Matias Mini Quiet Pro: what's it like to live with?

Ugh, Amazon. Yeah, there's a reason I finally cancelled my Prime membership after many years. Even the compulsory inclusion of their lame telly package didn't put me off, but the flooding of their listings with cheap crap finally killed them for me.

That's also interesting to hear about Apple's relationship with Foxconn, and actually it doesn't surprise me at all to read all that stuff. Again, it's sad, but what does anybody expect? I don't give Apple any kudos at all for any of that though, they wouldn't need to do any of that if they'd use a reputable manufacturer with a good employee relations ethic.

And I guess I inadvertently found the explanation of why it's such a problem with the downgrade of customer to "consumer".

I don't know a lot about Alps switches and these feel nice enough but maybe I'm getting an inkling of why the Acorn Electron's keys were deemed sub-standard compared to (some of) the BBC Micro's: I mean they felt nicer, to me, but... well, for all the "but", they certainly functioned properly for very much longer than my Matias. :(
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Unread post06 Nov 2018, 17:11

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Muirium wrote:Meanwhile, as for Topre:
002 wrote:Nothing gets me excited like a maid in Japan sticker:
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just saying

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Unread post06 Nov 2018, 19:21

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Hi everyone

First post on Deskthority and I thought i would share my personal experience with Matias-switches and keyboards.

After wanting to replace my generic rubber dome keyboard i stumbled upon mechanical keyboards, stalked several forums, bought some lose switches + switch tester and ended up buying a Matias Quiet Pro as my first keyboard. I immediately loved the different keyfeel and tactility compared to standard rubber domes, so much so that I within a 2 weeks also bought a KBP V80 with Matias Quiet Click switches for use at home.

After two weeks of usage the V80 had developed severe chattering on about 6+ keys, including the enter key. The Quiet Pro lasted a bit longer but in about a month it also had some unbearable keychatter issues. I should have returned the boards but instead i tinkered with them trying to fix the chattering.

Now i have lost interest in trying to mend them because as soon as i "fix" one switch, some other switch starts to malfunction. I have gone over to using a FC660C which i haul to and from work. Terrific little board with excellent switches, 45g Topre are perfect for me.

But although i really liked the feel of the Matias switches the issues they came with almost made me abandon using mechnical keyboards altogether.
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Unread post06 Nov 2018, 20:02

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@Tias: Welcome to DT! Thanks for your post and sharing your experience with Matias-switch keyboards.

My experience with Matias-switch keyboards has been mostly favorable. Perhaps I bought boards made with good batches of the switches. I have several KBP V60 boards with Matias "Quiet Click" and Matias Click switches. Most of these were purchased several years ago, and they have worked just fine. I also have a friend who owns a Matias Mini Tactile Pro that he bought a few years ago. I have typed on his keyboard and liked it; moreover, it is reportedly still working without any problems. Only very recently did I have a problem with a V60 Type R Polestar with Matias Click switches -- it arrived with a detached stabilizer wire and one key that registered okay, but it was tactile and not clicky.

I have also purchased bags of Matias switches (both Quiet and Click) for use in custom boards or for parts incorporated into vintage Alps boards. These have thus far worked as expected. In addition, I rely on Matias for blank keycaps and stabilizer parts for Alps keyboard refurbishing projects.

Despite my relatively good fortune, there are many reports of bad experiences with Matias-switch keyboards indicating problems with design and/or manufacture and/or quality control.

I'm happily typing this on a Northgate 101 with Alps SKCM White (Pine) switches. Yes, it would be great if someone would bring back good old complicated Alps!
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Unread post06 Nov 2018, 20:36

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Tias wrote:But although i really liked the feel of the Matias switches the issues they came with almost made me abandon using mechnical keyboards altogether.

Sympathy. I can well imagine how frustrated with the whole concept I would have been if my very first mech had been made of flaky nonsense instead of buckling springs. I’d have angrily written off the whole thing as mass delusion and snake oil, like certain other nerd hobbies with well deserved reputations! If a keyboard can’t type right, what are all these clowns on about? It would be like vinyl fetishists who chose to like warped records… orped reco… orped reco… bbb…bbb…bbbbbbbb.

Thank goodness there are great boards out there. Thank them by buying!
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Unread post06 Nov 2018, 21:17

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Muirium wrote:
It would be like vinyl fetishists who chose to like warped records.


You may be a greater curmudgeon than I am. I might tolerate a warped record if it was sufficiently rare and important enough and there was no alternative.
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Unread post06 Nov 2018, 23:09

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Muirium wrote:
Tias wrote:But although i really liked the feel of the Matias switches the issues they came with almost made me abandon using mechnical keyboards altogether.

Sympathy. I can well imagine how frustrated with the whole concept I would have been if my very first mech had been made of flaky nonsense instead of buckling springs. I’d have angrily written off the whole thing as mass delusion and snake oil, like certain other nerd hobbies with well deserved reputations! If a keyboard can’t type right, what are all these clowns on about? It would be like vinyl fetishists who chose to like warped records… orped reco… orped reco… bbb…bbb…bbbbbbbb.

Thank goodness there are great boards out there. Thank them by buying!

After using Model M boards for some time, an old right shoulder injury put me on a quest for a more compact mechanical keyboard to avoid "mouse shoulder syndrome".

After gathering advice from the forums, I bought a Filco TKL with Cherry mx blues. I can still vividly recall my utter disappointment in what had been widely touted as a solid mechanical keyboard. It seemed like a toy to me. I remember thinking, "Is this all there is? Is this the current stage of evolution of the modern-day mechanical keyboard?"

Little did I know at the time the extent of true junk posing as mechanical keyboards. In retrospect, the Filco was indeed a rather solid board -- at least it worked. It's just that the switches felt inconsequential and sounded like someone crunching on Rice Krispies breakfast cereal. Naively, I thought that some superficial modifications might help. I dressed it up in a beautiful set of Originative doubleshot Olivetti keycaps. It looked pretty, but it still fell far short of my expectations for a mechanical keyboard with respect to sound and feel.

Luckily for me, I had started out knowing what a real mechanical was like, and eventually I found other vintage boards -- as well as some contemporary ones -- that were even better than my Model M reference point. These discoveries included the IBM Model F XT, Realforce RF87UB, Northgate Omnikey 101, and the HHKB Pro 2.
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Unread post06 Nov 2018, 23:16

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Hypersphere wrote:After gathering advice from the forums, I bought a Filco TKL with Cherry mx blues. I can still vividly recall my utter disappointment in what had been widely touted as a solid mechanical keyboard. It seemed like a toy to me. I remember thinking, "Is this all there is? Is this the current stage of evolution of the modern-day mechanical keyboard?"

Little did I know at the time the extent of true junk posing as mechanical keyboards. In retrospect, the Filco was indeed a rather solid board -- at least it worked. It's just that the switches felt inconsequential and sounded like someone crunching on Rice Krispies breakfast cereal. Naively, I thought that some superficial modifications might help. I dressed it up in a beautiful set of Originative doubleshot Olivetti keycaps. It looked pretty, but it still fell far short of my expectations for a mechanical keyboard with respect to sound and feel.

That's exactly my experience of the same keyboard: it is nicely made and the double-shots are lovely; but I just can't make myself love Cherry MX keys, they feel and sound horrible. Pity, if they had a more substantial-feeling switch in there with the same reliability I would love my Filco, but I really just don't. :/

Anyway, I guess I should contact Keyboard Co and tell them I want to return it as it's starting to develop the notorious chatter fault after just a month of use. "Notorious" suggesting it's only going to get worse and that I don't simply want a like-for-like replacement. I hope I don't have to fight for it.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 06:34

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Well I've emailed them. We shall see what they have to say.

Hello, I ordered a Matias Mini Quiet from you recently (order no. blah). Unfortunately it has developed a fault which is that the keys are not registering correctly; it's happening intermittently with several keys but the "b" key is particularly bad for either getting doubles or not registering at all. The fault is intermittent but having read more on reviews and sites like e.g. Deskthority it seems to be a very common problem with Matias keyboards and the prognosis is that it will get worse.

On that basis, I do not really wish to exchange it for another of the same type as I understand that the failure rate of Matias keyboards is significant. However, I also do not wish to be without a quiet keyboard (or rather a quieter one: my usual is a Model M).

I have received strong recommendations to get a Topre keyboard, and while I prefer the overall look and size of the Matias, the chatter problem is a deal-breaker.

On that basis, would it be possible to RMA it and pay the difference to get the Topre? If this is possible I would be interested in the black-on-beige UK/ISO TKL layout (I don't particularly like beige but my typing isn't good enough for black-on-black). I understand this is only available in 45g key weights but if there is a 55g version I would be interested to hear about it.

The only minor complication is that I have only just tossed its box in the recycling, though given that it is faulty it is not resellable anyway.

Looking forward to your reply.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 10:35

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Good luck!

Keyboardco have a good reputation and you’ve made your case well. Let’s see if they pull through.

As for their Realforces: their product photos are horribly misleading. “Beige” Realforces are much nicer in person. Here’s mine against my SSK:

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Reading this thread, I think you’d be better prioritising 55g over black chassis, as you’ll likely have to. Topre’s black on black caps are just silly!
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 12:04

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Looks a bit more grey than the SSK which is definitely a good thing. And while not as diminutive as the Matias, still a fair bit smaller, so fewer mouse-collisions when I'm gaming.

Keyboard Co have already replied and been most helpful: told me to RMA it and we'll take it from there. It was nice to talk to somebody sympathetic and knowledgable. He encouraged me to try a Filco but as I already have one... I dunno, I'm half wondering if I wouldn't actually object to a Filco with MX Blacks if there's such a thing as it may feel quite similar to the Hi-Tek and Futaba based microcomputers of my youth, but I'm guessing the Topre is probably my best bet if I want something in the same sort of ballpark as the M and Matias. It's just a shame about the beige, and the lack of a 55g version in the layout I want.

I'm so sad about Matias' QA issues though. The Mini is a lovely keyboard, I just wish it was more reliable. Of course now that I've committed to returning it, it hasn't misbehaved once.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 13:38

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My Matias Mini just randomly shit the bed and stopped working one day. I'd done minor repairs before - a broken or unresponsive (or cccchhhatttteeerrrriiinnnggg) switch here or there, but nothing huge. Now it doesn't register any keystrokes at all - a moderately expensive bookend.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 13:41

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@vometia:

Here is a pic of my RF87UB55 fitted with some legible keycaps and accents. I use the red key in the RCtrl position as my Fn key in my HHKB-esque layout. This mutation gets rather expensive, but I wanted the dark case and I need alpha keys that I can read.

rf87ub55-125.jpg
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 13:58

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A board with MX blacks might be a good idea. I quite like those myself, easily the best of the MX line. But a word of warning about the Filco Majestouch in particular: ever heard of “the filco ring?” They aren’t the quietest chassis, to say the least.

Speaking of sound, Chyros did a fantastically useful roundup of the current state of play for quiet keyboards. Well worth a watch:


Topre is on there—in both regular and Type-S versions, as it’s inherently quite quiet—and so are your quietened Matias switches and Cherry’s recent silenced linears. The latter intrigue me, though they’ll never feel like Topre. My interest is what they’d be like in a truly tiny wireless board.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 14:44

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It can't be the switches that are causing the chatter issues. A family member has been heavily pounding away at one of my AT-101Ws with Matias clickies with zero issues. It may have something to do with the controller or firmware.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 15:34

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As I recall, Mr. Matias himself posted on one of the forums (GH, I think), saying that the problem was with the switches themselves. He said that there had been some QC issues with the manufacturer that affected some batches of switches.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 16:28

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“Some batches” that keep on showing up in new keyboards…

My (possibly mistaken) understanding is when switches chatter, the controller can mitigate to some degree. Controllers have to handle “debounce” when scanning the keyboard matrix. Chattering switches could be compensated for a bit with longer debounce times (watching them for several matrix cycles until they calm down, delaying their output whenever in doubt) which is a compromise in itself, as you lose response time and ultimately even the correct sequence keys were pressed and released. Taht mtaters!

Anyway, wherever the fault lies, it’s in the product. Not the user! The more returns Matias gets, the stronger the incentive to finally fix this nonsense.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 16:49

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Anyways, Ive figured out why some Matiases physically stick. It's the stems. They are too tight, and every every now and then you get a switch that is too tight to the point of the keycap warping out the slider and it catching on the housing/leaf.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 17:17

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abrahamstechnology wrote:Anyways, Ive figured out why some Matiases physically stick. It's the stems. They are too tight, and every every now and then you get a switch that is too tight to the point of the keycap warping out the slider and it catching on the housing/leaf.

Is the problem with the slider, the housing, or both? Have you been able to isolate the problem to the slider alone?
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 19:49

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Hypersphere wrote:
abrahamstechnology wrote:Anyways, Ive figured out why some Matiases physically stick. It's the stems. They are too tight, and every every now and then you get a switch that is too tight to the point of the keycap warping out the slider and it catching on the housing/leaf.

Is the problem with the slider, the housing, or both? Have you been able to isolate the problem to the slider alone?

Right, it could be both.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 20:11

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@vometia: You've recently mentioned various possibilities for replacements to your Matias Mini Quiet Pro, including boards with Cherry mx black (purely linear) or Topre (tactile) switches. You've also mentioned liking the size of the Mini.

There are certainly a rather large number of good prospects in 60% boards (including my all-time favorite, the HHKB Pro 2, with 45g Topre switches -- lubed and silenced), but I think you said previously that you wanted to have dedicated arrow (cursor) keys.

As Muirium has pointed out, Cherry mx and clones are perhaps at their best in their purely linear variants. I find reds too light and blacks too heavy. Contemporary Cherry mx blacks (available in many modern keyboards) are scratchier than vintage Cherry mx blacks (such as found in old Wyse terminal keyboards). I've found that the Gateron clones are smoother than their Cherry counterparts, and I rather like Gateron yellows, which have a resistance that is heavier than mx red and lighter than mx black -- just about an ideal weight for me, at least.

If you like quiet linear switches, there are Cherry mx silent reds and silent blacks. I haven't tried these, but I have seen favorable reviews for silent blacks. An interesting keyboard that is available with silent blacks is the Vortex VIBE, which has an interesting layout with no F-keys and a NumPad, with arrow keys embedded in the NumPad. These silent switches have built-in dampers for both the downstroke and return stroke.

I find linear switches boring after a short time. I prefer tactility and sometimes a bit of noise as well. The quietest tactile switch I have tried is the Zeal PC "Zilent". It has built-in dampers for both downstroke and return stroke as well as a tactile bump that is more pronounced than that of mx browns but less heavy on the post-tactile phase than mx clears. Thus far, I have only seen these incorporated into custom builds. I have them in my DIY Tokyo60 board.

One of my favorite switches is Topre 45g. Because their actuation mechanism is very quiet, I notice the return stroke "clack", and so I like to install silencing rings and apply lube to the switch rails and stabilizers. However, I've seen an increasing number of Topre-switch keyboard models appearing that already have silencing rings installed. I also have 55g Topre boards. At first, I liked the more pronounced tactility of the 55g switches, but found them tiring for long sessions. I haven't tried the variable-weight Topre boards, but I am quite sure that I would find the 30g switches much too light.

Among Topre boards, if you are not open to trying the HHKB, then I think the RF87U models would be good. I was going to recommend the Leopold FC660C, but it appears that they are no longer readily available. If I were going to buy another RF, I would want the limited edition with all-45g switches, but I don't know if these will be available again.

Lately, I've been using vintage Alps-switch boards, which tend to be at their best in full-size models. I'm typing this on a Northgate 101 US ANSI board with SKCM white (pine) Alps and stock doubleshot ABS keycaps. I've installed an internal Orihalcon-Soarer converter in order to get some HHKB layout features and a detachable USB cable -- I've found a micro-USB flush-mount connector that directly replaces the existing PS/2 connector without drilling any new holes in the case. I've also swapped out the click leaf and slider from the spacebar switch with the corresponding parts from a Matias Quiet switch in order to quieten the spacebar. This keyboard has great tactility and just the right level of noise for me.

I wish you well in your search, and I look forward to your impressions of whichever board you decide to buy!

EDIT: My new KBP V60 Type R with Matias Click switches arrived yesterday from Massdrop. I bought from Massdrop because currently, the pure Type R Matias was not available elsewhere. Today, I flashed it with my HHKB layout, and I'm typing on it now. Thus far, everything works as intended. All the keys register and there is no chattering on any of them.

I really like typing on Matias Click switches. The only drawback is that they are quite loud, but this is part of the fun of these switches, and usually I am not typing within earshot of others.
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Unread post07 Nov 2018, 22:05

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Sorry I'm really behind with my replies (again). Various health issues which have been their own sort of entertainment, one of which involved an ex forum moderator, some handcuffs and an apple. I shall elaborate on that later.

So where we were previously is that the dude from Keyboard Co gave me the all clear to return the Matias and I was all set to effectively part-ex it for a Topre. The problem is that the Matias is so cute, and in spite of the annoying key-bounce I can't make myself do it. Apparently it's fixable, though I've also seen suggestions that this requires a not insignificant amount of effort and good fortune. But if it's not going to be my main keyboard (actually I have another job for it) then it's not so important.

But I still need something without the annoying key-bounce. And though I've kinda got used to the Mini's rather idiosyncratic layout I have to admit I would prefer just an ordinary ISO TKL with all the editing keys.

My inclination is still to go with the Topre after all that's been said about them, in spite of my misgivings about the colour and the price. The price is obvious, but to reiterate the colour thing, I hate beige. I mean I really hate it. But my typing simply isn't good enough for their bizarre choice of black-on-black, so it's my only option.

Mr Sphere's combo keyboard a few posts back is interesting but I'm not about to pay for two Topres when I'm not even convinced I want one! :o What I am wondering is how amenable the Topre plastics are to spraying and dying: even if I never did it, the knowledge that I could somehow respray the case black (obviously with something that didn't wear off) and optionally dye the keys a different colour without them looking really smeg and inconsistent would probably be what clinches the deal.

As for the other switches: vintage often means beige, unless we're going right back to the actually nice looking keyboards but then there's compatibility issues and weird layouts; MX blacks... dunno, really. Though I kinda liked the Hi-Teks and Futabas of the Dragons and BBCs, I never really loved them especially, so I'm not desperate for something that might approximate that feel and sound. ANSI layout is always a no go for me, for reasons unknown I've never, ever been able to get used to a horizontal enter key even when that was just the standard layout on the first keyboards I used for years. And HHKBs are cute but not really suitable for gaming and other stuff I tend to do: I really don't want to spend half my life pressing down a special function key: I'm not an emacs user, after all. :D
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Unread post27 Nov 2018, 12:40

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Have you thought of going down the custom keyboard kit route? if you know the layout that you want along with the switch that you like then chances are there is a kit that would satisfy your requirements even if the switches would need to be sourced separately to the rest of the kit. If you would be worried about soldering etc then there are those in the UK who would be able to build the board for you and probably even program it if you were wanting to have dual use keys without going into separate layers.
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Unread post27 Nov 2018, 13:28

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Isn't the non-black Realforce more white than beige despite what some product descriptions say? If someone asked for the color of my Realforce, I'd say it's white.

Here it is on a white table:

https://imgur.com/BWKqXbw
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@vometia: Regarding RF and HHKB, I'm with you -- whether it's officially white or beige, I don't like the looks of the light-colored versions of these boards. However, also with you, I like to have legible legends on the keycaps -- at least on the alphanumeric keys. My solution was to buy the black (dark gray/grey?) keyboards and replace the alphanumeric keycaps with legended ones. I bought Topre keycaps early enough that there were still excellent genuine Topre or PFU sets available. One set that I particularly like has black lettering on a blue background -- easy on the eyes, but very legible.

I would not want to paint or dye the cases on a RF or HHKB -- it could certainly be done; this is just my own preference. However, I have painted cases on vintage Alps keyboards, and I have been fairly pleased with the results. With painting, you don't have to settle for white/beige or black/gray. My own favorite is burgundy red.
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Unread post27 Nov 2018, 22:33

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Re: Anakey, I guess I've never really thought about it. I mean considering I'm beginning to do the same with shoes considering I can never find stuff that fits and that I like. But if the custom keyboards are anything like shoes, they'll be expensive. As for soldering, my late father in law was good at that but I'm not entirely convinced that a seance is the best means of obtaining my ultimate keyboard. I'm still not entirely sure which keys I like: well actually I am: model F or M, I'm not fussy, but with spherical '70s style keycaps with nice colours and centred legends, double or triple shot. Oh look, a four figure sum. :lol: And that's before I get to "a model M/F with a volume control".

Re: ollir, good point and ISTR Mu also mentioned the same, now that you point it out. I object less to white/grey than beige (curious, as I just did the opposite with the blinds in my lair, but I guess it comes down to the purpose something serves!) but as Sphere points out, the light-coloured keyboard thing... I just dunno. As much as my Mini is misbehaving, I don't miss the enormous light-coloured lump in front of my monitor as it just looked so incongruous. Even going right back to the microcomputer heyday of the early '80s, even the beige ones tended to have black keyboards because they looked so much better. I'm not really understanding why Topre are getting this so wrong. If Filco can do really nice heavy white-on-dark doubleshots then why won't Topre? :/ It's a bit depressing to read that they used to do at least some alternative keycaps but now they don't. It may sound shallow but it is a deal-breaker for me.
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irritant

Unread post28 Nov 2018, 17:01

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vometia
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I'm also trying to remember to not bunch up my shoulders while typing, because my osteopath told me off for that earlier today. Not specifically with regard to typing but just a bad habit I have which is not helping. I'm sort of observing my typing habits which is making things very stop-start: why don't I ever use my right index-finger? It's not even my preferred rude gesticulation and it's one of the two fingers I use the most in bass playing so it's not like it gets no exercise. But I've realised I never use it when typing. In fact I use more fingers on my left hand in spite of not being left-handed.

So yeah, my typing is frankly rubbish. And right now having a torn biceps, numerous bruises, "handcuff thumb" and a huge number of over-tightened gristly bits in my shoulders and back is not helping.
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Unread post28 Nov 2018, 17:18

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Regarding the legibility of the legends on a black Realforce with stock keycaps I myself find them atleast somewhat readable in decent lighting.

Here is a phototato of my 88UB with stock keycaps.
https://imgur.com/a/n1MbtE5

Please excuse the somewhat crappy quality. The picture was taken at my work, which has decent lighting, and taken from roughly the same distance and angle as I see the keyboard when I sitt in front of my desk.

I touchtype to some degree, but not in any officially approved way. My homerow is basically everywhere on the keyboard. But I also occasionally peak at the legends and I have not yet had any problems reading them.

As Hypersphere already mentioned a solution to this problem would be black on white keycaps. At home I use a black FC660C, but with HHKB white on black keycaps for the alfakeys. If I would use the stock black keycaps at home where the lighting is way worse than at the office I would have a very hard time trying to read any of the legends.
Tias

Unread post28 Nov 2018, 20:29

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vometia wrote:So yeah, my typing is frankly rubbish. And right now having a torn biceps, numerous bruises, "handcuff thumb" and a huge number of over-tightened gristly bits in my shoulders and back is not helping.

The solution is different for everybody, but have you tried a standing desk? I have a setup where I can stand part time and it's been good for my neck and shoulders.

Getting the keyboard+mouse in a good position is a challenge though; I have variously used blocks of wood and an ipad stand to give my keyboard a negative tilt while keeping the mouse flat beside it.
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Unread post28 Nov 2018, 20:49

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vometia wrote:If Filco can do really nice heavy white-on-dark doubleshots then why won't Topre? :/ It's a bit depressing to read that they used to do at least some alternative keycaps but now they don't. It may sound shallow but it is a deal-breaker for me.

Key-caps are EVERYTHING when it comes to keyboard usage (regardless of switch and technology used).

If you like the Matias model you've used then using any other keyboard made from other manufacturers, may disappoint you. Realforce and HHKB - simply DO NOT compare to even the most damaged Matias acquisition.

If I was you, just get another upgraded Matias keyboard model similar to what you were using. In the RMA they will just give you a newer version (hopefully fixed key switches).

If you want to peruse Ebay for decades looking for that "Special" keyboard then you're welcome to that but aside form wasted time and broken promises, in what you were purchasing better off sticking with what you know and what you have used in the past.

Personal experience counts for everything and usually you choose something that is familiar rather than something out of left field, which also may be expensive and disappointing.
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Unread post28 Nov 2018, 22:47

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