Author Topic: Help me choose ... plus a question.  (Read 2173 times)

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Offline fader

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Help me choose ... plus a question.
« on: Tue, 08 October 2013, 23:17:40 »
So after reading Jeff Atwood's blogpost about the CODE keyboard, I wanted to try one of these.  As a professional developer (programmer to the layman), I figure I should be working with professional tools.  Coincidentally, because I'm building a new system at home, I figure I'll get two boards.  I bought a Corsair K65, a TKL w/ MX reds.  It has all the basic qualities I was after - TKL, solid build, detachable cable, no frills.  No need backlit at work.  It only comes with red switches and having no idea what I preferred, seemed like an affordable, decent starter.  The gunmetal aluminum is right-sexy and it had great reviews to boot.  I did find it to be rather loud even in my office full of (mostly mac) developers though, so I added red o-rings right away and I like the board just fine as an entry-level mech kb.

So now I'm looking for a nice board for home.  I tried out a few boards at Fry's and really liked the MX blues, but after compulsively reading through a buttload of threads here am thinking rather than buy 4 boards compulsively in the next couple months, chasing "better", to try to just skip 2 and 3 and go directly to 4.  The compulsive ones know what I'm talking about LOL.  It's cheaper to just by the one expensive one that I'll eventually buy in the end.

So .... I'm thinking Topre switches since so many people seem to end up there and overwhelmingly seem to ultimately prefer them, otherwise it's be WASD or Filco w/ blues.   The candidates are:  HHKB pro2, Leopold 660C, & Realforce.  Not interested in full-size and not sure as a .NET (windows) developer if I can adapt to a 60%.  That's why I went w/ TKL and that makes the Leo with the dedicated arrow keys especially appealing.  Any thoughts?  How easy/hard is it to adjust to a 60%? 

Here's the bonus Q:
Seems many view the Model M/buckling springs as the holy grail.  Just curious why I don't see more Unicomps in people's sigs?  Are they not faithful reproductions?  They're cheap enough.

I'm at about $100 all-in on the K-65.  The Leo will be over 2x that and the HHKB 3x.  For around $100 I would think the Unicomp would be a no-brainer for home, at least to try, if buckling springs are the supposed grail. 
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Offline dorkvader

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 08 October 2013, 23:41:07 »
Not everyone likes topre. I was underwhelmed. They are nice keyboards, but I'll take my buckling springs any day.

Lots of people do like unicomp. I have one that I used every day for about two years. It's just that there are differences between one and an older model m. A 1390120 for example will have a much thicker plate. I bought mine for under $30 shipped, and with the legendary reliability of the M, a unicomp hardly seem worth it. Used M's in relatively good shape are common enough for now.

That said, I much prefer the model F to model M. Sadly, converting the F to USB is difficult for most models, and all are much rarer than an M. Many have layouts I can best describe as "unfortunate". It's almost as bad as beam springs, which are older rarer, and generally much more expensive than model F's.

One good part about topre switches (and mechanical keyboards in general) is that they hold their value relatively well. If you don't like it, you should be able to sell your topre in "barely used" condition for a good fraction of the original price.

About cherry MX: The best cure is to try them all and either keep or sell the ones you don't like. Blues are exciting with their clickyness, and clears are heavy. Lots of people mod with different springs.

since you have linear reds already, I would recommend a tactile switch like blues or clears (if you go cherry mx)

and of course, the best option is to buy and then build an ergodox. :p

edit: and I almost forgot: welcome to geekhack!

Offline Binge

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 08 October 2013, 23:54:17 »
I love MX, Alps, and BS not in that particular order.  What I feel will make or break a keyboard for YOU is the layout.

Now... this is where stuff gets tricky.  If you've spent your whole life with full sized you will never go any less comfortably.  I went straight from full sized to a 60% board called the KBT pure.  Now I can't handle doing anything else except compact boards.  I love FN layers.  It's just that simple.  Instead of wasting my time with moving my hands so much I have every button within a few cm's hand movement from home.  It's also much easier for me to touch-type symbols and use modifiers, delete, home, end, and the ilk.

This is a sentiment not everyone else has but I certainly hold the benefits of the compact boards far above the disadvantages.  If I may make a suggestion of the poker 2 with blues.  Not everyone likes MX, but you can't really go a bad direction with this keyboard.  It has a FN layer which is easy to pick up, it's compact, dip switches to change up the game of the keyboard in minor ways, and the PN layers give you 2 layers of macros.  Not just keystroke mapping but actual macros.  I know a guy who programmed some pn combos to do a specific indentation lengths for coding as well as bracket formatting.  He's a web dev so there's a bit more php script etc which is friendly to macro, so it might not be for every kind of dev.  The neat thing is that you remove the power from the keyboard?  Take it to work? Take it home?  It stores your PN functions without power.

Maybe I've given you more to think about, but I might have also given you one of the best MX options for under $120.
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Offline MKULTRA

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 08 October 2013, 23:57:14 »
I would stay away from Topre for now.  You will prolly be disappointed at how much it feels like a rubber dome.  I think most go from rd > MX > Thorpe

Offline dragonxx21

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 08 October 2013, 23:57:37 »
I'll be honest about my opinion about topre, but do take it with a grain of salt as I've never actually used topre. I personally think that the majority of the topre hype comes from diehard fans who love the boards to bits and would recommend nothing but topre. If you want to buy into the hype, then by all means go for it, but I wouldn't feel too great buying a keyboard for quite a hefty sum of money and realizing after two or three months that I just don't enjoy it. But as dorkvader said, they hold value well so reselling would be no problem, and there are enough topre fans that selling would be easy. Going to 60% might take a while to get used to all the layers and such, but it might be a nice thing to have, in case you ever want to lug it around anywhere. If you can get used to using the FN layers while typing code, you might want to consider a 60%. Also, in the spirit of tp4, the obvious choice is the ergodox.
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Offline hashbaz

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 00:19:07 »
I develop software on all flavors of of layouts and switches.  You get used to it.  I would recommend starting with MX and branching out from there over time as your interest and funds allow.  The classifieds subforum helps with trading in old purchases for new. :)

Offline rowdy

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 00:25:40 »
No-one can tell you what switch you prefer - no matter which one you get first your curiosity will be sparked and you will almost certainly end up getting another one.

A lot of people have no trouble adapting to the 60% layout, but I miss the arrow keys on my HHKB, so a FC660C would probably suit me better than HHKB.  Topre feel nice.

You could try QFR - TKL and standard layout, available in most MX switch types.  Fairly cheap.  High quality.  If you don't like it you can get a second with different switches and use the first either as a custom keycap display board, or as a base for a customisation project.
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But thatís incorrect. Itís in HHKBís slogan, but when Americaís cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

NEC APC-H4100E | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED red | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED green | Link 900243-08 | CM QFR MX black | KeyCool 87 white MX reds | HHKB 2 Pro | Model M 02-Mar-1993 | Model M 29-Nov-1995 | CM Trigger (broken) | CM QFS MX green | Ducky DK9087 Shine 3 TKL Yellow Edition MX black | Lexmark SSK 21-Apr-1994 | IBM SSK 13-Oct-1987 | CODE TKL MX clear | Model M 122 01-Jun-1988

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Offline Polymer

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 01:34:21 »
I'll be honest about my opinion about topre, but do take it with a grain of salt as I've never actually used topre. I personally think that the majority of the topre hype comes from diehard fans who love the boards to bits and would recommend nothing but topre. If you want to buy into the hype, then by all means go for it, but I wouldn't feel too great buying a keyboard for quite a hefty sum of money and realizing after two or three months that I just don't enjoy it. But as dorkvader said, they hold value well so reselling would be no problem, and there are enough topre fans that selling would be easy. Going to 60% might take a while to get used to all the layers and such, but it might be a nice thing to have, in case you ever want to lug it around anywhere. If you can get used to using the FN layers while typing code, you might want to consider a 60%. Also, in the spirit of tp4, the obvious choice is the ergodox.

Honestly, why bother posting an opinion about a switch when you've actually never tried it?  It is bad enough people form an opinion about using a particular type of switch when they've tried it for all of one minute...but to form an opinion when you haven't even touched one at all?  That's beyond silly....

As far as what the OP should get....If you're a developer I would not go 60%...You can probably adapt but I don't see any reason why you'd want to go through a long learning curve to get your productivity up...all for the sake of saving a bit of space.  The conversion from Full to TKL really gets you some key space and feels like a huge difference.  Going to 60% gives you the same (slightly more really) amount of space back but it doesn't seem to be as useful as that first bit you get when going to TKL.  So my suggestion?  Just go with a TKL RF if you're looking for a Topre board.  The Leo and HHKB are both great boards..but unless you need the extra space or portability, I think TKL is the way to go.  That said, the RF has less thock than both the HHKB and Leo so there is always that :)

Offline fader

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 01:51:20 »

Lots of people do like unicomp. I have one that I used every day for about two years. It's just that there are differences between one and an older model m. A 1390120 for example will have a much thicker plate. I bought mine for under $30 shipped, and with the legendary reliability of the M, a unicomp hardly seem worth it. Used M's in relatively good shape are common enough for now.

One good part about topre switches (and mechanical keyboards in general) is that they hold their value relatively well. If you don't like it, you should be able to sell your topre in "barely used" condition for a good fraction of the original price.

edit: and I almost forgot: welcome to geekhack!

Thx man!  I'll have to keep an eye on ebay in that case.  Too bad they're not TKL.  Yeah, I was thinking it'd be pretty easy to shift a topre board if I was underwhelmed.  It's not knowing that will drive one to eventually pulling out the plastic and clicking buy. LOL



I love MX, Alps, and BS not in that particular order.  What I feel will make or break a keyboard for YOU is the layout.

Now... this is where stuff gets tricky.  If you've spent your whole life with full sized you will never go any less comfortably.  I went straight from full sized to a 60% board called the KBT pure.  Now I can't handle doing anything else except compact boards.  I love FN layers.  It's just that simple.  Instead of wasting my time with moving my hands so much I have every button within a few cm's hand movement from home.  It's also much easier for me to touch-type symbols and use modifiers, delete, home, end, and the ilk.

This is a sentiment not everyone else has but I certainly hold the benefits of the compact boards far above the disadvantages.  If I may make a suggestion of the poker 2 with blues.  Not everyone likes MX, but you can't really go a bad direction with this keyboard.  It has a FN layer which is easy to pick up, it's compact, dip switches to change up the game of the keyboard in minor ways, and the PN layers give you 2 layers of macros.  Not just keystroke mapping but actual macros.  I know a guy who programmed some pn combos to do a specific indentation lengths for coding as well as bracket formatting.  He's a web dev so there's a bit more php script etc which is friendly to macro, so it might not be for every kind of dev.  The neat thing is that you remove the power from the keyboard?  Take it to work? Take it home?  It stores your PN functions without power.

Maybe I've given you more to think about, but I might have also given you one of the best MX options for under $120.

Yes, you have.  Really good points.  60% has a certain fear of the unknown factor, but I'm not a keyboard jedi when it comes to dev shortcuts anyway, so who knows.  Never really used macros since VS is such a great IDE, but now that I think of it, it would be killer to never have to annoyingly type "select * from " ever again. ;-)



I develop software on all flavors of of layouts and switches.  You get used to it.  I would recommend starting with MX and branching out from there over time as your interest and funds allow.  The classifieds subforum helps with trading in old purchases for new. :)

Good to know! thx!  I can tend to go a little overboard with new interests.  I'll check out the classifieds.  That way my wife will want to strangle me slightly less.  Ya know, as long as *we're* getting a good deal. LOL



I'll be honest about my opinion about topre, but do take it with a grain of salt as I've never actually used topre. I personally think that the majority of the topre hype comes from diehard fans who love the boards to bits and would recommend nothing but topre. If you want to buy into the hype, then by all means go for it, but I wouldn't feel too great buying a keyboard for quite a hefty sum of money and realizing after two or three months that I just don't enjoy it. But as dorkvader said, they hold value well so reselling would be no problem, and there are enough topre fans that selling would be easy. Going to 60% might take a while to get used to all the layers and such, but it might be a nice thing to have, in case you ever want to lug it around anywhere. If you can get used to using the FN layers while typing code, you might want to consider a 60%. Also, in the spirit of tp4, the obvious choice is the ergodox.

LOL, ergodox prolly not for me at this pt, but give it few yrs.  The only fn keys I regularly use are F5, F10, F11, so that might not be so bad.  It's mainly the home/end and arrow keys that I'm using to select text.  I hear you on the hype, but alas, I can already tell it's a scratch that must be itched.



I would stay away from Topre for now.  You will prolly be disappointed at how much it feels like a rubber dome.  I think most go from rd > MX > Thorpe

:(  Sad panda.  Thx for your .02 though



No-one can tell you what switch you prefer - no matter which one you get first your curiosity will be sparked and you will almost certainly end up getting another one.

A lot of people have no trouble adapting to the 60% layout, but I miss the arrow keys on my HHKB, so a FC660C would probably suit me better than HHKB.  Topre feel nice.

You could try QFR - TKL and standard layout, available in most MX switch types.  Fairly cheap.  High quality.  If you don't like it you can get a second with different switches and use the first either as a custom keycap display board, or as a base for a customisation project.

Ding ding!  Winner winner, chicken dinner. RE: "will almost certainly get another ..."   -  I guess trying to skip 2 & 3 and go straight to 4 is akin to defying the laws of nature.  4 just becomes 2.  It's futile.  I'm just trying to control my GAS at this pt.  Gear acquisition syndrome.

I got to try the QFR at Fry's and immediately said "Yep, that's it - Blues!"  Good to hear it's a quality unit.
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Offline IMHB

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 01:59:38 »
Personally I have a K65 too...but I modded it to full mx black... because mx red is too light for me.

Topre boards are nice, but they're just too light....and you can't mod them which is no fun~ so I still prefer MX switches. But if you really want Topre, go with realforce. At least everyone I know says it is the best Topre keyboard out there.

If you feel mx reds is too light for you, go with black. If not but you want to try something different, try brown or blue.

If you're a hard-core collector and loves heavy switches like me, get full mx green or clear.

And I always think Cherry keyboards are always the best at home....no plate keyboards feel wayyyyy more amazing...in my opinion, it's worth a try if you haven't felt them yet.

Offline IMHB

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 02:01:44 »
oops...sorry for missing this part but if you only want TKL boards, get QFR.

Offline SNF

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 04:10:07 »
The thing is, everyone has their switch/board preference and the only real way to find out whats best for you is to try it  :thumb:

And then there goes all your money :D

Offline fader

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 14:40:12 »
Personally I have a K65 too...but I modded it to full mx black... because mx red is too light for me.

Topre boards are nice, but they're just too light....and you can't mod them which is no fun~ so I still prefer MX switches. But if you really want Topre, go with realforce. At least everyone I know says it is the best Topre keyboard out there.

If you feel mx reds is too light for you, go with black. If not but you want to try something different, try brown or blue.

If you're a hard-core collector and loves heavy switches like me, get full mx green or clear.

And I always think Cherry keyboards are always the best at home....no plate keyboards feel wayyyyy more amazing...in my opinion, it's worth a try if you haven't felt them yet.

Haven't tried any heavy switches yet, so I dunno 'bout that.  I'm sure I'll have to try them, but definitely not trying to be a "collector".  Have too many collections from other hobbies.  All said and done, collections are impractical.  I have 8 killer Marshall amps that I can't even play outside rehearsal space since they're deafeningly loud.  Not that I can't sell them and get good $$$, but it's a pain, so I've been hauling them around for 10 years, which is also a pain - LOL  -  just an example but living in LA, where space is Xpensive, I'm paying for a lot of storage.  Gotta get off my butt & clean house.  Good thing boards don't take up much space like guitars, amps, motorcycles, etc. :p

oops...sorry for missing this part but if you only want TKL boards, get QFR.

Really just want to avoid full-size.  The 66-key Leo's look great, esp since it seems that the layered home & end on the L/R arrow keys just intuitively makes sense.

The thing is, everyone has their switch/board preference and the only real way to find out whats best for you is to try it  :thumb:

And then there goes all your money :D

I know it!  But if I can get them thru the classifieds won't cost much to test & resell diff boards.  Seems like the way to go.
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Offline Hellmark

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 17:02:38 »

Lots of people do like unicomp. I have one that I used every day for about two years. It's just that there are differences between one and an older model m. A 1390120 for example will have a much thicker plate. I bought mine for under $30 shipped, and with the legendary reliability of the M, a unicomp hardly seem worth it. Used M's in relatively good shape are common enough for now.

One good part about topre switches (and mechanical keyboards in general) is that they hold their value relatively well. If you don't like it, you should be able to sell your topre in "barely used" condition for a good fraction of the original price.

Thx man!  I'll have to keep an eye on ebay in that case.  Too bad they're not TKL.  Yeah, I was thinking it'd be pretty easy to shift a topre board if I was underwhelmed.  It's not knowing that will drive one to eventually pulling out the plastic and clicking buy. LOL

Well, there is the Space Saver. Unicomp doesn't make a SSK, and the IBMs are a lot more rare, but they can be had. There is a project going on around here trying to revive them.

Offline rowdy

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 17:13:34 »
Well, there is the Space Saver. Unicomp doesn't make a SSK, and the IBMs are a lot more rare, but they can be had. There is a project going on around here trying to revive them.

Tell that to the guy who just bought 8 of them!
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But thatís incorrect. Itís in HHKBís slogan, but when Americaís cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

NEC APC-H4100E | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED red | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED green | Link 900243-08 | CM QFR MX black | KeyCool 87 white MX reds | HHKB 2 Pro | Model M 02-Mar-1993 | Model M 29-Nov-1995 | CM Trigger (broken) | CM QFS MX green | Ducky DK9087 Shine 3 TKL Yellow Edition MX black | Lexmark SSK 21-Apr-1994 | IBM SSK 13-Oct-1987 | CODE TKL MX clear | Model M 122 01-Jun-1988

Ị̸͚̯̲́ͤ̃͑̇̑ͯ̊̂͟ͅs̞͚̩͉̝̪̲͗͊ͪ̽̚̚ ̭̦͖͕̑́͌ͬͩ͟t̷̻͔̙̑͟h̹̠̼͋ͤ͋i̤̜̣̦̱̫͈͔̞ͭ͑ͥ̌̔s̬͔͎̍̈ͥͫ̐̾ͣ̔̇͘ͅ ̩̘̼͆̐̕e̞̰͓̲̺̎͐̏ͬ̓̅̾͠͝ͅv̶̰͕̱̞̥̍ͣ̄̕e͕͙͖̬̜͓͎̤̊ͭ͐͝ṇ̰͎̱̤̟̭ͫ͌̌͢͠ͅ ̳̥̦ͮ̐ͤ̎̊ͣ͡͡n̤̜̙̺̪̒͜e̶̻̦̿ͮ̂̀c̝̘̝͖̠̖͐ͨͪ̈̐͌ͩ̀e̷̥͇̋ͦs̢̡̤ͤͤͯ͜s͈̠̉̑͘a̱͕̗͖̳̥̺ͬͦͧ͆̌̑͡r̶̟̖̈͘ỷ̮̦̩͙͔ͫ̾ͬ̔ͬͮ̌?̵̘͇͔͙ͥͪ͞ͅ

Offline Hellmark

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 18:14:26 »
Oh, I am not saying that they can't be had, but you can find 10-20 full sized M's for every SSK.

Offline Thimplum

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 19:30:17 »
Here's the bonus Q:
Seems many view the Model M/buckling springs as the holy grail.  Just curious why I don't see more Unicomps in people's sigs?  Are they not faithful reproductions?  They're cheap enough.

They aren't known to be built as solidly as an OG Model M. I don't have one, but I've heard that they aren't as good. I do have an M though, and it's the holy grail for sure. I haven't yet tried a switch that can match it.
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Offline swill

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Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 19:42:12 »
I have never tried Topre, so no help there.

I have both full sized (for work) and TKL boards right now.  I love TKL for similar reasons that you do.  I have a QFR with blues, which I do not like, but that is because I learned I did not like blues after using them for a while.  This is mainly because the actuation point on the way down is not the same as on the way up, so when I type quickly I make mistakes every time I type two of the same characters back to back.  This is simply my experience and my style of typing, so this may not affect you at all.

I like lighter key weights, so my favourite switch right now is MX Browns.  I have reds and they are nice.  I would be totally happy with reds if I did not have browns.  This is all personal preference though.  Knowing what weight switch you like will probably help you make some of these decisions.

I have also been on the hunt to figure out if a 60% board would be good for me.  I KNOW that I depend heavily on the arrow keys, so I think those are a requirement for me.  I just bought at Leopold FC660M with brown switches because I know I like the switch and it has arrow keys, so it should give me an idea if I like the smaller format.  I do not have the board yet, so we will see.

As a few people have mentioned, if you are going to try new switches, I would recommend the QFR.  It is cheap and if you grow out of it, you can use it as your first mod project.  It is hard to buy just the switches for the price you can get a QFR at these days.

Another thing to note is keycaps.  I don't know if you have gone down this road yet, but if you start, it will start to play into your decisions.  I know that PBT caps are my favourite (so far, I have some POMs on their way).  Knowing that, I try to focus on boards that I know I can get PBT caps for.  Again, this is just preference, but its worth knowing up front.

GL with your search...

Offline mapple

  • Posts: 231
  • Location: UK
Re: Help me choose ... plus a question.
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 11 October 2013, 04:00:19 »
to answer all things obviously those are objective answers;)
1. big no for unicomp...... got it from wife and left it somewhere in house doesn't even know where exactly (dunno if those words would describe feeling good but what the hell. Feedback is just 180 different than in model m. To much energy left on keys to work. Quality of keycaps cheapish..... i even did try to take keycaps from model m and put it on unicomp didn't resolve issue. And not to be groundless I bought used ibm model m at first then unicomp so at first i was like maybe that's how they should work from very beginning but when brand new model m2 came it was clear it was not case...).
2. take part of some meeting maybe ask out ppl which have that board near you to verify for topre. I personally hate them (at least the ones on HHKB).
3. someone already wrote that but very big thing is layout itself, it will take a while to get here;).
4. it's kinda "adventure" to explore all switches, obviously i understand reason for skipping few steps like $. But after 1-2 years and 1321323124321$ spend on them you can always get back to them or sell.
5. oh and about that holy grail it's always good to have one just laying somewhere near-> even for protection in case of zombie or other sh*t.
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