Author Topic: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition  (Read 747 times)

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Offline Hypersphere

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Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« on: Sat, 19 January 2019, 11:42:40 »
The Realforce TKL R2 PFU Limited Edition black-on-black US ANSI layout keyboard with 45g Topre switches has all the bells and whistles, including actuation point control (APC), NKRO, silencing, and a host of functions accessed by Fn key combinations.

At first, I was perplexed, because the package-insert manual consisted of a single sheet of paper with all of the instructions in Japanese only. This left me with almost no idea of how to access the various functions.

However, I soon found that the RF website has a product support page with download links for a catalog/spec sheet in English, driver software (Windows only), and a PDF of the software manual in English.

Here are my initial impressions, Pro and Con:

PRO:

+ Compact form factor.
+ Attractive stealthy look.
+ Very quiet, but retaining the clip-clop on clay "thock" sound that is a hallmark of Topre switches.
+ Subtle Topre tactility. Excellent typing feel.

CON:

- Not completely programmable. Every modern keyboard ought to be completely programmable using non-proprietary software such as TMK or QMK.
- Attached cable. I prefer a detachable cable.
- Hardwired Fn key. I prefer no function key or one that can be remapped.
- Functions that I find useless or that I would prefer to assign myself.
- Case apparently snaps together rather than being held together with screws, although there appears to be a hidden screw underneath the label on the bottom of the case. I prefer a straightforward way of opening a keyboard case without worrying about damaging snap tabs or having to remove a seal that violates the warranty.
- The black-on-black legends might look sophisticated, but the printing is essentially invisible in low-light conditions. I would prefer blank keycaps or keycaps with visible legends, at least for the alphanumeric keys.
- Despite the excellent silencing, there is still some stabilizer rattle on the larger stabilized keys, such as Backspace, Enter/Return, Left and Right Shift, and the Spacebar. It also appears that the stabilizers cannot be lubricated without dismantling the keyboard.     

INDIFFERENT:

 ~ APC. I suppose this will appeal to some, but I would be okay with the default middle setting. However, as long as this feature exists, it is good that it can be accessed easily via Fn + Up-arrow.

~ Embedded NumPad. Somewhat good to know it is there, but I doubt that I would ever use it. Moreover, some of the embedded NumPad keys interfere with my HHKB-style of remapping.

~ Silencing mats. The box also contains two rubber mats in different thicknesses that can be installed on the plate by first removing the keycaps. This will provide even more silencing at the expense of some key travel. The keyboard is already one of the quietest I have used. I doubt I would have any use for the rubber mats.

OTHER:

When slowly pressing keys to test weight and tactility, the 45g switches initially felt too light and lacking in tactility. However, when actually typing, the weight and tactility feel just right. At first, I thought I would regret not opting for an all-55g model, but now that I am typing on it, I think 45g is the best choice. The variable-weight model would not work for me, as the 30g switches would be too light.

As soon as I can determine how to open the case without breaking it, I would like to install a panel-mount USB connector for a detachable cable and investigate the possibility of installing an internal Hasu USB-USB converter to make the keyboard completely programmable (except probably the hardwired Fn key).

However, the first change I have made is to replace the alphanumeric keycaps with caps that have visible legends. To me, black-on-black is not useful. The keys ought to be either blank or equipped with visible legends. However, I do like dark keyboard cases and dark modifier keys, which is why I bought the black version. I already had a set of Topre caps with visible legends ready to install (see picture).

211021-0

OVERALL:

The RF TKL R2 special PFU edition is solidly built, and the silenced all-45g Topre switches provide an excellent typing experience. Although I could install silencing rings myself, considering the cost of the rings and the time and effort spent in dismantling the keyboard in order to install them, the built-in silencing on the PFU special edition model is worth the extra $100 or so.

After setting up the RF R2 PFU TKL board with an external Hasu USB-USB converter and installing blue alphanumeric keycaps with visible legends, white HHKB keycaps to demarcate the cursor diamond, and some red keycaps on the top row, the keyboard is gaining favor in my eyes (see picture).

Before buying the RF, I had been typing on a Leading Edge DC-2014 with SKCM blue Alps switches. Now, after typing on the RF, the DC-2014 seems crude by comparison. I also have a Tokyo60 with Zilent switches that I had once said were Topre-like. The Zilents are perhaps even quieter than the silenced Topre switches in the RF, but the RF is definitely more elegant and refined. There is also something sure-footed about typing on the RF. I feel less prone to making typos than I do on Alps, Cherry, or Cherry clone boards, and the Topre switches in the RF are not subject to the twitchiness I have often encountered with Alps, such as missed keypresses or chattering.

Overall, I give the Realforce a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It would be 5 stars if it had a detachable cable, complete programmability, 60% form factor, and a wider selection of keycap styles, perhaps as boxed sets that could be purchased separately and installed by the customer.

Regarding the 60% form factor, I would urge Realforce and PFU to collaborate on a new version of the HHKB. This would be a 60% fully programmable model built like the RF, with Topre switches mounted in a steel plate instead of case-mounted switches as found in the HHKB. Moreover, they should consider reducing the size of all of the stabilized keys -- including the spacebar -- in order to eliminate the need for stabilizers, thus banishing all traces of stabilizer rattle once and for all.

Offline zslane

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 19 January 2019, 11:50:00 »
Yeah, it would be great if Topre released a 60% board, but they seem uninterested in that market segment. Oh well.

Offline ArchDill

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 19 January 2019, 12:57:10 »
Yeah, it would be great if Topre released a 60% board, but they seem uninterested in that market segment. Oh well.

Have you not heard of an hhkb?

Offline HPE1000

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 19 January 2019, 13:01:28 »
Yeah, it would be great if Topre released a 60% board, but they seem uninterested in that market segment. Oh well.

Have you not heard of an hhkb?
What is that?

Offline ArchDill

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 19 January 2019, 13:05:44 »
Yeah, it would be great if Topre released a 60% board, but they seem uninterested in that market segment. Oh well.

Have you not heard of an hhkb?
What is that?

Ahh I see what is going on here...


Offline naasfu

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #5 on: Sat, 19 January 2019, 13:30:50 »
i don't like the new rectangular look for the R2.  did they finally scrap that god awful keypuller?

Offline Hypersphere

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 22 January 2019, 09:18:05 »
i don't like the new rectangular look for the R2.  did they finally scrap that god awful keypuller?
My understanding is that Realforce was responding to complaints about the retro look of their former design with the rounded corners and wide bezel on top, so they came out with sharp corners and a relatively thin bezel on all four sides. Oddly enough, the width of the R2 TKL is actually slightly larger (14.50") than it was in the previous model (14.41").

Yes, it appears that they might have scrapped the metal tongs that served more as an engraving tool than a keycap puller. My new RF shipped with a wire-type keycap puller.



Offline thearctican

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 23 January 2019, 13:17:22 »
i don't like the new rectangular look for the R2.  did they finally scrap that god awful keypuller?

The keypullers Topres come with are actually really nice for removing MX style switches from hot-swap boards.

Offline Hypersphere

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 23 January 2019, 13:48:24 »
i don't like the new rectangular look for the R2.  did they finally scrap that god awful keypuller?

The keypullers Topres come with are actually really nice for removing MX style switches from hot-swap boards.
Nice tip! Thanks.

Offline quad_h

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #9 on: Sat, 09 February 2019, 10:28:02 »
Gooood !

Thanks

Offline switchnollie

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #10 on: Sat, 09 February 2019, 18:08:03 »

Offline Polymer

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Re: Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 15 February 2019, 12:56:36 »
i don't like the new rectangular look for the R2.  did they finally scrap that god awful keypuller?
My understanding is that Realforce was responding to complaints about the retro look of their former design with the rounded corners and wide bezel on top, so they came out with sharp corners and a relatively thin bezel on all four sides. Oddly enough, the width of the R2 TKL is actually slightly larger (14.50") than it was in the previous model (14.41").

Yes, it appears that they might have scrapped the metal tongs that served more as an engraving tool than a keycap puller. My new RF shipped with a wire-type keycap puller.

Yeah, I think when I first got a RF, I didn't like the extended top Bezel...but you get used to it and now I quite like it...and I've always liked the rounded corners, I think it looks very nice that way.

The R2 is pretty boring look wise..it looks like every other keyboard which I suppose isn't a bad thing either...but I it looks older than the rounded corners which I think was a bit different...