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Windows 7: Mechanical Keyboards - Are you a convert?

View Poll Results: Do you use a mechanical Keyboard?
I have several and will never go back to rubber domes 5 27.78%
I've only got one but I love it 1 5.56%
Never heard of them, but I am interested 3 16.67%
Heard of them, but can't jutify the cost 2 11.11%
Don't care. A keyboard is 'just a keyboard' to me. 7 38.89%
Voters: 18. You may not vote on this poll

18 May 2012   #21
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Smarteyeball:

Thanks for those examples.

For the last 3 or 4 hours, I have been looking around, particularly at geekhack.org, which seems to be ground zero for the keyboard-obsessed. Forums, reviews, classifieds, ranting, the whole enchilada.

The most common recommendation seems to be, for a non-gaming complete newcomer:

IBM Model M or its clones (Unicomp) using buckling spring technology. These are a bit noisy and require a relatively heavy touch. Can be tiring if you type for hours on end.

Any keyboard using Cherry Blue switches. These tend to require a medium touch and are not as noisy as the IBM M. Maybe less tiring if you type constantly.

Some lingo:

A linear switch (eg: Cherry MX Black or Cherry Red) is like a doorbell - smooth travel with no bump; non-tactile, non-clicky. Cherry black and red have the easiest touch of the cherries. Ordinary "rubber dome" keyboards are all linear as far as I can tell.

A tactile switch (eg: Cherry MX Brown or Cherry Clear, black ALPS) is like a light switch - halfway through you feel a bump and then the light comes on. Cherry browns have the lightest touch of the cherries.

A clicky AND tactile switch (eg: Cherry MX Blue or Buckling Spring) is like a Bic pen - clicks AND you feel a bump. Cherry blues have a medium touch. White ALPS switches are tactile and clicky.


Some specific recommendations under $80 or so:

New:

Unicomp clones of IBM model M; still being made. Uses buckling spring technology just like the original IBM. About $79 from Unicomp direct.

Scorpius M10: uses Cherry blue switches; around $50. Sold at Amazon. Build quality can be shaky.

Used:

IBM Model M if you can find one at Goodwill. Refurbished, they tend to go for 70 on up.

Dell AT101W: manufactured up to about 2000. Uses black ALPS switches. Clicky and tactile. Good for typists. Lighter touch than IBM Model M.

Dell AT102DW: also uses black ALPS switches. Manufactured in the 1990s and maybe later?

Compaq 11800: not too common, but cheap when found, maybe $25 on Ebay. Uses Cherry brown switches. Has somewhat odd keyboard layout (function keys).

Northgate: No longer being made, but refurbished can be found. Uses ALPS switches. Very heavy, but durable.

Most of the others are above $80. I saw some keyboards over $400.

Being a cheap SOB, I'll probably see if I can get lucky at Goodwill as even $50 is more than I am willing to risk if I can't return.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 May 2012   #22
Joan Archer

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 32 bit/Windows 10 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pparks1 View Post
Before my current generation mechanical keyboard, I preferred the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000


After switching jobs and working nearly 100% from a laptop and wanting to have more deskspace at home, I switched back to a non-ergo keyboard. A while later I made the switch to a mechanical keyboard and generally prefer them now over any soft-dome keyboard.
That's my keyboard, the only problem is that it's a USB connection rather than PS/2 which my others are and which I'd prefer so releasing one of the back USB ports.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 May 2012   #23
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

^ I have 4 of those keyboards.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

18 May 2012   #24
Joan Archer

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 32 bit/Windows 10 64bit
 
 

I love it it's so comfortable to use. Trouble is though that my pull out shelf under my desk for the keyboard is not really big enough for it. It fills the width and I have to have it pulled right out with the keyboard over the front edge to be able to see the top buttons, which means I have to have the mouse on the desk so I don't have the keyboard pulled right out much so I can reach the mouse.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 May 2012   #25
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I moved away from using it because it just consumes so much desk space. i don't need or use the extra multimedia buttons. So, I went with a much more compact mechanical keyboard that has a much smaller physical footprint.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 May 2012   #26
thefabe

Windows 7 ultimate 64 bit / XP Home sp3
 
 

I have always used the Logitech MX5000 wireless keyboard and mouse.

I like them so much I have purchsed a bunch of them (new in the box) and replace them whenever they wear out.

And I gone through a few over the years.

Fabe
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18 May 2012   #27
linnemeyerhere

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ultimate 64
 
 

I'm confused are the scissor springs over the rubber button an example of a mechanical keyboard?
Logitech - Illuminated Keyboard
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18 May 2012   #28
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

The scissor style is neither the rubber dome membrane, or a mechanical keyboard. It's kinda right in the middle.

I played a bit with those keyboards before I bought my recent keyboard and liked them a fair amount.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 May 2012   #29
smarteyeball

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post

Smarteyeball:

Thanks for those examples.

For the last 3 or 4 hours, I have been looking around, particularly at geekhack.org, which seems to be ground zero for the keyboard-obsessed. Forums, reviews, classifieds, ranting, the whole enchilada.
You're welcome mate. They were just some example of brands that are pretty easy to find at most online retailers. They're also the 'cheaper, but better build quality' than other brands.



And yes geekhack.org is indeed the groundzero for the mech enthusiast

Quote:
The most common recommendation seems to be, for a non-gaming complete newcomer:

IBM Model M or its clones (Unicomp) using buckling spring technology. These are a bit noisy and require a relatively heavy touch. Can be tiring if you type for hours on end.
I didn't mention buckling springs as these are generally harder to come by, especially the Model M. They tend to pop up on ebay now and then but with a price tag to match. Some of the of the oldest models also require an AT to PS/2/adapter. Obtaining a Unicomp or other clone is only marginally easier.

(Clones and Alp switch boards are rare as hens teeth here in Aus)

I didn't mention Alp switches because of the availability factor as well.




Quote:
Any keyboard using Cherry Blue switches. These tend to require a medium touch and are not as noisy as the IBM M. Maybe less tiring if you type constantly.
For strength actuation of model M's, the MX Blacks are probably the closest in 'feel' to the weight required. (Which is hard to compare if ones never used an MX Black )

I concentrated on Cherry switches from an availability/range point of view - the vast majority of 'major brands' offer a Blue Switch model.

As for the noise - some people are bothered by the noise, others think they might be. It's entirely personal preference. Personally I love the sound of them and so too does my partner. She loves hearing me type on my mech boards.

However, if the sound really is something that bothers users (or co-workers for example) - there are o-ring dampeners/landing pads available. They are placed under the keycap and stop keys from bottoming out, thus eliminating the 'clack' sound.

One downside is that they do create a bit more resistance which requires more effort to key presses.







Quote:
Ordinary "rubber dome" keyboards are all linear as far as I can tell
.

True. Even scissor switches are linear.


A


Some specific recommendations under $80 or so:

New:

Quote:
Unicomp clones of IBM model M; still being made. Uses buckling spring technology just like the original IBM. About $79 from Unicomp direct.
Hmm. That might be worth looking into


Quote:
Being a cheap SOB, I'll probably see if I can get lucky at Goodwill as even $50 is more than I am willing to risk if I can't return.

To grab a Model M for cheap, goodwill-esque stores are indeed your best bet for that. (same applies to older Alp switch/used Duckys, leo, Flcos Das etc).

Even if you keep your eye out on ebay, or craigslist etc for 2nd hand boards.

If you do stumble on something that catches your eye and would like a second opinion, I'd be more than happy to do so if you wish.




Basically I'm not saying mech keyboards are a must have for everyone.

I'm simply letting those who've never heard them know that they exist and for some, are definitely worth a look and could potentially be a big improvement over what they currently have, or are thinking of buying.

(I wish someone told me about them before spent $150 on a Saitek Cyborg Commando 'gaming keyboard' a few years ago. My god that was an expensive POS )
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 May 2012   #30
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

I'm trying to resist this keyboard.

It's a brand new IBM Model M clone with buckling springs made by Unicomp. This sells for only $59 plus shipping in the USA and is the least expensive way to get a high quality mechanical keyboard experience.

Unicomp clones normally sell for 79 plus shipping, but these particular models were made as a promotion for the University of Kentucky.

Here's an unboxing on youtube:

A "Rather Unique" Model M Keyboard - YouTube

Here's the link at Unicomp:

Unicomp, Inc. Kentucky Wildcats Buckling Spring PS2 Keyboard

Here is a long review thread at geekhack with more pictures:


Unicomp Wildcat Keyboard Unboxing

Whaddya think, Smarteyeball??

I'd kinda like to run down an IBM buckling spring Space Saver without the ten key section, but those aren't easily found and would likely not be in "new" condition.


Attached Thumbnails
Mechanical Keyboards - Are you a convert?-unicomp-kentucky-wildcat-59.jpg   Mechanical Keyboards - Are you a convert?-dsc_0636.jpg  
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