Mechanical keyboards are awesome. Model Ms are cool, but if you want something a bit more modern (with media keys, a slightly smaller footprint, and slightly quieter keys), look into any keyboard that advertises having Cherry MX switches. You can get a great keyboard for only ~$80 (look at the CM Storm QuickFire line - ignore the goofy "pro gamer" marketing, they're wonderful for hacking too!).
I second this advice! I've been using a mechanical keyboard for a few months now.
I got a Cooler Master Quickfire Rapid (Rapid is the most "barebones" version of the keyboard; other versions: TK = has a numpad; Stealth = keys printed on the side; Pro = has backlighting) with Cherry MX Blue switches (my favorites for typing; if you're interested I recommend reading up on the switches: http://www.keyboardco.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/an-introduc...)
Before that I had been using a bluetooth Apple keyboard for years; but I felt that I typed sloppily on it and that it hurt my wrists. Changing to mechanical has been great for that; if you're not a touch typist, it'll definitely encourage you to lean that way.
And finally, the amazing things with Cherry MX caps is that you can buy custom caps online (or 3D print your own!). So now my keyboard looks like this, which I find lovely :) http://i.imgur.com/j1jZN1a.jpg
Finally, if you're working in tech, you probably have a crazy hacker friend who owns a Happy Hacking Keyboard and talks about it all the time. Those use Topre switches, which have a different feel than Cherry MX, and are super expensive (300$ 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 :)
Just an FYI however: there are lots of different subtypes of Cherry MX keys. You can go with Blue or Green switches (named for the color of the 'stem' under the key cap). They give you a Model M-style feel, with a click halfway down. Brown and Clear give you the feel of the click without the noise, and Red and Black are quiet. User preference and all that.
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.
I agree 100%. I used to use a Model M, but I've been using a Green switch CM Storm keyboard for a few months now. The green switches are much stiffer than the blues (in a good way). I would recommend green switches for anybody who wants a similar feel and responsiveness to the old bucking spring keyboards. Also the CM keyboard is very well built (almost identical to Filco's keyboards) and comes at a great price.
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.
Bought a CM Storm QuickFire last month with cherry browns. Super in love with it - I was a little worried because it was my first meychanical keyboard (the market can be overwhelming) but I am very happy with the build quality.
I own two model M's (one at home, one in the office). They have a slightly different feel due to different manufacturing years (or wear?). Both are great, but I do need a ps2-usb adapter, and somehow the adapter ignores one of the keys... I manage without it, even though it's strange.
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?
Agreed, this keyboard is just awesome. I own a Thinkpad laptop and one of these keyboards at home and work. Perfect key sizes and not very loud. But if you do need that feeling of getting some work done or type up a stern email or two, go ahead and give your keystrokes some oomph. I'm always pleased with results :)
Seconded. The best keyboard I ever had belonged to a third generation IBM Thinkpad. When I saw the Thinkpad keyboard on amazon, I jumped on it. The trackpoint takes a bit of getting used to but it is really great for programming because your hands can remain in a single position and it'll help conserve energy and alleviate strain.
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!
I have Das Keyboard mechanical keyboards on all of my home systems. I have spinal nerve damage that reduces sensation in some of my fingers. The positive tactile feel of the switches and the clicky sounds are very helpful in compensating for the reduced feeling in my fingers.
I have a Das Keyboard as well as a Unicomp Model M. Unfortunately, the Unicomp needs to go in for repair. In terms of overall size, I like Das Keyboard better, but I haven't tried the smaller Unicomps. That said, I think the tactile feedback of the Unicomps is much closer to the Model M than the Das Keyboard.
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.
I own a 1994 Model M and recently bought the Das Keyboard for Mac, and the Das Keyboard is horrible. The keys wiggle a bit and feel mushy compared to the crisp clack of the Model M. Also the extra usb ports mean needing to use two ports on my MBP which is stupid. I'm still pissed at myself for not returning it when I had the chance.
The second USB port is just for the USB Hub (which is why the connector says "HUB" on it). It is not required for using the Das Keyboard. My Das Keyboard doesn't have any key wiggle or mushiness issues. What type of Cherry MX switches did you buy? You may want to get MX switches with more resistance if you are looking for a feel similar to the Model M.
I'm sorry to say that, and I didn't even visited the link, but I actually laughed when reading the title of this link. After the thread about what 4chan thinks of HN, this is like HN trying to parody itself :-D.
Yeah, this is too much for me. It's creating a problem out of something that I would never consider to be a problem otherwise. I'm typing here on my Dell laptop keyboard with zero problems. As a matter of fact, mechanical key sounds would probably make my computing experience incredibly annoying.
Caution -- I used one of these and I think it led to bad habits which eventually caused a bit of RSI.
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.
Twenty-years of typing on model Ms here - no RSI. Then again, I've been playing the piano for 35 years, so maybe a well-ingrained slightly-rounded wrist position and controlled striking of the keys has benefited me with both the piano and typing. :)
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.
"I'd pound the keys on any keyboard, regardless of whether it had positive clicking."
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.
IBM keyboards of old were distinguished by their superior tactile feedback.
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.
I absolutely love buckling spring keyboards (typing on one right now) -- The feeling is just hard to describe, definitely makes you feel a lot more productive, and it also reminds me of my younger programming days, when you expected keyboards to make this kind of sound. For those interested, you can get a buckling spring keyboard (M replica) without putting down lots of cash:
When I was just young lad I worked part-time at one of those mom and pop computer fixit shops. Every once in a while the owner would buy a palette of Model M keyboards. I'd get stuck with the job of refurbishing them for sale or inclusion with new systems. I'd spend a couple weeks taking off all the keys, scrubbing the keyboards down with a dishwashing tools and soap and then toss 6 or 7 into the kitchen dishwasher for a cycle. After a week of drying they were good to go for $10-15.
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.
Yeah, but I wouldn't do it with anything too expensive/has batteries etc., and you gotta give it a couple days to dry out so nothing shorts inside of it. The rinse cycle is usually fine. You may or may not want to use soap, I usually wash it with dish soap and a brush first then rinse it in the washer.
I've recently had to readjust the way type to be more wrist-friendly since I've been seeing the beginning (intermediate? God I hope not...) stages of repetitive stress injury. And that's on my relatively ergonomic macbook air, which from what I've read is designed from the start to prevent that sort of thing. I cringe to think of the kind of damage I'd do to my wrists from developing on one of these things for any period of time.
I have had RSI off an on over the past 2 decades. There are only two types of 'primary' keyboards on which I have no issues: my model M, and a curved layout keyboard (using a microsoft 2000 keyboard these days). I think they work in different ways. The curved layout avoids straining my wrists altogether, while the model M changes the 'quality' of the strain to something less harmful. Of the two the model M is definitely the nicest to type on. Anything you type on it feels important. It is too loud though, so I don't use it anymore. Also, my typing accuracy is much higher on the curved layout of the microsoft 2000.
Mechanical keyboards are actually quite a broad market. Of course Cherry are the most famous, aside of vintage models like the Model M, and Model M users often actually discount modern mechanical keyboards since they think Cherry is representative of modern mechanicals and those aren't like Model Ms.
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!
Over the last few years, I held on to my mechanical Apple keyboards with increasing desperation as they started failing. Now, I’m very happy using a Matias Quiet Pro http://matias.ca/quietpro/ since I like the mechanical feel but was never too fond of the noise.
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.
I love mechanical keyboards but prefer a Kinesis Advantage. If you really like the click cherry blue switches could bed added to the Advantage. Then you don't have to worry about RSI and can have the clicky feedback.
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....
Filco Majestouch Tenkeyless with brown switches for me. It's reasonably priced, looks lovely, and is brilliant to type on. That the keys come off for washing and brushing out the keyboard base is also a nice bonus.
One day I went in to my local Goodwill store and noticed they had a good bit of computers/electronics. I picked up a keyboard and liked the clicky sound (at the time I didn't know anything about mechanical key switches) and bought it for $5 US. I had never heard of the company. It was just marked "2001" along the top. I also had to get a PS2 adapter - that's right, this was an AT device.
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 $60. After that, I started looking at Goodwill for more mechanical keyboards, but I have never again seen one.
Using a daskeyboard, a razer mouse, steelseries mouse-pad and sony headphones.. I wouldn't replace them for anything else.
By the way, I've tried so many different options to get 2 screens + my laptop but it never really worked.. I'm running archlinux. I even bought a hardware switch to fake a wider resolution but it's kind of clunky. Does anyone know a good way to achieve that? (Be able to plug two screens into laptop?). I've got a mac-air.. maybe that explains the problem because I know of some graphic cards that can handle it better..
Yeah, I have used a Happy Hacking Keyboard, the IBM Model M, a really nice Phillips keyboard with a sweet touch after the first small signs of RSI I switched to the M$ Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.
I went through two of these already (they don't seem to be that well-built), but they are only 35€ or so and they also work well with OS X and Linux.
I have 4 mechanical keyboards, DAS'es, and Duckies... And I reverted to using an apple (aluminium) keyboard.
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.
Its a nice keyboard, I use the M13 which was designed to be used with the ThinkPad 750c so its the same except it has the control stick in the G-H-B spot, and a left and right mouse buttons on the frame below the space bar.
That comes in handy when something suddenly wants to throw up some sort of GUI popup.
I recently moved to South Africa from the US for 10 months and had to be very judicious about what to take with me. My model M keyboard made the list even though it weighs a ton and takes up much valuable space. I was willing to "downsize" from two large monitors to a single laptop monitor, but there is no way I'm going to spend all all typing on a laptop keyboard!
I like my Cherry G80, it feels exactly like my old Model-M from back in the day (MX Blue switches), build quality is workmanlike (but I like that, it's the ultimate in no frills packaging) but the switches are great and they are very cheap compared to many mechanicals.
In the sense of using an original PS-2 or older keyboard I agree however Unicomp still makes the Model-M and they are essentially identical to the old Model-M's (and still fantastic keyboards) but since I wanted one for the office at home and one for the office at work I could get two G80's for less than a single Unicomp Model-M so it was a sensible buy.
In addition I really like the no-nonsense Cherry design, it feels like a tool and not a fashion statement.
Just to add another keyboard to the list, the KBT Pure is a Cherry MX version of the HHKB2 layout, and available for around $100. It's well built, compact and you can reach all keys without moving your hands too much. Good key feedback, and I can type "pianissimo" when I pay attention to the MX Brown's click feel.
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.
I've used the Cooler Master Quickfire at my old job which made me fall in love with mechanical keyboards. After leaving the job (and the keyboard) behind, I decided to spend more time looking a keyboard that would fit my needs. The options are certainly plentiful but I ultimately ended up buying a Ducky Shine 3 with Cherry MX Blue switches.
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.
I'm currently in the process of building my own Ergodox (http://ergodox.org/Default.aspx), pretty excited for my first mechanical keyboard and mostly want to try out the parallel key arrangement instead of the slanted keys. Fun fact: keyboards are slanted because typewriters' keys would get stuck if parallel and we are still using a design that was produced to solve a problem we no longer have!
The parallel arrangement takes a little getting used to. I switched to a Kinesis Advantage, which has parallel keys, and it took me about a month to get up to speed with it - and another month to get comfortable on a "normal" keyboard again. After that I didn't have any problems switching back and forth, however.
You may find that the non-staggered key layout will reveal some bad typing habits, mainly reaching for keys with the wrong finger. But after taking a few weeks to get used to it, you will probably start to find it much more comfortable. While I still love the tactile feedback I get from my Model M, its staggered layout is beginning to feel a bit alien to me.
"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.
tried Das Keyboard cherry mx blue switch, wayyy tooo loud to use in work place. Switched to kinesis freestyle2. The experience is amazing.... I didn't know non-mechanical keyboard would be such a pleasure to type on.
"This thing is loud, which really makes me feel like I'm getting serious work done when typing. Not so great if you share an office or participate in conference calls, though."
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.
When my office was moving, my friends (other coops) and I found a STASH of model M keyboard. It was amazing. We each got one, a few us sold them for $300+, but we spent a day or two after work cleaning them all out. Disgusting after 20 years of work but so satisfying once they looked brand new.