Author Topic: New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)  (Read 6597 times)

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Offline lem

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 05:54:34 »
First off, this is a crazy useful forum and I'm very glad it exists. It also happens to be high in the Google results. :)

I normally use the keyboards in my laptops (Apple iBook 12" and Asus G1S-B1) but I'm finally going to switch over to using a keyboard+mouse and a monitor with my laptop while at a desk. 19 year old here just learning to code and I'd like something I can type on for *hours*.

I'm looking for:

  • Standard key arrangement (Mimics the Model M's arrangement/key size)
  • Moderate force-feedback
  • Not a really noisy (I'm prepared to sacrifice tactileness for quietness)
  • USB use (but PS2 wouldn't be bad to fall back on [BIOS configs, etc)
The Filco (FKBN104*/EB) and Customizer both seem to do what I want but I'm not familiar with how different the feel is.

I've seen this asked a few times on the forum and hopefully I finally get an answer: What is the difference between the Blue switches and Brown switches? And how do they compare to the Buckling Springs?

Also I haven't found any info besides a bit of mentioning on this forum about the HHKB, is it worth looking into for what I want?


Any and all relevant opinions are welcome. :)

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #1 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 10:01:00 »
Buckling springs are NOT quiet. That said, my Unicomp EnduraPro is a bit quieter than my Model M, after a day or two of break-in. There is a greasing treatment that can be done to the springs that makes them MUCH quieter, at the expense of some feel, and Unicomp will do it for a charge of $40 (it's rather labor-intensive,) but you also lose the warranty.

As for feel... for Cherry switches, IIRC, black is linear (no click at all,) brown is tactile (you can feel the click, but not hear it,) and blue is audible (you can feel and hear it.) I'll defer to other posters for how they actually feel, as I've not used any Cherry switch-equipped keyboards.

I'll also note that most modern computers can recognize a USB keyboard in the BIOS, so that's not an issue.

(Obviously, Windows keys are a plus for using it on a Mac, so I would stick to either the Customizer 104 or SpaceSaver, not the Customizer 101, if you go with Unicomp.)

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #2 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 10:01:57 »
Cherry blues are tactile and clicky, the browns are really light to the touch and they feel quick and clean.

Buckling springs are probably the most tactile switches, and pretty loud, louder than the blues.

After all my research and my late nights with Google looking for perfect keyboard for writing, I ended up with the Filco with browns. It is a dream to type on and it's not loud at all.

The HHKB Pro 2 is very nice as well and feels a bit like the browns, but it doesn't have a standard 101 /104 layout. It uses the Sun type 3 layout (Google a pic of the keys) which a lot of us around here really like. It is also pretty quiet and hella geek-sheik.

Your best bet is to eBay several keyboards to find what you like, but that ends up costing quite a bit.

So, buckling springs, Alps whites, and Cherry blues are all clicky, tactile and loud.

I use the Filco with browns at my desk at home and I take the HHKB Pro 2 back and forth to work and to school and to where ever else I need a good keyboard. Of the couple dozen keyboards I've had, these two are the kings for me. I hope this helped you out some.

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #3 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 10:48:06 »
Myself, I have my Model M13 at work, and have my EnduraPro at home. :)

IBM Model Ms tend to be common at thrift stores, so you can at least get one of those to feel and hear what it's like...

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #4 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 11:16:57 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;3519
(Obviously, Windows keys are a plus for using it on a Mac)


How so? I prefer the 101 so I don't have to look at the accused nasty logo. On my Model M, I make caps lock into control, Alt into Apple and control into Option.  I don't see any aspect of Windows to be beneficial to Mac users.

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #5 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 11:26:14 »
I do that when I'm using a 101-key on a Mac, too, but...

I'll also note that Unicomp can remedy the Windows logo issue.

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #6 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 11:48:57 »
But only on buckling springs. As far as I know, they don't make keys for Cherry or Alps or anything.

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #7 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 12:21:08 »
This is true.

There's always CVT for the Alps stuff, although they only make boards with L-shaped enters. :mad:

Offline alpslover

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 14:41:38 »
what's wrong with l-shaped enters?

Offline zerogravitas

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 14:47:53 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;3528
This is true.

There's always CVT for the Alps stuff, although they only make boards with L-shaped enters. :mad:


How are the CVT keyboards, aside from the L-shaped enter keys?  Do they still use the authentic Alps switches? How is the build quality?  I've been toying getting one. :)

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #10 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 14:55:12 »
I just don't like L-shaped enters - I like my backspace to be big, and my backslash above enter. I've not used a CVT (or a Northgate, for that matter,) so I can't be a judge of the quality, though.

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #11 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 16:21:13 »
Reverse L keys don't bother me at all. There are a few Alps keyboards that don't them, you know.

Offline IBI

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« Reply #12 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 16:56:50 »
Quote from: lem;3515
  • Standard key arrangement (Mimics the Model M's arrangement/key size)
What is your standard key arrangement? It varies by country.

And when you say moderate force-feedback do you mean moderate in the sense of quality or in the sense of ferrociousness?

If it's the former then maybe a good quality rubber-dome keyboard would suit you better. You can type on it all day, it's quiet and it's got moderate but not excellent feedback. And rubber-dome technology is used for almost every non low-profile keyboard out there so layout and USB-plug wouldn't be a problem. You could even go for an ergonomic keyboard if you wanted.

Although personally I agree with everyone else here that a nice mechanical keyboard beats any normal keyboard :rolleyes:

How set are you on the normal layout? Unless you've got exceptionally wide shoulders then for writing it's worth considering a keyboard without such a large extent on the right, that way you can both have the alpha keys in front of you and the mouse not too far away. Either a 'left handed keyboard' that moves that end over to the left, one which compresses the keys (like the cherry G80-1800) or one which gets rid of some keys like the Model M spacesaver.
Owned: Raptor-Gaming K1 (linear MX)(Broken), IBM Model M UK, Dell AT102W, Left-handed keyboard with Type 1 Simplified Alps.

Offline lem

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #13 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 21:30:26 »
Thanks for all the great replies! :)

Ahh! It suddenly dawned on me after finding a review that the HHKB is just an acronym. I thought it was the company name of some rare company. I'm all for efficiency and I plan to remap everything to suit my vim habit (love Linux) but I'd much rather have the keys than to get used to a modifier-key setup.

Quote from: bhtooefr;3519
As for feel... for Cherry switches, IIRC, black is linear (no click at all,) brown is tactile (you can feel the click, but not hear it,) and blue is audible (you can feel and hear it.) I'll defer to other posters for how they actually feel, as I've not used any Cherry switch-equipped keyboards.

From those descriptions brown seems exactly like what I'm looking for.

Quote from: bhtooefr;3519
I'll also note that most modern computers can recognize a USB keyboard in the BIOS, so that's not an issue.
I don't have direct experience with this so I'll take your word for it. If worse came to worse I have some junky PS2 keyboards around and I'd much rather get a keyboard with features for general use than to handle possible edge cases.

I must also say that I am not a fan of the L-shaped Enters. That's my primary reasoning for not going with a Cherry KB. All of the computers I've used have had backslash above the enter key and I prefer the feel of that layout.

Quote from: IBI;3535
What is your standard key arrangement? It varies by country.
Standard US layout; this basically ;) (but having the F keys closer would be preferred).

Quote from: IBI;3535
And when you say moderate force-feedback do you mean moderate in the sense of quality or in the sense of ferrociousness?
I hear stories of the different feel of older keyboards. How the click made you sure that you had pressed the key. So I guess in terms of "ferrociousness".


After reading responses about the differences in the Cherry colors, I've decided on the FKB104M/EB. From reading around this forum, I checked eBay but it seems they're unlikely to pop up there,  but that Amazon.co.jp sells them, but only ships to Japan. If it comes to that, I'm part of another forum with a few Japanese members and could probably get one of them to buy it and send it to me, but before doing that, does anyone know of a good/reputable place that ships to the US that sells FKB104M/EB's new?

Offline lem

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #14 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 22:03:17 »
Ah I spoke too soon, I found the link to beNippon xsphat posted in another thread. Their prices seem a bit high but their registration and ordering process was very friendly. Plus they take PayPal! (My preferred form of payment online. They may be horrib/evil/etc but they're damn easy).

So I gathered from that same thread the link was from that I'll be waiting about three weeks or so. =/

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #15 on: Sun, 09 March 2008, 22:58:19 »
Mine took 13 days to show up, but your's might get here quicker than that. Good choice on the Filco, it is the cream of the crop in my opinion.

Offline IBI

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 10 March 2008, 08:03:04 »
There's also the Matias Tactile Pro 2.0 and the Steelseries 7G(which looks very similar to the filco and comes with n-key rollover on all of it's 1 models)
Owned: Raptor-Gaming K1 (linear MX)(Broken), IBM Model M UK, Dell AT102W, Left-handed keyboard with Type 1 Simplified Alps.

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #17 on: Mon, 10 March 2008, 08:31:59 »
Steelseries uses Cherry blacks and that kills it for me.

Offline ashort

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 10 March 2008, 11:37:34 »
I like my Matias TP2 but the keys are very wobbly, not crazy about that.
Andrew
{ KBC Poker - brown | Filco Majestouch - brown | Dell AT101W | Cherry G84-4100 }

Offline madmaxmedia

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 14 March 2008, 10:53:38 »
If you're considering the Matias Tactile Pro, IMO the Apple Extended Keyboard (I or II, I like the first version) + Griffin iMate is much better, and cheaper as well.

The Griffin iMate is plug-and-play with Mac (including 10.5) and Windows, no driver needed.

Offline IBI

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 14 March 2008, 13:51:33 »
Quote from: madmaxmedia;3633
If you're considering the Matias Tactile Pro, IMO the Apple Extended Keyboard (I or II, I like the first version) + Griffin iMate is much better, and cheaper as well.

The Griffin iMate is plug-and-play with Mac (including 10.5) and Windows, no driver needed.


While you can probably get away with a model M if it's still shiny and white, if you use one of those on a modern computer you're certain to be thought wierd. :D
Owned: Raptor-Gaming K1 (linear MX)(Broken), IBM Model M UK, Dell AT102W, Left-handed keyboard with Type 1 Simplified Alps.

Offline zerogravitas

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 14 March 2008, 15:01:12 »
Quote from: IBI;3636
if you use one of those on a modern computer you're certain to be thought wierd. :D


I get the impression a lot of the forum members here might be used to that already.  :)

Offline iMav

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 14 March 2008, 16:48:45 »
Quote from: IBI;3636
While you can probably get away with a model M if it's still shiny and white, if you use one of those on a modern computer you're certain to be thought wierd. :D

You should see the looks I get when I break out my HHKB Pro from it's case.  :)

Offline madmaxmedia

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New Keyboard (Filco vs Customizer vs HHKB)
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 14 March 2008, 17:34:31 »
Quote from: IBI;3636
While you can probably get away with a model M if it's still shiny and white, if you use one of those on a modern computer you're certain to be thought wierd. :D


Ask my wife... ;)

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #24 on: Fri, 14 March 2008, 19:03:42 »
I just feel for the guy who breaks out an HHKB Pro HG Japan.

No, wait, I really don't. If you've got $5000 to blow on a keyboard painted with a virgin hair paintbrush... :p