Your Most Reliable / Least Reliable Keyboards?

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Hypersphere

09 Nov 2016, 22:52

Of all the keyboards you have owned (contemporary and/or vintage; new or used), which one has proved to be the most reliable and which one has proved to be the least reliable?

The most reliable is the one you have always trusted to get the job done. The least reliable is the one that developed problems -- dead keys, chattering keys, a loose USB connector -- or the board that failed altogether.

For me,

Most reliable: HHKB Pro 2. It just works. In addition, any of my IBM Buckling Spring keyboards, including Model F and Model M (despite numerous broken plastic rivets in several of my Model M boards, they keep on working).

Least reliable: Various vintage Alps-switch keyboards (unresponsive keys; chattering keys). In addition, a KC60 (loose mini-USB connector).

I really like typing on a good solid Alps board, such as a Northgate Omnikey 101 ANSI white Alps, but I have had more problems with Alps switches than any other kind. Fortunately, I have usually been able to restore the errant switches to useful life, but past malfunctions tend to raise doubts about future reliability.

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Techno Trousers
100,000,000 actuations

10 Nov 2016, 00:55

Most reliable: ANSIfied F-122. It's been my daily driver at work for two years, and never has a single keypress failed to register precisely and accurately. It makes typing such a joy when you use a 100% crisp and reliable keyboard.

Least reliable: All of the rubber dome crap keyboards I had to use between about 1996 and 2007. Spongy keys with varying levels of force needed to activate; keys and/or space bars that mysteriously fail to register a keypress; $100+ "gaming quality" advertised keyboards that last about 6 months at most until I'm driven up the wall with frustration using them.

You young folks out there need to count your lucky stars you live in an age of plentiful quality mechanical keyboards. Don't ever let the industry slide back into $10 rubber dome madness!

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zslane

10 Nov 2016, 02:22

Are we restricting assessment to mechanical keyboards only?

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Nov 2016, 04:36

I like to think that my Hall boards are the most reliable boards out there. 8-)

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Techno Trousers
100,000,000 actuations

10 Nov 2016, 05:04

^shameless plug!! But it could well be true with a no-contact switch. It'll probably be down to how well the electronics stand the test of time.

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czarek

10 Nov 2016, 09:43

Most reliable: Filco (all 5 keyboards I had/have) and old CM Storm Quickfire
Worth noting for reliability: HHKB (my previous one survived multiple spills and drops, but both the old one and new one do change their feel with time and use, not good), Model F AT (it works like a champ for 32 years with only some cleaning, I don't use it daily though)

Least reliable: GON's Nerd60, but it could be my sloppy soldering skills - it was the first keyboard I built, also built in keyboards in white apple iBooks and MacBooks, had to replace them every couple month when I used those computers (almost 10 years ago though). The worst one though: WASD Code with MX Blues. It did function, but the switches sounded very weird (not all of them clicked), and felt like crap, nothing like normal MX Blues.

Dissapointing reliability: Model Ms are not as durable as people say, they do break and need repairs (after 25 years of use, but still :)), Topre in general change their feel with time, become stiffer, and heavily used keys become more linear, new black (rather charcoal grey) RealForce Silent has crappy coating that fades away really quickly in spots where it gets touched when typing.

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cookie

10 Nov 2016, 10:51

Most reliable: HHKB Pro One! 12 years performing it's duty day in and day out. It's already yellowed, caps have become shiny and it fell down couple times till the point that parts of the case broke but the internals are still working. Still the first Mini USB connector and it is still snappy after all the plugging. It needs a bit attention from time to time (Cleaning & Lubing stabilizers). Domes have stiffened over the time but I like how it feels right now. I am currently overhauling the complete case, I did restore it once but the fresh paint come off quite fast. Now it lies disassembled in a box till I finish it. (http://imgur.com/a/kPpor in case you are interested in the restoration process)

Least reliable: FacU custom keyboard. I bought this PCB years ago, soldered MX reds on it and left it how it is right now. It periodically disconnects and changes behavior I can't rely on it right now neither I have an idea how it is programmed. I have to dig into controller programming first to fix the issue, this will be the next thing after my Pro1 restoration.

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Menuhin

10 Nov 2016, 13:15

Hypersphere wrote: Of all the keyboards you have owned (contemporary and/or vintage; new or used), which one has proved to be the most reliable and which one has proved to be the least reliable?

The most reliable is the one you have always trusted to get the job done. The least reliable is the one that developed problems -- dead keys, chattering keys, a loose USB connector -- or the board that failed altogether.

For me,

Most reliable: HHKB Pro 2. It just works. In addition, any of my IBM Buckling Spring keyboards, including Model F and Model M (despite numerous broken plastic rivets in several of my Model M boards, they keep on working).

Least reliable: Various vintage Alps-switch keyboards (unresponsive keys; chattering keys). In addition, a KC60 (loose mini-USB connector).

I really like typing on a good solid Alps board, such as a Northgate Omnikey 101 ANSI white Alps, but I have had more problems with Alps switches than any other kind. Fortunately, I have usually been able to restore the errant switches to useful life, but past malfunctions tend to raise doubts about future reliability.
What's this?? An Alps enthusiast telling people to get away from Alps? :mrgreen:

The most reliable keyboard: IBM Model M (and SSK) - buckling springs doesn't fit my light touching style however.

Honorable mention: an IBM rubber dome board - It felt so good typing on it but I sold it when I moved. I am looking for it again forever - they're some of the best rubber dome better than quite some mechanical boards. Won't disclose the model number, probably you can find it after digging into some forums. :lol:

The least reliable keyboard: they definitely can't get your job done - the Laser projection virtual keyboard and the smart-ass Lenovo Yoga Book Touch keyboard. Take a look or try them in a shop:
http://www.brookstone.com/pd/virtual-ke ... 6246p.html
http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/lenov ... ures-specs

Dis-'honorable' mention: many of the island-style chiclet keyboard like those on a MacBook nowadays - I really like those on a ThinkPad though, especially at/pre T420 ThinkPad era.

User avatar
Khers

10 Nov 2016, 13:40

Most reliable: So far I've had zero issues with any of my HHKBs. Neither have I had issues with any of my IBMs (F or M), but I haven't used them as much as I have my trusty little army of HHKBs.

Least reliable: Like you, Hypersphere, I like vintage Alps switches but have had by far the most issues with them. Even keyboards that appear in good to great condition can have non-working or chattering switches.

hypkx
Chasing the Dream

10 Nov 2016, 13:43

Most reliable:
GH60 rev.c
Heavily abused, but still works perfect.

Least Reliable:
GH60 satan,
It worked perfect for some weeks, than fucks total up, after reflashing its seems like the keymap is false (but I have nothing changed), I tried everything.
Some alps keyboards I got where also just dead.

andrewjoy

10 Nov 2016, 13:46

Honestly , filco.

my TKL filco has had crap spilled on it , heavy things dropped on it and it has been used and abused for years and it has never missed a single key stroke.

Least reliable .

I would also have to go with vintage alps , but only when they are not looked after. If you look after them , keep em clean , then your fine. But if they are dirty the will fail you.

So i would say Unmaintained ALPS.

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Hypersphere

10 Nov 2016, 15:16

Yep, I am still an Alps enthusiast despite the fact that I have experienced more trouble with Alps switches than any other kind I have used.

We all know of examples of cars that are fun to drive, yet they are frequently in the shop for repairs.

It seems that Alps need to be in pristine condition to yield the "true Alps" experience. I have also had reasonably good luck restoring Alps-switch keyboards; it is tedious, but it can be worth the effort.

-- Typed on my HHKB Pro 2.

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Nov 2016, 15:27

Techno Trousers wrote: ^shameless plug!! But it could well be true with a no-contact switch. It'll probably be down to how well the electronics stand the test of time.
Sorry, I couldn't help it.

One day I'd like to set up a formal testing station, and/or submit these boards to a company or firm that does such testing, to get actual data on how well these boards stand up to salt water, heat, humidity, shock, vibration, and cycles. There is a small but lucrative market that I believe these keyboards could fit nicely. Think: air traffic control, call centers, boats, etc.

The Micro Switch Hall Effect switch is quite reliable. One day I'd still like to get one working over USB. It's more about the time to do it than anything else. The magnetic valve switches I have are incredibly reliable as well.

As for unreliable, sadly, I must agree that unmaintained Alps are pretty low on the list. I've had to re-solder a few switches and replace switch plates on the hasu64 board I'm using at the moment. I have a board with blue Alps (soldered them into a KBparadise V80) and those seem to have an inconsistent click point. Some click before actuation, some after. So irritating! I notice it the most on arrow keys.

By far, the LEAST reliable keyboards I know, are Honeywell foam and foil. They work great until the foam degrades, and then, nothing. The great irony is that, at the time, they were billed as being ultra-reliable due to capacitive sensing. Oops. They make great keyboards when restored or when new.

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Hypersphere

10 Nov 2016, 15:35

@XMIT: How is the production schedule shaping up? Will we be able to "deck the halls" with your Hall-effect keyboards?

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ohaimark
Kingpin

10 Nov 2016, 15:46

ohhhh, ohhhh, the pun

it burns

That's some good stuff there. :)

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Nov 2016, 16:44

Hypersphere wrote: @XMIT: How is the production schedule shaping up? Will we be able to "deck the halls" with your Hall-effect keyboards?
Off topic. I'll answer in the other thread. :roll:

keyboards-f2/chinese-usb-hall-effect-ke ... 14551.html

User avatar
Chyros

10 Nov 2016, 17:03

Hypersphere wrote: Yep, I am still an Alps enthusiast despite the fact that I have experienced more trouble with Alps switches than any other kind I have used.

We all know of examples of cars that are fun to drive, yet they are frequently in the shop for repairs.
Hahaha, yeah, basically Alps are the Alfa Romeo of the keyboard world xD . "Alpsa Romeo"?
It seems that Alps need to be in pristine condition to yield the "true Alps" experience.
Man, it's such a pain in the neck finding ones like that xD . But it's sooooo worth it :D .

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Hypersphere

10 Nov 2016, 17:57

Yep, Alpsa Romeo! :D

andrewjoy

10 Nov 2016, 18:19

Hypersphere wrote: Yep, Alpsa Romeo! :D


I was just thinking this too, your not a true keyboard enthusiast until you have owned vintage alps.

Just like your not a true petrol head unless you have owned an alfa.

When it works its wonderful , until your in a cloud of smoke at the side of the road

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Hypersphere

10 Nov 2016, 19:14

If there were sufficient votes, perhaps DT could officially declare vintage Alps the Alpsa Romeo of keyboard switches, by fiat, as it were.
Picture1.png
Picture1.png (265.66 KiB) Viewed 2583 times
Never could resist a bad pun. :|

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czarek

10 Nov 2016, 20:30

Hypersphere wrote: Yep, Alpsa Romeo! :D
Mmmm... I do miss my 159, unfortunately had to part ways with her as soon as warranty ran out :D

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Hypersphere

11 Nov 2016, 00:33

This afternoon, I've been typing on two of my KBP V60 Matias-switch keyboards. One has Matias Click switches modified by replacing the sliders, springs, and click leaves with the corresponding parts from Blue Alps switches (the hybrids are dubbed "Matiblu" switches). The other has unmodified Matias Click switches. Both are fine, but I prefer typing on the unmodified Matias Click switches. The Matiblu switches are quieter and lighter, but I think they are too light for me. I get better speed and accuracy with the heavier more tactile Matias Clicks.

I have 4 KBP V60 Matias boards (3 Clicks and one Quiet). They were purchased in 2014 and 2015, and I have had no problems with them. They are still going strong.

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cookie

11 Nov 2016, 11:37

Alpsa Romeo, I like this :)

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Hypersphere

12 Nov 2016, 20:32

I've cross-posted this thread on GH and between the two, I am seeing some trends. There seems to be some consensus that Alps and Alps clones are the least reliable types of switches, but there is also a resurgence of enthusiasm for these switches. Hence the analogy to a sports car that spends a lot of time in the shop but that is great fun to drive when it is up and running. Alpsa Romeo!

There is also some consensus that Topre-switch keyboards (e.g., HHKG and RF) are among the most reliable. Other reliable switch types include IBM capacitive buckling spring (with some caveats about crumbling foam layers) and IBM membrane buckling spring (despite the prevalence of broken plastic rivets). Among other reliable boards mentioned are Filco and CM QFR/QFS.

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Muirium
µ

04 Dec 2019, 10:52

Spam necro. But a good thread in any case.

Personally, I can’t stand keyboards that fail. Drives me absolutely furious. So mine lean heavily to the solid, error free families like Topre, IBM and MX. Alps, well, I’ll take for a little ride but never a lengthy tour!

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vometia
irritant

04 Dec 2019, 11:57

Nom nom lovely spam.

Er anyway, my variation can be "keyboard that shows the most endurance to having drinks poured into it", in which case it has to be the SSK. The newer Unicomp and Ducky were less thirsty and seemed to object, though they may be fixable. The worst SSK experience just required the keys to be yanked off so it could be sponged down.

By far the most annoying keyboard in terms of being glitchy is my Matias. Pity, it's nice other than that but way too irritating to use and probably way under most people's usability threshold.

The "most crap" goes to that Microsoft thing I bought before I knew better. It was dire. Actually just realised it'd still be in my Amazon order history, so to be more specific, this dreadful piece of crap: the Sidewinder X6. Seems to be difficult to ascertain what sort of switches it has, if any, as most reviews just go on about macros and lights and funnily enough never mentioned the peeling key coatings; and one five-star reviewer seemed to think it was reasonable t have to prop it on on a pencil as it didn't even do the basic stuff like height adjustment, I assume to avert the likely "wobbly RamPak" outcome of its pluggable keypad.

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fohat
Elder Messenger

04 Dec 2019, 13:59

Muirium wrote:
04 Dec 2019, 10:52

I can’t stand keyboards that fail.
If you can't tolerate anything less than perfection, life must be a terrific disappointment!

I personally used a Dell AT101W for at least 5 years with absolutely no problems, and I still have it in the closet and it still works fine. I also bought a Northgate with key caps literally worn through (actual holes!) so somebody, at least, is getting good life out of Alps.

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Muirium
µ

04 Dec 2019, 14:03

fohat wrote:
04 Dec 2019, 13:59
Muirium wrote:
04 Dec 2019, 10:52

I can’t stand keyboards that fail.
If you can't tolerate anything less than perfection, life must be a terrific disappointment!
It is! It truly is.

And so I cherish the few things that ever live up to my unrealistic demands. HHKB fully among them.

anmq91

06 Dec 2019, 23:04

fohat wrote:
04 Dec 2019, 13:59
Muirium wrote:
04 Dec 2019, 10:52

I can’t stand keyboards that fail.
If you can't tolerate anything less than perfection, life must be a terrific disappointment!

I personally used a Dell AT101W for at least 5 years with absolutely no problems, and I still have it in the closet and it still works fine. I also bought a Northgate with key caps literally worn through (actual holes!) so somebody, at least, is getting good life out of Alps.
Jesus Christ I really want to see the person who typed enough to put holes in his/her key-caps. May be a silly question, but do the switches feel trashed? :mrgreen:

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

07 Dec 2019, 02:14

elecplus claimed that there were data entry folks who would wear through the PBT key caps of old Model Ms.

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