Topre Question

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hellothere

18 Jul 2021, 20:19

I bought a new-to-me Realforce R2 TKL. I like. However, I know virtually nothing else about Topre keyboards. Is there a "best ever" /vintage Topre model that I should try to obtain, other than the variable key weight ones that I won't like? (Footnote.)

Footnote: I won't like the variable weighted ones because I don't know how to type properly. The variable weights would just serve to confuse me. I should also mention that I like 50g to 55g weighting and TKL is about the smallest size I like.

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Palatino

18 Jul 2021, 20:47

I'm under the impression, which I'm sure someone will correct if it's wrong, that Topre is Topre and hasn't gone through iterations and improvements/worsenings like Alps switches, for instance; and that consequently the main variables are weighting (including after-market domes to extend the standard range below 35g on the light side and above 55g on the heavy side) and silenced vs unsilenced, including after-market dampening rings which are generally held to be not quite as good as stock Topre silenced purple sliders. Personally I would love to try a stock Topre 55g silenced board but I don't think they make/made one (very much hoping to be put right here!) I might end up trying some silencing rings on my 55g board, or doing a dome swap with one of my 45g silenced boards, but I'm too worried about mucking it up just now! I think "best ever Topre" then comes down to the size and layout you prefer: BFK through to HHKB, and everything in between. Personally I love the Leopold FC660C, although I wouldn't say no to a Japanese HHKB with a proper arrow cluster, if I could find one for less than they're usually advertised for.

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zyxxke

18 Jul 2021, 22:22

Hm, I would strongly recommend you to try out BKE domes from Sony Editing Controllers (such as BKE-2010 or PVE-500). Realforce R2 with Topre 30g is worth a try too.

I would also recommend you to get hands on Hi-Pro which in my opinion is the most comfortable keycap profile.

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Go-Kart

18 Jul 2021, 22:33

From my experience, chassis (deck flex) matters with Topre. I wouldn't be using a HHKB as my primary board if it wasn't for the key feel. I don't mind small formfactor but you'd have to really twist my arm for me to go below 65 %, and then with the added learning curve of a Unix influenced layout!? However, I've got a BFK and I've had an R2 full size, but the plastic chassis/mounting plate of HHKB puts the key feel head and shoulders above both of them (it honestly makes that much difference). The tactility is slightly more drawn out on a HHKB and the bottom out is softer. I wouldn't have entertained daily driving a HHKB if it weren't for the key feel. The price alone would have made me laugh at the prospect but here I am...

I'm comparing the 45 g variant here by the way. Dampened and stock. I can't speak to any other weightings myself.

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hellothere

19 Jul 2021, 04:39

I'd find it really difficult to get used to a sub-TKL sized keyboard as a daily driver, so that excludes the HHKB for me. The 60% Bluetooth KB with the optical switches I recently reviewed was something I bought mainly to fool around with my iPads and to take with me on the rare occasions when I have to take my laptop somewhere for work.

There isn't any flex to my KB. It's got pretty good heft and feels very well made.

I don't yet understand the naming difference between HHKB, Realforce, and Leopold. Looks like the Realforce KBs are the only ones available with 55g switches. Leopold has at least one full-size model and is more expensive than Realforce ($259 vs. $226). HHKBs start at about the same list price as my Realforce ($219).

I'm now wondering about the silenced Topre KBs. The one I have isn't listed as "silent," but it makes considerably less noise than any of my linear KBs. I'd like to know how silent it is. I don't think I'd buy one, but I'd be interested in hearing the difference.

At the moment, the switch that these Topres are reminding me of is an Alps cream damped switch, which is the one you'd find most commonly in the Apple Extended Keyboard II. Topre is more snappy. The cream damped is more creamy. (Sorry. That really is the best description I can give.) I don't have an AEK II in easy reach, but I wonder if it snaps as much on the upstroke as the Topre does.

emerrryjones

19 Jul 2021, 06:18

You shouldn't buy Topre, it's not really good :| :| :|

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an_achronism

19 Jul 2021, 10:04

hellothere wrote:
19 Jul 2021, 04:39
I don't yet understand the naming difference between HHKB, Realforce, and Leopold. Looks like the Realforce KBs are the only ones available with 55g switches. Leopold has at least one full-size model and is more expensive than Realforce ($259 vs. $226). HHKBs start at about the same list price as my Realforce ($219).
Sounds like you more or less do understand the naming difference, hahah...

RealForce is called that because of the whole variable dome weighting thing, but there are also RealForce boards with uniform weighting. I specifically chose one of those (full size JIS, 45g, silenced). They all have steel plates in them, as far as I know, which is the main thing I *don't* like about mine: as Go-Kart says above, plastic flex helps rather than hinders key feel with Topre imo. The steel plate makes it feel kinda like you're hammering your fingers against a brick wall with a thin rubber sheet on top of it or something. Perfect example of solid, robust build quality actually being surprisingly negative, imo.

HHKB is obviously the signature layout shamelessly stolen from the Sun Type 3 (which I would much rather be using, layout-wise, and am planning my own custom Topre based on that). HHKB is all plastic frame, so no steel there. Slight caveat is that Japanese layout HHKB is a thing, which is more like traditional JIS shrunk down; I don't think I'm a huge fan of that version of the layout either though.

Leopold is a Korean company separate from PFU (the latter being the HHKB & RealForce manufacturer) that makes some boards of their own using Topre switches. Layout is more or less standard ANSI shrunk down though. I'm not an ANSI guy and honestly think the Sun-like version of US layout seen on HHKB is preferable in some ways but both lack num-and-nav pads so I don't really have much interest in these either.

hellothere wrote:
19 Jul 2021, 04:39
I'm now wondering about the silenced Topre KBs. The one I have isn't listed as "silent," but it makes considerably less noise than any of my linear KBs. I'd like to know how silent it is. I don't think I'd buy one, but I'd be interested in hearing the difference.

At the moment, the switch that these Topres are reminding me of is an Alps cream damped switch, which is the one you'd find most commonly in the Apple Extended Keyboard II. Topre is more snappy. The cream damped is more creamy. (Sorry. That really is the best description I can give.) I don't have an AEK II in easy reach, but I wonder if it snaps as much on the upstroke as the Topre does.
That snappy upstroke is what's "silenced" on "silent" Topre, using a wee shock absorber on the underside of the top housing to damp the impact of the returning slider as it snaps back against the top housing. Basically just like the damped Alps if they only had those wee rubber nubs sticking out at the top of the slider, not the bottom as well. I really like my "silenced" Topre board apart from the aforementioned solid steel bottom-out.

emerrryjones wrote:
19 Jul 2021, 06:18
You shouldn't buy Topre, it's not really good :| :| :|
k

User avatar
Go-Kart

19 Jul 2021, 21:03

Indeed.

Also, the distinction between the different companies whom use Topre switches appears to be designed to prevent competition. If the Topre key feel you're already familiar with is satisfactory, and care more about layout/formfactor, here's the list in ascending order:

60 % - HHKB
65 % - Leopold 660C
TKL - RealForce TKL
96 % - Leopold 980C (although it's listed as a full size)
Full size - RealForce Full Size

There are other options from years gone by, Cooler Master's NovaTouch, a TKL, for instance. Or, maybe the rarest board I own, Epson's BFK - no clue how you'd classify that as a formfactor. As anachronism mentioned, the HHKB JP is a thing. For those who can't bare the thought of going 60 %, it's worthy of serious consideration ...well, if you're ISO gang :twisted:

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an_achronism

20 Jul 2021, 01:55

Go-Kart wrote:
19 Jul 2021, 21:03
Cooler Master's NovaTouch
Those things seem to be gold dust because they're MX compatible. Personally, I'm just going with Niz switches, and (I think) BKE Redux v1 domes, which are a frustrating match to assemble but theoretically pleasing to use.

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hellothere

20 Jul 2021, 02:21

I looked for a NovaTouch and just couldn't find one. However, it looks like I could get an entire set of MX adapters for under $60, provided I wanted MX keycaps.

I did think about the Niz, but it looks like they only come with 35g switches. That's a definite deal-breaker for me. Abko has what a few folks were calling a "Topre clone" that does have 55g switches. They don't seem to stay in stock for very long.

I didn't even think about the dome replacement idea until you mentioned it, aa. I remember seeing that as a hot topic for awhile, then it kinda went away. I have no real desire to change anything, ATM.

One other thing: I did break out my BTC 5100C for a test between it and the Topre. The Topre's a lot better, but I can feel why the BTC and/or Scorpius dome w/slider keyboards are compared to Topre. I am going to see if I can find a NOS-ish Packard Bell with BTC dome w/slider and continue testing, as I've been told that full-sized keyboards with the BTC dome w/slider are better than the ones in the 5100C. Well, if I can get one for around $30 or less.

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hellothere

20 Jul 2021, 02:23

That snappy upstroke is what's "silenced" on "silent" Topre, using a wee shock absorber on the underside of the top housing to damp the impact of the returning slider as it snaps back against the top housing.
Thanks for this info! Again, I'm not planning on doing anything to the KB near term, but I wouldn't mind trying those in the future.

micmil

21 Jul 2021, 00:27

hellothere wrote:
20 Jul 2021, 02:21
I looked for a NovaTouch and just couldn't find one. However, it looks like I could get an entire set of MX adapters for under $60, provided I wanted MX keycaps.

I did think about the Niz, but it looks like they only come with 35g switches. That's a definite deal-breaker for me. Abko has what a few folks were calling a "Topre clone" that does have 55g switches. They don't seem to stay in stock for very long.

I didn't even think about the dome replacement idea until you mentioned it, aa. I remember seeing that as a hot topic for awhile, then it kinda went away. I have no real desire to change anything, ATM.

One other thing: I did break out my BTC 5100C for a test between it and the Topre. The Topre's a lot better, but I can feel why the BTC and/or Scorpius dome w/slider keyboards are compared to Topre. I am going to see if I can find a NOS-ish Packard Bell with BTC dome w/slider and continue testing, as I've been told that full-sized keyboards with the BTC dome w/slider are better than the ones in the 5100C. Well, if I can get one for around $30 or less.
You can get Niz in different weights. I wouldn't let the light weighting get to you too bad. I have a 45g Topre Type Heaven and a 35g Abko. The Abko is definitely lighter but in the "you type lighter" way rather than the "bottom out harder" way, and I type like an orangutan most of the time.

The BTC/Packard Bell 5130 can be had in very good condition for $30-40 most every day of the week in the US. Similar weighting to 45g Topre but two major things are different. First is the BTC is WAY more tactile. If you love tactile, you'll dig it. Second is build quality is, as you would expect, a fraction of Topre. They are 90's home PC rubber some boards and were definitely built to that price point. Still one of my favorites though.

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hellothere

21 Jul 2021, 22:21

I've seen some of the 5130s with a metal bottom plate, so not necessarily that bad for build quality. A lot of them are Packard Bell models. And yes, I love tactile. I've got this brown Alps keyboard next to me ...

Riverman

22 Jul 2021, 07:03

an_achronism wrote:
20 Jul 2021, 01:55
Go-Kart wrote:
19 Jul 2021, 21:03
Cooler Master's NovaTouch
Those things seem to be gold dust because they're MX compatible. Personally, I'm just going with Niz switches, and (I think) BKE Redux v1 domes, which are a frustrating match to assemble but theoretically pleasing to use.
Don't forget about the Realforce RGB. It gets a bad rap because it doesn't sound particularly good in stock form, but if you put silencing rings on it, it's really very nice. It's also the cheapest way to get a uniform 45g Topre keyboard since the Type Heaven has become so rare, even in the used market. I have an RGB at work with Signature Plastics SA keycaps that's silenced, and an R2 Mac version at home that was originally a factory silenced 30g model, but now has a set of 45g domes from another RGB. They're both wonderful keyboards.

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Go-Kart

22 Jul 2021, 09:32

Those RealForce RGBs are basically Type Heavens with lights?

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

22 Jul 2021, 18:28

The RGB is basically an R2 with slightly different sliders.

My R2 review: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23130

micmil

22 Jul 2021, 19:10

hellothere wrote:
21 Jul 2021, 22:21
I've seen some of the 5130s with a metal bottom plate, so not necessarily that bad for build quality. A lot of them are Packard Bell models. And yes, I love tactile. I've got this brown Alps keyboard next to me ...
I have owned multiple 5130's over the years. The metal plate is about four tinfoils thick and rattles like holy hell. The plastics are not super cheap, but still far from nice. There's a PCB, which is a plus, but the way the whole thing is constructed is not anything approaching quality. It's a keyboard that was included with low to mid tier computers in the early to mid 90's and it is built as such. Even my Type Heaven (Chinese built Topre) is leagues ahead of the 5130's.

The 5130 is not a terrible board, it's one of my all-time favorites because it's so heavily tactile, but don't be confused by the metal plate. It's not a super well built keyboard. Which is why they're cheap. Which is another reason to love them. :lol:

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Go-Kart

22 Jul 2021, 22:27

XMIT wrote:
22 Jul 2021, 18:28
The RGB is basically an R2 with slightly different sliders.

My R2 review: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23130
I had already read your review of the RGB, hence my impression being that they're modified R2s, rather than modified Type Heavens.

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hellothere

23 Jul 2021, 03:38

So, I just bought one of those Packard Bells for $25. Immediately afterwards, I found a bunch of 5140M NOS keyboards for $30. [sarcasm] Thanks, ebay search engine! [/sarcasm]

I completely forgot about the Type Heaven. That's the "budget" Topre made in China. I found a video from Chyros and he calls it as good or better than the Realforce, provided you only like one weighting across the keyboard. They were $139, but it looks like they've been discontinued.

I also found wiki/Topre_OEM_Keyboards. It does look like there are some other interesting Topre variants out there. There's also a "holy grail" Topre called the HIPRO model.

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hellothere

24 Jul 2021, 02:04

How do the new Abko keyboards compare to Topre? They're not that much less expensive.

micmil

24 Jul 2021, 02:24

hellothere wrote:
23 Jul 2021, 03:38
I completely forgot about the Type Heaven. That's the "budget" Topre made in China. I found a video from Chyros and he calls it as good or better than the Realforce, provided you only like one weighting across the keyboard. They were $139, but it looks like they've been discontinued.
The Type Heaven's sturdy as hell. This pink monstrosity I'm typing on now has been my daily driver for... umm... I think I got it like three months ago? Haven't really switched out even for gaming. It's just good at everything.
hellothere wrote:
24 Jul 2021, 02:04
How do the new Abko keyboards compare to Topre? They're not that much less expensive.
I have a K935P. TKL. The keycaps are GODLIKE, easily my favorite ever. They have this weird soft sort of texture I haven't found on anything else. Also they're MX compatible out of the box so if for some reason you want to change them out you can do so easily. Mine is factory silenced. Chyros has a review on it and he's spot on when it comes to everything. Light weighting, but it does include extra springs to heavy-up some keys and you can find more relatively cheap. Construction quality seems about the same as my Type Heaven, just a different overall look and feel. The only reason I'm not using it right now is that the Type Heaven has a numpad.

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Go-Kart

24 Jul 2021, 11:09

micmil wrote:
24 Jul 2021, 02:24
hellothere wrote:
24 Jul 2021, 02:04
How do the new Abko keyboards compare to Topre? They're not that much less expensive.
I have a K935P. TKL. The keycaps are GODLIKE, easily my favorite ever. They have this weird soft sort of texture I haven't found on anything else. Also they're MX compatible out of the box so if for some reason you want to change them out you can do so easily. Mine is factory silenced. Chyros has a review on it and he's spot on when it comes to everything. Light weighting, but it does include extra springs to heavy-up some keys and you can find more relatively cheap. Construction quality seems about the same as my Type Heaven, just a different overall look and feel. The only reason I'm not using it right now is that the Type Heaven has a numpad.
I agree, I was impressed with every part of the Abko. I prefer stock Topre caps myself but that is just preference; the caps on the Abko were very good.

The only thing I think is worth mentioning when talking these Nopre boards is that, while they have the benefits of capacitive (Topre-style) switches, they do not feel like Topre switches. The tactility is shorter, sharper and gentler/lighter. That rounded Topre tactility is unique to Topre. And this isn't to claim that the Nopre key feel is inferior (because it is obviously subjective), just different. And always worth considering, Abko/Niz boards all
feature pre-silenced Niz Nopre switches that are MX-compatible. I really rated both the Nopre boards I auditioned.

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hellothere

25 Jul 2021, 17:47

I did run across a couple of reviews here and confirmed your comments on Nopre KBs. I watched the review from Chyros and it boiled down to, "I like them better than Topre."

I'll snag one of the Nopres at some point. I did just purchase a scissor-switch, Bluetooth, 34-key, numpad. While I could have programmed a nice numpad on my iPad or Amazon Fire, I kinda like that it'd dedicated.

niz_to _meet_you

29 Jul 2021, 22:06

Just a heads up. My K935 v2 began torqueing almost immediately, though I was able twist it back into form pretty easily. It also developed a small crack in the side of the case. Both are not deal-breaking for me because I love the board. But I've seen others make similar complaints with this model and the other k9 that's 55 grams.

vadik

31 Jul 2021, 00:02

hellothere wrote:
18 Jul 2021, 20:19
Footnote: I won't like the variable weighted ones because I don't know how to type properly. The variable weights would just serve to confuse me. I should also mention that I like 50g to 55g weighting and TKL is about the smallest size I like.[/size]
It doesn't really interfere with typing. My first "mechanical" keyboard was a Topre TKL with variable weight, and I quickly started typing properly under its influence without making any effort to do so. This was 5 years ago, and this year I bought a blank HHKB.

vadik

31 Jul 2021, 00:50

an_achronism wrote:
19 Jul 2021, 10:04
Slight caveat is that Japanese layout HHKB is a thing, which is more like traditional JIS shrunk down; I don't think I'm a huge fan of that version of the layout either though.
It has a weird stagger.
an_achronism wrote:
19 Jul 2021, 10:04
PFU (the latter being the HHKB & RealForce manufacturer)
Isn't Realforce manufactured by Topre?

FWIW, xinput(1) identifies HHKB Pro2 as "Topre Corporation HHKB Professional" and the newer models as "PFU Limited HHKB-{Classic,Hybrid}".

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hellothere

Yesterday, 02:08

niz_to _meet_you wrote:
29 Jul 2021, 22:06
Just a heads up. My K935 v2 began torqueing almost immediately, though I was able twist it back into form pretty easily. It also developed a small crack in the side of the case. Both are not deal-breaking for me because I love the board. But I've seen others make similar complaints with this model and the other k9 that's 55 grams.
Torquing? What do you mean?

Edit: this?

niz_to _meet_you

Yesterday, 04:13

Exactly this. Pity that there isn't more information on it. Happened only once and the fix was just a gentle twist. My own guess is that the pieces to the case weren't properly aligned and then forced into place. Eventually something got loose and the metal began to warp a little.

micmil

Yesterday, 16:35

Just about any keyboard will do that. Parts move over time depending on your usage. Give it a wiggle and it should reseat the bits that are causing the issue.

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