The best computer keyboards ever made - still

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manoloco

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Well, well! That's high freaking praise indeed! I will definitely have to try a keyboard with the Cherry keyswitches in it! The Filco Majestouch keyboards also have those keyswitches in them, as I recall.

At this point, I'm thinking I'll just have to make a review thread with my keyboards in it: AEKII, IBM Model M, Realforce, and a Cherry based board, and do a type-off sort of thing.

Problem is, I need to live with something for a while before I am willing to do a review on it. Cause first impressions are only that and can change radically. And that seems to be happening to me right now with this Realforce keyboard. I'm starting to see why people like these so much--I figure it will take me a while to adapt to the feel of this keyboard after being used to the Model M.

How does the action of the Cherry MX brown or blue compare to the AEKII? Clicky-er? Harder? Softer? More throw? Less throw?

From memory (not at home atm, at work but just so you see how serious i am about them i have a Cherry MX brown based keyboard that i use here too :D - Compaq MX 11800 ):

Throw is similar, but the MX brown is smoother, click is less hard it just barely "feels", overall snappier but smoother (i know sounds almost contradictory, which in this case is a good thing), easier to press (seems to require less force).

Thing is first impression with cherry mx brown for me was amazing and the adaptation to them was an efficency pleasure, i know this is my case and tactile stuff can be very subjective, but really, try it! ;)

there are plenty of old keyboards from the 80s that use these switches, and since they are rated for 20-50 million keypresses, most are in top condition, and can be found for around $40, newer ones coming directly from Cherry inc. of course are a lot more expensive, the Deck one is a good example, but i do like the brown switches more than the blue or black ones.
 
js

js

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manoloco,

Thanks! In that thread linked in sunday's post, the OP rates the blue switches as 10/10 for typing, but the brown as 8/10. The blue has a tactile click, whereas the brown doesn't, or only just barely does, with a "rounded" feel, and the black is linear--no tactile click.

I generally like a click, but I'm thinking that the blue might be too much like the AEKII. And if you've tried the blue and prefer the brown, that's good to know.

Thanks!
 
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manoloco

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Glad to help, i have a photobucket gallery with some keyboards i acquired over the years, all bought used, in great condition from the second hand electronic maket in Peru (will post them in a moment but the interesting thing is feeling them, maybe the pics will help identify them in the wild).

What is great is that some companies get rid of their stuff pretty often (PC wise), and send them away in containers to other countries as junk bulk (specially 3rd world ones).

I have found a few jewels, at unbelievable prices (mostly $2, some other stuff costed me more), and i have seen them on ebay at quite higher prices, in worse condition than what i have found.

What was expensive was the time it took me to try, search, clean and sometimes restore them, but i enjoyed every second of it.

Now as time moves, newer keyboards have taken the place of the mechanical ones in the used market, and truth be told, they suck; i have looked a couple of times more, but the old jewels seem to be gone :(, i have a couple of big tupper containers with around 25 keyboards that i kept, some i gifted to friends that type/game a lot, but i have my Cherry backups, some Dell with alps, a couple of NMB mechanical, an apple extended II, some model M (english keys, spanish keys, and italian), including the black model with the pointer in the middle, and some other stuff i dont remember right away.

**edit: i just re-read the whole thread and saw i already posted pics quite some time ago, there also was a mistake when i shown the NMB black magic keys, they were mistaken as model M keys, those NMB are quite rare, and have a nice action, altough i like more the Cherry ones, it might be because the NMB ones dont age as well, the Cherry ones feel exactly the same as the 4 or more years i have been using the same keyboard.

as reference the posts i placed info and pics are:
#70
#72
#81

i never did post Model M pics as there are plenty floating around on the web.

Also the blue ones i havent tried, i just recommended them as there seems to be quite a following, from the cherry ones i have tried: maroon, brown, black. from them i like the brown one the most but its very very close to the maroon ones (maybe its just a cosmetic difference added with years of operation?), i would like to try a blue one but havent found, however im not that big on audible click, silent is better, i like to feel the keys, the audible part usually comes AFTER the key has registered, tactile sense is much much faster for me, the click becomes almost an annoyance, specially if you type fast. However i remember reading that Cherry designed the blue ones with that in mind, and the part that clicks is a little before the contact point, but if you click it will help it reach that point too, really good engineering.
 
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js

js

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Aiight, I have to say that my first impression of this Topre keyboard is rapidly doing a 180. I'm really starting to like it. The action is VERY light compared to what I have been used to, but as I acclimate to it, I find I can type very fast and that the experience is very enjoyable. The action is very precise and reponsive, despite how light it is. It has a "solid" feel even as it is a light feel. Very strange. I also have to say that this keyboard is VERY well made. The plastic is of the highest quality, and the base is heavy and solid and everything is aligned perfectly and precisely. Precise. That's the word that most comes to mind about this Realforce 103U Topre keyboard. Precise and balanced. Everything conspires just-so to make for a wonderful whole. Impressive. One review I read of this keyboard (or a very close relative--a 101 key version of this one) was one where the reviewer had previously owned a HHKB Pro and mentioned that it was lighter and slightly less solid than the Realforce. Although, that wasn't why he got rid of his HHKB. He wanted the extra keys on the Realforce. The actions were very very similar, he said, but that the Realforce was slightly more solid.

Anyway, this is a nice keyboard. I'll live with it for half a year or so and see what my final judgment is, and I'm also going to get my hands on a Cherry MX keyboard. Maybe I'll do a review thread comparing the AEKII, IBM M, Topre, and Cherry MX boards. That would be fun!
 
AndrewZorn

AndrewZorn

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as if you can lump all the MX switches into one.

PFU Happy Hacking Pro 2
Filco Majestouch 104 Cherry Brown
Filco Zero Series 87 Fukka (not used yet)
IBM Model M13 Black (not used yet)
Dell AT101W (not used yet)

working on getting the Cherry Blue G80-3000
 
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js

js

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AndrewZorn,

I never suggested you could lump all the MX switches into one. Hence the reason for the plural in the next to the last sentence of post #145. Plus, I was just discussing with manoloco which MX switch I might want to try first, brown or blue, just a few posts up.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject if you want to add them to this thread. I think I'm going to try a Cherry MX Blue first, since I understand that the Topre action is most similar to the Cherry MX Brown action--but still definitely different.
 
js

js

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In any case, AndrewZorn, I love your avatar!

I should also mention that AndrewZorn is a member of geekhack.org and is quite knowledgeable about keyboards. I highly recommend that forum to anyone who wants to know more about keyboards, what's what, how to mod them, reviews, anything and everything. Really great stuff over there, and good people too, from what I can see.

As for my Realforce Topre 103U board, it is now, by a significant margin, my favorite keyboard of all time. I have taken the red pill, gone down the rabbit hole, and there doesn't seem to be any going back. As I understand it, it is normal for people to take a week or so to get used to a Topre board, but after that, they either love it or hate it, no inbetweens. Well, I love the Topre action. I'm so very impressed! And I'm thinking seriously about getting a Realforce 87U and a HHKB Pro 2 (more the former than the latter).

I may do a review thread of all or some of the boards I have experience with at some point, but for now, I just have to say that the Topre key action is amazing. Awesome. I'm hooked. I can see why LLCoolBeans talked so highly about the HHKB Pro--I haven't used one of those yet, but it has the same keyswitches as my 103U. Freaking amazing.
 
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pipspeak

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Aiight, I have to say that my first impression of this Topre keyboard is rapidly doing a 180. I'm really starting to like it. The action is VERY light compared to what I have been used to, but as I acclimate to it, I find I can type very fast and that the experience is very enjoyable. The action is very precise and reponsive, despite how light it is. It has a "solid" feel even as it is a light feel. Very strange. I also have to say that this keyboard is VERY well made.

Second that... I just got a 103U and was blown away by the feel of it. It's like nothing else I've ever typed on and the wonderful soft clacking sound is very soothing. Someone described is as like typing on small clay tablets, but I'll add to that -- it's like typing on small clay tablets damped by soft butter.

To use an automotive suspension metaphor -- the Realforce is like a car with coils and independent suspension to the Model M's fixed axles with leaf springs.

It is also built like a tank. The case has zero flex anywhere and the keys have minimal wobble. My Model M is also built like a tank, but only in the sense that you could drive over it with a car and it would survive. The Realforce is built like a tank in the sense that everything feels precisely engineered and uses the highest quality materials.
 
js

js

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pipsqueak,

Indeed! Unlike even expensive rubber dome keyboards from Logitech, the Realforce boards and the HHKB Pro's look just as good (if not better) inside as outside, and are made to a very high standard of quality and are very, very reliable. In other words, well made, high quality, modern keyboards! Who would have thought!

Personally, honestly, I'm feeling like the Topre boards are a real bargain right now relative to what they will be in a year or two, and I am inclined to buy one or two just as an investment. Well, that's not true. I'm tempted to buy another one or two just because I love them so much and would not want to be without a backup, and because I am curious about the 87 key boards and the HHKB (and whether I could get along with its minimalist layout) and because I wonder what the black on dark grey Realforce boards look like in real life and whether or not I'd grow to love the stealth look, or just be annoyed with the lack of legibility in low light conditions. So, the fact that I think these boards are a relative bargain right now is just the excuse I need to go a bit crazy on the Topre boards.

I'm also interested in checking out the Cherry Blue Filco Majestouch boards, but I've gotta say that I really am liking the quiet nature of the Topre action. Clicky is cool and fun and all, but after a long while, it starts to wear on you a bit--or it did me, anyway. LOL!
 
AndrewZorn

AndrewZorn

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sorry to get back here so late,
and for the wrong assumption for MX switches.

i haven't been doing the keyboard thing for that long, especially compared to many others on geekhack.

yes, brown is very close to topre... but those are the only two i have even used! cherry blue is the only major one i'm missing (but that's on order) (ignoring black, which i dont think i really want), but none of the other ones are here with me, so i get to use them all at once in february.
 
T

tsmith35

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This one looks absolutely amazing but it is still Proof of Concept. The developers have no idea when to offer for almost 3 years now.
Price should be around 1200 Dollar

Looks like they offer it for sale now... the Optimum Maximum. Only $1692.

My favorite old keyboard is the Keytronics KB 101 Plus. I don't use it anymore, since I started using a Microsoft Natural keyboard (to reduce the risk of CTS), but the KB101 was fast, serviceable, and reliable.
 
js

js

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sorry to get back here so late,
and for the wrong assumption for MX switches.

i haven't been doing the keyboard thing for that long, especially compared to many others on geekhack.

yes, brown is very close to topre... but those are the only two i have even used! cherry blue is the only major one i'm missing (but that's on order) (ignoring black, which i dont think i really want), but none of the other ones are here with me, so i get to use them all at once in february.

Let us know what you think of the Cherry blue!

And which do you like better? Cherry brown or Topre?
 
AndrewZorn

AndrewZorn

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they are still very different, even though they are considered very similar.

the browns are much lighter and mechanical feeling.

the topre is smooth, soft, and better built (only a characteristic because only the topre boards have topre switches)
 
turbodog

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I've followed this thread from the beginning, and contributed some also.

I'm lazy right now.

Could someone point me RIGHT to a website (link) where I can buy:
101/104 keyboard (101 perferable)
in ps/2 or usb (adapter preferred)

with cherry blue
and cherry brown

Yes, I want to buy both keyboards and compare to my nmb keyboard. Willing to go up to about $100-125 per board. I expect to pick my favorite and return/sell the other board, then buy another of the one I liked most.


Std inverted T arrow keys, function keys, etc. No funkyness...

My nmb has a key dying....
 
js

js

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turbodog,

EliteKeyboards is where I would go to buy a Cherry board. Their Filco Majestouch boards are superior to most other Cherry boards from what I have read (except possibly the boards made by Cherry itself), and there was a great review thread at geekhack comparing the Majestouch to the Das Keyboard, much to the latters' disadvantage.

Here is the Filco 104 key Majestouch page. The page has both blue and brown, but note that the blue is out of stock until December (whatever exactly that means--probably early to mid December, I suspect). These boards are standard, as you like, and work with either USB or PS2, and come with said adaptor. I would definitely recommend the bit of extra coin for the NKRO models, as it indicates superior circuitry inside. Never get a non N-Key Rollover board, in my opinion, FWIW.

If you go to geekhack and do some looking about, I think there's a thread that lists all the various boards that use Cherry keyswitches, but from what I have seen, you either want the Filco or the Cherry boards themselves.

I've been quite happy with EliteKeyboards service and shipping and packing. Top notch. And this seems to be the general impression over at geekhack.

Hope that helped.
 
turbodog

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Yeah, thanks. Sort of an exec summary. I have been on (and posted) the forums over at geekhack. My perfect scenario would be to find someone that could directly compare my nmb to some modern board.

Scratch that.... perfect would be to find an nmb board new, with ps/2 or usb plug.

I will miss the nmb key switches and layout. It's got an odd layout, with a backward L enter key and some weirdness with backspace and backslash.

Will order soon.

Thanks.
 
wquiles

wquiles

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Thanks js for the great summary and links. I just ordered one of the Filco 104 key Majestouch (Brown switch). I currently type with a Key Tronic "Lifetime Series" 104-key, and I find the keys take too much force to actuate, and the keys are fairly noisy as well, so I am hoping the Filco will be a good improvement :D

Will
 
M

manoloco

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Yeah, thanks. Sort of an exec summary. I have been on (and posted) the forums over at geekhack. My perfect scenario would be to find someone that could directly compare my nmb to some modern board.

Scratch that.... perfect would be to find an nmb board new, with ps/2 or usb plug.

I will miss the nmb key switches and layout. It's got an odd layout, with a backward L enter key and some weirdness with backspace and backslash.

Will order soon.

Thanks.

Man, you werent kidding when you said you felt lazy ;), you have already asked this before on post #80, i answered in post #81 of this same thread, there are some pics to compare with too.

Are those the switches you have?, those are NMB black magic, they are nice, but nowere near smooth as Cherry MX brown, however it might be your cup of tea, or my NMB could be old enough to feel different (i now doubt this as i have a couple of them and both feel the same and the register of the keys is crispy, its the action that i like better on the MX brown, and definitely requires more force than the browns.

The click sound on them is not annoying at all which for me is a plus.
 
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js

js

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Thanks js for the great summary and links. I just ordered one of the Filco 104 key Majestouch (Brown switch). I currently type with a Key Tronic "Lifetime Series" 104-key, and I find the keys take too much force to actuate, and the keys are fairly noisy as well, so I am hoping the Filco will be a good improvement :D

Will

Will,

No prob! Hey, so what does the Key Tronic use? I was thinking maybe you were implying that it used Blue Cherry MX switches, or something similar, which is why you went with the Filco Brown Cherry MX board? Is that so? Right now, I'm interested in anything and everything I can hear about the Cherry Blue switches, so let me know if my inference is correct!
 

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