Author Topic: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)  (Read 20693 times)

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Offline thirdkind

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KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« on: Tue, 02 July 2013, 19:38:31 »
Today I received my KBT Pure Pro purchased from the not-so-recent Massdrop group buy, so I thought I'd post my general impressions as someone new to KBT keyboards.

Here's my keyboard setup (I'm going to buy a real desk now that I'm done buying keyboards for a while):

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That's the KBT in front, an HHKB Pro 2 Type-S, and a Filco Linear R limited edition tenkeyless under the monitor. I picked up the Filco a few years back and instantly fell in love with linear switches. I'd been using a Das with blue switches up to that point, but found it too stiff and noisy. The Filco took a back seat when I got the HHKB earlier this year (review here), which has been my daily driver since then. I occasionally swap out the HHKB for the Filco when my fingers start to get tired from lots of typing, but I'm definitely a Topre fan.

I love the compact size of the HHKB, but the lack of dedicated arrow keys has been a bit annoying; I'm a developer and use the arrow keys quite often. I've gotten better at using the embedded arrow keys without looking at the keyboard, but I make more errors than I'd like. I was pretty excited about the Leopold 660C, but not having the option of blank keys (I type Dvorak) put it out of the running for now. The low price of the KBT in the group buy, plus its programmability, convinced me to give it a try.

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The Pure Pro is a 60% keyboard with embedded arrow keys, a Fn layer, and a fully programmable layer for creating macros. I went with the red switches, but the usual assortment of Cherry switches were also an option in the group buy. Since I use a Dvorak layout, I opted for the blank grey PBT keycaps. It's tough to tell from the pic above, but the Pure Pro is ever so slightly wider than the HHKB, but not as deep. The Pure Pro has a detachable USB cable, improving its longevity and portability.

This is a solid little keyboard. It has a good heft, and when I pick it up and shake it vigorously, the keys don't rattle back and forth. They do have a bit of horizontal play while typing, but I'd say the vertical motion is smoother and truer than the Filco. The PBT keycaps are noticeably more solid than the Filco's ABS keycaps and chatter/bounce much less. And perhaps the Filco's switches are well worn in, but the reds in the Pure Pro feel firmer. The key action is excellent overall and less noisy than the Filco, with the only exception being the left Shift and Enter keys; the stabilizers are a bit chatty. The Enter key on the HHKB is still my favorite.

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Being a 60% board, there are some compromises made in terms of key size and shape to squeeze them all into such a small package. The spacebar is significantly less wide than a normal spacebar. I love it, personally. Being a Mac user, I hit the command keys constantly, and the tiny space bar means I have to slide my thumbs a much shorter distance than on other keyboards, making the Pure Pro more comfortable for keyboard shortcuts. The other key that's been sacrificed is the right Shift key, which is a 1x key. I adjusted quickly and haven't had any problems, however. Thanks to the dedicated arrow keys, the Fn layer is more intuitive than the HHKB, with PgUp/PgDn/Home/End mapped to Fn+Up/Down/Left/Right. Very easy to use. One other interesting side effect of cramming all these keys into such a tiny form factor: the bottom row isn't staggered as much as other keyboards I've used. Its offset looks to be about the same as the offset between the top row and home row. I adjusted quickly to this as well and find it very comfortable. Take a closer look at the second image above to see what I mean.

The coolest thing about the Pure Pro is its programmability. You can key in macros that you can access at any time via the Pn key. You can even switch to the programmable layer with a keyboard shortcut so that it's on all the time. My first project when I'm feeling less lazy will be to program a Dvorak layout so I'll have a hardware Dvorak keyboard that I can use on other workstations without having to mess with OS settings.

The only thing I don't like so far is the lack of adjustable feet. I had to put a couple furniture sliders (those rounded plastic pieces you put under your furniture to make it easier to move) under the rear rubber pads to get the Pure Pro at an angle I find comfortable. A minor annoyance, but there it is.

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Overall, I'm really enjoying the Pure Pro and think I'll be putting my Filco in the classifieds. Despite the lack of dedicated arrow keys, I'm not willing to give up just yet on the HHKB because I really do like Topre switches. If it's ever offered with blank keys, the 660C will be the only keyboard left for me to try, and could very well be my perfect keyboard. Until then, I'll go back and forth between the Pure Pro and the HHKB.
« Last Edit: Tue, 02 July 2013, 19:45:43 by thirdkind »

Offline pwolfe

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 02 July 2013, 20:54:10 »
thanks for this. I'm a mac user too and have one in the mail currently.  Nice to see you find the command keys easier to access.

Offline Jack Karneval

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 09:25:08 »
CURSE YOU!!!!!!!!! You beat me to a review of the Pure Pro!! Will hopefully get mine by the end of this week from qtan. Either way, good review man, I'll probably still post mine when I get it, seeing as I'm getting MX Blues, and mine is the white color scheme.
: CM Storm Trigger (MX Green) : KBT Pure Pro (MX Blue) :

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 09:27:34 »
Have you ever tried typing on a Pure OP? I'm interested in knowing if the case on the Pure Pro is more solid than the one on the Pure. The stock case on the Pure was too light and warped on my board.

Offline Jack Karneval

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 09:40:58 »
Not sure if this would help the rigidity of the case, but the Pure Pro is plate mounted as opposed the Pure being PCB mounted. Also, here's comparison shots of their cases.... in which the Pure Pro case seems like it would be a tad more robust than the Pure

Pure Pro:


Pure
: CM Storm Trigger (MX Green) : KBT Pure Pro (MX Blue) :

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 09:52:05 »
I'm not really understanding what you're trying to show with the pictures but the plate might help.

Offline Jack Karneval

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 10:03:23 »
The Pure Pro case is obviously taller than the Pure Pro case. See how it comes up to the bottom of the keycaps, whereas the Pure leaves a little bit of the actual switch exposed.... it's my assumption that more material > less material
: CM Storm Trigger (MX Green) : KBT Pure Pro (MX Blue) :

Offline CommunistWitchDr

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 10:08:00 »
The pure case shown is aluminum. The plastic ones were taller.
I don't have my pure with me to confirm, but I'm pretty sure.

Source: I own a black aluminum pure
« Last Edit: Wed, 03 July 2013, 10:10:26 by CommunistWitchDr »

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 10:08:34 »
My Pure case is definitely taller as well. I thought you were trying to show me a plate Jack.

Offline Jack Karneval

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 10:15:48 »
Nah, I tried to get a decent shot of the regular plastic Pure case..... but all the pics I were finding were of the aluminum one. Oh well, I tried  :p
: CM Storm Trigger (MX Green) : KBT Pure Pro (MX Blue) :

Offline thirdkind

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 11:58:45 »
Have you ever tried typing on a Pure OP? I'm interested in knowing if the case on the Pure Pro is more solid than the one on the Pure. The stock case on the Pure was too light and warped on my board.

This is my first experience with a Pure, so I can't compare it to other Pures. What I can say is that the case on the Pure Pro is very rigid and feels more solid than the HHKB or the Filco. I can twist and bend both of those pretty easily, especially the Filco, but the Pure doesn't have much give. It's like a little brick.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 12:00:07 »
You can bend/flex your Filco? I just tried it and mine laughed at my efforts.

Thanks for your thoughts and the review regardless. I'll just have to try typing on a Pure Pro sometime. That bottom right of the board is off-putting though.

Offline thirdkind

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 12:05:02 »
You can bend/flex your Filco? I just tried it and mine laughed at my efforts.

The case, yeah. I can't flex it by huge margins, but it flexes more than any other keyboard I've owned. It didn't sit flat on my desk at work when I first got it, and I was able to twist the case slightly to make it level.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 12:10:26 »
Hm, the only time mine flexed is when my snap fits weren't seated correct. But anyways, sorry to derail!

Offline Hypersphere

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 16:17:37 »
Thanks for the review. I am looking for something very close to the Pure Pro, i.e., a 60% - 75% board with excellent build quality, dedicated arrow keys with Home, End, PageUp, PageDn mapped to Fn+arrows, and otherwise highly intuitive Fn layer. Thanks for mentioning the detail about the lack of extendable feet -- everything else being equal, I would prefer a keyboard with extendable feet. I would also want the keyboard to have replacement keycap sets available, and the backspace and right-shift keys should ideally be larger than the ones on the Pure Pro (if all this is possible in a 60% board!).

The Leo FC660C or FC660M comes close to meeting all my criteria, but I do not like the appearance of the isolated Insert and Delete keys (although I use both functions), and I am not sure about the availability of keycap sets.

I also really like what I have seen about the Tex Beetle, but it lacks the arrow to Home, End, etc. mapping found in the Pure Pro and FC660C, and I am somewhat concerned about the small right-shift key and the altered staggering in the Z row. Otherwise, the build quality of the Beetle looks excellent, and I think that Tex will be introducing new models at some point.

Although the HHKB Pro 2 comes highly recommended, I think the layout might be too alien for me and the US ANSI version lacks arrow keys. Likewise, the Poker II has a good layout, but no dedicated arrow keys and a silly spacebar legend begging to be sandblasted. Some say to wait for the Ducky Mini, but I have not seen the layout or specs, and I think it will come with backlighting, which I do not need; backlighting also complicates keycap replacement. Others suggest going with a custom/DIY board, but I currently do not have the skill, patience, or time to go this route.

Are there other keyboards on the horizon that would have the aforementioned specifications, or do you think the Pure Pro is as close as one could get among existing or known forthcoming models?

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 16:22:34 »
rjrich, pickup a GH60! You won't be disappointed  :))

Offline Hypersphere

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 16:55:14 »
rjrich, pickup a GH60! You won't be disappointed  :))

Pardon the noobness, but how would I go about getting a GH60? Would this be a DIY assembly? If so, I do not currently have the skill or time (although maybe in the end it would save time spent searching for the ideal board!).

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 18:01:21 »
1) How would I go about getting a GH60?
2) Would this be a DIY assembly?
3) although maybe in the end it would save time spent searching for the ideal board!

1) Check this thread.
2) Yes but you can get someone to assemble it for you.
3) Ideal board you say? The mythical unicorn doesn't exist....for any of us :3.

Offline thirdkind

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 19:24:12 »
The tiny right shift key has proved to be a bit of a challenge. Apparently, I didn't adjust as quickly as I thought and I have to concentrate a little bit every time I reach for it. I'm swinging my pinky too far to the right, which would be fine on a normal keyboard, and hitting the up arrow instead. Kind of annoying, but I'm getting better at it.

The build quality is excellent though and the PBT keys definitely provide a more solid feel on Cherry switches than ABS. Still very satisfied with my purchase. I tried going back to the HHKB after typing all day on the reds, and I felt like I had to really punch the keys. Missed a lot of strokes because I was gliding my fingers too lightly. I forgot how nice the clouds of boobs can be for lengthy typing sessions. So easy.

Offline Hypersphere

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Re: KBT Pure Pro (red switches)
« Reply #19 on: Sat, 06 July 2013, 15:15:03 »
rjrich, pickup a GH60! You won't be disappointed  :))

While I appreciate the advantages of going with a custom-built board, given my time constraints, I think I will need to buy something off the shelf, at least for now. In the 60% and sub-TKL categories, I am considering the Pure Pro, Poker II, Tex Beetle, Leopold FC660M, Leopold FC660C, and, although I prefer a standard layout, the HHKB Pro 2.

In the TKL category, I am considering the Filco MJ2 TKL, Ducky Shine II TKL, CM QuickFire Stealth, Realforce 87u, and, although availability is very limited, the IBM Model M Space Saving Keyboard. (I currently use an IBM Model M full-size keyboard).

Recommendations welcome.