The best computer keyboards ever made - still

wquiles

wquiles

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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!

I honestly have no clue what they use. I bought my keyboard about a year ago, and best I can find was this link with some information:
keyboard product specs ...

They mention something there "now shipping with Ergo technology", but my keyboard says nothing of the sort, so I might have an oder model:
Ergo Technology ...

Mine is not an expensive keyboard, so I doubt is has fancy Cherry switches - in fact I think it is a membrane, typical of the lower cost keyboards:
cnet review ...

Will
 
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manoloco

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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!

affordable true MX blue keyboard:

Scorpius M-10

seems to have nice reviews, and i would try one, if shipping to Peru werent so expensive.
 
js

js

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affordable true MX blue keyboard:

Scorpius M-10

seems to have nice reviews, and i would try one, if shipping to Peru werent so expensive.

Hmmm. Yeah, I saw that. But cost is no object for me, so I'm more interested in the Filco Majestouch Blue Cherry MX boards. In particular, I think I'll get the 87 key board special edition with the red escape key (worth a whole diamond, they're so coveted and rare! The RED escape key is the end all and be all of all :bow: :bow: :bow: ) hehe.

I would also get the 87 key Realforce Topre board--in fact I WILL get one--but I just can't convince myself that there is any way I could get along with freaking black on dark gray! That's just so hip it's for people who have difficulty seeing over their pelvis. Way too hip for me, in other words. On top of the fact that I'm told you can't make out the lettering in dim light, I personally don't even think it looks good in any of the pictures I've seen. Well, except for the red escape key on black. That does look cool. So, anyway, I'll wait until Feb '10 when they will probably have the 87U in white.

In the meantime, I'll see if I prefer that 10 key less board style to a full size board and also check out the blue cherry mx switches at the same time.

I also gave a lot of thought to the HHKB Pro 2, but enough of the keystrokes would require two hands that it just doesn't appeal to me. Plus, I don't mind the larger size of the ten keyless boards. I suspect that is the perfect compromise for me.
 
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Josey

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I bought the Realforce 103 Topre. My old Logitech was cranky and sticky. Sometimes a key would not come back up, and I'd generate line after line of the same letter until I could bang or pry it free. And it had a lousy touch at best. This keyboard is a dream, and I'm not even used to it. My early tendency is to hit the keys a little too hard, but I should adjust.

However, I would caution anyone about buying the black model. The letters are black on black, which means invisible in most angles of light. It's not really a problem for letters, but I have to look at numbers and dollar signs and asterisks and such. Might get interesting with online banking. I wish I would have gotten the white model, where the letters are visible.

I can't say that I like it as well as the old IBM Selectric I used to use, but it's a huge step up from anything I've used since. And this model is quite a bit more expensive than the Filco. I haven't tried the Filcos with Cherry switches, but probably will because a keyboard I can't see is not something I'll probably keep. But in any event, it's difficult to see where this keyboard could have that much value over the Filco, unless the Filco was just awful.

The website shows the keys as muted, but easily visible. And in the best light from the right angles, that is an accurate photo. But I've found that the light is not typically ideal, and the keys are very difficult to see. Here's an example of what I most often see:

DSC01508.jpg
 
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wquiles

wquiles

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Got my Filco keyboard with the brown switches today. First impressions:
- smaller and lighter than the Keytronic it replaces, but feels very sturdy/high quality.
- the key presses are in fact lighter than in the Keytronic - I like it.
- although these keys do not have the click of the other cherry switches, the keys are not quiet at all. You still hear a distinct noise/click/press on each key.
- I am finding that I am hitting the keys way too hard - I need less pressure to get the keys to work. It will definitely take me some time to adjust to the lighter typing, but again, I like it how it feels so far ;)

Will
 
turbodog

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They are out of filco blue cherry models, but I will order soon as they come in.
 
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manoloco

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Got my Filco keyboard with the brown switches today. First impressions:
- smaller and lighter than the Keytronic it replaces, but feels very sturdy/high quality.
- the key presses are in fact lighter than in the Keytronic - I like it.
- although these keys do not have the click of the other cherry switches, the keys are not quiet at all. You still hear a distinct noise/click/press on each key.
- I am finding that I am hitting the keys way too hard - I need less pressure to get the keys to work. It will definitely take me some time to adjust to the lighter typing, but again, I like it how it feels so far ;)

Will

That noise/audible click you are hearing is from the key bottoming, not exactly a click in the traditional way of mechanical keyboards, i doesnt really need to bottom to be activated, but the distance is very close so it will be usual that you hear that noise; with time you will find that the noise will get lower (you will bottom with less force), the key has a click, but its tactile, you will get used to taking advantage of it.

This is very close to what i felt the first time i used the cherry mx brown, you know theres more in store for when you acclimate to it, but you enjoy them from the first time you touch the keys.
 
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AndrewZorn

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Josey, I wouldn't give up that fast. You said it yourself, you are only 10 keys short of having a standard layout completely memorized. This is a good thing.
 
Rexlion

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I just came across this thread and wanted to comment that I've been using a Goldtouch keyboard for a couple of years now and wouldn't be without it. The Goldtouch has a joint in the middle that lets me custom set the split angle and the center height. I was having some wrist pain from keyboarding and the pain went away when I went to the Goldtouch. (When I took some classes and used a laptop last year my wrists started bothering again, but it let up after the classes ended... proof to me that the Goldtouch works.)

I don't have a model M to compare to, but the Goldtouch keys do have a definite clicky feel and sound to them. They aren't mushy like a cheap keyboard; the keys have an initial resistance before taking a positive downward plunge accompanied by sound, and one can easily tell when that resistance is overcome. Perhaps they work somewhat similarly to your venerable IBM favorite?
 
wquiles

wquiles

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That noise/audible click you are hearing is from the key bottoming, not exactly a click in the traditional way of mechanical keyboards, i doesnt really need to bottom to be activated, but the distance is very close so it will be usual that you hear that noise; with time you will find that the noise will get lower (you will bottom with less force), the key has a click, but its tactile, you will get used to taking advantage of it.

This is very close to what i felt the first time i used the cherry mx brown, you know theres more in store for when you acclimate to it, but you enjoy them from the first time you touch the keys.

That actually makes a lot of sense as I am used to having to hit the keys a lot harder on the other keyboards I had. In fact, after using this Filco keyboard last night, I went to my day job today and it was shocking how hard I had to hit the keys on my keyboard at work. What sucks is that I might just have to bite the bullet and get a second one for work!
 
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manoloco

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I just came across this thread and wanted to comment that I've been using a Goldtouch keyboard for a couple of years now and wouldn't be without it. The Goldtouch has a joint in the middle that lets me custom set the split angle and the center height. I was having some wrist pain from keyboarding and the pain went away when I went to the Goldtouch. (When I took some classes and used a laptop last year my wrists started bothering again, but it let up after the classes ended... proof to me that the Goldtouch works.)

I don't have a model M to compare to, but the Goldtouch keys do have a definite clicky feel and sound to them. They aren't mushy like a cheap keyboard; the keys have an initial resistance before taking a positive downward plunge accompanied by sound, and one can easily tell when that resistance is overcome. Perhaps they work somewhat similarly to your venerable IBM favorite?

I have a Goldtouch, i would definitely LOVE it if it had cherry mx switches, the advantage of positioning the keyboard to your specific position is great, the keys while not great, are ok for a membrane board, but you really need to try the cherry mx switches or other ones described here.

i had luck with that board, found it used in great condition for 15 soles (around $5 usd, even a little bit less).

however like you state, it works, and it works great once you find a perfect position for your hands, feels very nice and relaxed to type in a natural position.
 
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manoloco

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That actually makes a lot of sense as I am used to having to hit the keys a lot harder on the other keyboards I had. In fact, after using this Filco keyboard last night, I went to my day job today and it was shocking how hard I had to hit the keys on my keyboard at work. What sucks is that I might just have to bite the bullet and get a second one for work!


i had to do that too, using other colleagues computers becomes a chore after using the mx switches, when someone asks me about something about their pcs and i need to type on their keyboards the difference is major, like typing with molasses on keys that seem to be other shape than the sockets they fit into. maybe a good moment to try a cheaper used mx board? they might be around 20-30 on ebay.
 
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js

js

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Josey,

You might be able to get someone over at geekhack to trade his or her white 103U for your black one. Worth a try maybe?

But, I'm sorry about the visibility thing. I thought long and hard about the black on black 87U special edition and I posted over at geekhack and asked about visibility and what the board looked like in real life, and I came to the inescapable conclusion that it wasn't much different than a totally blank keyboard in all but bright light. And that was just not OK with me. So, I'll just have to wait until the 87U is available in white.

Another idea: you could sell your black 103U on ebay--most Realforce aficionados seem to prefer black according to the owner of elitekeyboards.com. Then just buy a 103U in white.

But, yeah, even if I did think the black on black looked cool, I still wouldn't go for it, because I need to look at the keyboard when typing in passwords and special characters that I don't normally use, and also just in time to time in general, although mostly I'm a touch typist and don't look at the keyboard at all. But still . . . black on black? Not for me.
 
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Josey

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Thanks, Jim:

95 percent of the time I absolutely love this board. But the keys are close to impossible to see unless I adjust the light just right. My typing is much faster than it was on my old Logitech. But every so often I come to a complete stop while I go looking for some symbol with my flashlight.

I think I'll wait until the Filco Blue Cherries are out and try that. Then I'll sell the board I like less. But this is still fun. Thank you for this thread.
 
js

js

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You're welcome, Josey! I'll be interested to hear your impression of the blue cherry board. Do post here when/if you get one.

I was definitely going to get the Filco tenkeyless model, but then the power adaptor on my Macbook Pro died on me, and I decided I didn't really need to get the Filco--I was only wanted to do so in order to experiment with it--I definitely don't need it. So, I decided against it. But I'm still very curious about the Cherry MX switches of all types.
 
wquiles

wquiles

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Well guys, my Filco k-board has to go back :eek:

And just as I was really starting to like it :(

The problem is that after two days or so in service, the keyboard started either locking up (like going into power save mode) with no output, or it would go into this mode in which besides being locked up, it would randomly start to repeat the last key pressed for ever - weird. The only wait to reset it was to disconnect it, wait a little, and re-connect it, but this is only temporary - it will eventually fail again.

I first tried changing keyboard settings in my computer (Ubuntu 9.10) but had the same problems - it started fine, but then it got into failure mode. Since I was using the USB to PS/2 adapter, I then tried using it directly from the USB port, but the problem actually occurs even quicker under USB - weird.

I send an email to elitekeyboards and they said that yes, that was not the right behavior, and that I should first try with another OS in case it was a problem with Linux. I never had Linux and keyboard problems, but I decided to try it anyway.

I tried the keyboard through the USB port with my corporate laptop which runs Win XP, and like before, it works great for a few minutes, and then it locks up. Definitely not good.

I sent a second email to the support person (Brian) and told him that it does not work with Win XP either, and to please start the RMA procedure to replace this keyboard. Once I hear back from them (Monday?) I will let you guys know more.

Will
PS. It really sucks since I am typing this back on my older KeyTronic k-board and the difference is night and day in how much lighter and smoother I have to hit the keys in the Filco k-board :(
I was ready to buy a second one for work, but I am now thinking twice about it, and perhaps I should try the Deck keyboard that has the same Cherry brown switches this Filco has :confused:
 
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js

js

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Hmmm. Not good. I would suggest that you do take some time to check out reviews over at geekhack forum for whatever keyboard you think you might try instead of a Filco. There's also a good roundup thread of various keyboards to check out as well. It has been my impression that the Filco boards are the best of the Cherry's except for maybe the boards that Cherry itself sells. But I'm far from having done an exhaustive amount of research on the subject!
 
wquiles

wquiles

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Hmmm. Not good. I would suggest that you do take some time to check out reviews over at geekhack forum for whatever keyboard you think you might try instead of a Filco. There's also a good roundup thread of various keyboards to check out as well. It has been my impression that the Filco boards are the best of the Cherry's except for maybe the boards that Cherry itself sells. But I'm far from having done an exhaustive amount of research on the subject!

On Saturday I got email back from them stating that yes, I had a defective k-board, and that they are sending me a new one today (Monday), and that they will also send a pre-paid return label. That is very good service indeed!

As soon as I get my replacement k-board, I will let you know how it does. I "had" to use the old KeyTronic and I hated it - I am already spoiled :naughty:
 
Zelandeth

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Keyboards...a thread on which I could probably ramble for a bit! So I'll probably go back and read this thread in full shortly.

I've been on the hunt for "The One True Keyboard" for quite a while now.

For me keyboards have to fit a few criteria.

1. They must be clicky.
2. There must be tactile feedback at the end of each keystroke.
3. Full size keys only please.
4. They must be heavy enough to serve as an offensive weapon in the case of zombie attack. ...Plus to ensure they stay put where I put them on the desk!

At work I discovered when helping with an office cleanup last year, a Northgate Omnikey Ultra, which had been lost behind the stationary cupboard since sometime in the mid 1990s. After a brief moment of "Oooh...what's that?" some creative use of cable ties and duct tape to retrieve it from behind said cupboard, and a few experimental keypresses, that was adopted for my desk.

That exposed me to how nice to type on keyboards with Alps keyswitches could be. This led to me unearthing an old Apple Extended II from the loft, giving it a clean up, and purchasing an ADB - USB adaptor. Quite a nice 'board that - doesn't quite have the crispness of the Northgate, but I think that's largely due to it being a rather well worn example in my case. It's currently in service on my PC out at my parents house, which tends to get quite extensive use at the weekend. Doubt I'll ever get hold of a Northgate for home use, they just fetch far too silly money when they do actually appear for sale - and I've never seen another UK layout Omnikey Ultra appear for sale anywhere yet.

In here though, the 'board in the following photo's in use, and I can't see that changing any time soon.

workstation1.jpg


Yep, it's an IBM Model M.

(For the real keyboard nerds out there, it's a 1391406 - yes one of the Lexmark ones rather than the earlier "true" IBM boards...but good enough for me!)

Noisy enough to drown out conversations, heavy enough to fall through the floor if you drop it, but without a doubt I think the nicest keyboard ever made to type on.

Other random keyboard question: Why on earth do more keyboards not have that handy little ridge above the function keys to put pens, pencils and erasers on like the Model M and the Northgates do?

...The pencils and stuff which I just scattered all over the desk when looking underneath the keyboard for the model number. *sigh*

Everyone will have their own opinions on something like this - but that's my vote. Proper buckling spring Model M. Best Keyboard. Ever.
 
js

js

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Zelandeth,

Thanks for your post! If you do go back and read this thread you'll find similar stories and mutliple mentions of the IBM Model M (I have a 139401 white label "true" "real" Model M by the way. hehe. Aren't I cool?), the Apple Extended Keyboard II (which is one of my all time favorites--currently attacked to my Lenovo D20 workstation in my office, with iMate adaptor), and the Northgate Omnikey, which I don't have, have never seen, and have never typed on.

I used the IBM Model M for many months (8 to be exact), as my main board, and while I can definitely see the appeal, and I do agree that it is one of the best keyboards ever made, for me I eventually rejected it as the One Board to Rule Them All. It's just not for me. Too loud, too long a throw, a bit too much keyforce needed. I prefer the AEK II to the IBM Model M. And, recently, the Realforce 103U board with Topre keyswitches has pushed the AEK II out of top place. This board is very different than a Model M or AEK II. It doesn't click. No audible feedback. And it's not nearly as heavy as a Model M or AEK II, although it is still very solid and much heavier than your standard junk membrane keyboard. But once you get used to it, it is a dream to type on. Amazing. And very, very well made. It is truly the best keyboard being made today, quality-wise (and the HHKB Pro's, which also use Topre). Everything about the board is very high quality. Mostly, though, it's this action that I have fallen in love with. It is a joy to type on. And it is quiet. After the Model M, the quiet is so nice, so appreciated. I got tired of all the racket, of everyone always knowing when I was typing. People would point it out every now and then, in jest. It was an issue. But not any more. This board is something I really look forward to using every day. I'm amazed. I love it.

But, if I were "stuck" with either the AEK II or the Model M, I'd still be pretty happy as well, vs. the stuff that is attached to most computers these days.

Anyway, thanks again for the post.
 

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