[Photos] f***ing blue alps, man... (acer kb-101a review)

“Fuck…”

That was literally the first thing I said after typing on the keyboard. A part of me honestly hoped that the blue alps hype-train was exaggerated – that it was all a ruse to make something rare seem better than it actually was. No way could blue alps feel that much better than white alps. No way could they feel as good as the yellow click-modified alps I spent hours slaving away to hybridize.
….
I’m now fully onboard the blue alps hype-train. They are, without a shadow of a doubt, the best switch I’ve ever typed on – and I honestly didn’t want that to be true…
For those of you who lurk the Great/interesting finds thread – you might remember that about a week ago I posted that I had purchased an Acer kb-101a.
//gainsborough wrote:http://www.ebay.com/itm/182480631776?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

I bought it.

....the quest...it's....it's finally..over


I was very nervous/anxious about getting the board since hypersphere had warned me that he had bought and returned this very same board because it was unresponsive upon arrival (and also because the seller falsely stated it was a KB-101AS – which it’s not). Today it finally arrived.

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The box it came in was MASSIVE, but it was packaged pretty nicely – save for the Bed, Bath & Beyond bag the actual board was wrapped in – plenty of bubble wrap made me feel like the seller took the crazy price for blue alps seriously. I unwrapped the board and set it on the table and just kind of looked at it for a minute or two.

There it was… just sitting in front of me. An infamous blue alps keyboard. The holy grail of alps switches. The thing people on ebay (and I guess myself included) pay ridiculous and unreasonable sums of money to obtain. It was in my house. I could touch it. I could type on it. I could experience it. Is this getting uncomfortable to read? It’s getting weird to type out. I’ll stop.

After typing on it, it was immediately noticeable that the switch felt much different than white alps switches. Easier to press, smoother, and came with a more distinct sound. I told my wife to come over and try it out, and she agreed that it sounded awesome. She was also holding our 7-month-old daughter in her other hand, which wouldn’t particularly be relevant to this story had my daughter not proceeded to spit up half the bottle I had given her 30 minutes ago all over the numpad of the acer…

…yeah. That actually happened.

I was going to go test it out, but decided I should clean up the spit-up/wait for it to be fully dry before I plugged it into my computer. So instead, I opted to do my cleaning up of the board first.

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It was pretty bad..


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Yes, that is a staple – probably from the early 90s.


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It had the gray switchplates though!


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The switches themselves weren’t that dirty on the inside. I checked about 15 of them and there was hardly any dust in them, so I decided not to clean all the switches today – save it for another time. I have to retrobright the case at some point anyway (can’t do it anytime soon since I live in Oregon and there’s always an 80% chance of rain on any given day of the year) so probably during the summer I’ll do a little bit deeper clean of the case & switches.
Here it is after a bit of cleaning

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I did decide to at least rinse the keycaps in some soapy water while I was cleaning the mounting plate.


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But when I went to reassemble the board, the keycaps were still really wet….so I opted to try something a little bit different.


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I had some dolch alps lying around after I bought them from a mechmarket user that had a price I couldn’t pass up. I don’t know if I like them better than the original caps – but it definitely looks unique.

Then came the time to finally test it out on the PC. Like I said before, I was very anxious for this part because of the warning I had received from hypersphere. And of course…

…he was right. It didn’t work. The power light came on, but nothing registered. I tried putting it into XT mode and plugging it into my XT soarer’s converter that I use for my model F XT, but still nothing. I was pretty depressed, so I turned off my PC, unplugged the keyboard and went to pour myself some Japanese whiskey.

After letting it sit for an hour or so, I came back and decided to try again. I moved the switch back into AT mode, slapped on a 5-pin-DIN-to-PS/2 converter, plugged it into my motherboard and booted up the PC – but this time, I noticed the num-lock light also came on. As soon as my computer loaded I clicked on google chrome, went to the address bar, typed deskthority.net, lost my shit that the board was working, and then started writing this review.

I don’t know what I did to “fix” it. It wasn’t working and then it was. My computer was off both times I plugged it in. The first time I turned it on nothing registered, but the second time it did – I have no explanation for it. The only thing I could think of is that moving the AT/XT switch back and forth might have done something, but I don’t know what that would have really done. In any case, I’m very happy that it works! Typing on it is amazing!

Here’s a few shots of the finished board:

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I also poured myself another whiskey, but this time in celebration.

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Thanks for reading! Hopefully I'll find the time to make a video comparison between some of the alps-mods I've done and blues!

またね。
//gainsborough
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 04:48

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I had a similar reaction when I got my Packard Bell T9102 :lol: SKCM Blue does indeed live up to the hype but the ebay prices are still crazy. Someone just paid $160 for some trashy ass Blue's. In reality they were likely worth around $120 max. Glad you like it.

From that one switch you opened it seems a lot of dust did get inside of the switches. I would clean them all right away. I have cleaned switches for wayy less than that :?
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 05:36

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Y'all need to chill with the blue alps hype
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My Model F AT suffers from a similar problem. If you start the computer with it, it wouldn't work. But if you hot-plug it then did a soft reset, it worked.
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 05:38

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I just want to note that the distinction between the KB101A and KB101AS has nothing to do with key caps if that was a concern/misconception. The KB101A and AS can both come with pad printed key caps.

At the moment, we're not sure what denotes what model will have double shots (Alps Electric) or pad/UV printed caps.

Congrats on your find, man. They're great boards and also deceptively massive for how elegant they look.
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Every once and a while it I'll have keyboards that don't work on boot. But letting the computer lose all power (not just off) usually solved the problem. I do have a AT<PS/2 converter that is finicky as fuck though. Gotta have it just right to work. Slight bump and connection is lost. Glad it's just a stupid adapter and not the actual keyboard however.

You may have gotten the Acer working by moving the AT/XT switch around. It cleans the contacts after it sits in one position for a while.
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Mattr567 wrote:From that one switch you opened it seems a lot of dust did get inside of the switches. I would clean them all right away. I have cleaned switches for wayy less than that :?

yeah...you're right. I had planned on doing them all tonight and tomorrow, but I still hadn't tried the board yet, and I was starting to get excited about using it so I put on the caps and went to test it. When I was cleaning I still had no idea if the board worked or not, so I was really wanting to test it. Then I got carried away with the dolch caps :lol:

It definitely should be cleaned soon though.
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 05:55

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E3E wrote:I just want to note that the distinction between the KB101A and KB101AS has nothing to do with key caps if that was a concern/misconception. The KB101A and AS can both come with pad printed key caps.

At the moment, we're not sure what denotes what model will have double shots (Alps Electric) or pad/UV printed caps.

Congrats on your find, man. They're great boards and also deceptively massive for how elegant they look.

Oh that's interesting - I didn't know that. I always thought AS for sure had the better key caps.

I really like the way this board looks. The black version of this case on the CSK-2102 I think is my favorite case of any keyboard.
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 06:13

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//gainsborough wrote:
E3E wrote:I just want to note that the distinction between the KB101A and KB101AS has nothing to do with key caps if that was a concern/misconception. The KB101A and AS can both come with pad printed key caps.

At the moment, we're not sure what denotes what model will have double shots (Alps Electric) or pad/UV printed caps.

Congrats on your find, man. They're great boards and also deceptively massive for how elegant they look.

Oh that's interesting - I didn't know that. I always thought AS for sure had the better key caps.

I really like the way this board looks. The black version of this case on the CSK-2102 I think is my favorite case of any keyboard.

Thought AS meant doubleshots as well :shock: Yea i've always liked how the Acer looked.

The Packard Bell looks quite spiffy too ;)
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omg that board is so clean!!
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 07:27

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Welcome to the brotherhood, man! ;)
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Chyros wrote:Welcome to the brotherhood, man! ;)

=)
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 08:22

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Grats man! :D
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Nice, I really don't know how much my alps blues are worth but what order of magnitude are we talking about here?

How much did you get it for? xd
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 09:51

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y11971alex wrote:My Model F AT suffers from a similar problem. If you start the computer with it, it wouldn't work. But if you hot-plug it then did a soft reset, it worked.

Thats a problem of the motherboard not providing enough juice to the PS2 port early enough, I think. I have the same with all my PS2 keyboards.

What I did as a workaround was to enable power on PS2 in the BIOS.
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f***ing serious thread title for a nice keyboard man... :lol:
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 10:20

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I'm starting to sense that this is going to be a TERRIBLE DISAPPOINTMENT!

I'm one of those people who didn't particularly favour blue ALPS, which makes me public enemy No.1 here on DT. They're smooth, but they feel lubed (and they are); they're clicky and tactile, like most other switches that I know and like. Judging by the DC-2014 which I found in decent condition, they're not as smooth as some other switches, and they're not as tactile and clicky as still other switches. I'd rate them similar to Topre: they're excellent switches available in a reasonably recent package and familiar layout, with good clicky feel and smooth travel, but they're not outstanding in any particular way. This makes Blue Alps keyboards great keyboards, even if the switches don't have an edge over some others.

Smoothness: Model F is equally smooth and doesn't have the oily feel; beam springs are smoother and also doesn't have oily feel.
Clicky: Model F, beam springs
Tactile: Amber ALPS

(If only my 3278 had an extra column of keys on the extreme right, I wouldn't have sold it.)
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 16:39

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y11971alex wrote:I'm one of those people who didn't particularly favour blue ALPS, which makes me public enemy No.1 here on DT.

Wrong. As a matter of fact I respect you for that, it's senseless to follow a hype for the sake of the hype...
y11971alex wrote:They're smooth, but they feel lubed (and they are); they're clicky and tactile, like most other switches that I know and like. Judging by the DC-2014 which I found in decent condition, they're not as smooth as some other switches, and they're not as tactile and clicky as still other switches.

Agreed. Blue Alps SKCM are in my top ten but barely in my top five favorite switches.
y11971alex wrote:I'd rate them similar to Topre: they're excellent switches available in a reasonably recent package and familiar layout, with good clicky feel and smooth travel, but they're not outstanding in any particular way.

I don't. They have nothing in common with Topre for me.
y11971alex wrote:If only my 3278 had an extra column of keys on the extreme right, I wouldn't have sold it.)

I'll never sell mine.
taylorswiftttttt wrote:Y'all need to chill with the blue alps hype

Valid point.
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y11971alex wrote:Tactile: Amber ALPS

Excuse me for being pedantic, but ambers are either clicky or linear :P
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alh84001 wrote:
y11971alex wrote:Tactile: Amber ALPS

Excuse me for being pedantic, but ambers are either clicky or linear :P

Pedantic? Thats my game!

I think you mean they are either clicky and tactile or silent and linear :D
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Slom wrote:
alh84001 wrote:
y11971alex wrote:Tactile: Amber ALPS

Excuse me for being pedantic, but ambers are either clicky or linear :P

Pedantic? Thats my game!

I think you mean they are either clicky and tactile or silent and linear :D

You got the force curve data at hand? :evilgeek:
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y11971alex wrote:I'm one of those people who didn't particularly favour blue ALPS, which makes me public enemy No.1 here on DT. T

I'm with seebart on this one - I don't think not liking blue alps makes you a public enemy at all! I honestly wanted to be one of those people, haha. I've never tried beam spring switches, but I would say the model F captivate buckling spring is my second favorite clicky switch.

for me it's:

clicky: SKCM blue > capacitive buckling springs > click modified SKCL yellow
tactile: SKCM brown >>>>> any other tactile switch I've tried
linear: SKCL green >>>> SKCL yellow

I actually haven't tried that many switches, to be quite honest. The only other non-alps ckicly switch I've tried besides BS is space-invaders - I haven't even tried MX clicky stuff - although I guess i did have one board of Taiwan jet axis switches, but I didn't think it was that good.
taylorswiftttttt wrote:Y'all need to chill with the blue alps hype

lol - yeah I didn't mean to add to the hype. This was just a big moment for me as an ALPS enthusiast. I had heard so much about blue alps but had never been able to get a board with them until yesterday.

Typing more on the board there are a few things I've noticed since last night:

1) the spacebar squeaks - I'll have to do something about that...any suggestions?
2) holding down backspace deletes characters painfully slow. Luckily I don't find myself having to delete more than one word at a time all that often, but it's SUPER slow and deleting when held. I think the omnikey holds the record for fastest backspace when held.

I think later tonight when I get the time I am gonna clean all the switches. I have half a mind to actually go all the way and desolder all the switches, re-paint the mounting plate, etc... But there is one of those silver shield thingies behind the PCB that I don't want to mess with bending... plus desoldering alps is a painful process >_<
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seebart wrote:
Slom wrote:Pedantic? Thats my game!

I think you mean they are either clicky and tactile or silent and linear :D

You got the force curve data at hand? :evilgeek:

I would have rather expected that somebody would argue about the "silent" part.
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//gainsborough wrote:
y11971alex wrote:I'm one of those people who didn't particularly favour blue ALPS, which makes me public enemy No.1 here on DT. T

I'm with seebart on this one - I don't think not liking blue alps makes you a public enemy at all! I honestly wanted to be one of those people, haha. I've never tried beam spring switches, but I would say the model F captivate buckling spring is my second favorite clicky switch.

Erm, perhaps I didn't phrase myself well. I love blue ALPS; they are excellent. I just don't think they're outstanding when compared to other excellent switches.

And also, repeat rate can be configured in Windows.
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y11971alex wrote:
//gainsborough wrote:
y11971alex wrote:I'm one of those people who didn't particularly favour blue ALPS, which makes me public enemy No.1 here on DT. T

I'm with seebart on this one - I don't think not liking blue alps makes you a public enemy at all! I honestly wanted to be one of those people, haha. I've never tried beam spring switches, but I would say the model F captivate buckling spring is my second favorite clicky switch.

Erm, perhaps I didn't phrase myself well. I love blue ALPS; they are excellent. I just don't think they're outstanding when compared to other excellent switches.

And also, repeat rate can be configured in Windows.

When you list SKCM Amber as a tactile switch, it's kind of funny, because it's a clicky switch. I understand where you might be coming from because it is the most tactile clicky switch I've ever tried.

SKCM Brown (Green) and SKCM Cream are my favorite tactiles. Amber is just unique. I can't say it's a favorite, but it's got a lot of charm.
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Unread post18 Mar 2017, 22:14

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y11971alex wrote:[...]but they're not outstanding in any particular way. This makes Blue Alps keyboards great keyboards, even if the switches don't have an edge over some others.
I disagree - the sound! :D
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//gainsborough wrote:
y11971alex wrote:I'm one of those people who didn't particularly favour blue ALPS, which makes me public enemy No.1 here on DT. T

I'm with seebart on this one - I don't think not liking blue alps makes you a public enemy at all! I honestly wanted to be one of those people, haha. I've never tried beam spring switches, but I would say the model F captivate buckling spring is my second favorite clicky switch.

Actually I would take that even further, I think not liking any type of switch at all should not make you a "public enemy". We have these endless switch discussions here but it sometimes it seems to me some people here get so enthusiastic about something they "forget" it's really only personal preference in the end. And even that can change over time.
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seebart wrote:
//gainsborough wrote:
y11971alex wrote:I'm one of those people who didn't particularly favour blue ALPS, which makes me public enemy No.1 here on DT. T

I'm with seebart on this one - I don't think not liking blue alps makes you a public enemy at all! I honestly wanted to be one of those people, haha. I've never tried beam spring switches, but I would say the model F captivate buckling spring is my second favorite clicky switch.

Actually I would take that even further, I think not liking any type of switch at all should not make you a "public enemy". We have these endless switch discussions here but it sometimes it seems to me some people here get so enthusiastic about something they "forget" it's really only personal preference in the end. And even that can change over time.

This is so very true.
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Chyros wrote:
y11971alex wrote:[...]but they're not outstanding in any particular way. This makes Blue Alps keyboards great keyboards, even if the switches don't have an edge over some others.
I disagree - the sound! :D

My secret experience with the sound of Blue Alps seems to have something to do with the feet. The sound of the DC-2014 as I remember it (I have since sold it) was far more baritone if it was flush against my desk. If the feet were extended, they still sounded quite good, but nowhere as deep. It would be a great thing if anyone with Blue Alps on hand could test if the sound varies according to the position of the keyboard feet.
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Unread post19 Mar 2017, 02:16

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//gainsborough wrote: I think the omnikey holds the record for fastest backspace when held.

My Novatouch and its 8X repeat rate key would like to have some words with your 'fast' Omnikey :P It's kind of a useless feature most of the time, but I find it hilarious to use the repeat rate options on my Novatouch from time to time.

Congrats on your blue alps board turning out to be a functioning beauty! I thought my Alps SM-101 was a dead board when I finally got my AT to PS/2 connector last month and plugged it in. For whatever reason, the first start-up with it plugged in just didn't do the trick. Had to shut down the PC and reboot it and then it worked fine. That's happened to a couple 5 pin DIN boards but never happened again after the first hiccup.

I'm on board with the clicky switch loving. I often just sit at my chair or at the foot of my bed with one of em (not even plugged in sometimes) and constantly repeat ;asdfkj;alsdkjf;alskdjf over and over because it's almost like a fingertip massage. Something strangely satisfying and rythmic about it - like tapping your fingers on a wooden table.
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Unread post19 Mar 2017, 05:32

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