Author Topic: Keycap profile choices  (Read 1921 times)

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Offline absence

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Keycap profile choices
« on: Fri, 17 August 2018, 07:04:11 »
For someone who wants to dip his toes (well, fingers) into the water, the matter of keycap profiles is a bit overwhelming. There seems to be strong opinions for and against most variants, and I don't want to buy all of them just to try out which ones I like (though I realise the keyboard hobby is a bit of a slippery slope...). I also don't want to pick one at random and end up with something I don't like.

Let's narrow it down a bit. I've never liked a flat keyboard surface. Even though they've been mostly laptop and chiclet keyboards (not "proper" keycaps), I'm comfortable leaving out uniform/non-sculpted keycaps altogether. If I understand correctly, sculpted cylindrical keycaps, and in particular the "OEM" profile, is what most random rubber dome keyboards use, and probably what I'm used to. I understand that the Cherry and DCS profiles feel different and are favoured by many, but since they have the same basic properties as OEM I won't consider them separately for now.

The safe choice would be either of the sculpted cylindricals, but I'm quite intrigued by spherical keycaps, which brings us to SA. This seems to be the most polarising profile, with both lovers and haters aplenty. One problem often pointed out is that fingers can collide with the back of lower rows ("finger collision"), since there are no height differences ("stairs") unlike most other sculpted profiles. I'm a bit confused though, because non-sculpted keycaps like DSA also lack stairs, yet I haven't seen finger collision mentioned for those. Does anyone who dislikes SA have thoughts on that?

Then there's a raft of new sculpted spherical keycaps more or less inspired by SA. KAT looks like a shorter SA, and I've seen one complaint that it has the same finger collision problem due to lack of stairs. MT3 looks like it lacks stairs for some of the rows as well, but I haven't seen any reports about finger collision. MDA (aka EDRUG Mix) does have slight stairs, and also apparently less deeper dishing, so it sounds like a mix of SA and sculpted cylindricals. I've found no reports on whether it fixes finger collision for those who experiences it with SA though. The upcoming DSS revival also has stairs, but different angles than MDA.

Of course, there's no way to know if finger collision affects me personally without trying something like SA, but I do have a Kinesis Advantage with home row keys that are actually taller than the ones in the row "above" (inverted stairs). Does anyone who experiences finger collision with SA know if it's also a problem for them with Kinesis Advantage?

Would love to hear your thoughts on all this!

Offline Tactile

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Re: Keycap profile choices
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 17 August 2018, 08:36:52 »
Don't confuse sculpted with spherical. There are spherical keycap sets which are uniform height - not sculpted - like this and this.


Offline absence

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Re: Keycap profile choices
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 17 August 2018, 09:02:09 »
I don't think I've confused them, but I'll try to clarify. Wherever I've written "SA", I mean the full sculpted SA profile, not the non-sculpted "flat SA" you get by only using R3 keycaps on all rows. In general I'm not interested in non-sculpted keycaps, due to my bad experiences with laptop/chiclet keyboards. Hope that makes it clear, let me know if there's anything else!

Offline zslane

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Re: Keycap profile choices
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 17 August 2018, 12:35:08 »
I think it depends on how adaptable you are. Like everyone else, my fingers grew accustomed to OEM keycaps over the years to the point where that felt like "normal" to me. However, I loved the aesthetics of SA (and DSA) so much that I decided to spend the time necessary to get used to them. It didn't take long (a couple of weeks, max). At this point I won't type on anything but spherical keycaps, including MT3.

Most of the haters give SA a try, find they can't get past how "weird" they feel, and dismiss them. They go back to the comfort of cylindricals and never look back. That's their choice and I respect it, but I'd hate to see their inability to adapt unfairly influence someone else who has yet to really give sphericals an honest try.

Offline absence

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Re: Keycap profile choices
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 17 August 2018, 14:01:59 »
There are two separate issues - spherical keycaps, and the "stairless" profile of SA. Typing this on a Kinesis Advantage, I guess I'm quite adaptable, so spherical shouldn't be a big problem, but I'm still a little worried about the stairless profile. Since you like SA, I guess you don't experience the finger collision problem, but do you understand it well enough to tell if people who experience it would also have problems with MT3? Have you tried KAT or MDA/Mix?

Offline PonderNG

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Re: Keycap profile choices
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 17 August 2018, 16:10:37 »
I think the reason DSA doesn't seem to have that problem is because the front of a row and the back of the next row are even. Where in SA profile the front of one row is actually lower than the back of the next.


Offline zslane

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Re: Keycap profile choices
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 17 August 2018, 17:23:47 »
I've typed on countless different keyboards with all kinds of keycap profiles and backplate angles over the years and I've never had "finger collision problems". Since I'm not personally familiar with the phenomenon, I couldn't begin to tell you why I've never been afflicted with it.

Offline absence

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Re: Keycap profile choices
« Reply #7 on: Sat, 18 August 2018, 08:32:53 »
Where in SA profile the front of one row is actually lower than the back of the next.
If you measure horizontally along the photo (or a diagram) there's no height difference, but if you measure along the same angle as the top of the keycap, you'll bump into the back of the next row. Maybe the angle is percieved as a "negative" height difference that causes the problem for some people, who are otherwise fine with DSA?

The KAT profile does have "negative" height difference between R3 and R4, which I've seen at least one person complain about.

Is there a diagram of MT3 anywhere? It's a bit hard to tell from renders if there could be a small perceived height difference. On the other hand, if the difference is small enough to be hard to spot, it might just be fine.

Offline orpheo

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Re: Keycap profile choices
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 29 August 2018, 17:58:19 »
:D :D :D