Ok, so I found a good deal on a Realforce 103UB (variable) and have been trying it out the past couple days. My first impressions - the keys are very light compared to firm rubber-dome (like the original Dell quietkeys). Typing on the switch, it makes sense compared the force graph. I'm trying to give them a fair run, but I'm fairly convinced I wont like these. I really thought I would, since I used to love rubber dome. But this is the first keyboard that actually makes my fingers hurt. I'll reserve final judgement till I've had a few more days on this, but so far my impressions:
The problem is that the keys have resistance at the top, then just about none under that. That makes sense, referring to the force graph. But essentially that means I have to press a bit harder to get the key started, then the force drops out and my fingers hit bottom. It's counter-intuitive to non-bottom-out typing - you want to press a bit, then have the spring prevent you from bottoming out. In this case, you have to get it started to get over the rubber dome hump, but then the force drops and it almost sucks your finger down to the bottom. So the rubber dome works against you in this case. It's hard not to bottom out - either I press hard and get a smooth key press until my fingers bottom out (which feels uncomfortable), or I press lightly and miss some key strokes.
So it looks like this key is the opposite of what I want. I'm really glad I tried it, but like I said - it's the first keyboard I've tried that actually makes my fingers hurt. Barring any massive change of heart over the next few days, this one is going up for sale. It could be related to variable force. It's hard to tell, but I think my ring fingers are having the worst of it, which might be explained by the lesser force for those switches. One more thing - the spacebar is stiff. Seems stiffer than the normal 55g switches. At any rate, it's too stiff.
So my thoughts on the next switch... I think I might actually want a linear switch. After going from blues back to browns, I realize I love the smoothness of it, the lack of pressure on the top. So maybe reds really are next on my list - the same as browns, minus the tactile bump. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but it's pretty much the only thing left on my list. I think I understand what people mentioned about having the reds push your fingers back up - not sure if that's so much different from the browns, but definitely different from the topre. And if that doesn't work out, I think I'll just stay with browns from now on.
(Switching to my old browns board to type the rest):
Man, I'm so much faster on mx browns, it's ridiculous. The topre's are too mushy, take too much force at the top. Whereas the browns have the full force at the end of their stroke, the topres seem to have the most force at the top of their stroke (ie. take a bit to get started). Another note - I *LOVE* the texture/feel of the topre switches. My filco keys are completely shiny, but even brand new they never had the same texture as the realforce. The realforce's texture is more coarse and noticeable. The filco's was much more satin, less noticeable and not as nice feeling. The realforce's tone is much lower, the keys don't have as much looseness or clickiness as the filco does. Just lightly hitting the tops of the keys on realforce causes almost no noise or movement, where as the filco has a lot of key noise (not switch noise or bottom out noise).
I don't care about the lettering on my keyboard (in fact, I prefer otaku or black on black), but I would love to get a keyset that's more durable. Does my filco FKB104M/EB have abs keys? Would alternatives (POM, etc) have more durable texture? Would sandblasting give them a realforce-like texture, or would they wear off too quickly?