Author Topic: HHKB Type-S: initial observations  (Read 4513 times)

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Offline thirdkind

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HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 00:14:42 »
So I lost my effing mind last week and decided to take the plunge on a pair (!) of HHKB Pro 2 Type-S keyboards, one for home and one for work. I'd been thinking about trying a Topre board for a while and had been debating with myself endlessly over the Realforce 87U, HHKB, and HHKB Type-S. I'd pretty much settled on the HHKB, but I wanted something quiet, and after many repeat viewings of YouTube videos and an Elite Keyboards price drop, I talked myself into the Type-S.

My current keyboard of choice, which I've been using for a couple years now, is a Filco Linear R Limited Edition tenkeyless. I got it when it first came out and have been really pleased with it. I like the light touch required to activate the keys and the build quality is very good. The design is simple and attractive. With practice, I've gotten pretty decent at gliding over the keys without bottoming out too much, but during really heavy typing sessions when I'm focused less on gracefulness and more on speed, I still hit bottom more than I'd like. It's a hard bottom and the keys are pretty noisy, especially on the return trip back to their default position. Other than that, it's been a great keyboard for typing and occasional gaming. Prior to that, I had a Das Keyboard with MX blues. Not a huge fan. The high-pitched click of the keys isn't a sound I'd describe as pleasant, and I didn't like the force required to register a keystroke. It's also massive, and I like having my mouse and trackpad within easy reach, hence my move to a tenkeyless board.

The HHKB is very light, but still feels like a quality keyboard. The keycaps feel more solid than the Filco, which I was expecting because they're PBT. The Type-S is only available in white, and while I've never been a huge fan of off-white hardware in general, I really, really like the look of this thing. There's something classic and understated about it. That said, I wanted to spice it up a bit. I'm a Dvorak typist and it's a pain in the ass to find keycaps with Dvorak legends, so all my keyboards starting with the Das have had blank keys. Being a coder, I've grown pretty dependent on arrow keys during my daily work, and I was worried about fumbling around for the embedded arrow keys on the HHKB, so I bought a set of blank black keycaps and used 10 of them to replace the embedded arrow keys and function key, making them more obvious during quick glances downward. I also replaced the Esc key with a blank red key. After I swapped the keys today, I realized that I'd quite unintentionally, but very happily, ended up with a keyboard that kind of looks like a reversed NES controller :)

13768-0

I didn't get to use my new board during work today as much as I would've liked, but I did get in a bit of coding and a few e-mails. Writing this post has been my first opportunity to really spend some significant time with the HHKB, so I'm still getting used to the feel of the keys. As has been said many times by others, it feels like a very high-quality rubber dome keyboard with a nice tactile bump. I don't consider this a bad thing. I like how it feels. Hitting bottom with the Topres is definitely way more forgiving than it is with the reds, and the whoosh/thock sound of the silenced keys is understated, but satisfying.

It's way too early to decide which I prefer. The Topres take a bit more effort to depress; I can't glide over the keys as quickly as I do with the Filco or I miss keystrokes. At the moment, I'm not typing as fast as I can with the reds, but I think that will improve as I adjust. I'm sure that once I adjust to the HHKB, I'll switch back to the reds for comparison and bottom out like crazy.

The compact layout is awesome. I appreciated the more open desktop and more natural mouse position when I moved to a tenkeyless, and I appreciate having even more space with the HHKB. My arms don't have to travel far at all to reach my mouse and trackpad, which I have positioned on opposite sides of the keyboard. I'm adjusting to the lack of dedicated arrow keys. Even at this early stage, it's becoming pretty natural to place my right pinky on the Fn key and use my index and middle fingers to operate the embedded arrow keys. I think I'd appreciate a layout more like the HHKB Lite, though, withs its dedicated arrow keys. I've already adjusted to the position of the delete key, and I'm guessing a few sessions in a Debian terminal will help me adjust to the Ctrl key's position quickly as well.

The dip switches are helpful. I'm a Mac user, and I usually have to swap the Cmd and Opt keys in System Preferences for a typical keyboard to work. It's nice having a hardwired solution.

One last thing that might sound a bit weird (but maybe not to you guys)...the Type-S has the most satisfying Enter key I've ever used. I don't quite know how to describe it. Solid and soft at the same time, with a really nice bottom.

Of course, it always comes down to one question: is it worth the price? You can buy 3 Filcos for the price of one Type-S. I really like the HHKB so far, but I'd be hard pressed to say it's definitely worth $400. Even the current $270 sale price for the standard version is probably pushing it a bit for most people. Therefore, I can't really answer that question for you. In my case, I plan to keep it and give myself plenty of time to adjust. I don't consider my money as wasted at all. My guess is that I'll end up rotating it with the Filco reds as my moods change.
« Last Edit: Wed, 20 February 2013, 00:18:35 by thirdkind »

Offline jabar

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 00:33:01 »
I quickly came to like the feel of 45g Topre switches on my HHKB. However, I would never dream of buying one new, even at the current EK discounts. On top of that, I don't I could ever justify a $100+ price hike for the silent Type-S version. From what I've read around the forums here, the modifications amount to something real minor like O-rings and/or landing pads. It's too little gimmick for a lot of extra moolah.

Since I got the HHKB about a month ago I have yet to swap it out for one of my Cherry boards (for a significant amount of time). Now I am extremely comfortable with the arrows and Fn shortcuts, and I think I will need to ensure every new keyboard I use has its Caps and left Ctrl swapped if possible.

In essence: yay Topre! Now make cheaper, non-enthusiast keyboards more readily available.
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 00:47:30 »
The trouble with the TOPRE when you do not like the high activation force is that the rubber "hardens" over time. The domes become even "less" supple...

Elastic Materials also have a shelf life "from production".. usually of around 15 years.. So if they've sat on the shelf for 2 years, you're down to 13, even if it's brand new..


Now,, 13 years is "ALOT" and $300 isn't much money at all for most people, and across that time span. it's nothing.

 but it's just something to consider...

Offline eth0s

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 00:54:51 »
@ OP, that is a great story you have there.  Congrats!  It sounds like you are a happy owner of two awesome Topre keyboards.  And the one in the pic looks great too.  The white, grey, black and the red ESC look really nice. 
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Offline karljs

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 01:03:52 »
Nice writeup.  I'd like to try the S model some time side-by-side with a regular one.  If you have the two next to each other some time, I'd love to read your thoughts.

Also, don't be put off by the use of rubber as part of the mechanism.  Would you turn down a new car because it isn't made entirely of steel?  Topre boards are absolutely nothing like the stiff, heavily-articulated feel of a typical rubber dome keyboard.  Sure, they still have the soft flex of rubber, but I think that lends a really nice, relaxing feel when you bottom out frequently like I do.

Anyway, let's not get dragged into another lame round of Cherry vs Topre.  Anybody who can't get over their fan{boy,girl}ism is childish.  I proudly rotate between Topre and Cherry boards regularly.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 01:09:58 »
Nice writeup.  I'd like to try the S model some time side-by-side with a regular one.  If you have the two next to each other some time, I'd love to read your thoughts.

Also, don't be put off by the use of rubber as part of the mechanism.  Would you turn down a new car because it isn't made entirely of steel?  Topre boards are absolutely nothing like the stiff, heavily-articulated feel of a typical rubber dome keyboard.  Sure, they still have the soft flex of rubber, but I think that lends a really nice, relaxing feel when you bottom out frequently like I do.

Anyway, let's not get dragged into another lame round of Cherry vs Topre.  Anybody who can't get over their fan{boy,girl}ism is childish.  I proudly rotate between Topre and Cherry boards regularly.

I would not turn down more steel in a topre...

I would however be against more "rubber"....


I am not a fanboy... I have numerous complaints of cherry, topre, and keyboards in general... 

Offline fuzzybaffy

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 01:10:28 »
Nice writeup.  I'd like to try the S model some time side-by-side with a regular one.  If you have the two next to each other some time, I'd love to read your thoughts.

Also, don't be put off by the use of rubber as part of the mechanism.  Would you turn down a new car because it isn't made entirely of steel?  Topre boards are absolutely nothing like the stiff, heavily-articulated feel of a typical rubber dome keyboard.  Sure, they still have the soft flex of rubber, but I think that lends a really nice, relaxing feel when you bottom out frequently like I do.

Anyway, let's not get dragged into another lame round of Cherry vs Topre.  Anybody who can't get over their fan{boy,girl}ism is childish.  I proudly rotate between Topre and Cherry boards regularly.

^ Yes. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but Cherry fanboys coming into Topre threads to bash Topre boards is getting really tiring. I don't see Topre fans going into Cherry MX threads and bashing Cherry boards.

Offline daerid

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 02:15:51 »
As much as I love (LOVE) my topre boards, especially my HHKB, it would be very hard to stomach dropping $800 in one go on two boards.

Kudos to you tho!

Offline AKIMbO

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Re: Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 05:01:59 »
Nice writeup.  I'd like to try the S model some time side-by-side with a regular one.  If you have the two next to each other some time, I'd love to read your thoughts.

Also, don't be put off by the use of rubber as part of the mechanism.  Would you turn down a new car because it isn't made entirely of steel?  Topre boards are absolutely nothing like the stiff, heavily-articulated feel of a typical rubber dome keyboard.  Sure, they still have the soft flex of rubber, but I think that lends a really nice, relaxing feel when you bottom out frequently like I do.

Anyway, let's not get dragged into another lame round of Cherry vs Topre.  Anybody who can't get over their fan{boy,girl}ism is childish.  I proudly rotate between Topre and Cherry boards regularly.

^ Yes. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but Cherry fanboys coming into Topre threads to bash Topre boards is getting really tiring. I don't see Topre fans going into Cherry MX threads and bashing Cherry boards.

I think that's because most topre fans started out as cherry users.  Topre seems like the natural progression for cherry fans.
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Offline durainello

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 05:35:35 »
They won't understand till they tried it. But it's still up to individual preference, i don't regret switching from brown to topre.

Offline ValerieV

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 06:00:55 »
I am surprised that so many people like or want the model S version of the HHKB. I have the regular one and it isn't even that loud. I love the sound that it does give off though.  :confused:

Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 07:35:58 »

Anyway, let's not get dragged into another lame round of Cherry vs Topre.  Anybody who can't get over their fan{boy,girl}ism is childish.  I proudly rotate between Topre and Cherry boards regularly.

^ Yes. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but Cherry fanboys coming into Topre threads to bash Topre boards is getting really tiring. I don't see Topre fans going into Cherry MX threads and bashing Cherry boards.

Cherry boards and Topre boards are both garbage. It's all about Alps! More so, Vintage Alps!
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Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 07:38:12 »
Also this a great review and I really appreciate your thoughts on the arrow keys in the function layer because I have the same concerns are the OP about that feature.
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Offline dante

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« Reply #13 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 08:25:26 »
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« Last Edit: Wed, 20 February 2013, 16:49:02 by dante »

Offline ValerieV

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 17:39:27 »

Anyway, let's not get dragged into another lame round of Cherry vs Topre.  Anybody who can't get over their fan{boy,girl}ism is childish.  I proudly rotate between Topre and Cherry boards regularly.

^ Yes. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but Cherry fanboys coming into Topre threads to bash Topre boards is getting really tiring. I don't see Topre fans going into Cherry MX threads and bashing Cherry boards.

Cherry boards and Topre boards are both garbage. It's all about Alps! More so, Vintage Alps!

I have become a bigger fan of the alps. I bought a bunch of alp keyboards and i love them. The only disadvantage the alps have is that you can't find replacement keycaps.  :mad:

Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 17:44:05 »

Anyway, let's not get dragged into another lame round of Cherry vs Topre.  Anybody who can't get over their fan{boy,girl}ism is childish.  I proudly rotate between Topre and Cherry boards regularly.

^ Yes. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but Cherry fanboys coming into Topre threads to bash Topre boards is getting really tiring. I don't see Topre fans going into Cherry MX threads and bashing Cherry boards.

Cherry boards and Topre boards are both garbage. It's all about Alps! More so, Vintage Alps!

I have become a bigger fan of the alps. I bought a bunch of alp keyboards and i love them. The only disadvantage the alps have is that you can't find replacement keycaps.  :mad:

My comments were in jest, but I do love Alps for typing. I haven't found a Cherry switch that I prefer for typing.  Although I haven't taken a Topre board for a ride. I'm holding off until the Great Lakes Meetup for that.
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Offline ValerieV

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 17:54:28 »
Wait! There's a Great Lakes Meetup? Where is that at? I am in Michigan. BTW, i have a HHKB and i love it more and more everyday. I don't want to use the S model because i do like the sound it gives off.

Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: HHKB Type-S: initial observations
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 20 February 2013, 19:14:47 »
Wait! There's a Great Lakes Meetup? Where is that at? I am in Michigan. BTW, i have a HHKB and i love it more and more everyday. I don't want to use the S model because i do like the sound it gives off.

Great Lakes Meetup:

http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=40116.0
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