Author Topic: Experience the infinite joy of a new "Recommend a Keyboard!" thread...  (Read 953 times)

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Online FoxWolf1

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Right then...

So, following the untimely demise of my DK1008XM, the time has come for me to select a new keyboard. This keyboard will be used for soul-destroying quantities of typing, plus general computer use, plus gaming across many genres-- including FPS, RTS, MOBA, and old-fashioned keyboard-only shooters where rollover might actually matter; no MMO though, because those are pointless. I also seem to radiate a Mystical Disintegration Field and have no machine-fixing abilities at all, so durability without maintenance relative to cost is a big priority; if it's going to break the first time I have to decapitate a zombie with it, it needs to be very economical-- I'll even consider a rubber dome if it's the only way I can get a decent ratio of damage resistance to cost, though I really hope I won't have to resort to that. Keyboard must be compatible with OSX and Windows, though if the keyboard can be configured on one OS and then be fully functional on either without drivers (thanks to internal memory), that would be fine, as I have ready access to both operating systems; OSX is my main OS, so a Mac layout would be a plus. Interestingness and rareness are positives (which might have something to do why why Filco isn't on the list at present). Must have US English layout or something very close to it-- I don't have any problem with a large enter key, though it should be noted that the larger it is, the harder I will hit it when finishing a particularly difficult paragraph. Must connect through USB. Actuation force should probably be on the high side.

Here's the current short list:

RealForce 103U
Why it's on the short list: Switch feel may degrade over time, but it seems, intuitively, like basic functionality ought to be very long-lasting. My life might benefit from a feeling of oneness with cup rubber.
What I'm worried about: It's expensive. Domes might wear out. Potential for lasting long is not the same thing as having good resistance to damage, where the latter is much more important to me. Keys might be too light for me.

Unicomp Customizer
Why it's on the short list: It's based on the Model M, which is supposed to be extremely tough, and good for typing. It can be had with a Mac layout. It's not super-expensive. It's American, which is useful from a support perspective.
What I'm worried about: I've read that Unicomp keyboards might not be up to the quality standards of their ancestors. Buckling springs and low rollover may make it inadequate for my gaming purposes.

Deck Legend
Why it's on the short list: It's supposed to be tough. It's American, which is good for support purposes. It's not half bad-looking (to me). It can be had with Mac keys.
What I'm worried about: For some reason, I have trouble envisioning Cherry switches not breaking. Even the tactile clear switches might not be adequate for the quantities of typing that I expect to have to do.

Tesoro Colada G3NL
Why it's on the short list: It seems to be armor-plated, which is a big plus for me. I probably won't use the macro keys for gaming, but I might use them for workflow-streamlining purposes. Not many people have one (this is a positive for me).
What I'm worried about: Mac compatibility not verified. Once again, will the Cherry switches be able to survive a typing style somewhat akin to orbital bombardment? Not yet available. Limited information available.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: Mon, 16 April 2012, 17:07:43 by FoxWolf1 »
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fossala

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« Reply #1 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 14:42:06 »
I would pick a realforce or get an IBM (not a Unicomp). If you have the money realforce all the way.

Offline fstop

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« Reply #2 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 14:46:19 »
RF keyboards are probably the most solidly built keyboard in terms of feel and quality in my opinion. They feel really sturdy and well constructed. I'd recommend it highly for you.  

Also, you probably won't see any switch degradation, even under heavy use, for at least 3-5 years. And even at that rate the difference is a few grams which shouldn't make too much of a difference. There is a wiki or thread on this somewhere.
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Offline harrison

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« Reply #3 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 14:58:29 »
well, for what it's worth in comfort alone, i'd think twice about the deck.  for gaming it might be fine, but the lack of a profiled key was a deal-breaker (i've got access to them at work).

i'm surprised to see the tesoro on the list before other cherry based keyboards though, and ones that would meet your list just as easily.  i'd suggest a ducky 9008g2 or 9108g2 if you weren't already turned off of them.  the filco doesn't meet your cost criteria, but there are others.  the switches themselves are fine, so long as you don't try ripping off the key caps and pulling a stem, the only maintenance you might need is lubing a stabilizer.

i'm also surprised to see a realforce.  i'm sure it's a great keyboard, i've never typed on one, but the cost seems excessive given your criteria and the other boards you're looking at.
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Offline wcass

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« Reply #4 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 15:54:28 »
i'm almost finished with this and am considering selling it to raise funds for a custom PCB for an XT.

built like a tank, NKRO, unique, amazing key feel, 100% programmable so Mac layout is no prob.

Online FoxWolf1

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« Reply #5 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 16:46:10 »
So, two votes for the Realforce...

Quote from: harrison;576279
well, for what it's worth in comfort alone, i'd think twice about the deck.  for gaming it might be fine, but the lack of a profiled key was a deal-breaker (i've got access to them at work).

Oh dear...that doesn't sound good for my purposes at all. I'm typing thousands of words a day in addition to gaming, after all. Thanks for letting me know!
Quote from: harrison;576279
i'm surprised to see the tesoro on the list before other cherry based keyboards though, and ones that would meet your list just as easily.  i'd suggest a ducky 9008g2 or 9108g2 if you weren't already turned off of them.  the filco doesn't meet your cost criteria, but there are others.  the switches themselves are fine, so long as you don't try ripping off the key caps and pulling a stem, the only maintenance you might need is lubing a stabilizer.

This particular Tesoro got on the list for the armor plating. The thing looks like it could double as a riot shield (according to the description, that's actual metal, not silver paint):

...But if it should prove less durable than it looks, then I'm not sure I'd want to keep it on the list at all. As for the Duckies, I have heard that the more expensive ones are better-made than the cheap ones, but I'm scared to buy from them again.

Quote from: harrison;576279
i'm also surprised to see a realforce.  i'm sure it's a great keyboard, i've never typed on one, but the cost seems excessive given your criteria and the other boards you're looking at.

I worry about the price, too. On the other hand, other replies seem to suggest that they're quite rugged. I think I need more information.

Quote from: wcass;576307
i'm almost finished with this and am considering selling it to raise funds for a custom PCB for an XT.

built like a tank, NKRO, unique, amazing key feel, 100% programmable so Mac layout is no prob.

Ooh, that is interesting...quite interesting, actually. Did I read properly that it's buckling springs over capacitive sensors, with USB and media keys? That sounds like a truly awesome keyboard. How far along are you on the plan in your link?
« Last Edit: Mon, 16 April 2012, 17:08:16 by FoxWolf1 »
Noppoo TANK (MX Black) | Das Keyboard Ultimate (MX Blue) | IBM Model M 1395100 (Buckling Spring) | IBM KUM6323 (Rubber Dome) | SWintec 1200 (Manual Typewriter)

Offline wcass

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« Reply #6 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 18:58:39 »
Quote from: FoxWolf1;576355
...
Ooh, that is interesting...quite interesting, actually. Did I read properly that it's buckling springs over capacitive sensors, with USB and media keys? That sounds like a truly awesome keyboard. How far along are you on the plan in your link?
yep, a real model F. i would say 95% done. documenting the project might be taking the most time. i just finished the new pad - 1/8" closed cell foam looks perfect. i've had it complete (minus the added keys by the space bar and the new  caps) long enough to program the controller and test NKRO.

after working with Soarer's adapter, i don't think i will make another keyboard without it - it's wonderful to have a fully hardware programmable keyboard. any key can be any other key and it stays no matter what computer you plug it into.

Offline iBro

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« Reply #7 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 20:43:47 »
Quote from: fossala;576264
I would pick a realforce or get an IBM (not a Unicomp). If you have the money realforce all the way.

Why not a Unicomp?
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Offline win

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« Reply #8 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 20:55:36 »
It kind of sounds like you're reacting and going to an extreme because your Ducky was cheap price and build-wise and broke. You might want to back away from the process, return when you're more objective and find a middle ground. If you think about it, you could buy at least two more DK1008's for the money you're putting into 3 of the boards on your list. You might ask why would I do that if the board is so cheap. Well, because you love the feel of switches. To me the feel of the switch is what this is all about. The boards you listed have pretty big differences in the types of switches they use. You might want to go to a Frys or a Microcenter if there is one around you to try out what they have. For me, my moment of clarity switch-wise came when I realized I preferred heavier switches, such as buckling spring to lighter ones such as Cherry reds, browns and blues, and the tactile feedback and click were secondary, so I like typing on Cherry blacks, but most prefer lighter switches.

My unicomp spacesaver was built in 2010 and hasn't given men any problems. I'm surprised to hear that the quality has changed. Looking at their site now, I don't recognize a lot of the models. Is the customizer now called the classic 104? Anyway, I seem to remember their customer service being very accessible. But that's assuming you'd even prefer buckling spring over Cherry. The point is you might want to begin narrowing it down by switch then further by build. It may turn out that a RealForce is the perfect match or one of the various Cherry boards not listed here.

Online FoxWolf1

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« Reply #9 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 21:34:40 »
Actually, one thing I noticed after getting this cheapie IBM dome thing is that I actually type faster and more accurately on it than on the Ducky, by a significant margin. In hindsight, as much as I liked the feel of the XM Green switches when just pressing keys randomly for no reason, from a more practical perspective, they were really way too light for me; I was making a lot of accidental keypresses, never succeeding at not bottoming out, and so on.

I'm certainly not done doing research. It's just that in the meantime, I figure I might as well hear from as many owners as possible. Anyway, no amount of test driving can tell you what it's like to actually live with something for years.
Noppoo TANK (MX Black) | Das Keyboard Ultimate (MX Blue) | IBM Model M 1395100 (Buckling Spring) | IBM KUM6323 (Rubber Dome) | SWintec 1200 (Manual Typewriter)

Offline mkawa

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« Reply #10 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 21:46:34 »
you sound like a prefect fit for cherry clears

also, i'm not sure i really understand all the hubbub around topre switches. other than the lack of noise, what makes them better than say cherry browns?

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Offline alaricljs

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« Reply #11 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 21:47:19 »
Topre is most expensive... therefor it must be awesome!
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Online FoxWolf1

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« Reply #12 on: Mon, 16 April 2012, 22:30:35 »
Quote from: mkawa;576607
you sound like a prefect fit for cherry clears

also, i'm not sure i really understand all the hubbub around topre switches. other than the lack of noise, what makes them better than say cherry browns?


Interesting. I did like what I read about clears, which is part of how the Deck got on the list.

What got me interested in the Topres actually has less to do with how they're said to feel than it does to do with the fact that, intuitively, it seems like a switching mechanism that doesn't depend on physical contact ought to be more resistant to damage than one that does. I have no idea whether or not this is actually the case, but we have already seen replies attesting to the longevity of RealForces...
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Offline Forsaken

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« Reply #13 on: Tue, 17 April 2012, 00:27:31 »
Cherry failures are pretty uncommon. It's a very simple mechanism, and the contacts are gold plated. Professional typists often go more than 10 years on a single cherry switch keyboard.

Failures of the solder joints where the switches are installed on the board are probably more common than failures of the switches themselves, and that is a ridiculously easy thing to fix, should a joint fail. They do sometimes recently due to the new lead-free solders they're required to use, which require higher heat to melt, and don't flow as well, manufacturers also apparently try and use extremely little of the lead free solder, too little, i guess it is expensive. I recently had to touch up some soldering on my Kinesis Advantage, because over the course of 3 years use, a couple of joints that didn't really have enough solder finally managed to break loose.

Offline Gawkbasher

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« Reply #14 on: Tue, 17 April 2012, 00:37:44 »
There's something to be said for the poster who said you could buy three of the same keyboard you already have; otherwise I'm a solid vote for a Realforce.  45g or 55g weighted.  Also, if you are willing to go TKL, they hold their value pretty damned well.

I haven't used a keyboard that felt as well-built since I stopped using Model Ms 15 years ago.  These are a lot nicer to type on too.
While I like some boards with Cherry Blue switches, I can't say I like most of the other varieties as much and you probably wouldn't like Blues for gaming.
« Last Edit: Tue, 17 April 2012, 00:42:52 by Gawkbasher »
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Offline Omerta

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« Reply #15 on: Tue, 17 April 2012, 00:39:56 »
Quote from: fstop;576271
RF keyboards are probably the most solidly built keyboard in terms of feel and quality in my opinion. They feel really sturdy and well constructed. I'd recommend it highly for you.  

Also, you probably won't see any switch degradation, even under heavy use, for at least 3-5 years. And even at that rate the difference is a few grams which shouldn't make too much of a difference. There is a wiki or thread on this somewhere.


Don't get me wrong i agree with your realforce statement but i would just like to add that the deck boards are VERY VERY well built. Their problem is, that it just doesn't look or truly 'feel' that way like topre does. Topre feels well built and professional, the deck IS well built and extremely solid [and extremely heavy] it just doesn't look that way.

If the opinions of others do indeed get you interested in your choice of a deck, and the opinions of others suggesting you should be on mx clears. I am selling my mx clear deck legend in the classifieds like brand new. Although, i would honestly rather see any new keyboard user who has at least tried or used a mech board buy and use a topre and see if they like it before going back into cherry switches again.
« Last Edit: Tue, 17 April 2012, 00:43:27 by Omerta »
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Online FoxWolf1

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« Reply #16 on: Tue, 17 April 2012, 11:11:54 »
So I went to Fry's this morning...

I got to play around a bit with a few different keyboards: various non-mechanicals, a Siig ALPS board, a Mionix with MX Black, and the arrow keys of a BlackWidow (MX Blue). They didn't have anything with browns or clears; for reds, they had the Corsairs, but all in boxes with no switch-trying windows. From what I could see, the Corsairs looked pretty solid, but I'd be far too concerned about the potential quality effects of their obvious cost-cutting to consider buying one.

Non-mechanicals: They sure don't make 'em like they used to...I don't think I saw any that felt half as tough as the used IBM I picked up for less than the cost of an order of fried rice. Logitech execs must laugh their asses off every time they sell a G19 at that price.

Mionix: I can say for sure now what I always suspected: I need tactile switches. For gaming, having something with a fast double-tap rate would be nice; with the Ducky, I always felt like they were staying down for longer than I wanted after bottoming out, leading to a relatively large "minimum movement increment", though in return, the high activation point meant that the initial response was quite fast, certainly much faster than a rubber dome. For general use, though, I didn't feel that the linear Black switches offered enough of an advantage to justify the cost.

BlackWidow: Using this confirmed my impression of MX Blues that I got from watching YouTube videos before buying the Ducky: the click is very high-pitched and plasticky, not as satisfying as the ALPS, though also not as wobbly. I'm really starting to wonder if anything less than Buckling Springs will actually give me that rifle-bolt-ish feeling of solid machinery that I want.

Siig: Keys felt a bit tighter and less wiggly than the Ducky, but also less satisfyingly tactile. Board as a whole felt very light, which doesn't bode well for quality; the switch tactility felt a bit irregular on the sample board as well.
Noppoo TANK (MX Black) | Das Keyboard Ultimate (MX Blue) | IBM Model M 1395100 (Buckling Spring) | IBM KUM6323 (Rubber Dome) | SWintec 1200 (Manual Typewriter)

Offline Daniel Beaver

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« Reply #17 on: Tue, 17 April 2012, 15:47:04 »
Get a Realforce - either a 45g or 55g uniform. No other keyboard is quite as good, and I would be extremely surprised if it ever breaks on you. The Unicomp is also a good choice, but you *might* find the lack of NKRO annoying if you play a lot of games with it. Both types of switches are very tactile.

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Online FoxWolf1

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« Reply #18 on: Thu, 26 April 2012, 13:06:25 »
So, after further research and contemplation...

Unicomp is out. Too many horror stories, too little rollover.
Topre is out. Well, maybe. It is rather expensive, after all...
Noppoo TANK is in. If anyone needs a keyboard built like a tank, it's me. Not sure how I'd get one, though, or if it's actually as tough as the name suggests...

So the candidates are now:

Tesoro Colada
Deck Legend
Noppoo TANK

Opinions?
« Last Edit: Sat, 28 April 2012, 19:55:20 by FoxWolf1 »
Noppoo TANK (MX Black) | Das Keyboard Ultimate (MX Blue) | IBM Model M 1395100 (Buckling Spring) | IBM KUM6323 (Rubber Dome) | SWintec 1200 (Manual Typewriter)