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