Seeking rather specific keyboard recommendations

zippolupan

17 Jun 2021, 02:54

Hey DT,

As a fledgeling in all things keyboards, I would like to consult your encyclopaedic knowledge and collective experience.
TL;DR: I would like to find a moderately quiet vintage tactile/clicky board (but not necessarily silent) for office use that is significantly less vexatious than IBM BS.

The long read: I bought my first mechanical keyboard back in 2013: a 52G blue-label Model M. I used it very happily until 2019-2020, when it stopped working. I then decided to buy another one and spiralled into a buying spree of IBM keyboards during lockdown, including 4 Ms, M122, F XT, and culminating in my endgame (floss-modded) F122, which I protect with dear life. I have little to no experience with other types of boards and switches beyond a couple of red and blue Outemu boards that I got for cheap at Amazon.

Back when I started at my current office, I was the only person occupying a desk for a couple of months, so my trusty M was part of the "status quo" when others arrived, and there it stayed without much debacle. However, our lab grew quickly in the last year, and our office will be repurposed from 5 sparsely distributed large desks to a grid of 10-12 narrow cubicles, with a whole new cohort of colleagues - whom I'm not acquainted enough yet to push the sound of capacitive buckling springs down their ears with a smile on my face.

Although my F122 is likely to get the torches and spikes out there, I believe my group of colleagues are more amenable to the concept of mechanical keyboards than the average office crowd (as computer science academics) and could tolerate some mild clickiness that stays at moderate, non-obscene levels. Therefore, I would like to find an alternative board to use at work, and I'd appreciate some suggestions that follow:
  • The keyboard must be vintage and *not* blend in with what one would expect to see in a typical modern workspace. Bonus points if the keyboard has a strange/outdated design, quirky features (e.g. calculator), special colours (eg. industrial grey, SGI graphite, striking keycaps), or anything that makes its presence more ironic. Character and history are important, and this is why I got so drawn to IBM stuff early on. I have no interest in modern/minimalist keyboards, and I tend to keep mine cosmetically stock. Exceptions could be made for modern keyboards that are completely strange and out-of-place, like the Weytecs or Cherry 9009. My keyboards have always been great conversation starters, and I would like to continue having fun interactions because of them. Some curious folks even got converted after visiting my office :)
  • I am a fast typist (120-140wpm peak), so I'd like it to preserve some level of tactility/clickiness. I could notice a significant speed improvement when going from my Model M to the F122. The midpoint between a silent rubber dome and the F122 should be my upper bound in terms of noise.
  • I do not touch-type and cannot use anything ergonomic even if there is a gun pointed at my head.
  • Although I love bizarre keyboards, I don't want to re-learn how to type every time I enter the office or return home, so it would need to be reasonably consistent in terms of the core layout, Ctrl, Alt keys, etc. Layouts: the fuller, the better.
  • As I'm not a crafty handyman myself, I would like the keyboard to be somewhat durable and preserve some longevity without delicate and frequent maintenance.
  • It should not cost more than my F122 did!
These aren't necessarily hard constraints. I imagine that some keyboards will be better at some points than others, and I'm interested in listening to suggestions coming from all angles.

Thank you very much for reading this far! :D

User avatar
Tritian

17 Jun 2021, 03:00

apple AEK II or if you can stand a little louder but better sound/feel, AEK I

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Tritian

17 Jun 2021, 03:12

clarification/reasoning:

Get a good quality AEK - even if you find a great one NIB it shouldn't cost anywhere near an F122. Most of the decent ones are around $150-ish. Some beaters are $50 - $100 range, and some of those may have good quality switches but more of a lottery. it would probably be best to buy one off someone here who can attest for the quality of the switches.

The dampened cream switches of the AEKII are pretty quiet and a lot of people like them. Most people prefer the Oranges or Salmons of the AEKI.
* If the serial number of the AEKI is <500,000, very probably has oranges. Higher ones can have oranges also, but make sure you get a pic of the switches before you bid.
* Some people (like me) prefer heavier switches, and those people generally prefer the Salmons.
* AEKII's are far cheaper, generally are less yellowed, and a few of them even have Salmon switches. (look for 1989 date on back, missing the {S} (brackets, using braces because of bbcode) in the lower right corner, made in USA)

There is also the Apple Standard Keyboard (ASK M0116) that also has oranges and salmons. Here is my beat up one (but the switches are great on it!)

Image
Image

These boards (AEK/ASK) have great keycaps! pbt dye sub, nice thickness. weird italics legends but i dont mind at all. Some of them have japanese letters - look at Yahoo Japan auction site for those - beware import fees.

You can also get the Apple ADB I keyboard which can have oranges and salmons. Avoid the ADB Keyboard II, it blows.

User avatar
Bitteneite

17 Jun 2021, 11:19

Tritian wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 03:12
The dampened cream switches of the AEKII are pretty quiet and a lot of people like them.
On top of what Tritian said, you can always undampen them, which should give you a good taste of what tactile Alps feel like.
Not sure if this is true, but I've heard that de-dampened SKCM creams feel very similarly to Salmon Alps. Can someone confirm?

On top of that, you can easily linearize or click-mod these Alps later on when you just wanna experiment.
I click-modded mine and it felt and sounded absolutely nut-worthy.
The tactility is mad. How could your co-workers not tell you to type louder? :D

Overall, other than the questionable design, I think AEKII's are very underrated for the tinkerer.

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Bjerrk

17 Jun 2021, 11:29

Bitteneite wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 11:19
On top of that, you can easily linearize or click-mod these Alps later on when you just wanna experiment.
I click-modded mine and it felt and sounded absolutely nut-worthy.
The tactility is mad. How could your co-workers not tell you to type louder? :D
I think this is really one of the best things about damped Alps-style switches. You have a switch that you can, with minimal effort, mod to any combination of damped/undamped and tactile/linear/clicky!

User avatar
Bitteneite

17 Jun 2021, 11:44

Bjerrk wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 11:29
I think this is really one of the best things about damped Alps-style switches. You have a switch that you can, with minimal effort, mod to any combination of damped/undamped and tactile/linear/clicky!
Amazing how some would mistake them for domes (I don't blame them) and sell them on eBay for a few dozen bucks.
Oh well, their loss is our gain ;)

zippolupan

17 Jun 2021, 15:51

Thanks for the suggestions! I have to do some further reading on Alps switches - there are so many that I often get confused. Are the dampening/clicking mods reversible? Any introductory material for the uninitiated?

I will definitely consider AEKs - they tick lots of boxes in that list. That's a really valuable "buyer's guide" right there.

On another note, what's your opinion on Focus keyboards?

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Bitteneite

17 Jun 2021, 16:26

zippolupan wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 15:51
Thanks for the suggestions! I have to do some further reading on Alps switches - there are so many that I often get confused. Are the dampening/clicking mods reversible? Any introductory material for the uninitiated?
The dampeners are reversible, and I personally find the bottoming out feel extremely satisfying on undampened Alps.
I wouldn't ever keep them on unless I really needed a dead silent switch.

In SKCM Alps, you have a leaf that generates tactility.
The linear-mod is reversible (literally just take the leaf out and reassemble), but the click-mod is irreversible.

The tactile leafs (such as those found in SKCM oranges, salmons, blacks, and creams) have a tiny tab that you can easily snip off.
You might be shocked by the difference, but this little tab is what's stopping your tactile leaf from clicking.
You can also rebend the leaf's shape slightly if you wanna increase your tactility, although you will need to spend some time making all the leafs uniform.

https://youtu.be/_Zdlx6VH1iU?t=169
(Timestamped at 2:49)

It's not reversible, but at the very least, you should definitely try it on a single switch, like the esc key, because boy is it so much fun! THE SOUND!
zippolupan wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 15:51
On another note, what's your opinion on Focus keyboards?
Haven't had one yet, but I do hear that they're excellent starters too. (Although not as tough. Shame, since I really love how they look)
Thing is, you're playing the switch lottery, since they came with so many different switches, from genuine Alps to all sorts of clones. We wouldn't mind helping you out identifying the switches though ;)

I don't think you can go wrong with either of these, as long as the board is clean.
SKCM Alps hate dust and dirt, so be on the lookout for clean ones exclusively.
Give Chyros's Alps guide a watch too! It's a good starter on how to maintain your Alps.

micmil

18 Jun 2021, 01:42

Acer 6311. Acer switches. I like mine more than I like my Dell AT101 with black Alps. Alps get gritchy? Disassemble whole thing, cry, lube with tears, reassemble, hope it's better, cry more when it isn't. Acer switch get gritchy? Take the case off, move the back plate out of the way, and hit it with either compressed air or the vacuum. It doesn't care which. The parts aren't going anywhere.

I'm not going to claim it's better than Alps. Just that I like it more. Oh, and you can get one for well under $50 because there's no way that a keyboard with a membrane can be good, right?

:? MODEL M :shock:

GivenZane

18 Jun 2021, 10:25

Hi Everyone,

Honestly I would recommend a Dell AT101. Black Alps aren't half bad in my opinion. Sure they are a bit scratchy, but it's not terrible; at least no worse then MX blacks. If you want to make the board a bit more quite you can add some foam to the case to fill it up a bit more. AEK are super nice, but they aren't all that cheap most of the time from my experience.

About Focus keyboards: They are a good deal for the price, but they can be quite noisy. To noisy for an office in my opinion. I only have a couple of 1001s with white alps so if it has other switches, the sound might vary in how loud it is.

If your are willing to spend some money, why not a Topre board? They are going to be quieter then an AEK in my experience and feel quit decent.

I wouldn't recommend and Acer unless you want some pitch forks and torches come at you LOL They are way to loud for office use IMHO.

--Cheers
--Given

GivenZane

18 Jun 2021, 10:34

Hi Again,

A Fujitsu Peerless FKB-4700 just occurred to me as a very good option. They feel roughly the same as a Model M, but slightly heavier with a really quiet click to them. They feel really nice if you find a lightly used and clean example. I have a NOS one and a couple lightly used ones and they are all great to type on. Technically they are a dome with slider, but you can't feel the rubber at all in them. Chyrosran22 reviewed them with a typing demo if you want to hear what it sounds like.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUzK0fn4iYA

-Cheers
--Given

Edit: I just watched Chyrosran22's video and he has a point with the stabilizer not liking being pressed off centre. I never noticed that in use though. I always hit my modifiers right above the actual switch, so... Yeah, your mileage might very.

Also, they aren't as tactile as an M. I would say they are more in line with an MX Blue with tactility. I had to break my board out to check all of this.

Overall. I still recommend it if you can deal with a heavy switch.

User avatar
Go-Kart

18 Jun 2021, 11:02

GivenZane wrote:
18 Jun 2021, 10:34
Hi Again,

A Fujitsu Peerless FKB-4700 just occurred to me as a very good option. They feel roughly the same as a Model M, but slightly heavier with a really quiet click to them. They feel really nice if you find a lightly used and clean example. I have a NOS one and a couple lightly used ones and they are all great to type on. Technically they are a dome with slider, but you can't feel the rubber at all in them. Chyrosran22 reviewed them with a typing demo if you want to hear what it sounds like.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUzK0fn4iYA

-Cheers
--Given

Edit: I just watched Chyrosran22's video and he has a point with the stabilizer not liking being pressed off centre. I never noticed that in use though. I always hit my modifiers right above the actual switch, so... Yeah, your mileage might very.

Also, they aren't as tactile as an M. I would say they are more in line with an MX Blue with tactility. I had to break my board out to check all of this.

Overall. I still recommend it if you can deal with a heavy switch.
I recently got an Epson Q203A and the switches are way lighter than an M in that board. Some of the mods were a little bindy but after a deep clean 'n lube, I'm sure they'll be Stella.

As for Topre, I can certainly recommend them if you're wallet can take the strain.

keyboardjoy

18 Jun 2021, 12:39

Tritian wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 03:12
clarification/reasoning:

Get a good quality AEK - even if you find a great one NIB it shouldn't cost anywhere near an F122. Most of the decent ones are around $150-ish. Some beaters are $50 - $100 range, and some of those may have good quality switches but more of a lottery. it would probably be best to buy one off someone here who can attest for the quality of the switches.

The dampened cream switches of the AEKII are pretty quiet and a lot of people like them. Most people prefer the Oranges or Salmons of the AEKI.
* If the serial number of the AEKI is <500,000, very probably has oranges. Higher ones can have oranges also, but make sure you get a pic of the switches before you bid.
* Some people (like me) prefer heavier switches, and those people generally prefer the Salmons.
* AEKII's are far cheaper, generally are less yellowed, and a few of them even have Salmon switches. (look for 1989 date on back, missing the {S} (brackets, using braces because of bbcode) in the lower right corner, made in USA)

There is also the Apple Standard Keyboard (ASK M0116) that also has oranges and salmons. Here is my beat up one (but the switches are great on it!)

Image
Image

These boards (AEK/ASK) have great keycaps! pbt dye sub, nice thickness. weird italics legends but i dont mind at all. Some of them have japanese letters - look at Yahoo Japan auction site for those - beware import fees.

You can also get the Apple ADB I keyboard which can have oranges and salmons. Avoid the ADB Keyboard II, it blows.
That is really, really nice.

User avatar
ZedTheMan

18 Jun 2021, 16:30

keyboardjoy wrote:
18 Jun 2021, 12:39
Tritian wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 03:12
clarification/reasoning:

Get a good quality AEK - even if you find a great one NIB it shouldn't cost anywhere near an F122. Most of the decent ones are around $150-ish. Some beaters are $50 - $100 range, and some of those may have good quality switches but more of a lottery. it would probably be best to buy one off someone here who can attest for the quality of the switches.

The dampened cream switches of the AEKII are pretty quiet and a lot of people like them. Most people prefer the Oranges or Salmons of the AEKI.
* If the serial number of the AEKI is <500,000, very probably has oranges. Higher ones can have oranges also, but make sure you get a pic of the switches before you bid.
* Some people (like me) prefer heavier switches, and those people generally prefer the Salmons.
* AEKII's are far cheaper, generally are less yellowed, and a few of them even have Salmon switches. (look for 1989 date on back, missing the {S} (brackets, using braces because of bbcode) in the lower right corner, made in USA)

There is also the Apple Standard Keyboard (ASK M0116) that also has oranges and salmons. Here is my beat up one (but the switches are great on it!)

Image
Image

These boards (AEK/ASK) have great keycaps! pbt dye sub, nice thickness. weird italics legends but i dont mind at all. Some of them have japanese letters - look at Yahoo Japan auction site for those - beware import fees.

You can also get the Apple ADB I keyboard which can have oranges and salmons. Avoid the ADB Keyboard II, it blows.
That is really, really nice.
You find yours in the attic yet?

soyuz

18 Jun 2021, 16:53

Don't get a Dell AT101 (unless you get one of the very early, old logo ones).

Contrary to what most people say, I think these are a terrible introduction to Alps, unless you swap the switches, or miraculously get one that isn't bamboo Black. Late Alps tactiles are always worse than pine, and the tactile leaves are genuinely terrible, so terrible that most people remove them altogether. This isn't just late SKCM Black switches, it's White Damped and Ivory too.

You are much better off getting an AEK1, or getting one of the aforementioned later boards and swapping good switches into it. I've known multiple people that think Alps suck hard because they started with an AT101W.

keyboardjoy

18 Jun 2021, 17:16

Not yet, I'm in London and the pre 1995 stuff will be in the attic of my childhood home up north. Will do an unboxing once I'm back up there.
ZedTheMan wrote:
18 Jun 2021, 16:30
keyboardjoy wrote:
18 Jun 2021, 12:39
Tritian wrote:
17 Jun 2021, 03:12
clarification/reasoning:

Get a good quality AEK - even if you find a great one NIB it shouldn't cost anywhere near an F122. Most of the decent ones are around $150-ish. Some beaters are $50 - $100 range, and some of those may have good quality switches but more of a lottery. it would probably be best to buy one off someone here who can attest for the quality of the switches.

The dampened cream switches of the AEKII are pretty quiet and a lot of people like them. Most people prefer the Oranges or Salmons of the AEKI.
* If the serial number of the AEKI is <500,000, very probably has oranges. Higher ones can have oranges also, but make sure you get a pic of the switches before you bid.
* Some people (like me) prefer heavier switches, and those people generally prefer the Salmons.
* AEKII's are far cheaper, generally are less yellowed, and a few of them even have Salmon switches. (look for 1989 date on back, missing the {S} (brackets, using braces because of bbcode) in the lower right corner, made in USA)

There is also the Apple Standard Keyboard (ASK M0116) that also has oranges and salmons. Here is my beat up one (but the switches are great on it!)

Image
Image

These boards (AEK/ASK) have great keycaps! pbt dye sub, nice thickness. weird italics legends but i dont mind at all. Some of them have japanese letters - look at Yahoo Japan auction site for those - beware import fees.

You can also get the Apple ADB I keyboard which can have oranges and salmons. Avoid the ADB Keyboard II, it blows.
That is really, really nice.
You find yours in the attic yet?

User avatar
Bitteneite

19 Jun 2021, 06:19

soyuz wrote:
18 Jun 2021, 16:53
Don't get a Dell AT101 (unless you get one of the very early, old logo ones).

Contrary to what most people say, I think these are a terrible introduction to Alps, unless you swap the switches, or miraculously get one that isn't bamboo Black. Late Alps tactiles are always worse than pine, and the tactile leaves are genuinely terrible, so terrible that most people remove them altogether. This isn't just late SKCM Black switches, it's White Damped and Ivory too.

You are much better off getting an AEK1, or getting one of the aforementioned later boards and swapping good switches into it. I've known multiple people that think Alps suck hard because they started with an AT101W.
They're not bad, just not worth the price they go for nowadays. Another victim of a certain YouTube channel skyrocketing their price? They're pretty mediocre otherwise.

I'm not sure if I agree on the tactile leafs part. They're not great when stock, sure, but they are great fun when click-modded!
I compared it to a Black Alps with a tactile leaf from a Blue Alps, and I don't think it's that far off. What's the deal here?

Also, are you sure about the Ivory Alps? (Aka Dampened Creams, right?) Didn't they come with pine housings and Salmon leafs?

micmil

19 Jun 2021, 14:49

And thus continues the ever-rolling Alps CJ of "That's the bad one! No, that's the bad one!" until you realize that all Alps switches are trash according to someone and everyone stumps for their personal favorite color like the irritating online douchebags they are.

At which point you realize that the worst anyone has ever said about Acer switches is "they're mediocre" and that I'm right and everyone else is wrong and neener neener.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SATIRICAL CONTENT. I mean, it probably doesn't but it might.

zippolupan

19 Jun 2021, 17:40

I'm quietly taking notes of all your suggestions and checking what's available out there. It is really hard to choose a keyboard without getting the chance to try them out! I can see some AT102s and AEKIIs available on eBay. I'm UK-based, so I'm avoiding searching eBay for US stuff as shipping + taxes are often prohibitive (learned that the hard way with some of my IBM keyboards). The problem with some of these boards for me is how strongly the plastic yellows. Some people tend to see those yellowed boards as "dirty" (especially my wife), so I'd prefer to find one that retains a bit more of the original colour. There is a NIB Fujitsu available there, but the price is not particularly inviting as I'm going to buy in the dark.

I came across some boards with Futaba, Mitsumi, and Hall effect switches. How do they compare to those you mentioned so far? Also, any brands/switches I should stay clear from? I see lots of names I've never heard about (Chicony etc), so, no idea.

Also, on the front of those more quirky-looking keyboards, any suggestions?

User avatar
hellothere

19 Jun 2021, 18:36

Regarding Hall Effect switches, Chyros and I agree that the best Hall Effect switches out there are the new ones on modern keyboards. I have a Steel Series Apex Pro that I bought used for around $125-ish (US). New, they're only $190-ish. Note that the Num Pad and a bunch of other keys on the Apex Pro are just red Gaterons. Also note that the clicky is only from the keys bottoming out. They're linear switches.

That being said, you might be well off with a BTC dome with slider. They're decently cheap and are arguably better than Topre. (Put your pitchforks down. I'm merely repeating something I've heard. I have no experience with a Topre.) These are tactile switches, btw.

Regarding the Acer 63 series mentioned earlier, I bought one of the new old stock ones from the guy that was selling a bazillion of them on ebay a few weeks back. They're a bit scratchy. Lube might help, but I'm not sure that OP wants a keyboard that has to have something done to it to make it work properly. These are clicky switches, btw.

I'm a very big fan of the Apple Extended Keyboard II and the Alps damped cream switch. I think that and/or the BTCs would probably be the quietest keyboards. For the AEK II, though, you need to get one that's in very good shape, or you're going to have a lot of click on the upstroke. Again, lube will help, as well as ultra-sonicing the top housing. These are tactile switches, btw.

Back to the Apple keyboards, for a sec. The AEK II also had Mitsumi Mechanical (not Mitsumi Minature Mechanical) switches. While I'm still waiting for someone to sell me a stabilizer for the space bar, I can confirm that these are really decent to type on and they're not particularly loud.

Summary: you've got a lot of great choices!

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hellothere

19 Jun 2021, 18:50

Oh. Stuff to stay away from. Watch this video.

Champking is a low-budget brand. Key caps are generally laser etched or pad printed. Mounting plate is generally plastic.
NTC keyboards are hit-or-miss. Everything I mentioned about Champking also applies to NTC.
I've only had two Chicony KBs and I thought they were OK.
Focus can be hit-or-miss.
Adesso can be hit-or-miss.
2+ year old Matias KBs might have the problem of random keys dying. You can replace the switches with real Alps switches, though.
OK keyboards are NOT OK. The switches are Alps mount, but I've read a bunch of stuff saying that they're not that great.
Cherry, but mostly newer ones. "We don't need no stinkin' mounting plate."
I've heard too many people mention that foam-and-foil keyboards are bad, so I'll stay away from those.

My #1 rule for vintage keyboards is that if you can't see the switch, it's probably the least good switch listed in the Wiki for that make/model.

micmil

20 Jun 2021, 03:52

hellothere wrote:
19 Jun 2021, 18:36
That being said, you might be well off with a BTC dome with slider. They're decently cheap and are arguably better than Topre. (Put your pitchforks down. I'm merely repeating something I've heard. I have no experience with a Topre.) These are tactile switches, btw.
As the resident BTC Dome With Slider Proselytizer... they're not as good as Topre. Actually, let me be way more specific. The BTC has a much stronger tactile feel, which I do prefer, but the construction quality of a common BTCDWS (not to be confused with the DDOJSIOC) board like the 5130 is nowhere near as good as even a Type Heaven. Considering that a Type Heaven can be ~$100 USD used and you can pick up a very good condition 5130 for 1/3rd that price you'd expect as much.

I'm sure there will be someone along to claim the opposite and that's okay. It's okay to be wrong.

User avatar
an_achronism

20 Jun 2021, 04:55

micmil wrote:
20 Jun 2021, 03:52
As the resident BTC Dome With Slider Proselytizer... they're not as good as Topre. Actually, let me be way more specific. The BTC has a much stronger tactile feel, which I do prefer, but the construction quality of a common BTCDWS (not to be confused with the DDOJSIOC) board like the 5130 is nowhere near as good as even a Type Heaven. Considering that a Type Heaven can be ~$100 USD used and you can pick up a very good condition 5130 for 1/3rd that price you'd expect as much.

I'm sure there will be someone along to claim the opposite and that's okay. It's okay to be wrong.
Nah, I have a BTC and it's nowhere near the level of the few Topre boards I've tried. It's fairly standard rubber dome key feel, just fairly firm domes that have a very "binary" feel, rather than the ill-defined mush that you get with a lot of dome boards. And in a pointed attempt to be open-minded, I own *way* too many rubber dome keyboards, so I'm not talking from a position of total ignorance, hahah.

Got a JIS RealForce en route so we'll see how that goes.

User avatar
Go-Kart

20 Jun 2021, 13:07

I always think it's tricky when bringing Topre into a conversation, particularly labelling another switches as better or worse than Topre.

Topre tactility is more gradual. This is particularly prominent on HHKB boards as the plastic chassis offers flex and further elongates the tactility to a noticeable degree. I think this makes Topre switches quite unique feeling.

I'd wager when being labelled "better" or "worse" than Topre, people really mean that the tactility is sharper and/or the weighting is better suited to the type of tactility a particular switch offers. I consider myself "tactile gang", got a Topre and a BTC D/S and found that the BTC's tactility was nice and sharp. Pleasantly weighted too. However, if I wanted sharp tactility, I'd jump on my 2000 Plus with Pine Whites.

But obviously, key feel preference is subjective. Although, after having just acquired a BTC F&F board, I don't think anyone would argue against me labelling that key feel as garbage 😄

User avatar
Bjerrk

20 Jun 2021, 13:47

I think I'll have to place myself in the "just doesn't get Topre" category.
I tried a HHKB. I tried BTC D+S boards. Both are fine. Reasonably pleasant. I even liked them. But I still have difficulty understanding what makes Topre so special. Looking at the force curves only leaves me more perplexed.

Perhaps it's some sort of acquired taste.


Image

User avatar
wobbled

20 Jun 2021, 14:44

BTC is a classic tactile rubber dome w/ Slider board that gets tactility right. I'd say they feel better than any Cherry MX tactile switch or clone.
Topre is a completely different beast, though they do boast some tactility, I class them more as a linear board that boasts an extremely smooth travel as the tactile bump is insignificant when compared to the smooth travel.
If you don't appreciate smooth linear switches, you probably wont appreciate Topre.

Luckily it's easier to get cheap Topre boards nowadays - I've nabbed a couple HHKB's from ebay in the past for just over £100 when back in the day they were £200+ heading to £300. Their price used to be a contributing factor to why people 'didn't get' the topre craze.

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an_achronism

20 Jun 2021, 18:45

This is all spot on. I agree that the significantly different type of tactility on Topre and the pricing both contribute to why people sometimes say things like BTC DWS is "more tactile" or just better than Topre... it's just more sharp, more binary imo.

I also agree that MX tactiles are not as nice to use as sharply tactile domes like the BTC DWS sort; I find them frankly quite horrible across the board, and I don't just mean actual Cherry. I've tried quite a few now and don't really like any of them, they just feel sort of broken. This is the only reason I rate clicky switches, particularly click bar (Kaihua / Kailh BOX): their tactility is the sort that I enjoy. It has almost nothing to do with the clicky sound, just the physical feedback. BTC DWS is much more pleasing to me than MX tactile style, but it's also less durable because rubber domes wear, and wear unevenly. (Although to some extent this is also an issue with some MX tactiles that are lubed e.g. BOX Royals "turning clicky" when lube starts to wear off, which is one reason I didn't buy those.)

As for what makes Topre special, I'd wager it has something to do with smooth tactility appearing on the same keyboard as N-key rollover, which even the nicest rubber dome boards are generally incapable of.

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Bjerrk

20 Jun 2021, 19:13

an_achronism wrote:
20 Jun 2021, 18:45
I also agree that MX tactiles are not as nice to use as sharply tactile domes like the BTC DWS sort; I find them frankly quite horrible across the board, and I don't just mean actual Cherry. I've tried quite a few now and don't really like any of them, they just feel sort of broken.
I've never completely understood where these strongly negative opinions on all MX style tactiles come from. I agree that some of the most common MX tactiles have a somewhat unclear, messy (and just insufficient!) tactility. But I think others have managed to do something relatively nice with it. I even list Kailh Polias as among my favourite switches, together with capacitive buckling springs, Blue Alps and some Kailh Box switches. Sure, they're not as spectacular as the rest of the list, but they somehow fill that void of "rounded tactility, soft landing but with a well-defined bottom out if you press through". The same sort of thing I enjoy in a good dome with slider switch.

Take a look at e.g. this force curve for the RGB housing Stealth Sage Holy Panda Xtreme Fragmeister Pro switch and tell me why it is so much worse than e.g. BTC:
Image

micmil

20 Jun 2021, 22:50

Bjerrk wrote:
20 Jun 2021, 13:47
But I still have difficulty understanding what makes Topre so special. Looking at the force curves only leaves me more perplexed.

Perhaps it's some sort of acquired taste.
I can't imagine anyone using a Topre board for a month and being ambivalent about it. I think it's one of those instant love/don't get things. It's not sharply tactile, it's not linear, it's this really nice in-between that has all the positives of each. Most people probably want one or the other and the in-between space wouldn't be ideal for anyone on either end of that spectrum. For me, everything about the Topre feel is ideal for getting work done.

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hellothere

21 Jun 2021, 22:53

I'd love to try a Topre. Just to find out what everyone's talking about.

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