The Realforce Euro Tour - Round 4

They the variable weight was funky was not a fan of that.

55g with PBT spacebar would be a nice thing to try.

I am in the novatouch tour as well. I will try my thick PBT MX spacebar on that see what its like.

For me its the one design flaw with the board , the spacebar feels cheap and nasty. The rest of the board is very well made and the caps are very good quality and the lettering is second to none.
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Unread post20 Jul 2015, 10:59

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PBT on 55g you say… intriguing, I may have something just like that on its way.
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Unread post20 Jul 2015, 12:44

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Hey guys -- any updates?
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Unread post25 Jul 2015, 11:24

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I provided andrewjoy with more detailed address data - apparently the british post is quite complicated.
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Unread post26 Jul 2015, 14:16

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Aye. Cross checking all that meaningless guff is why they're so slow, you see.
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Unread post26 Jul 2015, 14:20

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will be sorting this out tomorrow
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Unread post26 Jul 2015, 22:53

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this has now been booked for collection , should be picked up and on its way tomorrow by myHermes

002 if you want the tracking info send me a pm :)
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Unread post27 Jul 2015, 09:48

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All good!
I'd only ask for that stuff in the event that it goes missing. Thanks for the update :)
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Unread post27 Jul 2015, 10:07

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First of all I want to let you all know that the keyboard arrived here yesterday all safe and well.

Second I want to say thank you, 002, for doing this for us. I'm thankful for being a part of it and will sure enjoy my week with the Realforce! 8-)

For a permanent loaner it is really in terrific shape.
I will add more impressions while testing this board.

Edit 1

So here we go. First I will say that I can see myself dropping money on Topre in the future. I am a bit surprised by this, as I disliked the Novatouch so. But then again, this is a different manufacturer and just a wholly different beast in general.

The build is superb. It's very solid and heavy, and the plastic is a much smoother higher quality than most other keyboards.
The printing is the highest quality of dye-subbing I have seen. I like the font also, but I feel for a keyboard the slightly rounded fonts of IBM and Cherry are a better fit. The same goes for key shape, I still prefer the classic Cherry profile which are somehow "softer". But this isn't bad at all, same for the texture, I love the rough texture of the IBM keys but the finish of the RF keys is nice and very unobtrusive. The ABS spacebar is of course a bit of a shame, but the plastic seems OK quality.

It feels incredibly solid, does not move on the desk at all. Nor do the keys wiggle unnecessarily to the side like they do on Cherry keyboards. It all stays in place so well.

The tactility is quite nice, especially on the heavier keys. While the most tactile Cherry switches are still inherently linear, I also think that the IBM buckling spring has a linear element to it. The Topre, not at all.

That is, on the 35-45g keys. The 30g seem terribly mushy. I do not mind it when typing, but for individual actuations (e.g. when gaming) they are not good. Huge hysteresis, barely able to feel the actuation.
It wouldn't be a problem for me perhaps, as I game using the RDFG cluster.

snip - more on this later....

Edit 2
Continued. What's interesting is the sound. On the one hand, I love the Topre thock. On the other, the upstroke is quite loud, though by far not as bad as on the novatouch. The worst offenders are the stabilized keys - I think spacebar rattle is a problem that almost every keyboard suffers from.
Because the sound of the Topre is deeper than other keyboards, it doesn't seem as loud as others. But the fact is that it isn't quiet and it triggers my voice activation more often than I would like. I have a QFR here, ergo-clears, thin PBT caps, soft O-rings. The Topre is louder. I also have a QFR with blacks, no O-rings and thick PBT keys. When I don't hammer the keys down it is also quieter than the Realforce.

All in all of course the most important part is keyfeel. And the Realforce makes some shocking relevations to me. Its domes feel good. Really good. My ergo-clears are unlubed, and while they have some tactility they are quite rough. If the Topres are soft tires on smooth asphalt, clears are like stumbling down a rocky road. You feel something, which is nice, but it's not that pleasant if you have tried something better.
I'm afraid I might actually enjoy this more than typing on my SSK - heresy :o (at least the SSK is still the most beautiful keyboard in the world). Or perhaps I enjoy it so much because it is more practical than making a huge racket all the time - the noise of IBM can be pleasant, or a disturbance to others as well as myself depending on the mood I am in. I also dislike that I cannot reverse my spacebar on the IBM for more ergonomic typing.

I'm afraid that after trying a "real" Topre (Novatouch doesn't count IMHO) regular MX keys aren't smooth enough for me anymore. But I have a bag of Gateron blacks waiting to get soldered in some keyboard. Perhaps they are good enough!

Yes, I think there will be a Realforce in my collection one day, and it could potentially replace more than one of my keyboards. After the SSK and ANSI Realforce I don't mind ANSI too much despite preferring ISO. It would have to be a TKL, though. So if I choose ANSI I might have more options, or save some money as they are more common.
I really love the black on grey color scheme but I head the lasered legends aren't so durable. So it'd have to be a white/grey one.
Still not 100% sure on the variable vs. uniform question.
Last edited by shreebles on 08 Aug 2015, 20:31, edited 4 times in total.
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Unread post08 Aug 2015, 17:05

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Hi Everybody!
Just checking in to say that this is a really good thing (tm) and although I don't have enough posts yet, I'd like to get in on a future round if there is one.
:)
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Unread post08 Aug 2015, 19:23

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Zombimuncha wrote:Hi Everybody!
Just checking in to say that this is a really good thing (tm) and although I don't have enough posts yet, I'd like to get in on a future round if there is one.
:)

It's really great and very generous of 002 to offer this for us. It could probably be a while before the next round, so you should have plenty of time to surf around the forums, introduce yourself, get acquainted etc...
15 posts isn't very much if you are interested in the community and of course, keyboards in general! Before you know it, you could become the next club member :lol:
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Unread post08 Aug 2015, 20:38

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Great write-up, shreebles!
I had actually had you pegged as one who wouldn't think much of the Realforce :)
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Unread post08 Aug 2015, 22:41

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shreebles wrote:I really love the black on grey color scheme but I head the lasered legends aren't so durable. So it'd have to be a white/grey one.

I believe the black on black ones are also dyesub, so you've no excuse! I'm very happy indeed with my white 55g 87U, the caps are just as awesome as the switches. So good, I reckon the black one looks better with them too…

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If only Topre made such hybrids less pricey to buy by actually offering them.
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Unread post08 Aug 2015, 22:55

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002 wrote:Great write-up, shreebles!
I had actually had you pegged as one who wouldn't think much of the Realforce :)

Thanks! I think you can tell from the amount I wrote that I enjoy typing on it. :lol:
Funny, was I too vocal about my dislike of the novatouch? But I was anxiously expecting to not like it too much, and was pleasantly surprised.

Some other things I noticed, while getting used to this keyboard the travel seems somehow longer than it actually is. It should be 4mm just like the Cherries and IBM.

Also one thing I dislike just a tad is that the Topre domes aren't as springy as MX or buckling spring.
I would like a snappier return. But it's not as bad as with the Ergo-clears - those vary from switch to switch and some almost don't seem to return at all since they are unlubed.

Lastly gaming, I tried gaming on the Topre but it's too weird. Maybe it's just something one can get used to but I think the actuation at the top of the stroke, while perfect for typing, is bad for fast-paced games such as FPS. Even though I never use my IBM for gaming because of their 2 or 3kro, I actually think those are a better fit because of their snappier return.
But they also have the problem of actuating at the top. In my mind, for rapid actuations it makes sense to have the switch actuate halfway, so you can hold it down halfway and move your finger around the actuation point. Otherwise, you have to press down, it actuates, you bottom out, and have to go back up all of the 4mm before you can press it again.

So while I really do want a Topre in the future it won't be my be-all and-all keyboard solution because I do like to game a bit. Perhaps it would be easier for me to justify a variable weight Topre if I knew that it's definitely not for gaming, and just for typing enjoyment! No need for uniform keys then.

Maybe I will have to build an MX gaming numpad after all... :roll:
Muirium wrote:
shreebles wrote:I really love the black on grey color scheme but I head the lasered legends aren't so durable. So it'd have to be a white/grey one.

I believe the black on black ones are also dyesub, so you've no excuse! I'm very happy indeed with my white 55g 87U, the caps are just as awesome as the switches. So good, I reckon the black one looks better with them too…

Well, TIL! I was actually confusing it with the gold-on-black lasered printing. That one is supposed to wear really fast.
But I'm glad to hear I was mistaken :)
It does look really good. Such a shame, both versions look fantastic now that I have the lighter one in front of me, and I cannot see myself getting both.
I can see how this can become a very expensive hobby...
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Unread post09 Aug 2015, 12:43

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I am in Liechtenstein and would be interested in trying the keyboard.

Been looking at buying a RF 87U but no way to try Topre here in Liechtenstein/Switzerland.
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Unread post09 Aug 2015, 15:19

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Liechtenstein, now there's a place! Technically outside the EU if I'm not mistaken, so (like Switzerland) customs would be charged on the keyboard when it crosses the border out to you, and then again on the way back.

Any chance you could pick it up (and send it on its way again) in Austria instead?
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Unread post09 Aug 2015, 16:13

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Muirium wrote:Liechtenstein, now there's a place! Technically outside the EU if I'm not mistaken, so (like Switzerland) customs would be charged on the keyboard when it crosses the border out to you, and then again on the way back.

Any chance you could pick it up (and send it on its way again) in Austria instead?

Yes, as far as I know that wouldn't be a problem. Thanks for the initiative btw!
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I will submit my verdict before passing this on to Jou. (TLDR at the bottom)

It's a... great keyboard. I don't want to say fantastic, because some things tend to bother me more with more typing time.

They say with keyboards it's all about how the switches feel. I disagree. For me (and probably many of you) it's a combination of how the switches feel, how they sound, how the keycaps, the case, feel, look like, sound. All this makes the keyboard experience.

I noticed with more typing a certain sound I did not like. It sounds plasticky. I think it's the sound of the sliders snapping back up. It was worse with the Novatouch. It's present, to a certain extent, even on the Type-S from µ's video. I guess it's a Topre thang. It has a metal plate, but sounds like plastic.

Now I have a non-clicky Cherry in front of me. It has no O-rings. It also sounds plasticky, but that keyboard is plastic. Plastic stems, plastic housings, plastic caps. BUT it costs 80€. It also feels nice. No more, no less. The spacebar actually sounds better than the Topre's, despite rattling a bit.

The Realforce on the other hand. Yes, it feels nicer most of the time. But that thing is over three times the price. It has to look, sound and feel perfect. And the sound is a bit annoying, and cheap.
My 1995 Model M cost me 25€, used. I spent a few hours cleaning and later, floss-modding it. It's sound, feel, and look are close to perfection. It feels and sounds nicer than my SSK (damn it!). The only reason I'm not using it all the time is that I often play games (only 2KRO) while talking with my buddies (too loud).

The Topre has the advantage of being much quieter and more subtle. However, it's still louder than my (non-clicky) Cherries, with or without O-rings. That was a bit of a bummer for me. That means it's not a quiet fantastic keyboard to replace all of my Cherry boards, while feeling like a Model M. It's good, but different.

I really think it is a keyboard to get used to, and, after getting used to it, you will want to write everything with it. I'm thinking of a writer who writes with a Model M, until the sound drives him up the walls, and he gets writer's block, and he can't write anymore. Then he buys this keyboard. He types on this, and only this, and writes a 1000 page book. It would certainly be a great fit for someone who writes a lot everyday.

As for me, I like to change it up. Have to. I work on computers and I always have one mech at work, to keep my fingers from wanting to commit suicide, they would have to type on company-issued membrane keyboards otherwise. At home, I have the rest of my keyboards waiting and there is always a break-in period to get used to whatever's on my desk at that time. On the one hand, it certainly is nice to give your fingers a break with the variable weight Realforce after a long day at work. But I think it's a better fit when you have only one keyboard, or only Topres. Otherwise, you have to transition back and forth every day.

I think it's a great choice for an only keyboard, if you need to do a lot of typing and really only need one (or your Mrs. is making you throw everything else out). But I wouldn't spend 300€ if I weren't to use it all the time. And I'm certainly not going to buy 2. Yet. And I'm also not going to buy one and lug it around all the time. That would be a hassle.


TLDR; Pros, Cons, Reasons to get a Realforce

I liked:
-oneness with cup rubber
-variable weight can be great for typing, reducing stress on your pinkies. Yay!
-very smooth keyfeel, good tactility (in the middle)
-somehow this makes words flow out really easily while typing. Your fingers start gliding over the keys
-very high quality case, keycaps, dye-sublimation printing
-great weight and stability, very little flex
-subtle quality look
-blue LEDs
-1.5u mods and small Windows keys. The way god intended!

I disliked:

-Rattling sound of the stabilized keys
-general plastic-y sound of the keys
-lighter keys provide little tactility
-somehow weird while gaming, actuation is too high
-bit sharp feeling keycap profile
-price (of buying a Realforce myself)

Get a (variable weight) Realforce if...
-you have a bit of money and are really going to do a lot of typing
-you want to try something really different in the mechanical keyboard world
-you don't have Hulk fingers and like the idea of variable weight to suit your fingers better
-you got RSI from using bad/other keyboards for too long
-you feel like you could find one keyboard to replace all the others
-you have the option of silencing it, or buying a silenced one


But most importantly, if you can, try a Topre before you buy one.
Thanks 002 for the Realforce Tour!
I enjoyed being a part of it.
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Unread post12 Aug 2015, 19:10

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Excellent write-up, shreebles. Thanks for being part of the tour :)
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Unread post12 Aug 2015, 23:07

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It's on the road again - this time to the Bodensee near Germany's southern border, where Jou will pick it up to take it to Switzerland!

Transport company is DHL, with tracking. Jou has the code.
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Unread post14 Aug 2015, 20:13

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Just picked the Realforce up and typing this on it. First impressions:

- Much heavier than it looks, feels very sturdy.
- A lot of rattling, even on the 1U keys
- Good thing I don't really use Caps lock and there's no Num Lock on Mac because I hate blue LEDs with a passion
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 13:24

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Oh! I can almost touch it! Can't wait!
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 14:42

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Does it sound much more rattly than my Realforce in this video:

videos-f63/topic11287.html

There's an HHKB and a couple of NovaTouches in there. I'd like to know if 002's touring board is sounding as it should! Topre isn't the loudest thing, but everyone's saying this one is.
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 14:45

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Muirium wrote:
There's an HHKB and a couple of NovaTouches in there. I'd like to know if 002's touring board is sounding as it should! Topre isn't the loudest thing, but everyone's saying this one is.

I can't compare anymore but from memory the stock Novatouch was the worst offender, but the Realforce was also rattling quite loud, louder than my MX keyboards (blacks and ergo clears).
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 14:46

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Strange, I bet my used RF has seen quite a bit of action but the rattling is not too bad. Of course these perceptions are relative.
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 16:30

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Indeed. My Realforce (only a few months old) is much quieter than any of my MX boards on topping out. I'll do a video review of the Cherry MX Board 6.0 sometime and put it in the comparison. Once I give up trying to get into the damn thing!
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 16:34

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Stil fighting with the pesky mini torx screw? Damn.
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 16:37

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I seriously can't be bothered buying a toolset just for this one damn fool board! I seldom encounter Torx, and never anything so small. Bollocks to it!

Perhaps someone else wants to delve inside and uncover the secret analog sauce that powers the thing.
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 16:54

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Quite understandable. Not worth it.
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Unread post17 Aug 2015, 16:56

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I've made a a recording of me first typing "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" and then mashing keys. For reference, I've also recorded me doing the same an a QuickFire Rapid with MX Black and thick PBT keycaps. The forum won't let me upload audio files, so I zipped them together.

Now that I spent a whole week at work with the Realforce, I must say I really like it. Typing on it is fun (as much fun as on the Model F, but a different kind of fun :) ). Build quality and the stock keycaps are both superb.

The variable weighting didn't stand out negatively for me and I didn't make much notice of it consciously, but I can imagine it be irritating when gaming.. I do have the feeling that it helps though as my wrists don't feel very tired after a day of working.
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Unread post21 Aug 2015, 22:14

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