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

Bit of an impulse-buy, this: unable to sleep in the early hours I'm hammering away on my Model M and becoming increasingly uncomfortable that my gf is asleep in the next room and at this rate was in danger of not being asleep much longer. And as much as I love the Model M and its noise, I don't love the latter so much when it's particularly unwelcome; same deal with my music/games/etc which is why I nearly always use headphones rather than speakers.

I've various thoughts about alternative keyboards for quite a while now, so maybe it wasn't that impulsive, and it's not like there's realistically a huge amount of choice unless I go really niche or vintage. In fact I was thinking my choices were pretty much MX or Topre: obviously rubber domes are right out, even the better examples I'm not that fond of and it's all downhill from there; I have an MX Blue (Filco Majestouch TKL) which is... well, I like the keyboard itself, but I could never bring myself to love the Cherry switches: for me the Blues are the best of the bunch and all the others just don't agree with me.

I did look at Topre on the basis of what so many others have said, but there were a number of problems: and one of those wasn't actually the price, though I did wilt at the idea of parting with over £200. The actual problems are if I want a UK TKL example AFAICT that means the Realforce keyboard and it seems the only options are beige (no, got enough of that with my M) or black-on-black, and as I said elsewhere I'm not a touch-typist so that's not awesome in dim light. Worst of all, for me, the only available weight in that layout is 45g which is way too twitchy for me. The MX Blues are probably at the threshold of my clumsiness. I know there's other alternatives like HHKB and while I like the concept I'd soon find the lack of function keys and other stuff I use regularly to be a real pain. Plus the other problems.

I'd forgotten about the Matias switches and they seem to do everything I'd want from a "silenced M", pretty much: while I don't doubt it feels very different, the weighting and strong tactility are close enough to probably keep me happy; it's small and quiet, it has most of the keys I want and it doesn't cost the earth. Plus it comes in a UK layout and has white-on-black legends.

So I did my "no time like the present!" thing and ordered one.

However, having read some reviews, I have a few niggling concerns. One of these isn't so much the lack of NKRO, though the function key cancelling whatever is already pressed could be annoying: someone mentioned print-screen in video games suddenly being quite frustrating, but as I use Fraps hopefully I can find some other key I don't use to map it to: the right Windows key looks like an option unless Microsoft have done something stupid and hard-coded it to do something special at the system level. Wouldn't put it past them but that's another topic.

The most obvious concern is if I get used to its unusual layout: I suspect I will, but I often use the home and end keys so fn-pgup/down to access these may or may not be annoying. I also tend to rest my hands in odd positions, the right one in particular tending to often end up propped up by a couple of fingers resting on the bezels between the key clusters, which this doesn't really have, though I doubt it'll be a problem.

More worryingly, I've read that there may be some QA issues or design faults, with key-bounces and other weirdness affecting a few people. I've no idea if those bugs will have been worked out yet or how commonplace they are; and a couple of people reported that they stopped working altogether after a few months. Again, hard to tell if it's any worse than any other manufacturer, but it stood out a bit as it's a less-reviewed keyboard.

The other thing is there's only one UK distributor, The Keyboard Co. Which isn't necessarily a problem except for a single bad review (haven't looked them up elsewhere) where they acknowledged they "inspected" the keyboard, damaging the box, scratching the keyboard's case and leaving dirty fingerprints all over it, apparently taking a "whatevs" attitude to their protestations. Again, not sure what to think: every company makes the occasional gaffe and it really comes down to whether or not they make a habit of it: and in that regard I've no idea. I'm slightly loath to go looking for the same reason as with the keyboards, which is somewhere that gets a low volume of reviews tends to be more affected by the extremes. I've used them once before and had no problems myself.

So can anybody let me know what I might expect? And if there are any known problems, how best to avoid them? Considering I am "that person" who'll always find the wrong way to do something...
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Unread post21 Sep 2018, 10:33

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I have 2 boards with Matias Quiet Click switches, the Matias Ergo Pro (thanks @clickysb!) and a KBParadise V80 MTS. I love the quietness and the feel of the switches, but both have had issues with key chatter.

The chatter problems can be basically resolved by opening the keyswitches and cleaning the contact leaf and tactile leaf. It's annoying but not a huge deal. Do it once, and that switch should be fixed for good.

The KBParadise board definitely feels more solid than the Matias one. Once in a while the Ergo Pro seems to miss keypresses until you fiddle with the 3.5mm cable or just unplug/replug the usb cable.

Here's the UK equivalent: https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/uk-...yboard.asp
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Unread post21 Sep 2018, 13:48

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I had (have) the KBP V80 with Matias Quiet Clicks. I had couple of switches chattering after some time of use. One of them died completely and no magic trick like opening up the switch and cleaning them helped.
I returned it for repair, and it worked for some time until the problems started again. This time I could ease the symptoms a bit with the recommended voodoo. But eventually the board was unusable again and I managed to snap a metal leaf from a switch (spacebar) that was acting up, so the board is now waiting for becoming a project of some sort. Sad story, really.

What isn't sad is that if you put aside all the problems, then the swithces are quite nice. They are indeed silent, and they have nice tactility. Surely they are not Topres, but I liked them really much nonetheless.

I hope your board is healthy, and I'm under the impression that the switch chatter isn't so common in Matias' own boards than it is on KBP boards. But I might be talking out of my bumhole on that one.

I've made a few orders to the Keyboard Company and in my experience their customer service is most excellent, so I wouldn't be worried about that at least.
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Unread post21 Sep 2018, 18:32

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I happen to have written a review of the V80 MTS three weeks ago: keyboards-f2/kbparadise-v80mts-q-matias-quiet-click-review-appledesign-caps-t19724.html

The Matias switches feel very close to Alps SKCM Cream Dampened, with a slightly softer bottoming out owing to differences in the dampening design.

Though not as heavily weighted and not as sharp, the tactility should still be sufficient to satisfy membrane buckling spring users requiring something quiet.

This might come in handy:
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Unread post21 Sep 2018, 23:21

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I recently got a V80 with quiet clicks.
The switches all seemed to work fine, however they were extremely inconsistent, with some louder than others, and some more tactile than others. It's usable, just bothersome. It's the most inconsistent board I own, by far. Talking with some people on GH, a theory is how the switches are soldered in is causing the inconsistencies.

The switches also have a lot, and I mean A LOT of ping. I have a Filco TKL, the king of ping, and even it pales in comparison to the ping from this board. I really wanted to like the Matias switches, I wanted to support them, but this was really a disappointment.

As for the rest of the V80, the pcb is nothing special, but also not bad. The case on the other hand is a mixed bag. It looks good and doesn't flex but the the plate bolts to the base and then the top snaps over the top and it can rattle. It's fixable and not the end of the world, but you can also use the Tex aftermarket Filco case and probably the Vortex case as well (I'll know for sure soon). I like the board though, the Matias switches are coming out and some dampened whites are going in in their place. It's also probably getting one of the aluminum cases.
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Unread post22 Sep 2018, 00:27

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Thanks for the replies, all! I did wonder about the V80 rather than the MMQP as the layout is more sane, or at least what my fingers will be expecting, but as shallow as it sounds, I really wasn't big on the greige-on-black look and, besides, if I'm going to impulse-buy, it has to be something in stock. :D Which it wasn't. So I'll need to cope with the MMQP's idiosyncrasies.

I must admit I'm slightly surprised at your comment about pinginess, LeslieAnn, not quite what I was expecting, but it does seem that people's perceptions of the keys differ as much as their reported reliability which perhaps suggests they're not 100% consistent. I'd kinda hope it's a bit quieter than my Filco TKL, which though quieter than my M is still not exactly the last word in silence, especially with the heavier keycaps on it.

I guess I'll get an idea on Monday: I'd hoped to see it today but apparently the £8 delivery fee doesn't include Saturdays. Oh well. Probably not the best day to be playing swap-the-keyboard anyway as I've spent much of it searching through years of paperwork. Argh etc.
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Unread post22 Sep 2018, 14:25

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LeslieAnn wrote:I recently got a V80 with quiet clicks.
The switches all seemed to work fine, however they were extremely inconsistent, with some louder than others, and some more tactile than others. It's usable, just bothersome. It's the most inconsistent board I own, by far. Talking with some people on GH, a theory is how the switches are soldered in is causing the inconsistencies.


I would say that's most likely the case, the contacts are just floating in the housing and are very finicky. The switches are great as long as you are careful while soldering them, I refurbished 2 Dell AT101Ws with Clicks and they are solid.
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Unread post22 Sep 2018, 21:28

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vometia wrote:I must admit I'm slightly surprised at your comment about pinginess, LeslieAnn, not quite what I was expecting, but it does seem that people's perceptions of the keys differ as much as their reported reliability which perhaps suggests they're not 100% consistent. I'd kinda hope it's a bit quieter than my Filco TKL, which though quieter than my M is still not exactly the last word in silence, especially with the heavier keycaps on it.

It will be much quieter.
I like the Matias switches, I really, really just wish they were more consistent and less ping.

Interestingly, I put some Alps white springs in a loose switch and compared it to other loose Matias, and it did dull the ping quite a lot. Spring shape matters. The switch also felt nicer than the Alps spring, subtle but better. It was also easier to reassemble as Matias springs are really long. This is especially a problem if you pull out one already installed in a board, I damaged a few springs trying to reassemble them and later figured out it was less prone to damage if if I reassembled them with the keyboard upside down. Yes, it's as pain the rear as you would imagine, but at least I stopped damaging springs when reassembling them.

By the way, you can get the V80 with a variety of keycaps, not just beige.
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Unread post23 Sep 2018, 00:31

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abrahamstechnology wrote:I would say that's most likely the case, the contacts are just floating in the housing and are very finicky. The switches are great as long as you are careful while soldering them, I refurbished 2 Dell AT101Ws with Clicks and they are solid.

To me, that indicates a major design failure when even manufacturers can't get them right.
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Unread post23 Sep 2018, 00:33

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LeslieAnn wrote:
abrahamstechnology wrote:I would say that's most likely the case, the contacts are just floating in the housing and are very finicky. The switches are great as long as you are careful while soldering them, I refurbished 2 Dell AT101Ws with Clicks and they are solid.

To me, that indicates a major design failure when even manufacturers can't get them right.

I do agree, in the future they should design a switchplate, which would also make the keyfeel less rough.
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Unread post23 Sep 2018, 02:47

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abrahamstechnology wrote:
LeslieAnn wrote:
abrahamstechnology wrote:I would say that's most likely the case, the contacts are just floating in the housing and are very finicky. The switches are great as long as you are careful while soldering them, I refurbished 2 Dell AT101Ws with Clicks and they are solid.

To me, that indicates a major design failure when even manufacturers can't get them right.

I do agree, in the future they should design a switchplate, which would also make the keyfeel less rough.

Why not provide a removable hot switch plate for Alps switches?

Meaning you can easily remove any Alps switches and replace them with others, similar to the Kailh PCB Sockets for hot swapping switches.

That would be the best way forward in keeping the Alps switch alive, without needing to ever solder them permanently into any more PCB's.

The customization of Alps switches would enter into another Great Phase of indeterminate exploration, into unknown territories with this amazing switch. It will be a place where all people can reach out and support others in their quest to make the Alps phenomenon - never ending ;) .
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Unread post23 Sep 2018, 02:57

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Well it's here. First impressions are positive: it is indeed quite similar to a Model M only a bit less... noisy. Certainly not silent, but probably similar to rubber domes, just a lot nicer to use. The tactility isn't quite as crisp as a buckling spring but I hadn't expected it to be. My unobservant fingers suspect the actuation point is a little lower but I honestly couldn't say if that was the case. The keys are certainly firm enough for me and if anything are slightly on the heavy side! But better that than the hair-trigger typo-prone lightweight keys I've experienced before.

The keyfeel is marginally inconsistent but nothing to complain about and I certainly don't mind. I mean my Ms are also a bit like that, certainly including the audible feedback.

I did have a brief worry when the keyboard was randomly "going to sleep" after nothing being typed for a few seconds and took a few keypresses to wake up again but actually I think that's the KVM's weirdness and nothing to do with the keyboard: there's something really odd about the KVM's idea of USB standards and plugging it into a different port seems to have solved the problem.

In terms of looks, I like it a lot. As fond as I am of my SSKs, that's in spite of the acres of beige, not because of it. This one looks so much better: small, neat and understated, the black fits in with the colour scheme of everything else instead of looking a bit like... I dunno, it had the same effect as that old beige coloured jalopi that never goes anywhere where one of the doors is the wrong colour. You know the one, every neighbourhood has one. The legends are nice and big and clear, and while not centred they're neat and readable.

My only real reservation is the compact layout losing some very frequently used keys: time will tell if I adapt successfully to home, end and print screen only virtually being there; plus the inverted-tee of the arrow keys no longer being its own thing, though considering how close it is to the edge I think even my wayward fingers should be able to get into the habit of finding it. And these are compromises, there're pros and cons and it is nice having a very compact keyboard for once: though something like the HHKB would be way too inconvenient for me to use, this is quite a nice balance.

So I guess all that remains is to see how well I adapt (I tend to do so rather slowly) and to see how durable the keyboard actually is... it feels very solid, at least.
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Unread post24 Sep 2018, 11:45

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Glad you like it. The general higgledy-piggeldy Matias-ness, from layout to caps to switches to reliability and feel, would annoy the snooty nosed Bejesus out of me, but that’s because I’m a Topre snob and a fulltime member of the HHKB illuminati already. See how it works out for you over the next week or two. If it’s solid, great. If not, then tell us and expect a nudge towards exchanging it for a Realforce!
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Unread post24 Sep 2018, 11:55

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Muirium wrote:Glad you like it. The general higgledy-piggeldy Matias-ness, from layout to caps to switches to reliability and feel, would annoy the snooty nosed Bejesus out of me, but that’s because I’m a Topre snob and a fulltime member of the HHKB illuminati already. See how it works out for you over the next week or two. If it’s solid, great. If not, then tell us and expect a nudge towards exchanging it for a Realforce!

I will do! Hopefully there won't be any serious annoyances and I slightly like things being a bit random. Gives them a handmade feel.

I'm sort of tempted by the idea of the Realforce but that's a serious amount of money to part with for something that I may or may not like. I'm pretty sure I'd absolutely require the 55g switches which I'm not even sure they do in an ISO TKL layout: I would say "UK" but from what I've seen I'd want replacement caps anyway. Assuming that they're a thing, or rather more of a thing than it is with the Model M.

Anyway. Right now I'm mostly taken by its cuteness, and my gf is pleased that my excursions into insomnia will now be a bit less noisy.
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Unread post24 Sep 2018, 12:16

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Indeed. Definitely give the Matias a fair shake. There’s nothing quite like getting something in hand and really putting it through its paces. Much more informative than others opinions can ever hope to be! I’d just keep the return period in mind as a focus and a good excuse to really go deep and critical with the Quiet Pro.

As for Realforces, yes they’re damn expensive. All the better to give your Matias a fair chance! From what you said of your first impressions, 45g would be my advice if you do go that route in the end. I have a 55g Realforce and a 45g HHKB Type-S, plus a bunch of IBMs. 55g feels more like an AT Model F to me, a bit more work than a Model M but very satisfying. 45g is more like my SSK, only better as I really do like that Topre tactile curve. In any case—damped or au naturel—they’re both a hell of a lot quieter than buckling spring. And I do so prefer the caps.

Keyboardco are good people. One thing they get wrong is their product photography, mind. They make their Realforces look grotty brown. But here’s what one really looks like, up beside an SSK:

Image

But enough Topre fanboy mode already! Deep dive and see what Matias has got for you.
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Unread post24 Sep 2018, 12:36

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I'm very surprised to see you liken the 45g to the M and 55g to the F: my impression is that a lot of people seem to consider the F to be lighter. That said, I guess it depends which M: my SSKs are both physically the heaviest of my Ms by far, but also have the stiffest keystroke; the newer Unicomp-branded M is both much lighter and also has a lighter, crisper keystroke; and the F (XT type) is somewhere in between at least with regard to key-weighting.

Anyway, day 2 impressions: much as before, though I'm starting to see that I may get used to using the function keys for some of the editing keypad functions. What I would've preferred is if home and end were the unmodified keys and page up/down required the function modifier, which I can swap easily enough in X-windows but I dunno how I'd set about doing that in Windows 10. Though as it is, key combinations like shift/function/page up still work to select from the cursor to the beginning of the line, so cancelling other current keypresses doesn't seem quite as dysfunctional as I'd feared.

I've set up the right Windows key to be the screen-print button in Fraps, though I haven't tested it yet and it does have the potential to cause "misadventure". Other than that, it functions the same as before and for the most part any misgivings about the layout are mostly not happening. The only minor thing being that finding the arrow keys without the useful spacing around them is taking a bit of getting used to.

So far the only actual annoyance is nothing to do with this specific keyboard but all "modern" Windows-type keyboards which is the tendency to accidentally hit the left Windows button: probably more so as I'm used to there being a gap there, but I think it's a common complaint anyway. So I really need to figure out how to either disable it, and I'm even wondering if the best option may be to fashion some sort of physical obstruction: though it could be remapped to something more useful and less intrusive, I think it's always going to be a nuisance.

And one nice positive which seems a bit random as most keyboards have it but my SSKs don't: an LED indicator on the caps-lock key! Being somewhat typo-prone it was always a bit annoying playing the "guess the caps-lock state" game. And this is I think my first keyboard with the LED actually on the key instead of being placed at the opposite side of the keyboard to where I'd naturally be looking.

Edit: not sure how many times I'm going to need to edit this to try to wring various bits of nonsense out of it. My concentration's a bit elusive today.
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Unread post25 Sep 2018, 08:35

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For remapping keys in windows I'm a fan of SharpKeys https://www.groovypost.com/howto/easily...sharpkeys/

It only works for simple adjustments, but it works at the registry level so it's very reliable. In my case, I use it to turn capslock into a Winkey.

You could use it to turn Rwin into a proper printscreen key and Lwin into another Lctrl key.

For key remapping including the Fn key you might have to delve in to Autohotkey.
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Unread post25 Sep 2018, 13:35

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vometia wrote:I'm very surprised to see you liken the 45g to the M and 55g to the F: my impression is that a lot of people seem to consider the F to be lighter. That said, I guess it depends which M…

Yes, and which F. Playing with the XT, AT and a couple of SSKs just now, I stand by my finding. My Ms—even the 122 key that I barely ever use—feel lighter to me, subjectively, while typing. Subjectively! When humans are in the equation, subjective becomes real. The AT is the heaviest buckling spring board I have, and the XT is in between. As for the Kishsaver: it's closest to the XT. But I use it a lot more because layout wins!

Speaking of which, you should probably look into Autohotkey or something best suited for you. Be rid of the Caps Lock trapdoor! I have the key left of A mapped to Control on everything, even my laptop's built in keyboard (a System Preference on OS X.) There's more to move around than just Caps Lock, as you said, but it's a great place to get started. The pAY OFF IS IMMEDIATE.
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Unread post25 Sep 2018, 15:13

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I agree with Mu about 45g Topre. When I first got into Topre keyboards, out of some sort of machismo instinct I felt compelled to swap the 45g domes in my HHKB with 55g domes from a RF board and to purchase another RF with 55g domes. At first, I enjoyed the enhanced tactility of the 55g domes, but over time, I found them tiring. Now I mostly use my 45g HHKB, but I keep the 55g version on one of my stations at work.

Related to this is the question of plate-mounted vs case-mounted Topre switches. RF boards have a steel plate, whereas HHKBs have case-mounted switches. Although I appreciate the refined solid feel of my RFs, I find that my fingers ache after prolonged typing. In contrast, I can type all day on my 45g HHKB with no fatigue or discomfort (well, maybe brain fatigue, but the fingers and wrists are still okay). The HHKB provides some resilience, while the RF is unyielding.

Back to the OP topic of Matias, I have tried out the Matias Mini with Matias click switches, but I haven't tried the Matias Mini Quiet Pro. I do have a KBP V60 with Matias Clicks and another V60 with Matias Quiets. I like Matias switches much more than any Cherry mx or clone, but far less than vintage SKCM blue or white Alps, Topre, or IBM Model F switches.

As for layout, for me nothing beats the HHKB configuration. In particular, Ctrl needs to be to the left of "A" and Backspace should be directly above an ANSI Enter key. I can take or leave arrow keys, but on a 60% form factor, I like the HHKB cursor diamond. As a carryover from my Mac days and because of my liking for the HHKB, I also remap my boards to have the Super/Command/Windows keys adjacent to the spacebar.

All this notwithstanding, Matias has done a good job providing alternatives to Cherry mx keyboards, and his mini boards offer a good solution for a compact layout that is sufficiently standard to make it easy for anyone accustomed to the standard US ANSI layout to use.
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Unread post25 Sep 2018, 17:19

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Thanks for the recommendations about the key remapping functions for Windows! I've just done Linux, which was straightforward enough except apparently for trying to get Cinnamon to work with xmodmap: seems it has to be added as a new startup application rather than use xinitrc, xsession or any of the other usuals and even then it appears there's a race condition or something, so who knows if it'll happen automatically next time I login...?

But it feels a lot more natural to me to have those editing keys as home/end and to have page up/down with the function key. I've also just turned off the left Windows key completely. Maybe I'll eventually think of a use for it but I'll probably continue to accidentally hit it.

Also the subject of, well, subjectivity: I know what you mean about it being the "real deal" because that's what actually matters. I'm reminded of futile conversations along the lines of "but you can't feel cold, thermometer says it's over 20⁰C!" in spite of the fact that sometimes I do feel cold in spite of what His Royal Highness The Thermometer says.

Oddly enough, the position of the control key never really bothered me especially which I guess is surprising as so many things often do, and I grew up on LK201 style keyboards. Considering I still use a lot of terminal-based stuff you'd think I'd get fed up having to contort my left thumb under my hand. Maybe being double-jointed makes it less irritating... I've never liked the ANSI-style enter key though, even before I'd ever used the vertical-bar type that the LK201 introduced me to. Just one of those weird things I never, ever got used to.
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Unread post26 Sep 2018, 12:22

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Other way around for me. Despite growing up with ISO, my heart and my muscle memory belongs to ANSI. So much prefer that (balanced!) left Shift—the main difference when switching between the two—as well as horizontal Return. But it's all taste, of course.

But do give Caps Lock >> Control a try. It's a game changer. You'll see.
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Unread post26 Sep 2018, 12:53

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Hypersphere wrote: I like Matias switches much more than any Cherry mx or clone, but far less than vintage SKCM blue or white Alps, Topre, or IBM Model F switches.

Oh yeah, missed this but. I haven't knowingly encountered those Alps switches, and have never even been near a Topre, but with the remainder I really agree. I just don't get on with the Cherry switches for some reason, they feel kinda "wrong" to me: of those I've tried the MX Blues are the least disagreeable but even with heavy keycaps on they're the keyboard equivalent of being yapped at by a Jack Russell. My brief encounter with the Browns which would I guess be the equivalent of the Quiet Click is that they felt like a linear key with grit in it. The Matias just "feels" more substantial, robust and agreeable. I mean this is all entirely subjective and I'm only trying to describe how it seems to me, I'm not dis'ing the Cherry switches and saying they're bad, just that they're not my cup of tea.

And the F is undoubtedly better as it's one of my favourite switches, though it's also VERY LOUD.

I have to say, though, the more I'm using the Matias, the more I like the way it feels and sounds. This probably isn't the greatest way of praising it but it's how a rubber dome keyboard would feel if they weren't crap. I guess that's kind of the point people make about Topres, though...
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Unread post26 Sep 2018, 13:03

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Muirium wrote:Other way around for me. Despite growing up with ISO, my heart and my muscle memory belongs to ANSI. So much prefer that (balanced!) left Shift—the main difference when switching between the two—as well as horizontal Return. But it's all taste, of course.

But do give Caps Lock >> Control a try. It's a game changer. You'll see.

I think my first introduction to the ANSI enter key was my vintage Dragon keyboard: I've talked about that before, the snobbery the computing press had towards the BBC's keyboard (in spite of it using various different switches of different quality and feel) and taking a rather derisory view of everything else. My recentish retrospective of using those two keyboards is that they felt almost identical. The only things I particularly disliked about the Dragon's keyboard were the lack of curvature, another subjective issue, and the rather frugal number of keys. And that ANSI enter key: I never, ever got used to it, weirdly.

I may well give the caps-lock-as-ctrl thing a try in due course: the reason I'm not doing it yet is because of the novelty of actually having a caps-lock LED, and one that is actually on the key itself!!! Wow etc. And actually now that I think about it, there was never a period when I used the LK201 keyboards that I actually used the control key very much at all: interrupt, suspend, logout was about all. For editing I used ed or ex, for "word processing" I used nroff, Unipox or All-In-Bits, none of which required ctrl-anything. By the time I finally started using vi, many years after saying "I don't like it", a PC with a terminal emulator or NCD X-terminals with a PS/2 style keyboard were pretty much the standard.
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Don’t let The Man control your thoughts, man!

I never read the paper press because I was too cheap, and really did not appreciate the waste of atoms. Uh, I mean trees! But also just the atoms. The weight of all that recycling, grossed me out then just as now.

Screens were where I found my element. By then, no one was snobbing over “the beebs.” Indeed, the only keyboard I ever heard or read a word about (before I got into them myself) was the infamous membrane Spectrum keyboard that we could all agree to hate. Keyboards just weren’t something we noticed by the 90s. Mostly for the worst, in hindsight.
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Unread post26 Sep 2018, 15:16

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I'm reminded of Teh Floyd's Nick Mason commenting that back in the day they would deliberately remain ignorant of people's names so they could call them "man". I think it didn't especially matter if they were male or female. I recall a similar thing from my Geordie pedigree, though it was rather more terse (well, in intonation rather than intent).

I think the late '80s-early '90s were the keyboard era of "we never had it so good". Mechanical switches were ubiquitous, the quality thereof was largely personal opinion. We had little appreciation of the dark ages to follow; that said, personal computing from the late '80s to the appearance of Linux in '92-ish was a genuinely miserable time in all other regards. No wonder I spend as much time as possible on the internet, though given that was my period of youthful misadventure I should probably not call too much attention to it.

The Spectrum was quite special. In an entirely different way to how the ZX-81 was special: at least the latter was a sort of prototype Model M... just without the keys and stuff.
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Unread post26 Sep 2018, 15:50

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vometia wrote:
Hypersphere wrote: I like Matias switches much more than any Cherry mx or clone, but far less than vintage SKCM blue or white Alps, Topre, or IBM Model F switches.

I have to say, though, the more I'm using the Matias, the more I like the way it feels and sounds. This probably isn't the greatest way of praising it but it's how a rubber dome keyboard would feel if they weren't crap. I guess that's kind of the point people make about Topres, though...

I haven't used Topres but I agree with all of this. At home I use a nice loud Northgate Omnikey 101 (white alps), and at work I just switched from the V80 with Quiet Clicks to the Ergo Pro.

They're all nicer than blue/brown/clear cherry switches, I just wish there weren't so many reliability question marks around Matias switches/boards.
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Unread post26 Sep 2018, 16:22

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Well, they are handmade in America by ethically sourced artisans, after all.

Seriously, it’s not as though quality gear can’t be made in China these days. But apparently quality keyboards are still victim to every conceivable corner being cut. I’ll take mine made in Japan, thank you very much!
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Unread post26 Sep 2018, 16:47

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Matias is in Canada, but I suppose this qualifies as part of (North) America.

One of my favorite full-size keyboards is the Northgate Omnikey 101 (made once upon a time in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA). This is an extremely solid board, and it was in its prime when Northgate still used the "pine" variety of SKCM complicated White Alps switches (with the slits in the top switch housing -- see the DT wiki article on the Alps SKCL/SKCM series):

wiki/Alps_SKCL/SKCM_series

The case design of the Northgate Omnikey 101 makes it quite easy to install a Teensy for remapping and conversion from PS/2 to USB. With the right flush-mount USB connector, you don't even need to drill new holes in the case.

The Northgates are not nearly as noisy as the Matias Tactile Pro or Mini Tactile Pro boards. The Matias Click switches (whose design is based on simplified White Alps switches and without slits in the top switch housing) in those Fisher-Price-like polycarbonate cases makes quite a racket, but the Matias boards are quite fun to type on nevertheless. Not only fun, but fast and true -- I have found that my typing speed and accuracy are better on boards with Matias Click switches than on many other types of keyboards.
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Unread post27 Sep 2018, 00:32

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Some updates on key remapping, though it's by now of barely even tangential relevance to the Matias! Sharpkeys on Windows 10 was wonderfully straightforward and did everything I wanted with no fuss. Yay. :)

Linux was less straightforward. Seems xmodmap is buggy (possible) or conflicts with other mechanisms for doing the same thing (more likely). As well as the problems with getting it to run correctly on startup, similar problems occur with USB disconnects/reconnects such as using my KVM to switch to and from my gaming box. xkb seems to be the answer, probably as it's what login, usb etc actually use. It's a little more convoluted to make custom entries to but works well enough... except for the windows keys. I wants to disable the left one completely and turn the right one into print screen, as mentioned, and though xev agrees with what I've done, Cinnamon doesn't. But I'm suspicious that's more of a Cinnamon problem than an xkb one given xev's feedback. I dunno, as much as I generally prefer X-windows' flexibility it is a really badly tangled mess of standards and protocols and it's often difficult to figure out how, where and what something interfaces with them all. Argh. Still, the page up/down thing was my biggest issue and that's sorted out.

When it comes to place of manufacture, that's a whole new can of worms. I have noticed over the years - well, decades now - that the tendency to variously offshore and outsource to what is globally the lowest bidder has not had particularly awesome results, except for "shareholder value". My biggest gripe is that you increasingly don't even get the choice: either it's a rush-job in a sweatshop or it's unobtainium. Obviously (I hope) I'm not making any point about relative qualities of workers on the basis of geography, nationality or anything, just that if you have people who are overworked and knackered and aiming for a price point above all the quality tends to suffer. I guess you get what you pay for: and though I baulk at the cost of a Topre, in real terms it's actually a bit of a bargain: one of my standard anecdotes is the reading about the PC/XT keyboard being "even better than the BBC's! But it should be since it costs half as much as an entire BBC." While I don't doubt hyperbole being a thing in that article as it was pretty much a standard of the early '80s UK computer press, it's probably not an inaccurate guide and £200 in 1982 is rather a lot more than £200 today: an inflation converter suggests £685, which sounds preposterous until you consider the cost of pretty much all other computer stuff at the time. Still remembering the going rate for even basic TRS-80 Model Is. eek.
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Unread post27 Sep 2018, 16:44

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@vometia,

Have you seen this guide for keyboard remapping in linux?

https://medium.com/@damko/a-simple-humb...1ad5e13450

It looks rather good, but I have not tried it.

For Windows keyboard remapping software, I have had the best results with ATNsoft Key Manager. You can set up different profiles for various keyboards or layouts. It is commercial software, but they have mechanisms for getting free licenses. For Mac, the best keyboard remapper is Karabiner. In my experience, Linux does not have anything that works as easily and well as Key Manager or Karabiner.

My setup on each of my workstations is a shared keyboard and mouse among 3 computers, two running linux and one running Windows 10. I use a combination of an Iogear hardware KM switch, Synergy software, and sometimes keyboard remapping software. With my setup, I don't need remapping software for my linux machines, because I use the Windows machine as the remapper and "server" for the linux clients.

However, I hardly ever use keyboard remapping software anymore. Instead, I mostly use a HHKB Pro 2 as my keyboard, and this is already my layout of choice. Moreover, most of my other keyboards have been equipped with either a Soarer converter or Hasu converter, so they are electronically remapped.

BTW, my linux distros are Linux Mint 18.3 64-bit Xfce (on 5 machines). One machine has Linux Mint 19 64-bit Xfce. I highly recommend the Mint implementation of Xfce -- it is highly functional and aesthetically pleasing right out of the box. I have found Cinnamon to be buggy, crash proone, resource hungry, and not as nicely customizable as Xfce. On the other hand, Cinnamon is very popular and it is much better now than it was formerly.

EDIT, [2017.09.28]: Thinking of Matias, I pulled my KBP V60 Matias boards off the shelf and did some quick typing comparisons with the Matias Click and Matias Quiet switches. Although I like the silencing of the Matias Quiet switches, I find that I type faster and more accurately on the Matias Click switches. I also appreciate the definitive tactility and consistency of the Matias Click switches. Moreover, as with any USB keyboard, I can plug this board into my Hasu USB-USB converter to achieve a HHKB-esque layout. I am considering getting a V60 Type R with Matias Click switches. Type R is completely programmable, but with Matias switches, it is only available in the "Polestar" version, which has fancy RGB underglow effects that I do not want or need.
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