Author Topic: Alps Throwback review  (Read 2305 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline mounds

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 48
  • Builder of things and stuff
    • The Mounds Abides
Alps Throwback review
« on: Sun, 06 January 2019, 09:54:12 »

Hey guys, thought I'd do a quick write-up of my experience so far with the Alps Throwback keyset that ran awhile ago.

A bit of background

I came across this set by sheer luck. While planning an ALPS 65% using the SMK65 by lfkeyboards, there were a couple of new-to-ALPS hiccups along the way that guided the build to its eventual end state nearly ~7 months later. Part of these trials was finding Cherry-style stabilizer support in keycaps, since that was the default on the SMK plate that I received. As soon as the group buy was discovered randomly, wallet was empty, and, fast-forwarding a bit, the keycaps arrived sometime this winter after only a few mfg snags. The SMK65 review will come at a later date  :thumb:

Alps Throwback - not like the others

So what's so different about Alps Throwback, compared to other drops / options? Well the caps are not exactly like the thick-walled PBT of AEKII past, but they come really close. Dye-sub PBT is one of the best combinations for keycaps, making for an excellent keycap thickness, sound, and durability.

It's also good to not confuse these caps by putting them in the same category as ABS-based offerings such as Alpine Winter or Tai Hao keycaps, because they feel much more akin to AEK caps in construction and sound profile. To try and dress the SMK65, I did try the Tai Hao caps at first, only to be disappointed by the ALPS-based stabilizers, and the soulless sound of the hollow space bar.

Dedicated support for various keyboard layouts had me ordering all the things in no time.

Alps Throwback - verdict

The keycaps are very good, and work with more common Cherry stabilizers. Dye-sub clarity is excellent, and the colors are great. Next to R1 dev/tty/ the dye sublimation really shines, albeit the mt3 caps have a bit of a different texture too. Finally, DCS isn't a first choice for a lot of people, but it is well executed with this set. My first choice would have been XDA because of multi-layout switching support, but fat chance ALPS XDA dye-sub PBT caps will make an appearance in the near future.


Alps Throwback PBT wall thickness comes in around 1mm, with Tai Hao measuring around .8mm, and AEKII caps at around 1.4mm. Spacebar differences are a bigger schism, with Alps Throwback measuring 1.45mm, Tai Hao at 1.05mm, and the control variable AEKII spacebar coming in at an average of 1.55mm (side thickness somewhat erratic).

As for sound quality, Monterey Blue switches bring out the differences between the cheaper Tai Hao offerings and Alps Throwback, with the pronounced click being more echo-y with the Tai Hao set, while Alps Throwback click reverb showcases the punctual nature of the switch. Comparatively to AEKII caps, the sound profile was very similar with Alps Throwback, with the thicker PBT AEKII keycaps having a bit louder click. Tai Hao just feel really cheap - you get what you pay for?


Considering the growing difficulty in sourcing AEKII parts such as the ALPS stabilizers/plunger pieces, hopefully great sets like these will come around more often, and the large / growing ALPS community will give them a shot. Conclusively, while not a huge commercial success like MX-based sets around the forums, I'd say this set is a knockout  ;)
Tada68 (Jailhouse Aristotles) / MiniVan (Jailhouse Aristotles) / Planck (Aristotles) / Teensy m0116 (Matias QC) / ALPS64 ('Pine' SKCM White) / Teensy NeXT Non-ADB (SKCM Cream) / ALPS HHKB (SKCM Orange)

Offline JaimeTray

  • Posts: 1
Re: Alps Throwback review
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 17 January 2019, 04:13:46 »
Vet ikke hvor mye du kan hjelpe meg med f denne informasjonen fordi jeg vil ha tilgang til mye informasjon, vet ikke hvordan jeg skal hjelpe meg?

Offline mounds

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 48
  • Builder of things and stuff
    • The Mounds Abides
Re: Alps Throwback review
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 17 January 2019, 22:26:12 »
Vet ikke hvor mye du kan hjelpe meg med f denne informasjonen fordi jeg vil ha tilgang til mye informasjon, vet ikke hvordan jeg skal hjelpe meg?

Du kan prve Google Translate for f litt informasjon ut av dette innlegget. Den lange historien gjort kort er at ALPS Throwback er veldig bra. Ekstra sett kan kjpes p Deskcandy.xyz
Tada68 (Jailhouse Aristotles) / MiniVan (Jailhouse Aristotles) / Planck (Aristotles) / Teensy m0116 (Matias QC) / ALPS64 ('Pine' SKCM White) / Teensy NeXT Non-ADB (SKCM Cream) / ALPS HHKB (SKCM Orange)

Offline kolicivan

  • Posts: 6
  • Location: Serbia
Re: Alps Throwback review
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 30 January 2019, 01:57:01 »
Great review.
I was almost ready to jump in and get these keycaps but the price drove me away.

I'm still planning on some custom ALPS build.
Only thing I'm not clear about is finding some ALPS plate. I think I'm gonna have to laser-cut my own.

Offline pixelpusher

  • Formerly known as reececonrad
  • Posts: 2785
  • Location: Tennessee - USA
Re: Alps Throwback review
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 04 February 2019, 14:05:58 »
I'm still so confused about this set.  I don't know how it turned out this way.  The set looks nothing like the renders that Desk Candy had up.  The font is horrendous.  I know SP can do better because you can see a much better result on their Percent DCS set they did a while back. Also, the legends are way too close to the left.  Lol, the crappy font on the "J" legend makes it look like it actually ran off the keycap on the left.  The alpha color is nice, but the modifiers look completely miss matched to the set.  Warm creamy alphas with a neutral to cool gray modifiers.  I mean... it's the WRONG COLOR for god's sake.  Look at the renders.  They were supposed to be cream and beige.  This is cream and gray.  They definitely should have waited on the right color to come into stock before giving SP the go-ahead.

Any feelings on how the different Alps mount fit?  Are they a better fit than the old SP alps that had to be filed down?  Do the stems seem fragile like in the past?

« Last Edit: Mon, 04 February 2019, 14:08:28 by pixelpusher »
:)

Offline mode

  • Posts: 3
Re: Alps Throwback review
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 06 May 2019, 13:00:46 »
Considering the growing difficulty in sourcing AEKII parts such as the ALPS stabilizers/plunger pieces, hopefully great sets like these will come around more often, and the large / growing ALPS community will give them a shot.

I'd love for you to be right, but I'm not holding my breath. I'd have loved to have got in on this group buy as getting new ISO ALPS caps that don't suck seems to be impossible.

Am I right in spying a lack of homing keys? How do you find that?

Offline mounds

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 48
  • Builder of things and stuff
    • The Mounds Abides
Re: Alps Throwback review
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 09 May 2019, 11:41:39 »
I'm still so confused about this set.  I don't know how it turned out this way.  The set looks nothing like the renders that Desk Candy had up.... The alpha color is nice, but the modifiers look completely miss matched to the set.  Warm creamy alphas with a neutral to cool gray modifiers.  I mean... it's the WRONG COLOR for god's sake.  Look at the renders.  They were supposed to be cream and beige.  This is cream and gray.  They definitely should have waited on the right color to come into stock before giving SP the go-ahead.


Yea I believe there was a snag halfway through the group buy, when SP said they were 'out of that color'. John made an executive decision in order to keep the two GB on track. Not making this decision meant delaying Alps Throwback and also any orders that wanted Modern m0110. Is the color imperfect? Yea, it's not exact to render. 
 
... The set looks nothing like the renders that Desk Candy had up.  The font is horrendous.  I know SP can do better because you can see a much better result on their Percent DCS set they did a while back. Also, the legends are way too close to the left.  Lol, the crappy font on the "J" legend makes it look like it actually ran off the keycap on the left....

I'm not too caught up on the left-aligned font. I've definitely seen worse, but can agree the extra-tall 'J' is kind of quirky.

Any feelings on how the different Alps mount fit?  Are they a better fit than the old SP alps that had to be filed down?  Do the stems seem fragile like in the past?

Much better than the doubleshot SP caps. Why? Because they don't have a seam from the doubleshot process on the underside of the stem, meaning there's little to no chance it will break off in the switch. Also, the stem length is much much shorter than say, DSA LightCycle. The length is much akin to old school ALPS sets. Being one piece of plastic is a seriously good idea, and I think dye-sub for ALPS from SP is the way to go until they retool their doubleshot process.

If you'd like I can add some more pics to compare the various caps I have lying around  ;)

EDIT: after considerable fiddling with the stabilized keycaps, I can see where people had troubles with their sets. Mainly with the spacebar, if you seat the stabs all the way, it's clear that something isn't right. John opened a ticket with SP and they said PBT was a bit trickier to work with, and that it changes dimensions at cooling... Not really an excuse for SP customers IMO but they did offer ABS replacements afaik. I guess when I mounted my set, the stabilizers were shallow-mounted and felt fine, but weren't to expectations.

In the future hopefully SP will have better processes to ensure less variation to the end user.
« Last Edit: Thu, 16 May 2019, 07:09:57 by mounds »
Tada68 (Jailhouse Aristotles) / MiniVan (Jailhouse Aristotles) / Planck (Aristotles) / Teensy m0116 (Matias QC) / ALPS64 ('Pine' SKCM White) / Teensy NeXT Non-ADB (SKCM Cream) / ALPS HHKB (SKCM Orange)