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got my SMK-85 from EBAY today

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So far, I know that this keyboard uses black Alps, since I have one.  Some cheap ones pop up on ebay often.

But if you don't trust ebay, has some for sale.

The keyboard I bought on EBAY was from DSI not an unknown seller.  I went to the link provided by fkeidjn = the keyboard shown is similar but not the SMK-85.  If it uses black ALPS and it has full size keys and spacing,  I will buy it.  This keyoboard has APS, but they are white.

Thanks for the link fkeidjn.

I just heard back from Robert Tibbetts - the fellow who sells and refurbishes Northgates.  The mini shown on his website uses White ALPS switches  :cry:
Thanks again for the link fkeidjn -- I have hit another dead end on finding another mini/compact keyboard with black ALPS.   :(


--- Quote from: elmomax ---The switch on this SMK-85 is labelled differently than my beloved black ALPS keyboard which distinctly says ALPS.  Peering through my magnifying glass, this switch says  IAI  --   a capital A framed on each side by a straight line.  Is there a recommended way to pop keys off without making a mess?  WIth this logo, are these ALPS switches?
--- End quote ---

No, they're not. They're Strongman switches, according to Justin at DSI:

I also bought a couple of these from the DSI storefront at eBay. And my experience has not been a happy one either, but maybe for different reasons.

Here's the lineup:

The silver and black one on the left was bought from a few weeks ago. The two others, with the gray and cream keys, were the ones just bought from DSI on eBay.

The silver and black one (and may I say again how ugly, annoying, and tacky the silver enclosure is):

has white Alps sliders. You can see the "ALPS" on the base:

The middle keyboard:

has white sliders, the "Alps-compatible" Strongman sliders as described by Justin at DSI.

The two shown here say "IBI9" and "IB8."

This middle keyboard is being sent back to DSI. For one thing, none of the keys click. A definite defect. What's more, closer inspection reveals that this keyboard bears definite signs of being shopworn. Look at the bottom:

The patch on the lower left is sticky, as if a gummed label has been torn off;

There's a scuff on the upper rignt hand corner:

and what the hell is this piece of Scotch tape doing here?

The third keyboard, the one on the right in the lineup, actually does click the way it's supposed to:

Like the middle keyboard it uses Strongman switches:

The characters here read "IA50" and "IA58". (By the way, can someone explain what these characters signify? Is it some  sort of numbering system? They vary from key to key. The white Alps sliders have characters on the base as well, on the opposite of the base from the "ALPS" characters.)

This was the keyboard of the two from DSI Gear that I was going to keep, and in fact I had already made arrangements to return the non-clicky one to DSI in exchange for a clicky one. But I decided to test out every key on this one, the keeper, and it turns out that the three keys on the upper right corner of the board would stick or be sluggish on the return when pressed.

Here the INSERT and DELETE keys are stuck:

Here the INSERT key has popped back up after being struck again, the DELETE key remains stuck;

So I'll be returning both of these to DSI, and am no longer interested in an exchange, but will be getting a refund on the purchase price for both keyboards (no refund on shipping, though).

On the question of white Alps sliders vs. black Alps sliders, we still don't have a direct comparsion, since these SMK-85's from the DSI store on eBay don't have real Alps sliders but Strongman switches that are Alps clones. But I do believe that these white Strongmans, when working properly and *clicking*, are almost identical in feel to the white Alps sliders on the silver and black SMK-85 and on my Avant Stellar. The click sounds slightly different in pitch, but I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the Strongmans and the white Alps sliders in a blind test. So if elmomax doesn't like these white Strongman switches, chances are she wouldn't like the white Alps switches as well.

That being said, I'm a little puzzled by:

--- Quote from: elmomax ---As some of you know, I have a SMK-85 with black ALPS switches.  I recently ordered from DSI on EBAY a SMK-85 which apparently had white ALPS switches.  I am so not happy. It feels and sounds different.  The touch is stiffer and the sound is less clicky.  I now have two of these white alps keyboards.
--- End quote ---

because the white Alps sliders are very clicky, and the Strongman  switches on the rightmost SMK-85 in my lineup, the one with the stuck keys, is just as clicky as the white Alps sliders. So I'm wondering if ergomax might have gotten a non-clicking lemon like I did, a keyboard that doesn't click but clacks when the keys hit bottom. If a key is depressed very slowly, there should be an audible click when the key registers. If this is missing, as is the case with the the middle SMK-85 in my lineup, the net effect is still very loud, but is more like a clackety racket than a clickety-clack racket.

I'm still wondering what the difference is between the black Alps sliders on the older SMK-85's and the white Alps sliders on some of the more recent ones (and on the Avant keyboards). From elmomax's remarks, I'm guessing that the white ones require more force, and that the black ones have more of a "soft tactile" feel, while still being clicky. Maybe they're like the blue Cherry MX switches, which are clicky but have a much lighter touch than the IBM buckling springs or the white Alps sliders.

And let me say again, because it cannot be repeated too many times, that the silver casing for the SMK-85 is irredeemably tacky, an offense to taste and a crime against all that is good and moral.

Tacky silver is an understatement!  I only pulled off one key and saw a capital A framed by two lines - had no idea that they may have different labels on each key -- odd.  The keys on this keyboard do click but they are not like my Black ALPS.  I have not opened up the second DSI keyboard SMK-85 to check it out. Given your experience and the condition of the board you received, i need to do that - now. None of the keys stick on the keyboard I am typing on, they do click, but the feel is shallow and the sound is not as bass -- it has a decided click as a result of hitting what feels like a switch... getting accustomed to it, better than membrame mush but not perfect. Hard to describe, just feels different than the black ALPS which has a nice thud when you bottom out and a lower sounding click -- like old PJ's LOL. So you are saying that these are strongman switches.  What does that mean exactly.?  I hear the click but somehow the tactile sensation is so different.  I found myself hitting the keys harder for some reason -- maybe hoping for the feedback the ALPs provided.  I have no idea of what it is, but it is different and not good different.

Funny you should also show the silver with black keys -- I just wrote to Glenn Billard who I believe is from a canadian keyboard company -- I asked him about a keyboard that looked like my SMK-85 in beige with my familiar beige keys and L shaped enter key  -- have not heard back from him as yet to find out what kind of switches his mini keyboard has.  But the silver is hideous and it also chips easily... looks like it is painted on.  Also cannot see when the num or caps are on with the silver case as well as I can with the beige casing... minor point, but just another annoyance.

mr_sf_applet ---- have you found a SMK 85 with Black ALPS -- I am still looking, but I am losing hope. :(


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