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Old 09-13-2015, 07:44 PM   #1
Prestidigitweeze
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Mechanical Keyboards

Has anyone else found that owning a mechanical bluetooth keyboard leads to compulsive typing?

I picked up a Varmilo VB87M with Cherry MX Blue switches on Massdrop a few months ago. Getting it to pair with all of my main devices was arduous, but the feel and sound of the keys are so satisfying that I find myself typing even when I'm not driven to input flurries of phrases and images. That's how fun mechanical keyboards can be: They can actually inspire you.

This one also has backlit LEDs for typing in the dark (if your touch memorization doesn't extend to certain key commands and alternate characters). You can customize mechanical keyboards endlessly as well -- different keycaps, metal/acrylic cases, stabilizers, etc. -- but for now, I'm happy with this one as is.

Because I've enjoyed using this keyboard so much, I just bought a WASD Code with MX Clears for editing at work. Clears are a tad quieter than blues and there's little point in using any keyboard that feels less than delicious if you have a choice.

Has anyone else been fondling mechanical keyboards of late? If you're a composer as well as a writer, you might have found that spinning out musical and verbal phrases can feel satisfyingly similar. That's especially true when the keys on both sorts of board feel perfect.

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Old 09-13-2015, 10:35 PM   #2
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Yes. I have a Razer, with blue switches, and it's not clicky enough. Neither the sound nor the tactile feedback. I guess I've been spoiled by an IBM type M. However, it is much better than the mushy alternatives.-)
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Old 09-13-2015, 11:09 PM   #3
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If it ain't bent I can't use it. (Which pretty much cuts out mechanical for me.) I was using a Kinesis Freestyle for a while and found it very good, but they're expensive and difficult to get here so for now I'm back with a Microsoft Sculpt keyboard (I do like the freedom of wireless as well). The Sculpt is not bad but it doesn't seem to be lasting very well (a few keys now less than perfect and the palm-rest cover is looking pretty horrible). MS used to make excellent "natural" keyboards but the quality has definitely dropped off.

I'm not really into "clicky" keys, I like quiet, so as long as the keyboard gives decent tactile feedback, and isn't too heavy on the downstroke, I'm happy. I do agree that a good keyboard can be a joy to use, almost inspiring in its own right, it's just that we all find different things inspiring.

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Old 09-14-2015, 12:39 AM   #4
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Cherry keyboards in general are the best I ever used and still use.
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Old 09-14-2015, 03:29 AM   #5
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I have loved mechanical keyboards from the very start ... but ...

After getting an IBM (back then Lenovo was the manufacturer but they were sold under the IBM brand name) ThinkCentre in 2003 I discovered that I really liked the stock keyboard. In 2007 I upgraded to an enhanced performance USB keyboard (Lenovo model 73P2620, but mine is branded IBM) and I like it every bit as much. I recently retired the IBM (it had lived a lo-ooo-ong, useful life, but it was time) and bought a Dell as my Windows machine, but I kept the Lenovo/IBM keyboard. I'm that happy with it.

They aren't mechanical keys, but they have a solid feel, they're responsive, and they provide a degree of tactile and audible feedback.

For what it's worth.

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Old 09-14-2015, 12:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cromag View Post
I have loved mechanical keyboards from the very start ... but ...

After getting an IBM (back then Lenovo was the manufacturer but they were sold under the IBM brand name) ThinkCentre in 2003 I discovered that I really liked the stock keyboard. In 2007 I upgraded to an enhanced performance USB keyboard (Lenovo model 73P2620, but mine is branded IBM) and I like it every bit as much. I recently retired the IBM (it had lived a lo-ooo-ong, useful life, but it was time) and bought a Dell as my Windows machine, but I kept the Lenovo/IBM keyboard. I'm that happy with it.

They aren't mechanical keys, but they have a solid feel, they're responsive, and they provide a degree of tactile and audible feedback.

For what it's worth.
Not a BluTooth
I used to haunt the Surplus Electronics shops for the old IBM (PS2 plug) clicky keyboards . The OLD Dells were my backup (The new stuff is a cheap PO*) (I used them in the field, literally, in a dusty Tent, so I went through them fast. )
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Old 09-15-2015, 01:05 AM   #7
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If it ain't bent I can't use it. (Which pretty much cuts out mechanical for me.) I was using a Kinesis Freestyle for a while and found it very good, but they're expensive and difficult to get here so for now I'm back with a Microsoft Sculpt keyboard (I do like the freedom of wireless as well). The Sculpt is not bad but it doesn't seem to be lasting very well (a few keys now less than perfect and the palm-rest cover is looking pretty horrible). MS used to make excellent "natural" keyboards but the quality has definitely dropped off.
That's my problem. I need the ergo shape, so...no mechanicals. And I've now run through at least 10 keyboards in the last few years. The Microsofts wear out in under 6 months. My last Logitech? 3 months before the b went Tango Uniform; now I have 6 more keys that are utterly gone. And I lust after a mechanical keyboard.

Quote:
I'm not really into "clicky" keys, I like quiet, so as long as the keyboard gives decent tactile feedback, and isn't too heavy on the downstroke, I'm happy. I do agree that a good keyboard can be a joy to use, almost inspiring in its own right, it's just that we all find different things inspiring.
I just want a decent ergo keyboard that lasts for more than 6 months. :-)

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Old 09-15-2015, 01:23 AM   #8
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I have loved mechanical keyboards from the very start ... but ...

After getting an IBM (back then Lenovo was the manufacturer but they were sold under the IBM brand name) ThinkCentre in 2003 I discovered that I really liked the stock keyboard. In 2007 I upgraded to an enhanced performance USB keyboard (Lenovo model 73P2620, but mine is branded IBM) and I like it every bit as much. I recently retired the IBM (it had lived a lo-ooo-ong, useful life, but it was time) and bought a Dell as my Windows machine, but I kept the Lenovo/IBM keyboard. I'm that happy with it.

They aren't mechanical keys, but they have a solid feel, they're responsive, and they provide a degree of tactile and audible feedback.

For what it's worth.
The old Northgate keyboards. If you can find one, even not working, buy it. There's a guy in upstate New York who fixes them. I've got four in the house in working order, and three more to send to him for a refurb. They weigh in at 5lbs each, but great feel and feedback. Plus the ctrl key can be swapped up next to the 'A' key, where it belongs. And the function keys are on the left on some models.

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Old 09-15-2015, 05:39 AM   #9
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I have a Tzumi bluetooth keyboard that I picked up at wal-Mart for 15.00 andit does make typing easier when the connection is up. Sometimes it seems to swith to onlscreen keyboard and I have to switch it back
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Old 09-15-2015, 01:18 PM   #10
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That's my problem. I need the ergo shape, so...no mechanicals. And I've now run through at least 10 keyboards in the last few years. The Microsofts wear out in under 6 months. My last Logitech? 3 months before the b went Tango Uniform; now I have 6 more keys that are utterly gone. And I lust after a mechanical keyboard.

I just want a decent ergo keyboard that lasts for more than 6 months. :-)

Hitch
Have you looked at the Kinesis Freestyle? The quality is good. With the VIP accessory kit you can make them sit pretty much like a proper natural/ergo keyboard. They are a bit strange (but not as strange as some). Having a keyboard in two halves gets a bit of a nuisance when you want to move it around. When using it like a natural keyboard you can use the supplied plastic doohickey to tie the two halves together at the top corner, but that doohickey is a bit flimsy so you still have to treat it like a keyboard in two pieces. It is expensive, especially when you remember that if you also want the numeric keypad it is extra again (at least the separate keypad comes with the MS Sculpt). ... I was using the Freestyle v1, not tried the v2 that's out now, but the v1 was definitely much higher quality than what I've been getting from MS.
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Old 09-15-2015, 02:47 PM   #11
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i recently bought a Matias Ergo and I am so in love with it I have to buy two more for other workstations. Sigh. Alps switches are my jam.

Hitch, the Matias has a traditional (mostly) layout too so you avoid the Kinesis problem (they have some regular-ish models too but their flagships are those deep-dish guys with the alternative layouts).

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Old 09-15-2015, 03:08 PM   #12
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Have you looked at the Kinesis Freestyle? The quality is good. With the VIP accessory kit you can make them sit pretty much like a proper natural/ergo keyboard. They are a bit strange (but not as strange as some). Having a keyboard in two halves gets a bit of a nuisance when you want to move it around. When using it like a natural keyboard you can use the supplied plastic doohickey to tie the two halves together at the top corner, but that doohickey is a bit flimsy so you still have to treat it like a keyboard in two pieces. It is expensive, especially when you remember that if you also want the numeric keypad it is extra again (at least the separate keypad comes with the MS Sculpt). ... I was using the Freestyle v1, not tried the v2 that's out now, but the v1 was definitely much higher quality than what I've been getting from MS.
I haven't, but...I think that Tex2002ans has one. He loves it, IF (big caveat there) I'm remembering correctly that that's what he has. I don't move my keyboard around, if you don't count cat-induced shiftage. (My big Maine Coon thinks it's hysterical to run across the house, through the french doors into the office, launch from 10 feet away and do the Baseball/Risky Business SLIDE onto the paperwork, etc., on my desk. Everything goes flying.) Other than THAT, no, I don't move my keyboard around at all, so that wouldn't be an issue.

How do the keys LAST? That's the biggie for me--the lettering wears off in weeks, LITERALLY. Two months, at the outside, before the m goes. Then the s-d; then the k-l. Oh, and the "e" goes somewhere in there. Right now, I have a QWRY keyboard. {sigh}. This sucker isn't even 5 months old, IIRC. (I told the spousal unit I really ought to buy 3 at once!!!! He can't type by touch, so this is a HUGE issue for him.)

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i recently bought a Matias Ergo and I am so in love with it I have to buy two more for other workstations. Sigh. Alps switches are my jam.

Hitch, the Matias has a traditional (mostly) layout too so you avoid the Kinesis problem (they have some regular-ish models too but their flagships are those deep-dish guys with the alternative layouts).

Again: how long does the keyboard lettering last? At this point, I'm almost more crazy about that, than anything else, but my wrists simply don't last on a straight-layout keyboard. I have to limit my nighttime typing, on my Lenovo TP Yoga, for this very reason.

P.S. I can't see that DB photo, but I'll copy the link and see if I can view it that way.

Thanks!
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Old 09-15-2015, 03:14 PM   #13
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If the image doesn't load you can always read about it on their site: http://matias.ca/ergopro/pc/.

The lettering should last a very long time but I haven't had it more than a month. I will say that Matias doesn't spare expense and I don't image the print on the keys will ever be a problem. Their flagship product is essentially a USB version of the Apple Extended Keyboard II, which was the nicest keyboard I ever used up until the Matias Ergo —*I had to give up my Apple Extended II years ago because it was only made with an ADB interface and once all my Macs had USB and no longer shipped with ADB ports it was an unfortunate consequence for me.

Massdrop has a lot of group buys for various mechanical keyboards but very few of them (save one or two open hardware spec models that enthusiasts like) have ergo layouts.

The Matias is adjustable and split so you can tent the keyboard however you like. Doesn't skate around on the desk either, due to LRF support*.


* little rubber feet
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Old 09-15-2015, 11:55 PM   #14
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i recently bought a Matias Ergo and I am so in love with it I have to buy two more for other workstations. Sigh. Alps switches are my jam.

Hitch, the Matias has a traditional (mostly) layout too so you avoid the Kinesis problem (they have some regular-ish models too but their flagships are those deep-dish guys with the alternative layouts).

It looks as if you're trying to include a graphic from your dropbox account, but it isn't working, at least for me. I got a 404 message when I tried to follow the link manually.
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Old 09-16-2015, 12:37 AM   #15
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I haven't, but...I think that Tex2002ans has one. He loves it, IF (big caveat there) I'm remembering correctly that that's what he has. I don't move my keyboard around, if you don't count cat-induced shiftage. (My big Maine Coon thinks it's hysterical to run across the house, through the french doors into the office, launch from 10 feet away and do the Baseball/Risky Business SLIDE onto the paperwork, etc., on my desk. Everything goes flying.) Other than THAT, no, I don't move my keyboard around at all, so that wouldn't be an issue.

How do the keys LAST? That's the biggie for me--the lettering wears off in weeks, LITERALLY. Two months, at the outside, before the m goes. Then the s-d; then the k-l. Oh, and the "e" goes somewhere in there. Right now, I have a QWRY keyboard. {sigh}. This sucker isn't even 5 months old, IIRC. (I told the spousal unit I really ought to buy 3 at once!!!! He can't type by touch, so this is a HUGE issue for him.) [...]
I touch-type so I had to pull it back out to check but yes, after 2.5 years of use (10+ hrs a day) all the keys are still clearly marked (no obvious fading). I think they sell replacement key-caps. Checking my diary from when I changed over to the MS Sculpt, it notes that the reason I changed was that there was a few keys starting to get a bit sticky (I may have been able to clean it out, but decided to try the MS Sculpt).

The VIP accessory kit includes separate pads to stick on the palm rests, but I left them off, preferring the plain plastic palm rest - which also makes it easier to keep clean and looking okay (my MS Sculpt with its fake leather palm rest started to look awful after just a few months). You can use just the V3 accessory if you don't want palm rests.

The pictures here for the VIP3 Accessory show some of the layouts, but don't show how the keyboard can be linked at the top corner. One of the pictures here Freestyle2 for PC shows the top corner link.

I see they also make a bluetooth version, which is tempting. Note that they have different models for PC and Mac.

You've probably seen the weird Kinesis Advantage keyboard that incumbent was talking about, I've never really been tempted by one of those - way to big, I'd need a new desk. I found the Freestyle very adaptable, and the fact that there are two halves means you can actually make subtle changes to the spacing and angle as you go which I think helps a bit. (I saw a keyboard somewhere that had built-in motors to deliberately keep changing the keyboard angle etc., because, in theory, this reduces repetitive strain.)

I did look at a Goldtouch Adjustable keyboard (easier to find here in Australia than the Kinesis), but I didn't really like the ball-joint thing going on between the two halves. It may be okay, but I it looked like a problem waiting to happen, to me.


ETA: I should note that the keys on my MS Sculpt are all still clearly marked after 12 months of use, no sign of fading/wearing. (A couple of keys are getting a bit sticky already - which in combination with how awful the palm rests look will probably have me hunting down a replacement soon.)

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