It’s been awhile since I last posted — I’ve been pretty busy in the interim but I’ll try to get back to a more regular posting schedule.
I realized the other day that the reason USB memory stick transfers were so slow on my machine was because my keyboard, a Microsoft Natural Pro, was probably a USB 1.1 device. Merely having it plugged into my machine would result in the USB 2.0 controller dropping down to a slower compatibility mode, which would also affect any other devices on the same bus — like a memory stick, external hard drive, or what have you.
I had difficulty finding information about my keyboard online — it was produced in 1999 and has been out of production for several years, as far as I can tell. I read online that the USB 2.0 spec was finalized in 2000, though, so I could infer that my keyboard didn’t support it. In the end, I decided to retire my keyboard, after about 7 years of ownership, even though it’s still working fine. My keyboard has survived several computer upgrades and a move across the state, but it bothered me that it was potentially slowing down other parts of the system.
Its replacement is the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 — I didn’t really consider many other brands, as I liked the layout of my previous keyboard, and the off-brand ones that I looked at seemed pretty flimsy or otherwise undesirable. So far my experience has been very positive — the additional angling provided by the removable shim underneath the keyboard feels pretty good, and the key action is a fair bit quieter than the old Natural Pro without sacrificing feel. My only complaint is that it seems like I have to press the ‘y’ key very hard — sometimes it misses a keypress — but that may be an acclimation issue rather than a technical fault.