Author Topic: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)  (Read 2180 times)

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Offline no, the other guy

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Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« on: Mon, 20 August 2018, 13:27:21 »
Hello and welcome to this rev-

oh, sorry, wrong human. ;D What I wanted to say is: Not considering the commonly known reports about Unicomp's relatively horrible build quality, I decided to upgrade my first actual mechanical keyboard, the QPAD MK-50 (a cheapish plastic keyboard with blue Cherry MX switches which already has holes in its keycaps after handling too much of my clumsiness and an increasingly less reliably working PS/2-to-USB adapter that came with it), to a PC122 keyboard. You can never have enough keys, trust me.

Unboxing:

202283-0 202311-1 202287-2 202289-3 202291-4

Yo dawg, we heard you like boxes, so we put boxes in your boxes so you can unbox while you unbox.

Allow me a side remark: Try to never buy from a shop that only delivers via FedEx unless you work from your home (or you don't even have any work at all, but you'd probably need money to order via FedEx anyway). I let them send the keyboard to my office because I would be here all week anyway and they decided that I am the office. It is a company name, it must be a business order. Well, they googled the e-mail address of my company (which I can't look into) and sent them a message that they should fill an import form for whatever tax stuff is involved when companies buy stuff from overseas. I learned that one week later when I asked their (admittedly, quite nice) hotline why the package had been resting in Cologne for so long. They told me to send an e-mail that I'm not a company. I did, one day later the package left the waiting center or whatever they call it.

Where were we? Oh, right: The keyboard. A Model M, built in 2018!

202293-5

First things first: Yes, there are uneven keys, although I can only feel the "gaps" on the space and backspace keys, probably because they are more than just a finger wide. (I guess I could replace that?) Nothing on Enter, Return, Tab and the Ctrls though. Some captions are not aligned properly, but I am not buying hardware for its look.

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Speaking of which, the case itself has minor problems with its look and one major problem with its stability.

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I don't notice this while typing and the bottom part of the keyboard (which I usually don't use for anything, my hands don't need a fixed place to rest) is the only part of the keyboard which can be pressed down at all. However, even that feels more resilient than flexing my QPAD.

I can't understand why Unicomp has varying lock light positions, by the way. That doesn't look too well, but I usually work in a darker room than this... oh, and the lock light label has white spots on it. Quality.

202305-11

As this is my first non-standard ISO QWERTZ layout and my first buckling spring keyboard, I feel the urge to talk about my first impressions with all that:

Typing on this keyboard is strange. This review is my first longer text with it and I still make typing mistakes - the QPAD is much closer to a good rubberdome keyboard (the Fujitsu I have at work) than to this Unicomp, both because of its layout and because of the relatively low force needed to press the keys. My fingers already hurt a bit. :) I need to press the keys deeper than I am used to - sometimes keys are not submitted while typing with my normal force. Also, the change from 50 to 70 grams is well noticeable. Hmm.

This is the first time in a decade or so where I need to look at the keyboard more than once per sentence. The unusual nav block with "Home" and "End" in very different places makes it difficult to jump around. I guess it will take me a week or so to type blindly again. I'm fine with the Windows and Esc key positions though. I can still press Win+R, Win+X and Ctrl+Alt+Esc one-handedly and that's almost everything I need. I am not quite sure what to do with the extra function keys just yet, but I also bought an orange PANIC key while I was shopping on their website, so I'll probably add a siren or something. :))

And the sound, the sound! Typing on those springs sounds just right. Suddenly, the Cherry MX switches sound surprisingly cheap with their plastic clicks. Wow! I am impressed. (Yes, I know: I finally reached the 1980s, three decades after most of you did. Hooray!) The "Y" key makes a scratchy, raspy sound only when pressed from its right side though, which is probably because of a small production mistake.

202307-12

The PANIC button does not have that problem and it is quite a good "Y" key. - Seriously: As the delivery of the keyboard itself costs me more than 60 US$, ordering a new set of keys by Unicomp is not desirable. I might find a reasonably un-expensive key shop in Germany. (Does anyone here know one?) For now, I used my fingernails on the old "Y" key. And, because I don't trust my fingernails, I swapped its (the key's, not the fingernail's) foot stem with the PANIC key's (differently colored) foot stem, just in case. The joy of being able to fix things yourself. How I missed thee! Hmm, my fingers have a thin layer of plastic smell now ... not quite delicious, but not disgusting either.

To answer the last somewhat interesting question I could imagine: I don't know whether I would buy a Unicomp again. I hope that this model will survive for long enough even with the gaps (and I don't think it will accidentally slip and fall that often), it was expensive enough for this expectation. I do like what it feels (and sounds) like though, so I might invest in one of the USB'd "old" IBMs one day, just because I will want to have one.

202309-13

Kneel down! Oh, haha, you already do.

I would bet that I won't look back to my QPAD in a week or two. I might or might not report back, depending on the health of my fingers (and your general feedback).
« Last Edit: Tue, 21 August 2018, 08:32:27 by no, the other guy »
gradually watermelon

      
Unicomp PC122 (B/S)     Fujitsu K293 (R/D)
(review)

Offline masilver

  • Posts: 14
Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 00:47:32 »
That's a great review.  I've been hooked on the Model M's since as far back as I can remember.

In summation, Unicomp has quality control issues, but damn, it feels good!  I also think your typing will speed up considerably once you get use to the feel.  I find I can type extremely fast on them.  Of course, this is purely subjective.

If you are looking for a project, I do have some 122 key Model M's I can sell you cheap, but they need LOTS of work.  Someone cut the cords off them.  Not sure if you are into that sort of thing.

Regardless, thanks for the review.

...Michael...

Offline no, the other guy

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Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 01:34:53 »
I don't have the slightest idea about how to handle broken hardware. I wish I had!
gradually watermelon

      
Unicomp PC122 (B/S)     Fujitsu K293 (R/D)
(review)

Offline AJM

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  • Location: Germany
Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 04:15:16 »
Because you said you want to replace keys and are looking for a shop in Germany:
I would take up the offer from Michael and clean and then use the original old keys from his keyboard. (Especially that M-key needs replacing badly.  :)) )

Offline no, the other guy

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Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 04:23:30 »
I have made my peace with the captions... at least that's my excuse for not having done anything with them yet.  :))
I'm still slow at typing, but I am beginning to remember where all keys are. Except the Delete button. I really should remap that.

Is Michael a German shop?  :D
gradually watermelon

      
Unicomp PC122 (B/S)     Fujitsu K293 (R/D)
(review)

Offline chyros

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Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 04:33:55 »
The feeling of buckling springs against my salad fingers is almost orgasmic.
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline masilver

  • Posts: 14
Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 09:38:38 »
The feeling of buckling springs against my salad fingers is almost orgasmic.

I couldn't agree more!

...Michael...

Offline masilver

  • Posts: 14
Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 09:42:45 »
Is Michael a German shop?  :D

No, in the USA.  Working on these keyboards is definitely a labor of love, but it can be expensive and time consuming. But I warn you, mods may be your next step in the never ending rabbit hole of keyboard obsession.

...Michael...

Offline no, the other guy

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Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 09:43:44 »
The USA have very ungrateful shipping fees...
gradually watermelon

      
Unicomp PC122 (B/S)     Fujitsu K293 (R/D)
(review)

Offline masilver

  • Posts: 14
Re: Unicomp PC122 review (buckling springs)
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 07 September 2018, 10:04:17 »
The USA have very ungrateful shipping fees...

Doesn't surprise me.  Even domestically, shipping is getting expensive.

I've seen some keyboards on ebay that are located in Europe.  Not that you need to spend more money.  I'm sure the Unicomp has the proper "feel".

...Michael...