If you're interested, check out the excellent r/MechanicalKeyboards buying guide: http://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/wiki/buying_guid...
I got a Cooler Master Quickfire Rapid (Rapid is the most "barebones" version of the keyboard; other versions: TK = has a numpad; Stealth = keys printed on the side; Pro = has backlighting) with Cherry MX Blue switches (my favorites for typing; if you're interested I recommend reading up on the switches: http://www.keyboardco.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/an-introduc...)
Before that I had been using a bluetooth Apple keyboard for years; but I felt that I typed sloppily on it and that it hurt my wrists. Changing to mechanical has been great for that; if you're not a touch typist, it'll definitely encourage you to lean that way.
And finally, the amazing things with Cherry MX caps is that you can buy custom caps online (or 3D print your own!). So now my keyboard looks like this, which I find lovely :) http://i.imgur.com/j1jZN1a.jpg
Finally, if you're working in tech, you probably have a crazy hacker friend who owns a Happy Hacking Keyboard and talks about it all the time. Those use Topre switches, which have a different feel than Cherry MX, and are super expensive (300$ when you include shipping and tax); but damn, they look good, are super portable, and quite comfortable (available in black/white and printed/non printed and ansi/mac layouts). However, they're really meant for UNIX usage- if you don't spend 90%+ of your time in terminal applications of some form, then it's not for you. They have a mac layout that makes things a bit easier if you use a mac, but it's still very much hacker oriented.
Also, avoid the Lite version- while it is much cheaper, it uses rubber dome switches (the kind of switches in traditional cheap keyboards) and is just not worth it.
The hacker keyboard rabbit hole is a deep one (for example, there are people who swear only by Japanese keyboards because they have a smaller space bar and thus have more meta keys/are more compact). It may seem a little superficial and silly, but hey- you're spending dozens of hours a week on your keyboard. Having something that you feel is comfortable and looks nice can make your computing experience significantly better :)
Nice, compact, great key action. I initially balked at the idea of spending $105 on a keyboard (now $89). After having one, I will never again have a problem justifying a purchase that makes my day-in day-out coding more comfortable and enjoyable.
Don't skimp on your keyboard or your chair. You don't have to go all-out Realforce and Aeron, but don't cheap out either.
As a bit of anecdote for those who are considering buying a mechanical keyboard but aren't sure which to buy:
A friend of mine has a $160 Filco with green switches that he's been using for over a year. He types on it at around 95 WPM. Once I had him try out my $100 green switch cooler master. After a few rounds on typeracer, he was averaging 110 WPM. For experienced typists who are already very fast, the extra stiffness of green switches can be a huge boost for productivity. Plus they sound extremely sexy.
I wonder about getting any of the newer keyboards in Europe. Most of those manufacturers or online shops selling those 'speciality' keyboards seem to be US based. And it's quite hard to find the same models in Europe.
Any tips where to go without getting ripped-off by delivery charges and/or customs?
I use one of these keyboards on my desktop: http://www.thinkpads.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/lenovo_t...
It's the same as my laptop.
Big thanks to Lenovo for making this piece of awesomeness.
Edit: to the downvoters. I was a model M fan for years until it nearly fucked my hands up. CTS surgery was required. Now I prefer lighter touch positive action keyboards like Lenovo / Sun ones.
This is the one I bought, is this the same one? http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002ONCC6G/B004D9R9OM...
Apparently they removed the touchpad in this later model but improved the stickyness of the keys (some folk complained about the keys being mashy in the 1st generation.) I kind of would have liked a trackpad but the trackpoint does suffice, it's just really hard to get used to after years without one!
Both are far superior to many cheap keyboards.
I only wish Unicomp or Das Keyboard came in a bluetooth version. The Das Keyboard using 2 USB ports is a tad bogus.
My wife forbade me from using my Model M (now deceased ... it turns out cat pee can in fact kill one) after 9pm :-(
Before the model M I typed very lightly on the keyboard, but once I started using the M I began to press a bit harder in response to the positive clicking sound. Neither my speed or accuracy changed as a result of using the M.
Next thing I knew, I'd pound the keys on any keyboard, regardless of whether it had positive clicking.
This led to increased strain on my fingers and wrists and eventually I had to re-teach myself how to type lightly.
Now I type just as I used to before the M. I caution anyone considering getting one to be aware of the overall amount of physical pounding his/her fingers and hands are engaged in, and to realize that it can create additional tendon fatigue and bad ergonomic habits.
My experience is the reverse, I have a couple cheap mushboards at work and the variability of force means I have to hit each key exactly the same each time (bad) and have to pound the heck out of it because the A key takes about twice the force of the F key (however small) and tiny variations in striking angle results in dramatic change in force required. So my hands have to be in exactly the same position every time and I have to pound the heck out of it. Luckily this is a secondary machine I don't have to type very much on!
On the other hand my model M at home is smooth as silk so I can microscopically vary my wrist positions with no change in force required, and decades later the force required is still more or less constant across all keys and lower than my mushboard at work.
But I agree - one doesn't actually need to type any harder on a model M, in fact - like the piano - speed and stamina increases if you use less force.
In fact, some of the old mainframe terminals, e.g., the 3270†, were capable of physically locking the keyboard when the program was not expecting input. When the keyboard was locked, you couldn't type — the keys would not depress. When the system was ready for input, it would send a keyboard restore order, you would hear a faint click from within the keyboard, and the keys would then go down when pressed.
Unicomp Keyboards @:
(Though I guess "lots of cash" is subjective...)
I'm told over and over again that the most important technique for programming success is interrupting programers as often as possible. They thrive on having to listen to sports discussions and having to listen to other people's music that they don't like when they're trying to concentrate. Open plans are the silver bullet of programmer productivity and surely a littly clicky clicky will only help.
Seriously though I have been using a Model M since the 90s, they are beyond awesome, excellent finger feel compared to mushboards, and cheap/easy to maintain. Every year or so I pop the keycaps off and wash them using dishwasher soap, let dry, pop back on. That's about all the maintenance they need. Every mass market article about them has some weird moth to the flame desire to go on and on about how loud they are. Dude, they're not jackhammers. They are discernibly louder if you pay attention to those things. If you don't pay attention you will not notice the difference.
We never had a keyboard that didn't work after this "refurbishment". Absolutely built like tanks.
So it's weird to see keyboards like the Model M going for $100+. And I agree that they're nice typers. But then again I'm using the same $10 Logitech I bought at Ross (of all places) when I realized I needed a USB keyboard for something 10 years ago. I toss it in the dish washer a couple times a year to clean the cruft out, but other then some faded keys it works "fine".
The only expensive keyboard I've bought was one of those Bluetooth Mac chiclet keyboards and only because I was using my rMBP as a second monitor and needed something a bit closer to type on. It's okay, but I wish sometimes I had bought the $15 bluetooth keyboards I see at Ross every so often.
I would never have dreamed of doing that. :)
The biggest issue is that you get noise complaints in offices....but they do make o-rings to quiet that up....if noise is an issue you are going to want to use cherry mx-browns and forgo the clicky cherry mx blues....
I use the Matias Mini Tactile Pro with my Mac http://matias.ca/minitactilepro/mac/ . It has custom Matias Click switches that they say emulate the old ALPS switches before ALPS changed hands. It's probably my favorite keyboard that I've ever used, and I'd say that it's a nice middle ground between buckling spring (which can be actually too difficult to use, as evidenced by reports of injuries in this thread) and the softer, less tactile Cherry switches.
I do also have a Rosewill RK-9000BR with Cherry Brown microswitches for my gaming PC, and enjoy that as well.
edit: Also, this thread has taught me about Topre switches, so cool!
Corsair Vengeance K95
Note, it is $150 now, but when I bought it it was $130 and newegg pretty regularly has 5% or 10% discounts.
You can get them for significantly cheaper, here is one at $70:
CM Storm QuickFire TK CHERRY MX Brown
Regarding the keyboard I got specifically, it has a metal frame and thus both is study as hell and looks/feels really high-end. It has brilliant backlighting and 18! programmable keys which should be interesting.
Getting down to the mechanical aspect itself, I've never been a snob about keyboards, I've been perfectly content with the cheap keyboard that came with my boxed computer, but I kept hearing gamers rave about mechanical keyboeards, so I figured it must be worth trying.
It is amazing. It really surprises me just how enjoyable it makes typing.
If you do a lot of work with computers (I guess that would be almost everyone here) or programming, I think it is one of the better investments you can make.
Someone already posted a link to a subreddit covering the topic, and it is important that you realize that different colored switches have different characteristics and some prefer one to the other, but reds seem to be the most popular.
is a good place to keep an eye out for sales if you don't want to take the plunge immediately.
I absolutely love this keyboard, and if you look past the tacky gamer/marketing features of the keyboard (various backlighting modes, like a "snake" that goes back and forth between your keys) it's a fantastic keyboard.
It works great on a Mac, the include a replacement spacebar which is way better looking than the ugly "backlight dragon" that advertise with the keyboard. It came in at just about $140.
Mechanicalkeyboards(.com) usually has the harder to find mechanical keyboards in stock.
A few years later, one of the switches went bad and I looked into finding a replacement. It turns out I had bought a Focus FK-2001, which nowadays sell on eBay for around $60. After that, I started looking at Goodwill for more mechanical keyboards, but I have never again seen one.
By the way, I've tried so many different options to get 2 screens + my laptop but it never really worked.. I'm running archlinux. I even bought a hardware switch to fake a wider resolution but it's kind of clunky. Does anyone know a good way to achieve that? (Be able to plug two screens into laptop?). I've got a mac-air.. maybe that explains the problem because I know of some graphic cards that can handle it better..
I tried Brown and Red switches. I have to say, my favourite is the Duckies by far, with Red switches.
Of all the keyboards though (I'm a freak with them), the AUD 60 apple keyboard wins (has to be replaced once a year). It's just super quiet, and my typing tests show I can easily get more words per minutes on it.
I don't want to be a mood killer, these are just my findings. Apple's are great. Even on PC.
There's also another company that makes parallel keys, I think it's called Maltron.
I haven't gotten any faster, as 80% of my typing is still on a Thinkpad keyboard. Also the Cherry keys feel much too high and don't have a trackpoint.
IMHO, YMMV etc etc.
I can also go much faster on a model M or cherry.
I'll travel to the ends of the earth with mine!
I've periodically considered converting it (or another one) to be Bluetooth wireless. Is there any consensus on the security of Bluetooth for keyboards?
No consensus because security is really big.
So... is there a guard in the guard shack aka an active keyboard / mouse, yes/no just look at a spectrum analyzer for power spectrum in the ISM band BT uses. You can also jam the guards BT devices preventing him from doing anything quite easily. Although once you go active transmitting the game is kinda on.
Some talk about pattern recognition vs time but I've never heard anything "serious" about it. This is the old IBM selectric hack from decades ago where you'd take an audio recording of that classic typewriter and E latency is 7 ms, F is 8 ms, G is 9 ms due to inherent design of the printhead, so you play back the tape and output a near perfect stream of whatever was being typed. Supposedly you can do something like this with BT like the the human key latency between i and n is faster than q and z because no words have a qz. So even if the i and n and q and z are perfectly encrypted such that you'd never mathematically decode them individually, in a sequence representing english text its supposedly easy to decode. Supposedly. I don't think its a practical fear and probably doesn't work for rehearsed muscle memory type passphrases.
Generally you can MITM bluetooth but once you're paired you're OK. So attacker would have to be there when paired. Google for simple secure pairing SSP and I think that needs ver 2.1 or newer (no problemo). Basically if you're not typing in four 0 to pair, then its probably SSP?
Once a BT device is woken up latency isn't so bad but my SIL's mouse / keyboard were famous for about 1 second latency when they fell asleep until they woke up to save power. This would drive me bonkers, your experience may vary.
The tradeoff would be one less cable in exchange for a battery that only fails at the most inopportune time. Eh.
In the past I actually used two extra modifiers (Super and Hyper) and was quite happy.
If the keyboard had one extra key on the left, between the Ctrl and Alt key, I'd be happy.
But I also like the keyboard in my Macbook Pro. If Apple's external keyboards are identical, I would be happy to settle for that if I ever get an office mate that minds the noise.
That comes in handy when something suddenly wants to throw up some sort of GUI popup.
And, because the key covers pop off, you could make your keyboard 31337: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vonguard/134656386/
In addition I really like the no-nonsense Cherry design, it feels like a tool and not a fashion statement.
1. the windows buttons
2. the right keypad
I find that I never use the keypad anymore and that the increased distance to the trackball is rather of a pain.