Author Topic: Unicomp Keyboard quality?  (Read 5212 times)

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Offline DanielOh

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Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« on: Wed, 06 May 2020, 20:42:03 »
I really wanted to try the glorious model M, which the only *new* option I got is Unicomp boards. The thing is that I have come across some negative reviews about the quality of Unicomp boards and some defects as their molds get older and older. So,, would buying Unicomp at this point would be the right decision?

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 06 May 2020, 21:08:45 »
Yes. The quality is fine. The iffiness of their cases are largely limited to the Ultra Classic and Endurapro. While the Classic case flexes a bit more than the late model IBMs or Lexmarks, that's not particularly relevant, as the keys go onto a metal backplate. The case is essentially to just hold the keyboard in one spot while you slam on it. As long as you don't literally lift the keyboard up and twist it about, you would never notice the quality difference between a Unicomp and a late model Lexmark.

At some point, around 2007 or so, they had more problems, but they've largely been rectumfied. :P.

Indeed, this year they've just released a new product, a New Model M, which is even heavier than an old one, in a new, relatively high quality case, so reports claim.

Unicomp is the right decision. I'm typing this on a Unicomp board, and I have real Model Ms. In fact, I trust Unicomp so much that they're repairing my old keyboard right now, and I just bought two new boards from them.

I just blew $350 on their crap like 2 days ago.



« Last Edit: Wed, 06 May 2020, 21:17:41 by funkmon »

Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 06 May 2020, 22:34:35 »
Thanks for replying! :thumb: One small thing on which board to buy, I really want the original feeling, so I planned to buy the Classic white 101 key model, but the new model M sounds great as well. Is there any difference between classic and new model M besides weight, because I really want the white colorscheme(which gives more retro feeling) but their website seems to have no white model for new model M.

Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 06 May 2020, 22:39:57 »
Thanks for replying! :thumb: One small thing on which board to buy, I really want the original feeling, so I planned to buy the Classic white 101 key model, but the new model M sounds great as well. Is there any difference between classic and new model M besides weight, because I really want the white colorscheme(which gives more retro feeling) but their website seems to have no white model for new model M.

https://www.pckeyboard.com/mm5/graphics/00000001/Update%20and%20Announcement%20v_1.4.htm
https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=105366.0

Oh, there was an announcement. Thanks!

So, I'm buying Classic 101  ;D

Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 06 May 2020, 22:43:46 »
 :thumb:

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 07 May 2020, 06:45:27 »
Heck yeah! There you go! I went with the 104 for that sweet sweet windows key and context menu, but the 101 is great. It feels very similar to the 90s Model Ms IMO, virtually identical. BUT, crucially, it costs about $50 less than one in like new condition, and it comes with USB, plus a 1 year warranty. So I'm a big believer!

Let me know how you like it!

Offline cheesy_jones

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 07 May 2020, 06:54:05 »
I am typing on my brand-new (manufactured 4/21/2020) Unicomp Spacesaver M Mac layout keyboard and it is an undeniable joy. I'm new enough to the enthusiast ranks to not completely understand the quest for the so-called "endgame" keyboard, but I suspect barring the DIY kits you can get out there, this is about as close as I can get. And I have the absolutely gorgeous Matias Tactile Pro and went ahead and bit on the trendy Azio MK Mac board. Both are great boards, although the Kaihl brown switches in the Azio are not tactile (don't let the marketing fool you).

241807-0

I have to admit that, after watching many Youtube videos on the Unicomp keyboards, I was a bit worried about the build quality. One notable Youtube reviewer reviewed one he has that was built in 2009, and while overall his review was positive he was twisting his keyboard around like a wet rag, which indicated a slip in build quality and gave me pause. The keyboard was audibly creaking and it sounded like he was torturing a small animal. I'm happy to report that my keyboard is solid and sturdy and does not twist or complain painfully.

Other reviewers, even commenting on boards built as recently as 2017 (which is as recent as I found), were complaining about the quality next to the 1985 originals. Sure, but those keyboards went for three times as much (more, counting for inflation over the decades) back then, so don't let that scare you. No one may complain about the quality of a modern keyboard next to a vintage-1985 board unless you buy a $350 keyboard. Everything else is just whining. The keyboard I have is amazing, given what I paid for it. Spend $250 on a gamer Corsair board and compare that to one of those vintage boards. The old IBM build quality will still blow it away. It's just not a fair comparison.

There are a couple of things about the Mac model, though, that one should note:
  • The media keycap legends are not as well-designed as they could be. The icons are too large and out of proportion with the legends below them and could stand to be reduced a tad. That's a nitpick.
  • The keycap color seems like it would better go with a beige board rather than the black chassis in which they are set. It was jarring at first, but I freaking love it. This is how it's pictured on their web site, but the photo is of such low quality it's easy to overlook the color on the keys. But, even alongside my Matias all-white and that gorgeous Azio backlit number I have for working in the dark, the Unicomp is the most distinctive and beautiful among the lot. If aesthetics are your thing, then the Unicomp will be as well, in spite of the media legends on F7 through F12.
I do have to say that the unboxing experience--and what the hell is that on Youtube beyond pornography?--is not well represented. Unicomp cares nothing about packaging appearance, probably because a) it began its life as an OEM manufacturer, and b) who needs stupid marketing when you're selling the keyboard upon whose layout all others since the 80s are based? So save the brown cardboard box in which it's shipped and packaged, because you may need to move or protect this keyboard and honestly this is an industrial product that is worth the care upon which you lavish upon it.

Finally, in terms of the typing experience, if you've never typed on the buckling-spring mechanism this board employs, you're in for a treat, particularly if you're used to the kinds of cheap keyboards that typically come with most computers, and even the kinds of key switches the most popular mechanical-keyboards use (I am speaking of Cherry and their ilk). And as a Mac user, this keyboard wipes the damn floor with Apple's Magic Keyboard, whose minuscule key travel and flat, chicklet-style keycaps make it absolutely impossible for me to type without error after error.

I thought I loved that Apple keyboard, but if you use Slack as much as I do to manage a staff remotely (these days), you find yourself typing all day long and beginning to hate it. It's the reverse with the Unicomp. I know this sounds idiotic, but every keystroke feels like a revelation, and I sometimes have to pause, sit back, and be in the moment with the unique key feel of this board (we have a room, thank you). It's like nothing else, and it's worth everyone trying at least once if you haven't. And let me just say that if you research the IBM/Lexmark/Unicomp keyboards long enough, you start to detect a bit of a religious cult that has sprung up surrounding them, along the lines many people accuse Mac enthusiasts. It's all so silly, so let the children beat each other up over their religious convictions; we have found a manufactured product that has the potential to make our lives demonstrably better, every day. Yay Industrial Revolution!

A side note, but important: the caps lock and function-key lights are a blinding blue when lit. It's awesome. I'll never not know the caps lock key is engaged.

Many Youtube reviews, in an effort to be fair, come off as being equivocal. But don't let any of it confuse you: this board is worth it, even though they raised the price ten dollars recently to $95 US. Good on them. Make money and stay in business, Unicomp, I'm rooting for you.  You have my hundred semolians, with thanks for being there after all these years, as I made my way back across the sea of crappy (mostly Apple) keyboards.

« Last Edit: Thu, 07 May 2020, 07:07:35 by cheesy_jones »

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 07 May 2020, 07:01:23 »
I am typing on my brand-new (manufactured 4/21/2020) Unicomp Spacesaver M Mac layout keyboard and it is an undeniable joy. I'm new enough to the enthusiast ranks to not completely understand the quest for the so-called "endgame" keyboard, but I suspect barring the DIY kits you can get out there, this is about as close as I can get. And I have the absolutely gorgeous Matias Tactile Pro and went ahead and bit on the trendy Azio MK Mac board. Both are great boards, although the Kaihl brown switches in the Azio are not tactile (don't let the marketing fool you).

(Attachment Link)

I have to admit that, after watching many Youtube videos on the Unicomp keyboards, I was a bit worried about the build quality. One notable Youtube reviewer reviewed one he has that was built in 2009, and while overall his review was positive he was twisting his keyboard around like a wet rag, which indicated a slip in build quality and gave me pause. The keyboard was audibly creaking and it sounded like he was torturing a small animal. I'm happy to report that my keyboard is solid and sturdy and does not twist or complain painfully.

Other reviewers, even commenting on boards built as recently as 2017 (which is as recent as I found), were complaining about the quality next to the 1985 originals. Sure, but those keyboards went for three times as much (more, counting for inflation over the decades) back then, so don't let that scare you. No one may complain about the quality of a modern keyboard next to a vintage-1985 board unless you buy a $350 keyboard. Everything else is just whining. The keyboard I have is amazing, given what I paid for it. Spend $250 on a gamer Corsair board and compare that to one of those vintage boards. The old IBM build quality will still blow it away. It's just not a fair comparison.

There are a couple of things about the Mac model, though, that one should note:
  • The media keycap legends are not as well-designed as they could be. The icons are too large and out of proportion with the legends below them and could stand to be reduced a tad. That's a nitpick.
  • The keycap color seems like it would better go with a beige board rather than the black chassis in which they are set. It was jarring at first, but I freaking love it. This is how it's pictured on their web site, but the photo is of such low quality it's easy to overlook the color on the keys. But, even alongside my Matias all-white and that gorgeous Azio backlit number I have for working in the dark, the Unicomp is the most distinctive and beautiful among the lot. If aesthetics are your thing, then the Unicomp will be as well, in spite of the media legends on F7 through F12.
I do have to say that if the unboxing experience--and what the hell is that on Youtube beyond pornography?--is not well represented. Unicomp cares nothing about packaging appearance, probably because a) it began its life as an OEM manufacturer, and b) who needs stupid marketing when you're selling the keyboard upon whose layout all others since the 80s are based? So save the brown cardboard box in which it's shipped, because you may need to move or protect this keyboard and honestly this is an industrial product that is worth the care upon which you lavish upon it.

Finally, in terms of the typing experience, if you've never typed on the buckling-spring mechanism this board employs, you're in for a treat, particularly if you're used to the kinds of cheap keyboards that typically come with most computers, and even the kinds of key switches the most popular mechanical-keyboards use (I am speaking of Cherry and their ilk). And as a Mac user, this keyboard wipes the damn floor with Apple's Magic Keyboard, whose minuscule key travel and flat, chicklet-style keycaps make it absolutely impossible for me to type without error after error.

I thought I loved that Apple keyboard, but if you use Slack as much as I do to manage a staff remotely (these days), you find yourself typing all day long and beginning to hate it. It's the reverse with the Unicomp. I know this sounds idiotic, but every keystroke feels like a revelation, and I sometimes have to pause, sit back, and be in the moment with the unique key feel of this board (we have a room, thank you). It's like nothing else, and it's worth everyone trying at least once if you haven't. And let me just say that if you research the IBM/Lexmark/Unicomp keyboards long enough, you start to detect a bit of a religious cult that has sprung up surrounding them, along the lines many people accuse Mac enthusiasts. It's all so silly, so let the children beat each other up over their religious convictions; we have found a manufactured product that has the potential to make our lives demonstrably better, every day. Yay Industrial Revolution!

Many Youtube reviews, in an effort to be fair, come off as being equivocal. But don't let any of it confuse you: this board is worth it, even though they raised the price ten dollars recently to $95 US. Good on them. Make money and stay in business, Unicomp, I'm rooting you.  You have my hundred semolians, with thanks for being there after all these years, as I made my way back across the sea of crappy (mostly Apple) keyboards.

Okay, I ALSO have a white Matias Tactile Pro in the Mac layout. I've been going back and forth on which one I prefer, and I think usually it's the Matias, but it's a toss up. What do you think?

I feel like if I had to recommend a mechanical keyboard to someone for typing, I would go for the Matias for the feel, sound, high tactility, detachable cable, space, and 3 (!) USB passthroughs. I would recommend the Unicomp if either price was an issue, or he was into vintage stuff, or if the USB passthroughs and saving space didn't matter to him. I'm not sure. It's a real toss up for me.

Offline cheesy_jones

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 07 May 2020, 07:55:28 »
Okay, I ALSO have a white Matias Tactile Pro in the Mac layout. I've been going back and forth on which one I prefer, and I think usually it's the Matias, but it's a toss up. What do you think?

I feel like if I had to recommend a mechanical keyboard to someone for typing, I would go for the Matias for the feel, sound, high tactility, detachable cable, space, and 3 (!) USB passthroughs. I would recommend the Unicomp if either price was an issue, or he was into vintage stuff, or if the USB passthroughs and saving space didn't matter to him. I'm not sure. It's a real toss up for me.

I feel like it's a win either way. I adore my Matias. It's loud and annoys my boss over Slack, which is a huge win in my opinion. Not that I'm passive-aggressive or anything.

The USB passthrough is a pretty nice feature of the Matias boards. I only have use for it when I'm using what we called "sneaker-net" in the old days, passing data from my Mac via USB flash drive to this secure government laptop they make me use (not allowed to connect to my own network). That Matias keyboard is built very well. And it's a real joy to use.

But I have to say it just doesn't feel like the Unicomp. The Matias uses modified simplified Alps-like switches, and while their own switches are better than the ones they were using when they were outsourcing the keys about ten years ago (I had a Matias from those days and it pinged like crazy and annoyed the hell out of my children), they don't have that wonderful thunk the Apple boards did back in the day. It may be the keycaps, which are pretty thin, it may be the chassis, which I heard somewhere is like NFL-helmet-equivalent plastic or something, I can't say. But I had an old Apple Extended back in the day, and it's not the same experience. Not that it isn't a good experience, mind you. Just not the same.

But right now I'm in a honeymoon phase with the Unicomp, so I'm not objective. For that I'll need more time.

And I just pulled out the Matias and do not count this board out! They have the FKey legends right and one of the things about the Matias that is also a big plus, at least for Mac users, is the legends on the alpha keycaps illustrate the key combinations for special characters. The keys aren't weighted to quite the degree the Unicomp keys are, so typing can feel slightly less fatiguing on the Matias. Still, the Unicomp has a key feel that's really second to none. It's like this tactile, buttery feel that honestly gives me pause. I wasn't kidding before.

So I guess what I'm saying here is that if you have $250 lying around, get both. If I had to choose, though, I honestly could not. Not right now.
« Last Edit: Thu, 07 May 2020, 07:58:30 by cheesy_jones »

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 07 May 2020, 08:01:37 »

I really want the white color scheme (which gives more retro feeling)


The classic retro color scheme is pearl and pebble. White came in around the same time as black, and was never as popular.


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Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 07 May 2020, 08:50:14 »
OH YES, Now I'm really excited about it, Thanks, guys.

Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 07 May 2020, 08:55:28 »

I really want the white color scheme (which gives more retro feeling)


The classic retro color scheme is pearl and pebble. White came in around the same time as black, and was never as popular.

There was only Black option and White option; according to the product picture, white seems to be the classic pearl and pebble :)

Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 07 May 2020, 10:33:52 »
Oh boy, they are fast, I order last dawn, and it's already shipped  :D

Offline MJmusicguy

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 10:58:21 »
I would just like to add
- great keyboards however  if there is a issue
well
They do not like to answer questions with any sort of detail
lack overall professionalism and cant be bothered with you.
 
« Last Edit: Fri, 08 May 2020, 11:12:04 by MJmusicguy »

Offline cheesy_jones

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 11:27:52 »
I would just like to add
- great keyboards however  if there is a issue
well
They do not like to answer questions with any sort of detail
lack overall professionalism and cant be bothered with you.

I feel those concerns may be expressed in haiku:

Wonderful keyboard
With issues, there is trouble
The wind may be harsh
« Last Edit: Fri, 08 May 2020, 11:34:14 by cheesy_jones »

Offline MJmusicguy

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 12:14:20 »
lol that was amazing
 but yes what im trying to express is if you have a issue that requires a return or ask to many detail oriented questions they do not really care to hear from you

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 14:37:43 »
... Still, the Unicomp has a key feel that's really second to none. It's like this tactile, buttery feel that honestly gives me pause.

Unicomp membrane buckling springs feel smoother than the descendants of the Alps gods? I haven't felt a Unicomp, or Matias, but I wouldn't describe any of my IBM Model Ms as particularly smooth, and every Alps switch that's in good condition that I have felt is like glass.

How the mighty have fallen.

My experience with Unicomp customer support has only been positive, but that was only over them accidentally not including one of my two Geekhack keys.

Offline sharktastica

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 15:25:35 »
Having four keyboards and a little over a hundred keycaps (individually and from sets) from them tells me yes it would be the right decision.

Some perspective helps. There's no denying that quality isn't IBM standard, but then again, there are not many PC-compatible keyboards past and present that could surpass '80s IBM keyboards' overall 'tankiness' anyway (PCJr keyboard doesn't exist shhhhh). But adjusted for inflation, Unicomps are sold much cheaper than IBMs were back in the day to compensate. Plus going Unicomp gives you some creature comforts over old IBM too, such as a warranty, an active workforce that can assist you if you run into trouble (I know they also will help with issues relating to IBM and Lexmark Model Ms too, but there are limits to how far they can help as the Model M's design has changed over the years), and nor is there a possibility you'd have to worry about bolt-modding in the near future. But anyway, there is still one main thing that hasn't changed since day one and it's the thing that matters the most IMO - the switches. It's still a Model M, just perhaps a little frail these days but will probably still last for a few decades if not abused.

I think funkmon's account of them is accurate from my experience. The EnduraPro and Ultra Classic indeed have a case blemish issue that still seems to persist somewhat, but I don't think it's particularly that bad on the examples I have and I love both of those keyboards otherwise. They also used to have a major key legend alignment and fuzziness issue, which in my experience, Unicomp has done much to correct in recent years. I'd say less than 5% of my keycaps from them are less than perfect, as opposed to cases of most of the board being subpar just 5 years ago. In terms of feel, Unicomps feel as good as all my Lexmarks and only fall behind my IBMs (from both Greenock and Lexington) in smoothness when hitting keys off-centre from my experience. But generally, I can switch from an IBM to an Uncomp (or vice versa) and not feel a contrast like "oh damn, this is terrible" or "oh damn, I HAVE ASCENDED".

In regards to them as a company, in the three main engagements I've had with them whilst looking for parts or planning custom orders for projects, they've been responsive, friendly, and never said no. Perhaps my biggest impression was when I was looking for a replacement trackball module for my '93 (white) Lexmark M5-2 back in January as the original one was electrically and physically broken. In my desperation considering the lack and cost of M5-2s to salvage from, I asked if I could order just the trackball assembly from one of their Classic Trackball keyboards to retrofit onto my old Lexmark knowing full well they only produce black ones these days. Bearing in mind that they don't offer this as a purchase on their website nor have they produced a white Classic Trackball for several years at this point, they came through for me with a white and compatible assembly for just $30. That saved me paying £150+ on another M5-2 and prevented me from taking an otherwise perfectly good M5-2 out of circulation, and for that, I'm very grateful.
« Last Edit: Fri, 08 May 2020, 15:29:37 by sharktastica »

Offline typo

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 20:45:10 »
They are fine keyboards.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 22:39:35 »
... Still, the Unicomp has a key feel that's really second to none. It's like this tactile, buttery feel that honestly gives me pause.

Unicomp membrane buckling springs feel smoother than the descendants of the Alps gods? I haven't felt a Unicomp, or Matias, but I wouldn't describe any of my IBM Model Ms as particularly smooth, and every Alps switch that's in good condition that I have felt is like glass.

How the mighty have fallen.

My experience with Unicomp customer support has only been positive, but that was only over them accidentally not including one of my two Geekhack keys.

I consider the Matias switches to be a better keyfeel, and significantly smoother. But, a brand new Unicomp does have a smoothness to it that my Model Ms actually don't have. It feels like, uhhh...refrigerated butter. I've got a NOS M122 that just got delivered and I'll open it up soon and tell you if it feels the same.

Also, Unicomp customer service has been fantastic to me. I don't consider their customer support an issue, and MJMusicGuy is the only person from whom I've heard it, and I think that one might be partially on him. No offense.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #20 on: Sat, 09 May 2020, 20:48:21 »
I consider the Matias switches to be a better keyfeel, and significantly smoother. But, a brand new Unicomp does have a smoothness to it that my Model Ms actually don't have. It feels like, uhhh...refrigerated butter. I've got a NOS M122 that just got delivered and I'll open it up soon and tell you if it feels the same.

Interesting. Maybe I should grab a Unicomp the next time I see one for $30 on Ebay. I always figured a bit of grit was inherent to the membrane buckling spring design, since Fs are always smooth, and Ms are not great in that regard.

Ha, so you are building a high seas fleet. I would love an F122 some day. I don't know that I want to have to store it somewhere though.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #21 on: Sat, 09 May 2020, 22:27:39 »
Dude, next time you see one of those for $30 on ebay, PM me and I'll pay you $5 if I buy it. That's a great gift for people who are keyboard deficient.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #22 on: Sun, 10 May 2020, 09:10:12 »

next time you see one of those for $30 on ebay, PM me


Yes, $30 is what they charge for a set of caps alone.
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Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #23 on: Sun, 10 May 2020, 11:22:39 »

next time you see one of those for $30 on ebay, PM me


Yes, $30 is what they charge for a set of caps alone.

There was a period of time where I saw tons of Unicomp battlecruisers used on Ebay for just over $30 each. I saw a standard size one for about the same a week or two back.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #24 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 14:06:46 »
Okay, so here we go. As previously stated, my Unicomp Model M does feel a bit smoother than my old Model Ms, but just to be sure, I wanted to try a NOS board to see if I was going crazy. I was not.

I have a NOS IBM UK 1999 Terminal keyboard I popped open for this comparison, and I will say I do prefer the Unicomp to it, even new.





The chassis and general non typing vibes of the keyboards indicates that IBM UK was building their keyboards better even in 1999 than Unicomp is now, but in terms of typing, the Unicomp is smoother, heavier, and sounds better.

Here's a video.


Recently, since I was blown away by the quality of the Unicomp and how much I've enjoyed it, I've made an effort to acquire a few more NOS keyboards from IBM, Lexmark, and Unicomp, some new ones from Unicomp, a refurbished one from Unicomp, and I'm going to my parents' house to see if I can rediscover a 1986 board I used to have that I did not maintain in any way. I'm going to post some kind of once-and-for-all quality comparison between them to really answer the internet's questions about this.

I always heard this crap about Unicomp and stuff, and so postponed buying their keyboards, even though I wanted a Model M with Windows keys, for years and years. This year, when I finally got one, I was so pleased it felt exactly the same (at least how I remembered it), that I wanted to see what the differences were and why people called them crap boards. I've seen bad examples of the boards, mostly limited to the Ultra Classic case, but also blurry legends, and complaints about keyfeel, but those things must be in the past, because they're fairly good. At some point here, I'll do a big writeup with many photos and some videos (on a tripod) comparing the stuff.

Offline depletedvespene

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #25 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 14:21:06 »
Okay, so here we go. As previously stated, my Unicomp Model M does feel a bit smoother than my old Model Ms, but just to be sure, I wanted to try a NOS board to see if I was going crazy. I was not.

I have a NOS IBM UK 1999 Terminal keyboard I popped open for this comparison, and I will say I do prefer the Unicomp to it, even new.

Show Image



I would like to point out that this is the youngest IBM-branded Model M keyboard I've ever seen, beating a 1394167 I have by nine days (mine is from 08-11-1999, made by IBM UK as well; at this point, Unicomp had already taken over the plant in USA).

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #26 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 14:25:34 »
Here's a new terminal keyboard branded IBM from the 2000s. Probably made by Unicomp, considering made in the USA. Don't recognize the part number. Looks new, but could simply have been serviced or replaced.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/LOT-OF-TWO-IBM-MODEL-M-KEYBOARDS-GOOD-FOR-PARTS/223999623295?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2055359.m1431.l2649

Offline depletedvespene

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #27 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 14:29:38 »
Here's a new terminal keyboard branded IBM from the 2000s. Probably made by Unicomp, considering made in the USA. Don't recognize the part number. Looks new, but could simply have been serviced or replaced.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/LOT-OF-TWO-IBM-MODEL-M-KEYBOARDS-GOOD-FOR-PARTS/223999623295?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2055359.m1431.l2649

The sticker on that second keyboard is a clear sign of it having been serviced.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #28 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 15:08:44 »
Probable, but known Unicomps from around that time also didn't have a real label, just a square like that iirc, so it MIGHT be new in an old chassis.

Either way, yeah one of the reasons I picked up the terminal is that I wanted to have one of the last Model Ms ever produced by IBM. Fairly excited about it.

Offline depletedvespene

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #29 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 15:10:27 »
Either way, yeah one of the reasons I picked up the terminal is that I wanted to have one of the last Model Ms ever produced by IBM. Fairly excited about it.

That is the same reason I bought the one dated 08-11-1999. :D

Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #30 on: Tue, 12 May 2020, 12:02:10 »
It had arrived! So far, I really like it, despite it being pretty loud :)
But one little problem, so my W key doesn't work all the time, so I tried to re-attach it several times, but no different(sometimes it won't even click :/) and suggestion of how to fix this?

Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #31 on: Tue, 12 May 2020, 12:28:32 »
Update: after stretching out spring on W key, it works just fine  :eek:

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #32 on: Tue, 12 May 2020, 13:32:13 »
It had arrived! So far, I really like it, despite it being pretty loud :)
But one little problem, so my W key doesn't work all the time, so I tried to re-attach it several times, but no different(sometimes it won't even click :/) and suggestion of how to fix this?

The sound is one of the best parts of buckling springs if you ask me.

Update: after stretching out spring on W key, it works just fine  :eek:

This is common, at least with Model Fs (and I imagine Ms). Ellipse put together a good tutorial video on seating caps:

Model F instructional video 1: Key installation tutorial

If the spring is misaligned on the flipper, bent, etc, it can prevent the mechanism from working. It is good that you've already sorted it out.

Offline DanielOh

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #33 on: Tue, 12 May 2020, 13:52:47 »
Oh that makes so much sense!! :0 so brilient thanks :)
I should use the video's method since I feel uncomfortable forcefully stretching to spring out  ;D

Offline knightjp

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #34 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 00:08:23 »
Okay, I ALSO have a white Matias Tactile Pro in the Mac layout. I've been going back and forth on which one I prefer, and I think usually it's the Matias, but it's a toss up. What do you think?

I feel like if I had to recommend a mechanical keyboard to someone for typing, I would go for the Matias for the feel, sound, high tactility, detachable cable, space, and 3 (!) USB passthroughs. I would recommend the Unicomp if either price was an issue, or he was into vintage stuff, or if the USB passthroughs and saving space didn't matter to him. I'm not sure. It's a real toss up for me.

I feel like it's a win either way. I adore my Matias. It's loud and annoys my boss over Slack, which is a huge win in my opinion. Not that I'm passive-aggressive or anything.

The USB passthrough is a pretty nice feature of the Matias boards. I only have use for it when I'm using what we called "sneaker-net" in the old days, passing data from my Mac via USB flash drive to this secure government laptop they make me use (not allowed to connect to my own network). That Matias keyboard is built very well. And it's a real joy to use.

But I have to say it just doesn't feel like the Unicomp. The Matias uses modified simplified Alps-like switches, and while their own switches are better than the ones they were using when they were outsourcing the keys about ten years ago (I had a Matias from those days and it pinged like crazy and annoyed the hell out of my children), they don't have that wonderful thunk the Apple boards did back in the day. It may be the keycaps, which are pretty thin, it may be the chassis, which I heard somewhere is like NFL-helmet-equivalent plastic or something, I can't say. But I had an old Apple Extended back in the day, and it's not the same experience. Not that it isn't a good experience, mind you. Just not the same.

But right now I'm in a honeymoon phase with the Unicomp, so I'm not objective. For that I'll need more time.

And I just pulled out the Matias and do not count this board out! They have the FKey legends right and one of the things about the Matias that is also a big plus, at least for Mac users, is the legends on the alpha keycaps illustrate the key combinations for special characters. The keys aren't weighted to quite the degree the Unicomp keys are, so typing can feel slightly less fatiguing on the Matias. Still, the Unicomp has a key feel that's really second to none. It's like this tactile, buttery feel that honestly gives me pause. I wasn't kidding before.

So I guess what I'm saying here is that if you have $250 lying around, get both. If I had to choose, though, I honestly could not. Not right now.
I think the Matias is one of the best keyboards out there. However the dream would be to use the keyboard the matias is trying to emulate - the Apple Extended keyboard II.
If I was using a Mac, which I am, I would get a used AEK off ebay and an adapter from drakware (https://drakware.com/product/ADB2USB)
That mould be the ultimate combo for a Mac. I think I might just do that.

However this is about Unicomp and frankly it is awesome to see the them still going strong. I am a fan even though I don't actually have one. I came to this thread because I am thinking of getting one. Haven't done so because I'm worried about the quality and whether the feel is identical to an actual Model M (Perhaps not).

Came here after watching this video.

 

 

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #35 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 07:35:49 »

whether the feel is identical to an actual Model M 


I feel compelled to raise my voice to dispute this misinformation every time it pops up, like Whack-A-Mole.

A Unicomp  ABSOLUTELY  IS an "actual" Model M in every conceivable way.

It is made IN THE SAME FACTORY, ON THE SAME MACHINERY, that has been making Model M keyboards since the 1980s.
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Offline knightjp

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #36 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 09:25:02 »

whether the feel is identical to an actual Model M 


I feel compelled to raise my voice to dispute this misinformation every time it pops up, like Whack-A-Mole.

A Unicomp  ABSOLUTELY  IS an "actual" Model M in every conceivable way.

It is made IN THE SAME FACTORY, ON THE SAME MACHINERY, that has been making Model M keyboards since the 1980s.
Thou speaketh the truth Sire.
the Unicomp are actual Model Ms. No denying that. However whilst watching the video below, I tend to believe that there is a difference in the feel of the Unicomp ones over a Model M from the 80s.


Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #37 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 10:16:29 »
There is, in much the same way your Cherry MX blues feel different than my Cherry MX blues.

That's the difference. They're essentially identical in typing feel.

You've got to remember that these guys are speaking with some rose coloured glasses, or in the case of Chyros, I believe a self-admitted focus on retro stuff. You can also ask him who his favourite modern keyboard makers are, and I bet he'd say Unicomp is one of them.

As I've stated previously here, the quality is fine, and the only parts that are a bit off are the slightly wobblier keys, which would be normal on an MX board, but used to be a little less wobbly, and the thicker backplate, which barely has any effect on the feel, but only the perception of quality. The fundamentals are identical.

As you can see above, I got an IBM made M122 New Old Stock (from the 90s) and tested how I felt. I prefer the Unicomp. If you're not convinced by this thread and indeed those videos, where people explicitly say that they're great keyboards, you were never going to buy one anyway.
« Last Edit: Tue, 19 May 2020, 10:26:54 by funkmon »

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #38 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 10:42:50 »
There is, in much the same way your Cherry MX blues feel different than my Cherry MX blues.

That's the difference. They're essentially identical in typing feel.

You've got to remember that these guys are speaking with some rose coloured glasses, or in the case of Chyros, I believe a self-admitted focus on retro stuff. You can also ask him who his favourite modern keyboard makers are, and I bet he'd say Unicomp is one of them.

As I've stated previously here, the quality is fine, and the only parts that are a bit off are the slightly wobblier keys, which would be normal on an MX board, but used to be a little less wobbly, and the thicker backplate, which barely has any effect on the feel, but only the perception of quality. The fundamentals are identical.

As you can see above, I got an IBM made M122 New Old Stock (from the 90s) and tested how I felt. I prefer the Unicomp. If you're not convinced by this thread and indeed those videos, where people explicitly say that they're great keyboards, you were never going to buy one anyway.

Everything made in the 80s was made better, and it cost one heck of a lot more as a result. For me, even though I also like retro/vintage stuff, that's the bigger thing. Switches that are no longer in production today, and things that are super tanky. I have paid less than the cost of a new Unicomp for each of my 1980s Ms, so the choice has been simple in that regard. I do want to pick up a cheap used Unicomp though.

Unicomp has changed the controller though as well, right? Even beyond the 1990s revisions, for USB. And the USB controllers have had some issues, haven't they? Nothing major with such good customer service, but there is that.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #39 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 11:04:43 »
Not as far as I know, but I haven't been following Unicomp's troubles in new boards, because I had always figured I wouldn't bother ever buying one, because, as we know, the keyboards in the 80s before planned obsolescence tended to be better.

I feel a perceived quality difference between My 86 square badge model, my '93 terminal board, and the Lexmark (which was a 95), but if you blindfolded me and all I was doing was typing, I would probably not be able to pick them out. Well, the older ones are a bit more high pitched, but I just discovered that. So prior to like a week ago, I wouldn't have been able to pick one out. I perceive no quality difference between gen 1 and 2 other than the worse badge.

Mal, I'll send you one of my new POS boards if you want to try it. They feel about the same, and sound louder. I promise. I do feel like the switches might be like 2 grams heavier on the unicomp though, but that might just be because the springs are new.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #40 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 13:19:22 »
Not as far as I know, but I haven't been following Unicomp's troubles in new boards, because I had always figured I wouldn't bother ever buying one, because, as we know, the keyboards in the 80s before planned obsolescence tended to be better.

I feel a perceived quality difference between My 86 square badge model, my '93 terminal board, and the Lexmark (which was a 95), but if you blindfolded me and all I was doing was typing, I would probably not be able to pick them out. Well, the older ones are a bit more high pitched, but I just discovered that. So prior to like a week ago, I wouldn't have been able to pick one out. I perceive no quality difference between gen 1 and 2 other than the worse badge.

Mal, I'll send you one of my new POS boards if you want to try it. They feel about the same, and sound louder. I promise. I do feel like the switches might be like 2 grams heavier on the unicomp though, but that might just be because the springs are new.

I have heard about scattered problems with Unicomp's controllers, whether it be a true failure, or the fact that they're apparently slightly out of USB spec and may sometimes require a powered USB hub in order to function properly. I don't know how common that may be though.

Sure, typing experience is what matters most, and there's basically no wrong way to make a Model M (unless you count the M2? lol). The design itself lends itself towards ruggedness, so it would take a major departure to be significantly worse than the originals.

I just have to be patient on Ebay. Thank you though. I'll find a Unicomp for peanuts and grab it this time instead of waffling. Switch weight is actually what originally turned me away from the Model M, it was too stiff for me at the time. I'm not particularly a fan of membrane buckling spring to begin with. Your saying that your Unicomp feels smoother than the IBMs has piqued my interest though.

Offline knightjp

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #41 on: Wed, 20 May 2020, 14:21:31 »
I just have to be patient on Ebay. Thank you though. I'll find a Unicomp for peanuts and grab it this time instead of waffling. Switch weight is actually what originally turned me away from the Model M, it was too stiff for me at the time. I'm not particularly a fan of membrane buckling spring to begin with. Your saying that your Unicomp feels smoother than the IBMs has piqued my interest though.
Good idea or just get yourself a sweet AEK with a good adapter, unless you're really looking for that buckling spring magic.
I just had a look on ebay.. someone had posted "Rare Model M, clicky keyboard".. I laughed when I saw that. Because in all the pictures it was clearly a Unicomp; which certainly isn't rare.

I would certainly get a Unicomp model M.. Currently the prices of a good one on ebay are well above my budget. I would be getting it for my brother though. Not for myself.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #42 on: Wed, 20 May 2020, 14:37:04 »
I just have to be patient on Ebay. Thank you though. I'll find a Unicomp for peanuts and grab it this time instead of waffling. Switch weight is actually what originally turned me away from the Model M, it was too stiff for me at the time. I'm not particularly a fan of membrane buckling spring to begin with. Your saying that your Unicomp feels smoother than the IBMs has piqued my interest though.
Good idea or just get yourself a sweet AEK with a good adapter, unless you're really looking for that buckling spring magic.
I just had a look on ebay.. someone had posted "Rare Model M, clicky keyboard".. I laughed when I saw that. Because in all the pictures it was clearly a Unicomp; which certainly isn't rare.

I would certainly get a Unicomp model M.. Currently the prices of a good one on ebay are well above my budget. I would be getting it for my brother though. Not for myself.

I have tried a decent amount of Alps SKCM and SKCL switches and can say that I would most likely prefer what does happen to come in the lottery that is those boards to any membrane buckling spring board, but the inconsistency and grit of the original Ms I have felt were their biggest detriment. If a Unicomp is better in that regard, then they may be able to compete. I do believe that I have felt one of these before, but I didn't even get the chance to pull the caps. It was part of a friend's stash at a recycling facility he works at.

I know I would certainly like to own a Unicomp if only to be able to compare it to an original and learn its quirks.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #43 on: Wed, 20 May 2020, 14:48:49 »

but that might just be because the springs are new.


Remember that Unicomp switched from the old thick black rubber mats ("blankets" in Unicomp parlance) to the thin white latex ones, and that does make a distinct difference.

For $10, I recommend them for a Model M refurbishment project, if it is important to you.
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Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #44 on: Wed, 20 May 2020, 16:51:50 »
I would never say Unicomp is bad quality. It is a great typing experience. It's just that an old model M is better. It would be like comparing a model M to an F or an F to a beam spring.

The unicomp board is a great board and for the price, it's better than most keyboards in mass production today.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #45 on: Wed, 20 May 2020, 18:26:05 »

but that might just be because the springs are new.


Remember that Unicomp switched from the old thick black rubber mats ("blankets" in Unicomp parlance) to the thin white latex ones, and that does make a distinct difference.

For $10, I recommend them for a Model M refurbishment project, if it is important to you.

Wat. Please explain.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #46 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 08:37:21 »
Vintage Model Ms have thick black rubber mats.

Unicomp sells very thin white latex mats that make the action more crisp.
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Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #47 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 13:32:38 »
Vintage Model Ms have thick black rubber mats.

Unicomp sells very thin white latex mats that make the action more crisp.


Wow, did not know that. Thanks!

That makes me wonder then, what is the ultimate Model M combination?
OG case, caps, springs and back plate with new basaltic barrel plate and blanket/rubber mat? + bolt mod?

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #48 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 13:37:04 »
... Still, the Unicomp has a key feel that's really second to none. It's like this tactile, buttery feel that honestly gives me pause.

Unicomp membrane buckling springs feel smoother than the descendants of the Alps gods? I haven't felt a Unicomp, or Matias, but I wouldn't describe any of my IBM Model Ms as particularly smooth, and every Alps switch that's in good condition that I have felt is like glass.

How the mighty have fallen.

My experience with Unicomp customer support has only been positive, but that was only over them accidentally not including one of my two Geekhack keys.

I consider the Matias switches to be a better keyfeel, and significantly smoother. But, a brand new Unicomp does have a smoothness to it that my Model Ms actually don't have. It feels like, uhhh...refrigerated butter. I've got a NOS M122 that just got delivered and I'll open it up soon and tell you if it feels the same.

Also, Unicomp customer service has been fantastic to me. I don't consider their customer support an issue, and MJMusicGuy is the only person from whom I've heard it, and I think that one might be partially on him. No offense.


I will say, I have an old silver badge industrial grey Model M from 1985 that feels smoother and better than any Model M I've ever tried.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #49 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 13:52:32 »
... Still, the Unicomp has a key feel that's really second to none. It's like this tactile, buttery feel that honestly gives me pause.

Unicomp membrane buckling springs feel smoother than the descendants of the Alps gods? I haven't felt a Unicomp, or Matias, but I wouldn't describe any of my IBM Model Ms as particularly smooth, and every Alps switch that's in good condition that I have felt is like glass.

How the mighty have fallen.

My experience with Unicomp customer support has only been positive, but that was only over them accidentally not including one of my two Geekhack keys.

I consider the Matias switches to be a better keyfeel, and significantly smoother. But, a brand new Unicomp does have a smoothness to it that my Model Ms actually don't have. It feels like, uhhh...refrigerated butter. I've got a NOS M122 that just got delivered and I'll open it up soon and tell you if it feels the same.

Also, Unicomp customer service has been fantastic to me. I don't consider their customer support an issue, and MJMusicGuy is the only person from whom I've heard it, and I think that one might be partially on him. No offense.


I will say, I have an old silver badge industrial grey Model M from 1985 that feels smoother and better than any Model M I've ever tried.

My earliest is probably something like an 86, silver badge, lacking the lock lights as it was meant for XT systems. I would have to check. I don't recall it feeling any smoother than the others, though I don't think I even own any from the 90s.

Have you got a relatively recent Unicomp for comparison?

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #50 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 14:00:24 »
... Still, the Unicomp has a key feel that's really second to none. It's like this tactile, buttery feel that honestly gives me pause.

Unicomp membrane buckling springs feel smoother than the descendants of the Alps gods? I haven't felt a Unicomp, or Matias, but I wouldn't describe any of my IBM Model Ms as particularly smooth, and every Alps switch that's in good condition that I have felt is like glass.

How the mighty have fallen.

My experience with Unicomp customer support has only been positive, but that was only over them accidentally not including one of my two Geekhack keys.

I consider the Matias switches to be a better keyfeel, and significantly smoother. But, a brand new Unicomp does have a smoothness to it that my Model Ms actually don't have. It feels like, uhhh...refrigerated butter. I've got a NOS M122 that just got delivered and I'll open it up soon and tell you if it feels the same.

Also, Unicomp customer service has been fantastic to me. I don't consider their customer support an issue, and MJMusicGuy is the only person from whom I've heard it, and I think that one might be partially on him. No offense.


I will say, I have an old silver badge industrial grey Model M from 1985 that feels smoother and better than any Model M I've ever tried.

My earliest is probably something like an 86, silver badge, lacking the lock lights as it was meant for XT systems. I would have to check. I don't recall it feeling any smoother than the others, though I don't think I even own any from the 90s.

Have you got a relatively recent Unicomp for comparison?

I do. I bought one last year. Typing side by side, the '85 feels buttery smooth, sharper and has a nice an crisp click. The unicomp feels slightly scratchy, and a little bit more rattly/looser.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #51 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 14:24:02 »
Quote from: Maledicted
I will say, I have an old silver badge industrial grey Model M from 1985 that feels smoother and better than any Model M I've ever tried.

My earliest is probably something like an 86, silver badge, lacking the lock lights as it was meant for XT systems. I would have to check. I don't recall it feeling any smoother than the others, though I don't think I even own any from the 90s.

Have you got a relatively recent Unicomp for comparison?

I do. I bought one last year. Typing side by side, the '85 feels buttery smooth, sharper and has a nice an crisp click. The unicomp feels slightly scratchy, and a little bit more rattly/looser.

Maybe wear is a factor in all of this? I imagine an industrial model would be the most likely to have seen some heavy use. What about other IBM Model Ms you may have?
« Last Edit: Thu, 21 May 2020, 14:52:09 by Maledicted »

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #52 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 14:43:59 »
I will say, I have an old silver badge industrial grey Model M from 1985 that feels smoother and better than any Model M I've ever tried.

My earliest is probably something like an 86, silver badge, lacking the lock lights as it was meant for XT systems. I would have to check. I don't recall it feeling any smoother than the others, though I don't think I even own any from the 90s.

Have you got a relatively recent Unicomp for comparison?

I do. I bought one last year. Typing side by side, the '85 feels buttery smooth, sharper and has a nice an crisp click. The unicomp feels slightly scratchy, and a little bit more rattly/looser.
[/quote]

Maybe wear is a factor in all of this? I imagine an industrial model would be the most likely to have seen some heavy use. What about other IBM Model Ms you may have?
[/quote]

I have a round badge from '86 and a square badge 122 from '87. They both feel pretty crisp but slightly scratchy compared to the '85. The 122 is slightly scratchier than the oval badge but not as bad as the Unicomp (bad is relative here). I think it could be due to dust and grime. I rescued it from a recycle center in Nashville and it looked like it had been used in an autoshop for 30 years. I did wash everything the best I could. Who knows.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #53 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 15:04:44 »
Quote from: Maledicted
Quote from: ddrfraser1
I will say, I have an old silver badge industrial grey Model M from 1985 that feels smoother and better than any Model M I've ever tried.

My earliest is probably something like an 86, silver badge, lacking the lock lights as it was meant for XT systems. I would have to check. I don't recall it feeling any smoother than the others, though I don't think I even own any from the 90s.

Have you got a relatively recent Unicomp for comparison?

I do. I bought one last year. Typing side by side, the '85 feels buttery smooth, sharper and has a nice an crisp click. The unicomp feels slightly scratchy, and a little bit more rattly/looser.

Maybe wear is a factor in all of this? I imagine an industrial model would be the most likely to have seen some heavy use. What about other IBM Model Ms you may have?

I have a round badge from '86 and a square badge 122 from '87. They both feel pretty crisp but slightly scratchy compared to the '85. The 122 is slightly scratchier than the oval badge but not as bad as the Unicomp (bad is relative here). I think it could be due to dust and grime. I rescued it from a recycle center in Nashville and it looked like it had been used in an autoshop for 30 years. I did wash everything the best I could. Who knows.

First off, sorry for breaking the quote tags. I have hacked them back into at least being ok.

Could be. I had initially discarded the idea since the guy I got my first M from said he cleaned the thing thoroughly, and it sure looks like he did, but I don't think he ever took the plate sandwich apart as it has never been bolt modded. Another reason I figured this wasn't a factor is all 4 of my original Model F keyboards, regardless of condition (I have done literally nothing to them other than cosmetic external cleaning), feel like butter. All 4-ish of my 1980s Ms feel inconsistent and scratchy.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Offline knightjp

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #54 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 10:05:52 »
Hey there Model M conoisseurs. I just purchased an IBM Model M from Ebay.

Is this a proper Model M with buckling springs.. Because I have heard that during the last years of Model M production, they did away with the buckling springs for all rubber domes. I would like to make sure that I get a proper buckling spring keyboard.


Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #55 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 10:17:20 »
Hey there Model M conoisseurs. I just purchased an IBM Model M from Ebay.

Is this a proper Model M with buckling springs.. Because I have heard that during the last years of Model M production, they did away with the buckling springs for all rubber domes. I would like to make sure that I get a proper buckling spring keyboard.

Yep. You’ve got a winner. You can always double check by looking up that number in the deskthority wiki. 

Offline knightjp

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #56 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 10:39:30 »
Yep. You’ve got a winner. You can always double check by looking up that number in the deskthority wiki.
Awesome..  :thumb:
Thanks for the info.  :thumb:

I wanted to surprise my brother with one. Thought that he would appreciate an old IBM Model M experience. Not bad for 90 USD. With the shipping it come to 160 USD though. I guess it's still worth it.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #57 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 10:51:45 »
My experience is that Model Ms (including M2s) with rubber domes have part numbers starting with "7"
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Offline knightjp

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #58 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 14:55:27 »
My experience is that Model Ms (including M2s) with rubber domes have part numbers starting with "7"
Good to know. Thanks for the info.

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #59 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 15:45:30 »
Hey there Model M conoisseurs. I just purchased an IBM Model M from Ebay.

Is this a proper Model M with buckling springs.. Because I have heard that during the last years of Model M production, they did away with the buckling springs for all rubber domes. I would like to make sure that I get a proper buckling spring keyboard.

I don't know where you're getting your model M information from. Haha. Rubber domes were an option on a few Model Ms but they are exceptionally uncommon. You can use the deskthority wiki to check part numbers if you want to be sure.

Offline depletedvespene

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #60 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 17:13:35 »
Is this a proper Model M with buckling springs.. Because I have heard that during the last years of Model M production, they did away with the buckling springs for all rubber domes.

That's actually FALSE. I think that bit of hogwash started with Linus Sebastian's awfully researched video, where he made that exact claim.

Anyhoo, when it comes to Lexmark-era Model M keyboards, those with part numbers like 71G4644 are rubberdomes, while stuff like 42H1292 are buckling springs (this part number is the #2 in frequency, the most common one being, of course, 1391401).


And if a part number should be unassailable, it's as simple as pulling a keycap and inspecting:

Buckling spring:
243452-0


Rubber dome:
243454-1

Note the absence of a spring in the second image, and how the trunk of the stem isn't hollow.


Offline cheesy_jones

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #61 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 18:30:02 »

Came here after watching this video.

 

Let's talk about this video a little.

First though, a disclaimer (that may actually have some relevance): I am only responding to this so I can type on my Unicomp (manufactured in late April of this year). So take this opinion as you will, although I freaking love typing on this keyboard. This keyboard is, for me, what the cool nerds call the "daily driver." (Is that, like, a car reference? I'm not cool, so I don't know.)

Anyway, the issue with the video being referenced is that the keyboard that he's reviewing was built in 2009 and seems to be from a period in Unicomp's history when the build quality of those boards apparently suffered some. Then again, he's comparing his board that was retailing at the time for, I believe, about $85, to the Model M keyboards that IBM was building in the 80s that was going for something in the inflation-adjusted neighborhood of about $350 or so.

I could go on and on, but suffice to say that many of the Youtube videos reviewing Unicomp keyboards seem to be authored by folks who are deeply enthusiastic for, and seem to have a fierce loyalty to, the old Model M keyboards.

Now, nothing against those old keyboards, but the fact is they have an inherent design flaw that feels pretty much like a stacked game of Russian roulette. Honestly, I'm not the person to talk about that; it's covered much better here (at around 9:45):
It seems to me like it's a you-pays-your-money-and-you-takes-your-chances kind of thing if you go shopping for one of those vintage boards.

That was my rationale. And amidst all this rambling I tend to do, let me be clear about one thing: Unicomp keyboards are great. They really are. I use mine every morning and then pull out my Matias most, but not all, afternoons.

Incidentally, Unicomp seems to be experimenting with the prices of their keyboards recently. Either they know what they have and demand is going up or they're suffering from the pandemic the way many businesses are and are trying to compensate.

Offline VP

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #62 on: Tue, 26 May 2020, 02:14:28 »
Unicomp keyboards are great. They really are.
+1

Offline mokeyjoe

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #63 on: Tue, 26 May 2020, 22:19:10 »
Just picked up a Mac Unicomp keyboard from The Keyboard Company. Initially had a some problems with the keys not clicking correctly. Once I'd pulled off some of the keycaps and reseated the springs it typed fine.

The build quality is pretty good, certainly solid. None of the flex I've seen in some older Unicomp video reviews. Also the keycaps are all printed fine as well. My only real criticism is the really terrible, wobbly little plastic feet - but I don't tend to use them anyway.

Tbh BS are too heavy for me to type comfortably for very long due to RSI issues, but it'll be a fun keyboard to pull out once in a while when I need to get some writing done.

Offline VP

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #64 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 05:38:56 »
Initially had a some problems with the keys not clicking correctly. Once I'd pulled off some of the keycaps and reseated the springs it typed fine.
I just bought an Ultra Classic, dated on 4/27/2020. For the unpacked keyboard, one key didn't work quite well, removing the key and putting it in place correctly solved everything. I think, the design of buckling springs is sensitive to shaking, vibrations. It is possible that something is shifting somewhere in the keyboard during transportation.
The keyboard is solid, works very well. The quality of the keyboard body surfaces is not perfect, but they declare these keyboards to be handmade, it gives charm.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #65 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 09:18:25 »
Just picked up a Mac Unicomp keyboard from The Keyboard Company. Initially had a some problems with the keys not clicking correctly. Once I'd pulled off some of the keycaps and reseated the springs it typed fine.

The build quality is pretty good, certainly solid. None of the flex I've seen in some older Unicomp video reviews. Also the keycaps are all printed fine as well. My only real criticism is the really terrible, wobbly little plastic feet - but I don't tend to use them anyway.

Tbh BS are too heavy for me to type comfortably for very long due to RSI issues, but it'll be a fun keyboard to pull out once in a while when I need to get some writing done.

Membrane buckling spring is too stiff for a lot of people. I went back to Cherry MX blues when I first felt it. I didn't particularly like the feel any better either at the time. Capacitive buckling spring (Model Fs) should be light enough for just about anybody.

I think, the design of buckling springs is sensitive to shaking, vibrations. It is possible that something is shifting somewhere in the keyboard during transportation.

Yes, they are.

Offline mokeyjoe

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #66 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 13:17:04 »

Membrane buckling spring is too stiff for a lot of people. I went back to Cherry MX blues when I first felt it. I didn't particularly like the feel any better either at the time. Capacitive buckling spring (Model Fs) should be light enough for just about anybody.


Tbh even Cherry Blues are too heavy for me for hours at a time. I usually type on Gateron Reds if I have serious typing to done. I figured the BS would be too heavy, but when my hands are rested it's fine for bashing out a few emails or forum posts on, and more fun than the reds. The Unicomp was kind of the top end price-wise for an 'occasional' keyboard, I doubt I'd take the risk on a Model F.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #67 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 13:58:22 »

Membrane buckling spring is too stiff for a lot of people. I went back to Cherry MX blues when I first felt it. I didn't particularly like the feel any better either at the time. Capacitive buckling spring (Model Fs) should be light enough for just about anybody.


Tbh even Cherry Blues are too heavy for me for hours at a time. I usually type on Gateron Reds if I have serious typing to done. I figured the BS would be too heavy, but when my hands are rested it's fine for bashing out a few emails or forum posts on, and more fun than the reds. The Unicomp was kind of the top end price-wise for an 'occasional' keyboard, I doubt I'd take the risk on a Model F.

I just compared MX blues to capacitive buckling spring, and I do believe that capacitive buckling spring, at least on my new production F77 is actually lighter overall than MX blue. The tactility is, at least, definitely less pronounced. I do believe that my new F77 is a tad lighter than my originals though as well. I suppose you may just have to find one out in the wild to try, if you ever end up going to a meetup.

Offline mokeyjoe

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #68 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 19:03:29 »

Membrane buckling spring is too stiff for a lot of people. I went back to Cherry MX blues when I first felt it. I didn't particularly like the feel any better either at the time. Capacitive buckling spring (Model Fs) should be light enough for just about anybody.


Tbh even Cherry Blues are too heavy for me for hours at a time. I usually type on Gateron Reds if I have serious typing to done. I figured the BS would be too heavy, but when my hands are rested it's fine for bashing out a few emails or forum posts on, and more fun than the reds. The Unicomp was kind of the top end price-wise for an 'occasional' keyboard, I doubt I'd take the risk on a Model F.

I just compared MX blues to capacitive buckling spring, and I do believe that capacitive buckling spring, at least on my new production F77 is actually lighter overall than MX blue. The tactility is, at least, definitely less pronounced. I do believe that my new F77 is a tad lighter than my originals though as well. I suppose you may just have to find one out in the wild to try, if you ever end up going to a meetup.

That's really interesting, I'll have to give them a try some time, I probably wouldn't just chance for the prices Model Fs tend to go to. A meetup would be good, whenever such things get going again.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #69 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 20:46:30 »

Membrane buckling spring is too stiff for a lot of people. I went back to Cherry MX blues when I first felt it. I didn't particularly like the feel any better either at the time. Capacitive buckling spring (Model Fs) should be light enough for just about anybody.


Tbh even Cherry Blues are too heavy for me for hours at a time. I usually type on Gateron Reds if I have serious typing to done. I figured the BS would be too heavy, but when my hands are rested it's fine for bashing out a few emails or forum posts on, and more fun than the reds. The Unicomp was kind of the top end price-wise for an 'occasional' keyboard, I doubt I'd take the risk on a Model F.

I just compared MX blues to capacitive buckling spring, and I do believe that capacitive buckling spring, at least on my new production F77 is actually lighter overall than MX blue. The tactility is, at least, definitely less pronounced. I do believe that my new F77 is a tad lighter than my originals though as well. I suppose you may just have to find one out in the wild to try, if you ever end up going to a meetup.

That's really interesting, I'll have to give them a try some time, I probably wouldn't just chance for the prices Model Fs tend to go to. A meetup would be good, whenever such things get going again.

If you ever can't resist, you can still find IBM Model F XTs for under $100 USD from time to time on Ebay as well. The layout is way too weird for most people for typing (including myself), but I imagine you wouldn't have a horribly hard time selling the thing again either since a lot of people seem to get the Model F bug from buying one. I know I did.

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #70 on: Thu, 28 May 2020, 08:22:12 »
Yes. The model F typing experience is lighter than the M. I nabbed an AT for $180. It’s a more workable layout.

This makes me wonder though, is it possible to put light springs into bs keyboards? Or are they finely tuned to just work with stock springs? I do know that some people have modded Ms to use F springs and visa versa.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #71 on: Thu, 28 May 2020, 12:13:52 »
Yes. The model F typing experience is lighter than the M. I nabbed an AT for $180. It’s a more workable layout.

This makes me wonder though, is it possible to put light springs into bs keyboards? Or are they finely tuned to just work with stock springs? I do know that some people have modded Ms to use F springs and visa versa.

$180 for a F AT is hard to beat right now. I got my first one for about $150, but it wasn't on Ebay, or any website associated specifically with keyboards.

I have wondered the same myself, especially because of the unique characteristics of the buckling spring mechanism, and how they may actually allow for a lot of customization.

This is mostly a guess, but a mostly educated one. If you think about the buckling spring mechanism, I can't imagine anything that would matter more in terms of proper function than the overall geometry of the springs. The length and width probably need to be very close to the same to remain properly seated the whole time, and to buckle consistently. I imagine there may at least be some leeway when it comes to the gauge of wire used and how many coils are jammed into that specific length. I'm no expert on springs, but I would think either of those could effect both the weighting of the spring and the point at which that spring buckles. Here's a cutaway gif I stole from the internet:



My speculation:

1) Decreasing coil count/increasing the gap between coils on its own may reduce spring weight, while simultaneously increasing the depth at which the spring buckles. Maybe this would cause the spring to be less ... predictable/controllable though?

2) Changing wire gauge on its own while maintaining the distance between coils should adjust weighting and may maintain the same actuation/buckling point.

3) Tweaking both in various ways may be necessary for the desired effect?
« Last Edit: Thu, 28 May 2020, 13:08:01 by Maledicted »

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #72 on: Thu, 28 May 2020, 12:46:24 »
I don't think you are going to improve the original situation much.
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Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #73 on: Thu, 28 May 2020, 19:44:15 »
I do happen to have an 86 board, and it doesn't feel smoother per se, but ever so slightly more solid, and a bit lighter. It's got a much pingier sound, which I somehow never noticed before. Compared to a brand new Unicomp, it's not quite as smooth, but it does feel better and by that I mean, it just has this slight feel of being a higher quality. I can't quite tell what it is. It might be the keycaps and the key wiggle. It's incredibly subtle. I do think brand new unicomps feel like butter compared to most Models M though.

Offline typo

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #74 on: Tue, 02 June 2020, 18:32:32 »
Well Like it or not. It is the closest you would get to a brand new IBM. So I do not see what the complaints even are? I would rejoice in the fact that it even exists. I think they did it proud overall. It is not like they completely bastardized the thing AFAIK. Indeed my real Model F compared to it is much nicer but please try to give it a break. This is 2020. The fact even made in USA is a miracle in and of itself IMO.

Offline cheesy_jones

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #75 on: Sat, 06 June 2020, 08:15:54 »
Well Like it or not. It is the closest you would get to a brand new IBM. So I do not see what the complaints even are? I would rejoice in the fact that it even exists. I think they did it proud overall. It is not like they completely bastardized the thing AFAIK. Indeed my real Model F compared to it is much nicer but please try to give it a break. This is 2020. The fact even made in USA is a miracle in and of itself IMO.
I don't know how Unicomp sells the keyboards for as little as it does, given that workers have to make a living and live in Lexington, Kentucky. Probably not the highest cost of living down there, I mean, compared to, say Brooklyn, but higher than China, for now. It's simply remarkable.


Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #76 on: Sat, 06 June 2020, 09:22:51 »
Well Like it or not. It is the closest you would get to a brand new IBM. So I do not see what the complaints even are? I would rejoice in the fact that it even exists. I think they did it proud overall. It is not like they completely bastardized the thing AFAIK. Indeed my real Model F compared to it is much nicer but please try to give it a break. This is 2020. The fact even made in USA is a miracle in and of itself IMO.
I don't know how Unicomp sells the keyboards for as little as it does, given that workers have to make a living and live in Lexington, Kentucky. Probably not the highest cost of living down there, I mean, compared to, say Brooklyn, but higher than China, for now. It's simply remarkable.

Mass production and volume.
« Last Edit: Sat, 06 June 2020, 09:25:48 by ddrfraser1 »

Offline funkmon

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #77 on: Sun, 07 June 2020, 00:18:28 »
Yeah but, like, Logitech is selling much worse keyboards made in China, with every single component made in China, for double the price even though the cost of living is much lower. Do you think Unicomp makes more keyboards than Logitech's $150+ keyboards? Maybe, but I'm not sure. I don't know enough about it to say anything confidently.

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #78 on: Sun, 07 June 2020, 09:27:56 »
Yeah but, like, Logitech is selling much worse keyboards made in China, with every single component made in China, for double the price even though the cost of living is much lower. Do you think Unicomp makes more keyboards than Logitech's $150+ keyboards? Maybe, but I'm not sure. I don't know enough about it to say anything confidently.

All that means is Logitech’s margins are better. They sell those things way above cost.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Unicomp Keyboard quality?
« Reply #79 on: Sun, 07 June 2020, 21:29:02 »
Yup. Apple products are made in China, sold for outrageous prices in terms of price/performance. I do imagine that Logitech profits better than Unicomp. They certainly sell a lot more peripherals than Unicomp does, and probably always will. I don't think that anything they make is crap. They make reliable, quality products. They're just not build to the same standards of a lot of us, that and Romer-G sucks if you ask me, at least going off of what I have on my tester.