Author Topic: GK64 桜 - Overpriced junk  (Read 7224 times)

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Offline Kevadu

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GK64 桜 - Overpriced junk
« on: Sun, 13 May 2018, 22:03:11 »
KBDfans link.

I actually picked this keyboard up a while ago but I've found it so uncomfortable to use that I immediately ditched it and I felt like I never actually spent enough time with it to give it a proper review...but recently I decided to give it another try and yes, it's just as bad as I remembered.  As a public service I think I should take some time to explain why this keyboard is so bad.  Because it's truly awful.

But let's start with the good, and the reasons I bought it in the first place.  It actually offers a pretty unique combination of features.  Like a standard GK64 it has hot-swap sockets and a 60% layout that manages to cram in some arrow keys.  The latter point obviously entails some compromises but that's not what I'm bashing this keyboard for.  The right shift key has been reduced to a tiny 1U and the left shift is actually very slightly shorter as well giving the entire bottom alpha row a non-standard stagger.  The stagger is close enough to a standard keyboard that it didn't really bother me that much.  The tiny right shift definitely does bother me, but then how else are you going to cram arrow keys into an otherwise fairly standard 60% layout?  I knew what I was getting into and that isn't what I'm ripping this keyboard for.

The 桜 version of GK64 is basically the same as a normal GK64 only with a rather attractive wooden case, a carbon fiber plate, and some special very pink keycaps that can be quite subjective as to whether you like them or not but personally I think are quite cute.  These extras are what sold me on the GK64 but unfortunately they're also where the real problems start.  The combination of hot-swap sockets and a soft carbon-fiber plate just doesn't work.  Either one can work fine on its own, but they do not go well together.  The switches do not really stay in place correctly.  When I look at the front profile of the keyboard I can see that even within a row every key seems to be at a slightly different height.  The switches also come out more than half the time when I'm just trying to remove a keycap.  I also have a K-Type with the same kind of hot-swap sockets and that has never happened to me there.  But the K-Type's plate is rock-solid, not a soft, squishy carbon-fiber one.

Unfortunately this also use plate-mounted stabilizers.  This seems to be a popular choice for keyboard with hot-swap sockets, I guess so you can swap the stabilizers too...though it's not like you can put another kind of stabilizer in there anyway so if they just came with decent stabs to begin with it wouldn't be an issue.  Anyway, again the choice of plate-mounted stabilizers on a carbon fiber plate is just a bad idea..but actually I don't think that fully explains the problems I have been having.  My spacebar is borderline unusable because of issues with the stabilizers.  It's not merely at the level of feeling off, the spacebar seems to actually be getting caught on something.  It's not subtle, it literally feels like you're bottoming out halfway through the keystroke.  If you're lucky it might at least actuate first...but maybe not.  I of course tried replacing the stabilizer after experiencing this (which actually isn't that easy because for some reason they stuck a microphone--yes, a microphone--on the PCB that kind of gets in the way of the spacebar's stabilizing bar so you have to unscrew the plate to actually make enough room to slip it out), and I used one that I knew worked on a different board.  Yet I experienced the exact same thing.  Which makes me think the real problem isn't the stabilizer at all but rather an issue with the alignment of the holes in the plate.  I also tried drowning the stabs in lube but that didn't really help much either.  Unfortunately this issue alone is enough to make me never want to use this keyboard.

And then there's the software.  Oh god the software.

Unfortunately KDBfans opted not to go with a proprietary solution here.  No QMK or anything.  And it's awful.  It does have a GUI for those of afraid of programming but I have found that GUI to be utterly baffling.  Part of the problem is text that is clearly a bad translation from Chinese ('Lighting efficacy'?  Who says that!) and a complete lack of (at least in English) documentation, but I don't think that's the only issue.  It somehow manages to simultaneously present so many options it feels overwhelming while also lacking the most basic of features you would expect from software for programming a keyboard.  Let's say that you want to program a key to do a different function.  First you have to select the appropriate key from a picture of your keyboard, then you have to press a key that corresponds to its new function.  You have to press a key that corresponds to the output you want, there is no dropdown menu or anything.  What if you want it to do something you don't currently have any keys assigned to?  Uh...better plug in a second keyboard then.

It's actually worse than that.  Let's say that you want to assign a new key to output a tab.  Select the key you want to program with your mouse, then select the box where you need to input the new command.  So you press tab and...your cursor jumps to the next thing in the menu.  Because tab also navigates through the GUI and that functionality is never over-ridden to allow you to actually input a tab.  So how do you assign a key to produce a tab?  I have no idea.  Seriously, if it's possible then I haven't figured it out.  I actually assigned my tab key to something else when fiddling with the software and then wanted to get to back to outputting tabs.  The only way I managed to do that was by factory resetting the whole keyboard.

But actually it's even worse than that.  The procedure I described above was for programming your base layer.  But probably most people aren't going to mess with the base layer very much, unless they're DVORAK or COLEMAK users.  What most people probably will want to program is the function layer.  But again, if there's a way to do that I haven't actually figured it out yet.  I can't find any option in the GUI for assigning keys in the function layer, nor is there a way to somehow select multiple keys simultaneously when choosing what they do.  In fact you can't even select the Fn key at all, so don't plan on changing which key acts as a Fn key.

Seriously, maybe this functionality is there somewhere buried in one of the many incomprehensibly-labeled submenus but then it's not like there's any (English) documentation for this ****ty software anyway so I don't know how anyone can be reasonably expected to find this stuff.  Of course the software is Windows-only too so if you're a Mac or Linux user then you're SOL (well I'm mainly a LInux user myself but I do have a Windows VM I was able to access it from).

Some of this might be at least forgivable if the keyboard was at least inexpensive, but it isn't.  At all.  It starts at $180 on KDBfans' site and I think the version I got was actually more than that because I went for Aliaz switches (which are pretty meh and I replaced in the end but I wanted to try them).

In conclusion this keyboard is a $200 paperweight.  At least it does look pretty.

Offline SpAmRaY

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Re: GK64 桜 - Overpriced junk
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 13 May 2018, 22:12:06 »
Yeah the software sucks.  I only bought a PCB you try the hot swap functionality. I wouldn't buy it again.

Not had good experiences with the kbdfans products I've purchased.

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Online tp4tissue

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Re: GK64 桜 - Overpriced junk
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 15 May 2018, 07:42:15 »
Seems like an easy fix..

If the plate is flexing, causing alignment issues you just need to shim under the plate

Make little wooden pegs and use double sided tape.  You only need to tape one end, since the force is directed downwards you only need to tape the top end where it touches the plate, no need to tape the pcb.

Offline Createboardhk

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Re: GK64 桜 - Overpriced junk
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 25 May 2018, 11:46:29 »
Agree, this keyboard experiences is not good.

Offline Pewpew

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Re: GK64 桜 - Overpriced junk
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 20:35:32 »
Thanks for your reviewing!  ;)