear and tear than I expected. I really must learn to touch type properly.

    PS I really would like a blank keyboard if one is going spare :-)

  53. Mike Flex

    doublspacbar keyboard

    '"Good for touch typing, but the strangest thing was the double space bar as you can see in the pic. The left side is backspace, the right side is forward space. Takes a bit of getting used to..."

    That keyboard would be rubbish for PC gamers.'

    Actually they were awful for ordinary typing as well. Half the time you pressed space it would delete the previous character. There was some (long forgotten) hack to restore sanity.

    It seems bizarre that this ever shipped. Presumably this feature was dreamt up by someone too senior to be told just how barking it was.

  54. Mr Young

    Is that a wee Windows logo key on a blank keyboard?

    I believe you have to pay a license for that so at least you got most of your keyboard - the other labels are optional! hehe.

  55. Wombat

    The alpha-numeric stickers ...

    ... are coming in a separate box, probably around pallet size.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't work in IT support

    Um ... the R and F are there, but you need the T and M keys adding for the most used phrase in this job.

  57. mark 63 Silver badge

    make your own

    well if y'all want one so bad just get a can of spraypaint in your favorite colour and let rip.

  58. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Back In High School Days, When Only Girls...

    ...took typing class, there were real mechanical typewriters with blank keyfaces.

    We future exectutives were allowed to use them, but they were totally unusable.

    To this day, 50+ years later, i can't keyboard in the dark.

    In the other hand, most touch typists can't drink and type at the same time

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