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KBT Pure Pro (red switches)

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Today I received my KBT Pure Pro purchased from the not-so-recent Massdrop group buy, so I thought I'd post my general impressions as someone new to KBT keyboards.

Here's my keyboard setup (I'm going to buy a real desk now that I'm done buying keyboards for a while):

That's the KBT in front, an HHKB Pro 2 Type-S, and a Filco Linear R limited edition tenkeyless under the monitor. I picked up the Filco a few years back and instantly fell in love with linear switches. I'd been using a Das with blue switches up to that point, but found it too stiff and noisy. The Filco took a back seat when I got the HHKB earlier this year (review here), which has been my daily driver since then. I occasionally swap out the HHKB for the Filco when my fingers start to get tired from lots of typing, but I'm definitely a Topre fan.

I love the compact size of the HHKB, but the lack of dedicated arrow keys has been a bit annoying; I'm a developer and use the arrow keys quite often. I've gotten better at using the embedded arrow keys without looking at the keyboard, but I make more errors than I'd like. I was pretty excited about the Leopold 660C, but not having the option of blank keys (I type Dvorak) put it out of the running for now. The low price of the KBT in the group buy, plus its programmability, convinced me to give it a try.

The Pure Pro is a 60% keyboard with embedded arrow keys, a Fn layer, and a fully programmable layer for creating macros. I went with the red switches, but the usual assortment of Cherry switches were also an option in the group buy. Since I use a Dvorak layout, I opted for the blank grey PBT keycaps. It's tough to tell from the pic above, but the Pure Pro is ever so slightly wider than the HHKB, but not as deep. The Pure Pro has a detachable USB cable, improving its longevity and portability.

This is a solid little keyboard. It has a good heft, and when I pick it up and shake it vigorously, the keys don't rattle back and forth. They do have a bit of horizontal play while typing, but I'd say the vertical motion is smoother and truer than the Filco. The PBT keycaps are noticeably more solid than the Filco's ABS keycaps and chatter/bounce much less. And perhaps the Filco's switches are well worn in, but the reds in the Pure Pro feel firmer. The key action is excellent overall and less noisy than the Filco, with the only exception being the left Shift and Enter keys; the stabilizers are a bit chatty. The Enter key on the HHKB is still my favorite.

Being a 60% board, there are some compromises made in terms of key size and shape to squeeze them all into such a small package. The spacebar is significantly less wide than a normal spacebar. I love it, personally. Being a Mac user, I hit the command keys constantly, and the tiny space bar means I have to slide my thumbs a much shorter distance than on other keyboards, making the Pure Pro more comfortable for keyboard shortcuts. The other key that's been sacrificed is the right Shift key, which is a 1x key. I adjusted quickly and haven't had any problems, however. Thanks to the dedicated arrow keys, the Fn layer is more intuitive than the HHKB, with PgUp/PgDn/Home/End mapped to Fn+Up/Down/Left/Right. Very easy to use. One other interesting side effect of cramming all these keys into such a tiny form factor: the bottom row isn't staggered as much as other keyboards I've used. Its offset looks to be about the same as the offset between the top row and home row. I adjusted quickly to this as well and find it very comfortable. Take a closer look at the second image above to see what I mean.

The coolest thing about the Pure Pro is its programmability. You can key in macros that you can access at any time via the Pn key. You can even switch to the programmable layer with a keyboard shortcut so that it's on all the time. My first project when I'm feeling less lazy will be to program a Dvorak layout so I'll have a hardware Dvorak keyboard that I can use on other workstations without having to mess with OS settings.

The only thing I don't like so far is the lack of adjustable feet. I had to put a couple furniture sliders (those rounded plastic pieces you put under your furniture to make it easier to move) under the rear rubber pads to get the Pure Pro at an angle I find comfortable. A minor annoyance, but there it is.

Overall, I'm really enjoying the Pure Pro and think I'll be putting my Filco in the classifieds. Despite the lack of dedicated arrow keys, I'm not willing to give up just yet on the HHKB because I really do like Topre switches. If it's ever offered with blank keys, the 660C will be the only keyboard left for me to try, and could very well be my perfect keyboard. Until then, I'll go back and forth between the Pure Pro and the HHKB.

thanks for this. I'm a mac user too and have one in the mail currently.  Nice to see you find the command keys easier to access.

Jack Karneval:
CURSE YOU!!!!!!!!! You beat me to a review of the Pure Pro!! Will hopefully get mine by the end of this week from qtan. Either way, good review man, I'll probably still post mine when I get it, seeing as I'm getting MX Blues, and mine is the white color scheme.

Have you ever tried typing on a Pure OP? I'm interested in knowing if the case on the Pure Pro is more solid than the one on the Pure. The stock case on the Pure was too light and warped on my board.

Jack Karneval:
Not sure if this would help the rigidity of the case, but the Pure Pro is plate mounted as opposed the Pure being PCB mounted. Also, here's comparison shots of their cases.... in which the Pure Pro case seems like it would be a tad more robust than the Pure

Pure Pro:



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